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Proposed Design Changes For The Ec


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In this post, Henrik suggests further discussion of his modifications to the traditional design of the English concertina. I definitely think it's worth a discussion, but here, since I'm sure its relevance is broader than whether one can play Irish music on the EC... and vice versa.

In the past, others have also proposed their own modifications, and I think a combined discussion of these various ideas would be more useful than taking each in isolation, so that's what I'm proposing for this Topic. As I find time (and if someone else doesn't beat me to it), I'll try to locate and link to those prior discussions. I'll start here with quotes from a couple of comments in the above-linked thread.

Hand strap a' la Anglo, but no thumb strap etc de la English.


Now that is interesting. I think what he's doing is using the wrist strap with which some ECs were fitted (listed as WS in the Wheatstone ledgers) but holding it like an anglo strap, with his thumb over the strap. It looks like he's used the screw ordinarily used for the thumb strap to hold the top of the wrist strap, although some Lachenals I've seen have a fitting for the strap in that position. Can't tell whether the pinkie grip is still there.

Henrik isn't playing a modified vintage instrument, but one he's built from scratch, incorporating some personal modifications to the "traditional" design, as documented here on his web site.

Here's a question from our friend Wolf, copied from the other thread:

Regarding EC design you wouldn't rate your design (which appears to be quite helpful for what you're doing with the EC) as favouring playing melody with chords in "harmonic style" as well, would you?


Let the discussion continue. :)

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I've just acquired an EC to explore whether it has more to offer me in accompanying songs than the Anglo I play for ITM. I fooled around with it for about 45 minutes after it arrived. Next morning the base of both thumbs were really sore. So Henrik's modification interests me. I do wonder if it allows enough forward and aft movement to cover the length of a 56key EC keyboard.

 

Terry

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I've just acquired an EC to explore whether it has more to offer me in accompanying songs than the Anglo I play for ITM. I fooled around with it for about 45 minutes after it arrived. Next morning the base of both thumbs were really sore. So Henrik's modification interests me. I do wonder if it allows enough forward and aft movement to cover the length of a 56key EC keyboard.

 

Terry

Well, as I am in the "the EC needs little further modification" camp... let me just state the obvious here Terry... that 45 minutes of playing is hardly the moment to start thinking of modifications due to some soreness. What you describe is a little physical discomfort that would be usual with any unacustomed exercise.

 

I guess I have been so long in the thumb strap club and played very long sessions ( 14 hours non stop on one occasion) with no other support that I now miss this device with recent delvings into Duet playing. Some Duetists have added thumb straps to their instruments and I have considered it , however being the "play them as they came" type my jury is still out.

 

I do use wrist straps on my Baritone/Treble ( which is 8" across and weighs nearly twice as much a usual 48 treble) and that might be partly because they are there but also I use a very loose setting for the thumb starps so that I can move my hands back and forth , this helps with the more complex arrangements that are spread over the 56 key range.

 

I also find the wrist straps handy on a small treble when playing standing up. Other than that it is a case of "More power to your thumbs!" :P

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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I'd second what Geoff's been saying. The thumb straps are essential, which is why I had reinforced their support by swapping wood screws with machine screws. As for me the pinky rests are entirely dispensable. Since they're not in the way it's nicer design vs. facilitating first steps of learning to play. As to wriststraps I would consider them too for playing whilst standing, maybe sort of a raised handrest (as a forum member showed me some time ago) would be needed then...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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I've just acquired an EC to explore whether it has more to offer me in accompanying songs than the Anglo I play for ITM. I fooled around with it for about 45 minutes after it arrived. Next morning the base of both thumbs were really sore. So Henrik's modification interests me. I do wonder if it allows enough forward and aft movement to cover the length of a 56key EC keyboard.

Assuming you aren't resting the instrument on your knee(s), the EC thumb straps place quite a bit of weight on muscles that don't normally get much use. When I first started they hurt after only a few minutes playing. After replacing the straps with ones that fit better and months of regular practice I can play for longer periods without thumb pain (though my practice sessions rarely last longer than half an hour without a break because my brain gets tired too!).

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Have you looked at w Wheatstone's 1861 patent drawings?

 

Interesting stuff, and worth adding to the discussion, but be clear that the 1861 patent is not by Charles Wheatstone, but by his brother William.

 

Also, what appears to be the prototype instrument for that patent is now in the hands of Neil Wayne. Here and here are two threads discussing that particular instrument.

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We had a Wheatstone EC that was factory equipped with wrist straps, but I found them unnecessary. The bellows were nice and supple, and the reeds responsive, so the "work" required to play was minimal.

 

The Lachenal I'm currently playing is slightly more work to play as the reeds are not as good, but fitted with a neckstrap (as Wim Wakker suggests) I find no issues with sore thumbs. The neckstrap cost me a whole $5 to make.

 

Entirely different with the EC imports that have the plastic (vinyl?) bellows. The one I have needs lots of effort and lots of air to play. 45 minutes would kill my thumbs. One day when I'm bored I'll make a proper bellows for it, but it needs so much air it'll have to be a 7 fold. Meantime it gathers dust...

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[[should get the discussion about Irish on the English going again... or maybe one on EC design ;-)]]]

 

ha, well, i'm already on record in the "construction" forum as wishing to explore an "EC" held like an anglo--with rows shaped and spaced like those on a 38-45-key anglo. i wish to work out a custom design and perhaps go for a hybrid by one of the swashbuckling, up-for-anything makers.

 

but in terms of tweaking the existing EC set-up, i'm of the "tilt-the-concertina-and-free-the-pinkies" school. i can't remember where, but i've seen a post by a learner who had their thumbscrew redone so the thumb thing rotated. now, THAT would be helpful. i'm a lap player, and even so there is an uncomfortable strain in playing the notes "south" of the thumb strap.

 

comfort is a big part of it for me, but not the whole thing. i am feeling that the valves and reeds aspirate and sound most fully when "attacked" coming down at a straight angle from above, a la the "attack" on anglo. on EC, you are slanting your reach to get a good bit of the range rather than coming down square. i feel it affects the sound, the oomph or feeling of lift, and is particularly annoying, again, in those notes "south" of the thumb strap. i think that is some of where that "refined " feel comes with EC that is very nice for classical-ish, chamber-ish stuff, but not optimal for dance, session, ceili, band, etc. playing. here's to new re-design options...

Edited by ceemonster
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comfort is a big part of it for me, but not the whole thing. i am feeling that the valves and reeds aspirate and sound most fully when "attacked" coming down at a straight angle from above, a la the "attack" on anglo. on EC, you are slanting your reach to get a good bit of the range rather than coming down square. i feel it affects the sound, the oomph or feeling of lift, and is particularly annoying, again, in those notes "south" of the thumb strap. i think that is some of where that "refined " feel comes with EC that is very nice for classical-ish, chamber-ish stuff, but not optimal for dance, session, ceili, band, etc. playing. here's to new re-design options...

 

I doubt that regarding the presumed reason for a loss of lift etc.

 

Playing the EC is very much about phrasing and ornamentation with alternating melody lines. With the most "southern" buttons you won't be able to do that that fluently and crisply. The same applies to the squeaking effect coming from closing a button at increasing pressure which is requiring most exact coordination.

 

But OTOH you will rather want to play "bass" notes or at most "bass" runs, at least if playing in sort of a harmonic style where the melody is not very likely to be placed on the south pole...

 

Thus I can live with the restriction which I believe to primarily be related to some sloth or weakness of the ringfinger and the pinky (which are most likely to head for the "south") as compared to the other ones...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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hmmm, we haven't heard from henrik yet since this branch of discussion moved to its new location.....very nice clip indeed. will this method of hand/wrist strap free of the EC thumb strap AND the EC pinkie trap work for a full complement of EC notes? or only on a somewhat attenuated set of notes such as henrik's custom instrument?

 

certainly there is a cohort of EC players out there who find the classic EC setup ideal. but i suspect there are plenty who would love to have a way to play this system without the thumb and pinkie restraints....i think the fact that new possibilities are being discussed, mulled over, and hashed out as much as they are, indicates that the day is coming when we will indeed have this option, or perhaps more than one alternate option, through some creative re-thinking and re-design...

Edited by ceemonster
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all this has reminded me to go a-hunting for a post i can't get out of my head, for that rare unattainable, a Dipper EC---it stuck in the memory bank because it was supposedly done to specs given to mr. dipper by alastair anderson. the button grouping seems to have been moved "northwards" on the ends, and it got me to wondering.....could something of this sort not be done to facilitate placement of a hand/wrist strap so that you could hold ec like anglo is held? akin to what henrik muller is doing?

 

i'm not sure you could do this with a tenor, TT or bari. but with a treble, if you got rid of most of the high octave, you could move the button group "north," leaving room for an anglo-style handbar and strap....right?

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=3690&hl=%2Bdipper+%2Benglish

Edited by ceemonster
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certainly there is a cohort of EC players out there who find the classic EC setup ideal. but i suspect there are plenty who would love to have a way to play this system without the thumb and pinkie restraints....i think the fact that new possibilities are being discussed, mulled over, and hashed out as much as they are, indicates that the day is coming when we will indeed have this option, or perhaps more than one alternate option, through some creative re-thinking and re-design...

 

I'm not opposing to any new options for whoever might take benefit from them.

 

However it might have to be pointed out again from a cohort member that

 

  • for the likes of us there is no pinkie restraint as we are free to use or not to use the pinkie rest, and
  • still less there is a thumb restraint as we regard the hold provided by the thumb straps as a huge advantage.
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the title of this thread is not, "why it's great to keep the ec as it is," or, "why we like the ec as it is"--though one is always free to start a thread on that topic, no? this thread is about, "proposed design changes for the ec."

 

moving back to the thread topic....i have always found the implications of the Morse Albion treble intriguing. it's a 37-key design which laudably dispenses with nine buttons for that super-high octave many world folk players don't use. i assume they've done it to make room for the bigger accordion reeds. the morse version leaves the button grouping where it is on a standard treble, just lops off the top buttons.

 

but in a concertina-reeded instrument, you could lop off the top buttons to make room to move the whole button arrangement "north" as posited in my last post. that would leave lots of room for an anglo-ish strap setup at the "south" end....wouldn't it? or not?

 

http://www.buttonbox.com/morse-albion.html

Edited by ceemonster
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i'm not sure you could do this with a tenor, TT or bari. but with a treble, if you got rid of most of the high octave, you could move the button group "north," leaving room for an anglo-style handbar and strap....right?

 

The debatable point would IMO not be having enough room for whatever application but whether the arrangement that you're proposing would improve the abilities of ringfinger and pinkie to reach the "lower" buttons. IOW: this might fit for single line melody playing with just two fingers on the left and on the right but probably not for playing in a harmonic style with three to four fingers of the hand engaged...

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the title of this thread is not, "why it's great to keep the ec as it is," or, "why we like the ec as it is"--though one is always free to start a thread on that topic, no? this thread is about, "proposed design changes for the ec."

 

In my understanding discussing "proposed design changes" should include the pros and cons regarding such a proposal...

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ceemonster - have a go with a neck strap. I find that with a neck strap the pinkie rest is little more than a point of reference. Even though I don't use the pinkie to play, I find that without the "fixed point" for the pinkie, the "southern" notes are no longer a rotational stretch. Especially as as with a neckstrap I find a looser thumstrap fit is easier to deal with. I mostly lap play, but still use the neck strap as it fixes the playing position.

 

Not sure if it makes a difference, but I make my own thumstraps and like to make them fairly soft and pliable.

 

I suppose those minor changes are in some sense "design changes", but it shows that with some minor tweaks for personal preference, the EC design may come under the old saw "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

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can't do neck straps. already had to do major neck-avoidance measures for accordion due to starting to black out or get migraines from the straps impacting the neck....and i'm not alone on that one....

 

 

saying that the thing works fine as it is and doesn't need to be changed is not input as to pros and cons of a proposed design change.

 

in any event, i applaud Henrik's creativity and sense of adventure. and i do believe that a 37-40-key treble, minus the super-high octave, is completely doable in a setup that a) would let the player strap in, hold, and attack in the same manner as duet or anglos; and b--might even be amenable to slight curving of the rows and slight spacing changes which would ameliorate the problem of those awkward major arpeggio notes falling right above/below each other in the vertical rows...

 

.

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