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Upgrade Hayden Duet: Peacock Vs. Beaumont, Wakker And Wheatstone?


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I've been playing my CC Elise Hayden duet for three years now, and overall finding it more fun and easy to play than any keyed instrument I've messed with previously. Because of it I've managed to avoid getting a harmonium or shruti box, and I'm selling off several of my melodeons because this is just more versatile. I've never played an instrument where I had such an easy time harmonising with others, and shifting keys without changing fingering pattern is fantastic.

 

Initially I had no complains at all about the Elise, despite assurances that I would "outgrow" it. But indeed, over time I notice the small flaws of performance: buzziness or breathiness on some reeds, key action not as smooth as would be good, etc. And though the Elise's range and scales does me great for a large part of the time, since I mainly do folk music in keys of C, G, and D, occasionally when jamming with friends I run across the other keys I can't hit, or while playing some music with mode changes or non-Western scales I find myself lacking chromatics I need. So I do feel that I'm well pushing the boundaries of this starter axe.

 

I'd heard the Stagi Hayden isn't particularly great in quality, though the larger number of buttons would be an upgrade, so no desire to spend $700 used or $1000 new on one of those. I was delighted when Wim came out with the Peacock, and figured that would be my natural choice, but then the Morse Beaumont comes out with 10 extra buttons (52 vs. 42) though still the same 7" across the flats (same size as my 34-key Elise, oddly enough). Those 10 extra buttons, however, go mostly to an extra 2 notes of overlap between hands, 1 extra note each at bottom and top of range, and the rest duplicate chromatics for uniform fingering, so helpful but not night-and-day.

 

 

I know some people don't feel comfortable publicly comparing competing products in a close-knit enthusiast community, but if anyone has any input, public or private, about choosing between the two I could really use the input. And a trip up to Buttonbox from DC would burn up at least two full days and a few hundred bucks in travel, largely negating the price difference anyway, so I don't know that I'd have much chance to try out either in the DC area. Any opinions as to what the extra $1250 for the Morse gets me, or any subjective differences in feel and tone between the two?

 

Given that $3800 is getting me a large part of the way to the $6k+ for a Wakker concertina-reeded Hayden, I considered that, but am just not sure I'm ready to commit that yet. Also I've never played any actually concertina-reeded concertina, so I'd hate to pay double for "true" reeds and then find I like hybrid more anyway. And while I'm here, topping out the price scale, has anyone gotten a quote in recent years for a Hayden duet from Wheatstone? Am I guessing right it's like £8k+ for one of theirs?

 

Thanks for any input on figuring out where to jump to from the Elise. I'm just glad that in a short time we've gone from "Stagi for $1000 or full custom for $6000" to having $400, $1000, $2600, $3800, and $6000 options. It'd be lovely if there were an $1800 option somewhere there in the middle, but at least the Beaumont and Peacock are within reach with some saving.

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i don't play the hayden system. yet (anything can happen, i guess). but i own and play both anglo and unisonoric systems in both hybrid and concertina-reeded versions and have been through the upgrade thing.

 

before i get to how i would reason about this, since you are on the east coast, i would suggest that you consider a visit to the button box to try both a wakker peacock and a morse beaumont, prearranging, of course, for a time when they have both in stock.

 

barring that, here is how i would approach the issue. the quality of these concertinas is probably about par. the beaumont has more buttons and costs substantially more than the wakker. the TAM reeds in the peacock "possibly" respond a little faster and have a brighter sound than the "super durall" reeds in the beaumont, but which sound you like better is like differences in button spacing or button tops or that sort of thing---personal to the player and you'd need to do the visit to resolve that.

 

 

so. i would view it like this: if i thought that a good quality accordion reeded hayden would be my "last stop" on the upgrade climb, i would purchase the morse beaumont. for my "last-stop" hayden i would very much to have more than the 42 buttons in the peacock--heck, i'd like to have more than the standard 46, and the beaumont delivers that. i might ask if they'd give me a reed upgrade to TAM reeds, but that's just me (and FYI, I have such an upgrade, in my Morse Geordie Tenor, and while i love the quick response and the bright "personality" of the tone, the instrument is disappointing in terms of overall lung power and volume. it has no more lung power than a brass-reeded concertina-reeded instrument, and perhaps even a bit less, which I find downright bizarre).

 

if, on the other hand, i knew to a certainty that there was a concertina-reeded hayden in my future, such as an order from wim wakker or whatever, i would purchase the wakker peacock. its 42 buttons are a very big step up from the elise and plenty to do all kinds of neat stuff with for a long time while waiting for my next one, and i would not want to invest the nearly $4000 in the beaumont if i were going to order a concertina-reeded one with 46 or more buttons....

 

so there's 15 cents on that one.... Personally, I recently just skipped the whole dilemma by purchasing a large metal-ended crane duet for only a few hundred more than the beaumont..... :ph34r:

Edited by ceemonster
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Hello Matthew,

 

Yes, really understand the dilemma. Is great to have a this difficulty in choosing 'middle range' Wicki-Hayden instruments. I ended up going from an Elise straight to a W-W1 as when in the market the Peacock and Beaumont had not yet appeared.

 

As with the advice above, I'd suggest trying out the instruments. Not always easy due to geography, though....

 

And... Of course you know that you can take advantage of Walker's upgrade programme. This is what I did when I purchased my W-W1... Which then felt like a down payment. If I were doing it again I expect I'd have gone from the Elise to the Peacock... And then later upgraded to the W-W1.

 

In any case, I'm really enjoying my concertina reeded instrument, and am very pleased to have it!

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Not a Hayden player, but I have owned 4 Morse anglos over the years and have examined and played a couple Peacock-grade anglos at the Button Box. Both are very good instruments for the money, but I feel that the action was better on the Morse, as well as the fit and finish. It's not just a $ per button difference between the two, but you would be the best judge of that. If you don't mind spending a little on shipping, you may be able to try both on perusal - talk to Doug and see what can be done.

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Would it help to have a go on the EC equivalents of what you're considering? With the possible exception of the Rose/Peacock, those will be easier to find locally, and you can at least get an idea of what a Morse feels like and whether "real concertina reeds" are worth aspiring to or not.

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I've played all of these instrument. A few random thoughts:

 

I'd stay away from the Stagi. About all it has to recommend it is its availability. The others are all decent instruments, and none would be a mistake. On the Peacock, I really miss the high A on the left, as I often play a D chord in the upper octave and it would be incomplete. Similarly, on the left side of the Beaumont, I miss the D#. There is an Eb in the same octave, but Rich Morse's original vision was to have both (linked), and in E minor you really want to be able to play a B chord without having to reach for the 3rd.

 

I have two 46-button Haydens: an accordion-reeded Bastari (7" across the flats) and my main squeeze, a Wheatstone (6.25"). I'm very happy with both. The Bastari is hard to find these days, as there was only a single production run some 30 years ago. Note that at the Northeast Squeeze-In a few weeks ago, a used Wheatstone 46 in very good condition was sold for $5800. I was disappointed they didn't ask for more, but what can I say?

 

I have come to be satisfied with 46 as the optimum number of buttons. Smaller instruments are too limiting and larger ones have three drawbacks: 1) It is more work to operate the bellows, 2) The greater field of buttons makes it easier to put your fingers down in the wrong place (disorienting) and 3) They are generally more temperamental and prone to failure when the weather changes. I should say that I do not know that this is true of the Beaumont. I also am more comfortable with the "Hayden" slant than the horizontal "Wicki." That may just be 25 years of experience.

 

Good luck. I'd like to hear you play some day.

 

[Edited to add link]

Edited by David Barnert
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Personally, I recently just skipped the whole dilemma by purchasing a large metal-ended crane duet for only a few hundred more than the beaumont.....

 

That's basically what I did too, though my Crane is a 48-button rosewood-ended one that cost much less than the Peacock.

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Wow, got some great input so far, brings up some great points:

 

- ceemonster raises a good one about Peacock being a good hybrid intermediary step, and Beaumont a good final step. Particularly since the full price of the Peacock could be got back if upgrade to a Wakker.

 

- I somehow neglected to think of the Peacock trade-in value, maybe because I wasn't sure I'd want to trade my Elise in towards a Peacock, since the Elise I can take to an outdoor music festival or drunken houseparty without fretting it. Though maybe using the Elise even as a beater will feel backwards once I have a Peacock, and I just need to be more responsible yet more unstressed about risking the Peacock. Anyone else faced the CC trade-in dilemma and just preferred to keep their Rochelle/Jackie as a beater and pay cash for the Clover/Rose?

 

- The comment about Wheatstone wasn't meant as a "to replace the Elise", but rather wondering if risking £100 putting down a desposit on a Wheatstone might be a decent idea. On the off-chance that in 5-10 years I'd be maybe ready to upgrade to a concertina-reeded, or else by then certain the Peacock was the last for me. If someone sold a used Wheatstone 46 for $5800, any idea what the price for a new one is? I was guessing like US$10-12,000, but if it's more like US$8000 that's not at all nightmarish.

 

- While the occasional used Wakker would save me a a grand or so, by the time we're reaching the $5-6k margin I think I'd just as rather get a new one so I can have it to my liking. Design-wise I'm sure the Wakker is great, but aesthetically I'm not really keen on the glossiness and bellows papers of the ones I've seen pics of. If I were to order one, I could deal with something a bit less Victorian and a bit more Modernist in aesthetics, or at least simply less shiny.

 

- Can either the Peacock or Beaumont take baffles? I know folks have tried them on the Elise and found them not worth doing, but since I do heavy drone/chords on the left, I could stand to make my bass end a little quieter so my right hand can be more prominent. Just curious whether either of these two models baffle well. Given the numbers on Clover/Rose/Peacock sales (relative to other mid-ranges) and how standardised they are, I wonder if they'd be any cheaper to baffle due to being able to make just one template per model.

 

I keep reminding myself that as expensive as these are, they're easier to maintain and safeguard, lose less value over time, and far less subject to catastrophic destruction than a motorcycle, yet non-millionaire folks buy $4-8k motorbikes all the time. So that puts some perspective on it.

 

- Understood on the Morse probably having a better fit and finish, key action, etc. Which explains the higher price then. Though I realise their utility, I'm not partcularly perturbed about losing any of those buttons except for the highest 'd', which would be nice but not vital.

 

- Good point on using more-common CC and Morse products to compare. I actually did that a bit on reading online reviews, looking for "Clover vs. Ceili" since there are way more of those out there, so that got some good gouge. On a minor aside, I was thinking the ebonised was the more attractive Peacock option, since the natural wood is a little plain (the Beaumont is lovely honey-coloured though), but some mentions of the ebonised Clover complained about the black rubbing off onto the fingers. Is this a 'box I'd have to play only while wearing dark clothes the rest of my life? I don't mind some of it wearing off over the first few weeks, especially since it'd give the finish some character, but if it's going to shed dye for years the natural might just be safer.

 

- Along the lines of saving me a trip to Boston and over, if anyone in the DC or NYC area has any Morse or Clover/Rose model, I'd happily buy you a number of beers just to try out the instrument sitting with you for a few minutes.

 

 

 

That's basically what I did too, though my Crane is a 48-button rosewood-ended one that cost much less than the Peacock.

 

Thought about it, but I'm really thrilled with the Hayden layout. I've also been considering giving up any thought of playing piano-type keyboard, and instead just using any of the hex-key MIDI keyboards set up for Hayden. There are a number of folks online who play two Axis 49s side by side in Hayden settup as a keyboard:

 

-- Two Axis (Axes?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLN4CAl6p7A

-- Even lovelier, but never made it to market, is the Thummer. Even more specifically geared to Wiki, plus with pitch control and other such effects on the thumbs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPxrTUnb0Iw

--Heck, if Hayden continues to grow in popularity, maybe someday I'll fulfill my dream of having a Wicki-Hayden clavichord. Cnet member Ragtimer posted an image of such a thing earlier:

post-822-1218568169.jpg

 

So while I understand the Crane has many more affordable vintage products out there, I do like the Hayden keyboard far more than I just like duets in general, so I'll have to take the hit.

 

- David, thanks so much for posting the pic of your Wheatstone 46. It really drives home the huge difference between a 7" and a 6.25" concertina. My brain keeps wanting to note the difference arithmetically, but when I see it I realise that geometrically it's a big difference (did I get those math terms right?).

 

 

 

Good luck. I'd like to hear you play some day.

 

I keep meaning to shoot something more recent, but here's me in Afghanistan in 2010 (I had the Elise shipped out to Bagram for me) when I had just a couple of months of practise in. Here's me doing a Shape Note cover in a ruined palace: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djQCJqOSA-U

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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As I recall, the wood on the CC was not very impressive, very porous and open and pretty ugly grain. The "ebonised" finish was the same wood that looked like it had been colored with a marker. My impression was that the Morse was much more value for the price.

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Here's me doing a Shape Note cover in a ruined palace: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djQCJqOSA-U

 

Ha! Your recording was my only sample of an Elise tone when I was buying one two years ago. I remember that I wondered how much of such a nice sound was from the acoustics of the surrounding.

 

And I see we share same regret on the Thummer never getting to market :)

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David's Lamentation! My favorite (of course). Whenever I'm asked to lead a Shape Note I start with that. Makes me cry every time.

 

A lot of the darker and slower Shape Note songs go great on Duet concertina. Also "Idumea" and "The Dying Californian" are some of my preferred ones to play. Thus far I've mostly just taken the Tenor (melody) part and just worked basic chords and drones around it, but at some point I need to discipline myself to actually sit down with a book and try to work out the parts as actual fingerings. As much as I enjoy Hayden, I muck around with too many other instruments, and get caught up in work and other activities, so I really need an actual "course of study" plan for it. Probably Hayden and Swedish bagpipe should be the main ones I should be focusing on studying seriously, since there's no shortage of great ukulele players, or Appalachian dulcimer players, out there already. Serious performers on the sackpipa or the Hayden probably number in the few dozen total!

 

 

 

 

Ha! Your recording was my only sample of an Elise tone when I was buying one two years ago. I remember that I wondered how much of such a nice sound was from the acoustics of the surrounding.

 

Hopefully the great acoustics helped compensate for my rather awkward timing! I was at a pretty early stage of playing then, and also often traveling about the country in rough enough ways that it wasn't practical to drag a concertina along.

 

The first few days of the Hayden were a little confusing, and I mostly did just slow melody work on the right. Then I started doing tunes that had an absolutely constant drone on the left, and then progressed to doing basic two-finger root-fifth chords on the left with melody on the right. I'm embarrassed to admit that for a couple of years I didn't get much further than that, just hauling it out occasionally. But lately I've been jamming with friends more, selling off some extra music gear, and focusing a bit, so I'm getting better at making less-poundy and more subtle use of the left hand (including coincidentally pretty much the same "break up the chord, and play amongst its component parts on the left" that Judy Hawkins describes in the tutorial she's building). That and trying to work out some really, really basic counterpoint now. I can do even reasonably complex melody quite well on the right, since my background is mostly in melodic instruments, but the pat-head-and-rub-tummy pattern of complementary actions on the left hand are still slow to come to me.

 

As I recall, the first tunes I worked on the Hayden were "Amazing Grace" (with pure drone) and "Flowers o' the Forest", the ballady one that has the minor turn on the C part. Then the first I-IV-V multi-chord piece I worked out was the gospel tune "Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?", which is a rather rollicking tune that can tolerate some heavy chording, yet still doesn't sound stripped out with root-fifth chording. Honestly, I generally find very little motive to do full 1-3-5 major or minor chords on the left, I just tend to do root-fifth both for ease of fingering and also to keep from drowning out the right.

 

 

 

Wheatstone Hayden stuff

 

I wrote in to Steve Dickinson inquiring on pricing and waitlist for Wheatstones, on the off-chance that I'll have cash in place and be ready for a fancy box sometime in the 2020's.

 

David, not to put you on the spot, but if you have any comments about your modern Wheatstone compared to any others (other Wheatstones, other makes) you've played, I'd be curious to hear. Clearly you're happy overall, but just mildly curious if it's an overwhelming "single best duet decision ever" or if it's a more esoteric "really like it, but I could see other people liking different things" situation.

 

Still pondering here. Getting some cash accumulated from some other music and military gear I'm selling off (keeping my sword though), and looking to sell off a motorcycle which should bring me pretty close to Beaumont money when added into my "I love me" account.

Edited by MatthewVanitas
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David, not to put you on the spot, but if you have any comments about your modern Wheatstone compared to any others (other Wheatstones, other makes) you've played, I'd be curious to hear. Clearly you're happy overall, but just mildly curious if it's an overwhelming "single best duet decision ever" or if it's a more esoteric "really like it, but I could see other people liking different things" situation.

Other Haydens I have played and my impressions:

 

Rich Morse's 46-key wooden-ended Wheatstone. Wonderful. Quieter than mine (metal ends) but all-in-all I think a better instrument than mine.

 

David Cornell's 46-key ebony-ended Wheatstone. I borrowed it for a weekend, expecting to have a reaction similar to above, but the action was a little stiff.

 

Robin Harrison's 46-key metal-ended Wheatstone (now owned by Jim Bayless). Essentially similar to mine.

 

82-key metal-ended Wheatstone (now owned by Jim Bayless). See this post.

 

Jeff Lefferts (Boney)'s 46-key Wakker H1. Fine instrument. Hard to tell whether there's any real difference from mine.

 

My 46-key Bastari (and others). My favorite of the "Hybrids" (although they stopped making them before the word "Hybrid" was used in this context). Nice tone, plays easily, but requiring quick repair on a frequent basis. Notice all the tape on the bellows in my recent video.

 

Mike Knudsen's 66-key square Bastari. Each button plays two reeds an octave apart. Stiff and difficult to play.

 

46-key Stagi (several). Layout not standard. Feels "cheap."

 

Concertina Connection "Peacock." See earlier comments this thread.

 

R. Morse & Co. "Beaumont." Ditto. Also see my video on the Button Box web site.

 

Concertina Connection "Elise." A reasonable choice for a beginner who cannot afford one of the others, only because of the "trade-up" offer. But it has too few buttons and is not as easy to play as the others.

 

Tedrow Hybrid, 50-something keys. Disapointing. Looked very nice but felt like a toy. Difficult to take seriously.

 

----------

 

My instrument for some reason does not have a riveted action while others made at approximately the same time (for instance, the third one listed above) do. I don't know why. I can't say that I can detect a difference in how they play.

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[My instrument for some reason does not have a riveted action]

 

BB a month or so back had a used Dickinson Wheatstone 46 listed with wood ends and hook action, so you're not alone, it seems. Might that be the one you mentioned as quoted below, as having sold at NESI? I do believe it was listed on the BB site for around $5800....The BB description definitely said hook action.

 

[Note that at the Northeast Squeeze-In a few weeks ago, a used Wheatstone 46 in very good condition was sold for $5800. I was disappointed they didn't ask for more, but what can I say?]

 

I would like to have one of those Bastaris. Not the current Stagi Hayden, that Bastari from the video.....It's quite fetching.... :)

Edited by ceemonster
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Wheatstone Crank & Hook action:

The first batch of 46 button Hayden duets were made just after Steve Dickenson had taken on an aprentice to work with him, and he was looking for extra work for him to do. I arrived at just the right moment with an order for ten to be made. Wheatstones had a set of tools to make the crank & hook action, which could be operated by anyone with only a minimum amount of instruction. This first batch of ten were all made using this action. It took in the end two years for the whole batch to be completed, by which time his aprentice had left. During this time Steve also made one or two 46 button Haydens for other buyers who may have specified rivetted action, and subsequent instruments would have been made with rivetted action anyway.

 

Bastari 46 button Concertinas:

There were actually two batches of ten made, plus the prototype sample making 21, I have no idea how many of these still survive.

 

Inventor.

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David, a little question for you about Beaumont: on a ButtonBox site, there are two pictures of inner workings of this concertina: the action board and the mixed reedpan-reedblocks reed mounting of the right hand side (don't know if the same applies to LH side). But one of the main differences in sound between accordion and concertinas (apart from reeds of course, but this is a hybrid) comes from reeds orientation - is there an audible difference beetween depth/richness of those reedblock notes when playing Beaumont? I think I can hear them in the recordings on the site, but this may be as well caused by recording setup used or me imagining them...

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This weekend a forum member was kind enough to let me come by his house and play his Morse Ceili and a few of his vintage Anglos as well. Different system, but I was overall really pleased with the sound and action of the Morse brand, so am putting in my deposit for a Beaumont today! I understand the TAM reeds are "different but not better or worse", so may stick with the standard reeds to get a less-bright sound for better accompaniment.

 

I've been playing Hayden more and more as of late, and actually taking up playing (slowly) multi-part written sheet music on it, so a smoother and more-buttoned instrument will be a help there, plus keep my enthusiasm rolling.

 

I am looking to keep my current Elise, since I occasionally play outdoors or at rowdier parties where I'd rather not risk $4k, so a cheaper backup is useful. To slightly narrow the large disparity between the boxes I'll check with Tedrow about the Elise upgrades he lists on his page. If I can get my Elise cleaned up and running smoother, even if it costs a couple hundred (not to make it a "silk purse") it may well be worth it to reduce the frustration when I take my "beater" along to a shindig.

 

 

My taste-testing of concertinas this weekend was also really instructive in terms of hearing/feeling the difference between hybrid and traditional reeds up close. It is quite a distinct difference, though I wouldn't necessarily say that in-and-of-itself either sounds better or worse to me than the other. I'd read descriptions of reed differences here, and did indeed find the trad reeds to be "honky", much more aggressive projection, and also really distinctly low on harmonics. In that last respect, it reminds me of the "pure tone" low-harmonic sounds of the ocarina or kalimba; not that they sound similar, just that they share that very curious style of sound-wave. For the time being I think I'll be quite happy with the richer and more organ-like sound of hybrid reeds, but I might track down an inexpensive 20-button trad-reed Anglo just to have a contrasting instrument.

 

Thanks for all the good info in the thread, and I'm really impressed by Dave and Inventor's encyclopedic knowledge of Haydens! I'll look to report back in a few months once I get the new 'box in.

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BB a month or so back had a used Dickinson Wheatstone 46 listed with wood ends and hook action, so you're not alone, it seems. Might that be the one you mentioned as quoted below, as having sold at NESI? I do believe it was listed on the BB site for around $5800....The BB description definitely said hook action.

 

Actually, I mentioned it twice, above, but it's not obvious:

 

Note that at the Northeast Squeeze-In a few weeks ago, a used Wheatstone 46 in very good condition was sold for $5800. I was disappointed they didn't ask for more, but what can I say?

and

Rich Morse's 46-key wooden-ended Wheatstone. Wonderful. Quieter than mine (metal ends) but all-in-all I think a better instrument than mine.

 

David, a little question for you about Beaumont: on a ButtonBox site, there are two pictures of inner workings of this concertina: the action board and the mixed reedpan-reedblocks reed mounting of the right hand side (don't know if the same applies to LH side). But one of the main differences in sound between accordion and concertinas (apart from reeds of course, but this is a hybrid) comes from reeds orientation - is there an audible difference beetween depth/richness of those reedblock notes when playing Beaumont? I think I can hear them in the recordings on the site, but this may be as well caused by recording setup used or me imagining them...

 

I really can't answer. I don't know which notes are oriented that way, and I was unaware of that detail when I played it. Note that the Bastari I play in my Xotis video has all its reeds oriented perpendicular to the ends.

 

I'm really impressed by Dave and Inventor's encyclopedic knowledge of Haydens! I'll look to report back in a few months once I get the new 'box in.

They are of a completely different order. I just know what I pick up along the way. He doesn't call himself "Inventor" for nothing.

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