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Don Taylor

Anybody Want To Convert A Jeffries Duet To The Hayden System

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There is a 49 key Jeffries duet up for auction on eBay and there are some nice pictures of its ends:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261752151748?_trksid=p2060778.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

Looking at these pictures I can see how Brian Hayden got the idea for his button layout for the Hayden system. It would be very straightforward to map a useful version of the Hayden system onto the existing buttons on this box.

 

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Shoooosh !!!!!!!

 

Don't give everybody the idea :o .

 

I had the very same thought..... only the next thought was.... "hmmmm, these babies are a bit rare and they still carry the Jeffries name so the price, even for this one needing an overhaul, will be perhaps too strong to consider it as a base for conversion." :unsure:

 

Converting one of these COULD provide the sort of tone and power desired ( by me) for Band and Session use but the cost of doing this might be better spent with someone who would be prepared to make a new instrument with those characteristics.

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My very first proto-Hayden system started life as a 50 button Jeffries Duet. However at that time I hadn't discovered the best way of arranging the notes. By the time I had hit on the right way, I had experimented with several different note arrangements, and completely wrecked the reed pan. This instrument cost me £18 in 1966, which translated into modern terms would be about £350 - £400. Any Jeffries instrument is going to cost ten times that today.

My first new made Crabb instrument had the same curves and spaces as a Jeffries, However subsequently I did a lot of work on the best spacing and angles, to come up with the now standard 16mm, 9mm, 10,5 degree dimentions.

For around the £400 mark you might be able to buy a small wooden ended Lachenal Maccann duet & a Lachenal 20 button anglo, which will give you almost enough material to make a 46 button Hayden duet. In my opinion this would be a better starting point for anyone wanting to experiment with concertina conversions.

 

Inventor.

 

 

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Well, not so cheap, quick & dirty, but the way I would want to see this done would be to commission a concertina maker to make a new set of reedpans, to match the pad/hole positions of the original action case, to fit the original bellows frames and with reedslots designed to fit the original reeds without altering the reedframes. You might have to start with two instruments as inventor mentioned.

 

*If* a workable reedpan could be designed that meets those criteria, then with careful notes and photos of the original condition you could have a fully reversible conversion, comparable to the banjo players who have a new 5 string neck made for a tenor banjo, but keep all original parts. If the original reedpans and reedframes were not altered, you could then return the original concertina(s) to original configuration at a later date.

 

Your converted duet would still have the original layout of button positions on the ends, which as inventor points out may not be ideal.

 

You would also have the substantial cost of making reedpans.

 

Your maker might have to be very clever to accommodate all the right sizes of reeds in chambers positioned in the right places, to lie under the padholes for the appropriate buttons. But there are old and new tricks in laying out reedpans -- for example, as seen by the Dippers' innovative designs and also those that the early Jones instruments used in setting parallel reed chambers on a diagonal for the left side.

 

This is just a speculation. But if I wanted a Hayden duet, and if I wanted to benefit in an ethical way from the quality -- and the parts value -- that are latent in the many underpriced unrestored unpopular duet system concertinas . . . this would be the first strategy that I would try.

 

PG

Edited by Paul Groff

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I would echo what Stuart Estell said .... Jeffries duets are rare, and sadly partially because people have bastardised them into something else. The popularity of the duet seems to be increasing, judging by posts that I have seen. Why take something which was designed for a specific purpose and is rare, just to turn it into something else at great expense? :(

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I take your point, Jeffries players. Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

 

However, I do think that making a new reed pan that could be swapped back and forth with the existing reed pan would be ethically OK.

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However, I do think that making a new reed pan that could be swapped back and forth with the existing reed pan would be ethically OK.

 

Yep, completely acceptable to the Concertina Ethics Police. However I would worry that swapping the reedpans frequently would over time cause them to become loose and less airtight in the frame. Also, Colin Dipper once said to me that the reeds are half the value of a concertina. This would mean that with the work to make the reedpans as well you would be investing more than half the value of the concertina in these reedpans. So why not go the whole hog and have another concertina made? The world can't have enough concertinas in it, IMHO.

 

Chris

 

Edit: another thought, the reedpans which were not in the instrument would have to be clamped in some way to prevent them from warping. For this reason it's not a good idea to leave a concertina end dismantled for long periods of time. The screws clamp the whole thing together and stop it warping.

Edited by Chris Timson

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I completely concur with the idea of making a new pair of reed-pans if anyone intends to convert the 50 button Jeffries currently on ebay. As pointed out above the original reed-pans need to be properly preserved. However I would have thought that anyone capable of making new reed-pans, could easily construct a double ended box that could house the original reed-pans clamped flat.

Henrik Muller has recently been writing about constructing a router for making the double dovetail slots in reed-pans.

About 5 or 6 years ago I was talking to one of the stall-holders at Sidmouth who told me that he was in the middle of converting a 50 button Jeffries Duet to a G/D/A anglo for himself. The following year I asked him how the conversion had gone. He told me that it had made a most successful instrument. When I asked him if he had it with him, and could I see it: he told me that a very good anglo player had seen and played it, and immediately asked him to to name his price, so the instrument had gone to a very happy player.

I note that a couple of days ago a Lachenal 46 button Maccann sold on ebay for only £165 (2 only bids), the sort of price a 20 button Lachenal anglo might make. "Ripe for conversion" ?

 

Inventor.

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However I would have thought that anyone capable of making new reed-pans, could easily construct a double ended box that could house the original reed-pans clamped flat.

 

Indeed so, but it all adds to the expense. I have to ask again: why bother? Why not just have a new concertina made? Then all you have to do to change system is put one concertina down and pick the other up ...

 

Chris

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However I would have thought that anyone capable of making new reed-pans, could easily construct a double ended box that could house the original reed-pans clamped flat.

 

Indeed so, but it all adds to the expense. I have to ask again: why bother? Why not just have a new concertina made? Then all you have to do to change system is put one concertina down and pick the other up ...

 

Chris

 

The problem with getting a new concertina made is " to whom can one go ?" If it is an Anglo you want then there is plenty of choice but a Hayden...... ? Correct me if I am wrong but precious few makers offer anything other than Anglos these days. A five year wait for a Duet from the only maker currently offering them and that is for a standard instrument... if one were looking for a 'special' who knows how long that might take.

 

Converting a Jeffries Duet is certainly not in my plans... but then I already have what is probably the best Hayden I am ever likely to find.

 

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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As Geoff points out the main problem is not the cost but the waiting time before a new Hayden duet arrives.

Inventor.

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Irene, thanks for the moral support :)

 

The Jeffries system, or the "demented typewriter" as I like to call it, is a peculiar beast - and has a character all of its own. On paper the layout admittedly does looks crackers; regardless of its back-of-fag-packet "let's reuse anglo end plates" origins, I find it much more manageable than the Maccann keyboard in remoter keys. The Maccann makes me think, the Jeffries just lets me play.

 

Mine is a 56-key with an overlap of only a 7th (middle C to the Bb above). A 49 would be too small for me otherwise I'd be jumping at the chance to keep this one away from the anglo-conversion-brigade :)

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I'm really having trouble understanding your point here, Brian and Geoff. A custom-made concertina takes years, agreed, but surely a custom-made set of reedpans with reeds could only be sensibly be made by the same people. As such it would have to wait its turn in the queue along with the concertinas. Where is the advantage?

 

Chris

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I'm really having trouble understanding your point here, Brian and Geoff. A custom-made concertina takes years, agreed, but surely a custom-made set of reedpans with reeds could only be sensibly be made by the same people. As such it would have to wait its turn in the queue along with the concertinas. Where is the advantage?

 

Chris

Which is why I asked my question about screwing reeds down to a sound board instead of routing out reed slots.

 

However, I think that a custom made slotted sound board could be made by an amateur using a hobby grade CNC router. Sadly, I do not have access to one of these.

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Reeds from Wim have (at least had few years back, when I wrote to him about it) separate waiting list of a few weeks only. But they do cost more than a half of a finished Wakker concertina...

 

One other thing - why we assume, that exchangeable reedpans mean "two reedpans with a full set of reeds each"? If we just want a non-destructive conversion it can be perfectly done with a single set of reeds that covers both layouts and two sets of wooden parts. There will be of course need for tuning after each conversion, and some form of "placeholder reeds" for keeping reedpan dimensions stable, but I really cannot imagine, that one would want to swap reedpans on regular basis, as even with separate reed sets it takes too much time to swap "on the fly" at a gig.

 

And personally I don't understand a need for playing two different duet systems, other than different sound or range of available instruments, which makes such "dilution of practice hours" a necessity.

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It may well seem an unnecessary complication, but I think of the Maccann and Jeffries duets as being as different from one another as, say, a tenor banjo and a guitar. I don't lump the duet systems together under one broad heading - yes, they share characteristics but playing each one of them is a very different experience. The configuration of the instruments leads you to do different things with them.

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It may well seem an unnecessary complication, but I think of the Maccann and Jeffries duets as being as different from one another as, say, a tenor banjo and a guitar. I don't lump the duet systems together under one broad heading - yes, they share characteristics but playing each one of them is a very different experience. The configuration of the instruments leads you to do different things with them.

 

 

Agree with this completely. I tried to make the same point in the Concertina FAQ. We do tend to blur the different types of duet together in normal conversation, regrettably.

 

Chris

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