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A Question For Anglo- And Duet-Players...


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I play very little anglo and no duet, so when designing my little midi-anglo a question came up:

 

Is the handle-bar on those instruments really necessary except for holding the hand-straps? I find my hands are normally pressed against the straps and the lower part of the instrument rather than the handle-bars!? I have very large hands, though...

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For me, normal handrest is even too small and I need higher/different setup. When playing with too low or no handrest at all my wrists are in constant flex, finger movement is more stiff and this causes fatigue and may lead to injury.

One further note: each concertina type (including each duet system separately) has different "wrist pivot point". On 20b anglo there is almost no need for wrist movement, e.g. on English you have a pivot point above the wrist (which also enables a linear wrist movement to some degree), and on a (large) Hayden you ideally should have two degrees of freedom, as you should be able to move your hand back and forth and up and down without changing the angle.

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For me, absolutely fundamental, yes!

 

I use the handrail differently on anglo, maccann and Jeff. duet because of the difference in the keyboards (it would take a long while to explain all of the mechanics). But it would be extremely uncomfortable without. The Jeffries duet in particular seems to have a very high handrail on casual inspection but it would be difficult to get round the keyboard without it.

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I find the wooden bars essential. I prefer a little extra height in fact, and find that it affords me more maneuverability in reaching the outer row buttons at the high and low ends. I suspect that the size of one's hands, the length of their fingers and the flexibility of their finger joints are all factors in how one perceives the benefits of the bars. For those that have finger flexing limitations, a higher bar means they need curl their fingers less to play the buttons on the row closest to the bar.

Edited by Bruce McCaskey
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I would say the hand rest is very important for putting your hand in the right place in relation to the buttons, I would agree also with the people who say sometimes the old anglos have hand rests that are not high enough. All concertina makers I have asked about this make their hand rests a little taller than what came in the 19th century. When I had an anglo made for me I specifically gave measurements for the hand rest height.

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Maybe Dana of Kensington Concertinas will chime in. He has different sizes of hand rest depending on the hand size of the intended player, and they are uniquely shaped. From what I know of Dana, he wouldn't have developed them without some careful thought and research. I find my Kensington is much more comfortable to play than my other anglos with traditional handrails.

Edited by Bill N
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Chiming in here...

Having played Hayden Duets and Anglos, and having a lot of experience with the large variety of hand sizes and shapes, there is really no one size fits all. Some people prefer tight hand straps, some do better with loose ones and arch their hands to take up the slack to gain stability with increased freedom of movement. Being able to get good finger positioning over the rows close to the rest determines how high the hand must be ( and hand rest if is to stay useful ) long fingers need higher rests, shorter ones do better with lower ones if they are still able to reach the farthest rows. Ideally the rest should be able to move closer or farther from the rows, but few concertinas accommodate this. Palm width is no less important. Hand straps should, at the thumb side, go straight up before curving over the back of the hand, and be close to vertical at the pinky finger side. When rests are too short, ( not too low ) the straps put pressure on the nerve that runs along the side of the index finger and can cause pain and RSI with extended playing. Over long rests make consistent location and control of the bellows more difficult. Hand rests provide a good deal of freedom if well designed. But are only really suited to instruments with rows more or less parallel to them. I offer custom hand rests because they are so important to the playing experience. I try to get scans of my customers hands to try to get everything right. People can adapt to what they have, but just as a great fitting pair of shoes can be a relief, a set of hanprests sized to your own hands can be an equal treat.

Dana

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I would say the hand rest is very important for putting your hand in the right place in relation to the buttons, I would agree also with the people who say sometimes the old anglos have hand rests that are not high enough. All concertina makers I have asked about this make their hand rests a little taller than what came in the 19th century. When I had an anglo made for me I specifically gave measurements for the hand rest height.

 

I've said here before that I actually prefer the old, low hand rests and I think this is because I do a lot of my playing standing up. I also have smallish hands, so perhaps this is a factor? I think playing standing introduces an extra aspect to the question, because you tend to cup your palm around the edge of the hexagon nearest to the rest and brace the instrument against the strap. I've found that if the rest is too high, the instrument doesn't 'sit' properly in the palm and it starts to feel very unstable (floppy). I could imagine that someone with longer fingers would perhaps find the opposite?

 

Another point is that on Jeffries anglos with 39 buttons the hand rests are not positioned the same at each end, since the RH middle row has 7 buttons and the LH only 6. As a consequence the LH rest is about 4mm closer to the centre of the instrument than the RH.

 

Looking forward to trying out the prototype over the weekend Robert!

 

Adrian

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