Jump to content

Jeffries System Instruments By Other Makers


Recommended Posts

I was very interested to play a Jeffries system duet made by Crabb in 1970, belonging to a member of this parish earlier this week. It was a 60-key and, perhaps needless to say, had some quite significant deviations in layout from my own Jeff duet.

 

But it got me wondering - have any other manufacturers made instruments of this system? Might there be the odd Wheatstone lurking in the ledgers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Stuart,

A quick glance at the Wheatstone ledgers from 1936 through 1930 turned up a few interesting entrees:

 

#32860 "Special duet"

 

#32557 designated: "AG duet"

 

#32286 " " "

 

I believe I have seen a pre-1930 entree that gave even better hints of a Wheatstone made Jeffries duet system. What year I can't presently remember :wacko:

 

Greg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stuart,

Back in the 1980's I played a Wheatstone 61-button (or so) Jeffries Duet with metal ends and metal buttons owned by a guy I met in San Antonio. He told me about his concertinas and how he had one that no one had any idea what it was. Well, of course that piqued my interest enough to meet him at his house, but you should have seen his expression when I picked it up, played a couple of buttons, and then launched into Blue-Eyed Stranger with full chords!

 

But I got the feeling that Wheatstone didn't know much about how they were played, since the low left hand notes were almost impossible to reach given the location of the handrest and handstrap.

 

And yes, I wonder where that instrument is now, having lost contact years ago. Might have a photo somewhere in a box tucked away (definitely from the pre-digital age). I probably wrote down the number somewhere too, so will have to do some digging.

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some thirty or so years ago (it may have been longer) "Hobgoblin" had a Wheatstone Jeffries System Duet for sale. Nigel Chipendale the then manager of the Crawley branch of Hobgoblin, knowing that I was interested in Duetts phoned me about it.

He described it to me down the phone and the details he gave me were as follows ;-

The instrument was in Bb and the very high notes on the right hand side did not continue further to the right on the four rows in an ad hoc manner as on a standard large Jeffries Duets, but were on an extra (fifth) row, but only the notes in the scale of Bb.

Details that I am more hazy about - an Aeola with around the 60 button mark.

By the time I next visited Hobgoblin the instrument had been sold so I never actually saw it in the flesh. Nigel tragicaly died at a young age, around a year or so later; I don't know if Hobgoblin might still have records of this instrument and it's serial number.

 

Inventor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all - very interesting. Gary - I'd be interested to know the serial if you do have it and it's not too hard to excavate.

 

Inventor - how peculiar. The only 60+ button Jeffries-made duets I've come across have retained the 4-row configuration, with (assuming an instrument "in" C) the high notes C -> G along the row nearest the handrest, minus the C# which is usually tucked inconveniently next to G# over on the far right of the second row.

 

I'd also be interested to know whether anyone's ever come across a larger one that goes below middle C in the right hand. Mine is a 55, with RH lowest note of middle C; the Holy Grail for me would be one that went down to the G below...

Edited by StuartEstell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I regret that I never had the serial number of that Jeffries system Wheatstone, that was offered for sale by Hobgoblin. It is possible that Hobgoblin just might have it somewhere in their records..

I do have somewhere notes on two larger than 60 button Jeffries Duets by Jeffries. One was a C instrument and the other an Ab one which just might have gone down to a g# at least. I shall have to get out my archeological trowel and see if I can dig them out.

As you say down to the g below middle c' on the right hand side is the Holy Grail for a larger Duet. When I designed the 65 button Hayden Duet that was the note that the right hand side went down to at the expense of a few very high notes.

Concertina Connection now make a 65 button Hayden Duet going down to that g on the RHS as a standard catalogue item. You might be able to persuade Wim Wakker to make you a similar larger duet but in a Jeffries layout within a sensible time scale.

 

Inventor..

Edited by inventor
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Following on from Greg's research in the Horniman ledgers, I was having a browse for all the Anglo instruments larger than 40 keys (for another but parallel purpose).

 

Between 1910 and 1930, Wheatstone made 22 instruments described as "Type 62, or "Special AG" or "AG Duet", with numbers of keys varying between 46 and 74. Of these, 8 are specifically called AG Duet - but I know that at least 2 of these are basically straightforward anglos with an extra row of "drone" notes - ie they play the same not in both directions - like the one that's always cropping up on ebay.

 

I've excluded the McCann and Crane system from my count; McCann system duets have a Wheatstone catalogue type number and Cranes are specified.

 

I know of a few of the instruments in my count that are basically anglos with more keys - more options for notes in both directions. There has been communication about some of these in previous threads.

 

So, given that Wheatstone may not have been completely consistent in their nomenclature for instruments which weren't catalogued, there are possibly between 6 and 16 instruments which are Wheatstone's "version" of a Jeffries Duet?

 

Alex West

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Somewhere around 1982/3, I was offered a Wheatstone-made Jeffries duet by the late Neville Crabb. Apparently it had belonged to a well known ICA member who had passed on (can't recall his name, though I have a photo...somewhere).

 

I had been "shopping" for a Jeffries duet for my then wife (a Wheatstone Crane player), but the instrument offered did not have the characteristic Jeffries sound that she wanted. As she said at the time, there seemed little point in learning another system just to get a similar (Wheatstone) sound as the quality instrument she already had.

 

Of course, a Jeffries Crane system would have been the perfect solution, but about as rare as rocking horse droppings, both then and now. We eventually acquired a Jeffries duet through Marcus in South Wales, which she became quite proficient with, but never so much so as with the Crane, which she continues to play.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

A recent trip back to the old home place and some consequent digging through files unearthed a couple of old photos of Wheatstone #29112, dated January 7, 1922, and described in the ledgers as "Duet NP Octo Special 61 keys". Having played it, definitely a Jeffries Duet fingering system.

 

Back in the 1980's it was owned by a Welsh gentleman named Tony Johns who was living at the time in San Antonio, Texas. Anyone know where he (or it) might be today?

 

Gary

post-322-0-54482300-1452064517_thumb.jpg

post-322-0-59287000-1452064526_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stuart, not so much the bottom row, but the notes on the far left are just too far a stretch with the left hand little pinky and still manage any normal chords with the remaining left hand fingers.

 

And of course, in true Jeffries fashion, the bottom row notes are not consistent with the bottom row notes on my 50-button Jeffries Duet. Aaargh, why did they do that?!? And as you can see, the hardest button to reach of all is the low C at the very left bottom corner. A friend of mine has a 58-button Bb instrument and lucky for him the low Bb is in a more "normal" position. Well, lucky for him if he actually played the darn thing. Last I heard it was in a filing cabinet in his office...

 

Gary

post-322-0-58687000-1452144491_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose somebody who played a Jeff. duet already must have thought they could "improve" it, but that left hand layout makes even less sense than the standard. I find it really helpful that the F# is normally well out of the way on the LH thumb; on this layout a combination of bass runs and chords would give lots of opportunities for terrible entanglement :lol:

Edited by StuartEstell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...