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62-Key Wheatstone Maccann Duet Starting On Bflat ?


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Hello everyone and Maccannics in particular,

 

Quite by accident I ended up acquiring a very nice 62-key Aeola Maccann concertina and thought, with some trepidation, that I'd see if I could get to grips with learning the system and then decide whether it would be worth getting the instrument serviced or selling it on.

To start with, everything seemed better than expected. I knew the instrument would need a service and cleaning but was pleased to find that all of the notes sounded after a gentle cleaning of the reeds with a strip of paper. Armed with a chromatic tuner, I was pleased to find it was in concert pitch and in tune with itself. BUT, I was amazed to find that instead of starting on C as you would expect with a 62 key instrument, it actually starts on Bflat and goes up through the scale of Bflat major instead of C. This is obviously reflected on the left-hand side.

So I now have a few questions.

Has anyone else encountered this? Was it perhaps to facilitate playing brass band music?

Would it have been done in the Wheatstone factory or as a later modification?

Would it be a complicated job to restore it to the more conventional layout? I suppose it's naive to think it's just a question of swapping a few reeds around...

And finally (although I think I already know the answer to this question) would it affect the value of the instrument, given that I may want to sell it?

 

Many thanks in advance for any insights.

 

Dean

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The left hand side of a A 62 Maccann normally runs from an A below tenor c to an octave above middle c. Yours should go from a G up to a b flat. This G is the same as the lowest note as a Baritone English concertina. I doubt if you will ever miss the top two semitones on the LHS (they are on the right hand side anyway), but a baritone G is very useful indeed.

The right hand side will have the b & b flat below middle c' and run up to a very high g"', Music with notes above the high e"' (i.e. two tones below your highest) is quite uncommon and I doubt if you will ever need the missing (on your instrument) very high g#"' and a"'; but any notes below middle c' on the RHS are a big bonus.

Maccann duet players often go for the somewhat larger 67 button instrument to get that baritone G on the LHS, or even the somewhat cumbersome 72 button instrument to get the extra b flat and b on the right hand side.

Bb instruments were made to play along with Brass bands and for singers who mostly seem to prefer to sing in flat keys.

Personally if the instrument is as good as you say it is, I would say leave it alone.

Inventor.

Edited by inventor
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Thank you for your helpful reply, Inventor. I'll avoid making any modifications that aren't required. I was just concerned about having a layout that was so rare as to make it unattractive to potential future buyers. In the meantime, as I play alone, it doesn't detract from the pleasure or prevent me from learning.

Dean

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I was just concerned about having a layout that was so rare as to make it unattractive to potential future buyers.

I'd suggest making this a welcome argument for keeping this apparently wonderful instrument... :)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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Thank you Geoff. Being mainly a player of stringed instruments and a dabbler in the English system, I'm finding the left-hand work really hard but I realise that the only cure for this is practice and time. We'll see...

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