Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Stephen Chambers

Wheatstone Bandonion Found

Recommended Posts

Both Jim Lucas and myself have mentioned the presence of a small number of Bandonions in the Wheatstone ledgers, and one has just appeared for sale on eBay, in Almena, Wisconsin.

 

The serial number is 55561, which is shown in the ledgers as the second of a batch of two, described as a 'Bandonion, 9" Hex, 52 Keys, 7 mm, NS', listed on 30-4-53. However, examination of the keyboard in the photos shows that it is in a standard Chemnitzer layout, and not a Bandonion at all.

post-436-1110150464_thumb.jpg

Edited by Stephen Chambers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And what a lot of bellows folds! I wonder how playable that would make it?

I know Chemnitzers have lots of bellows, but their construction is vastly different to that of the standard Wheatstone bellows.

 

What is the significance of "7mm" in the ledger? Would Wheatstones have been using metric measurements in 1953? Surely not.

 

Stephen?

 

Malcolm

Edited by malcolm clapp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And what a lot of bellows folds! I wonder how playable that would make it?

And no neck strap. But weren't there historical stage performers who had instruments with even more bellows?

 

I also wonder about the playability, but for another reason. The right-hand keyboard has rows 9 and 10 buttons wide. That's a lot of side-to-side reach! Then again, regular Chemnitzer keyboards with that layout must be even bigger, so I guess it's manageable. (Any Chemnitzer players here who can tell us whether there are any special techniques?)

 

What is the significance of "7mm" in the ledger? Would Wheatstones have been using metric measurements in 1953? Surely not.

Why not? Since concertina parts were all custom-made, there was/is no need to use industry-standard measuring units, or even the same units for all parts. Millimeters are a much more convenient unit than inches for measuring button diameters. As has been noted without comment in other discussions, button diameters on English-made concertinas seem to be whole-number multiples of 1 mm... usually 4, 5, or 6 mm, but occasionally 3 or 7. I've just blown up the photos from the auction and done a little measuring, and the buttons do appear to be 7mm in diameter, not the 5mm that I think was standard with other Wheatstones at the time it was made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Both Jim Lucas and myself have mentioned the presence of a small number of Bandonions in the Wheatstone ledgers, and one has just appeared for sale on eBay, in Almena, Wisconsin.

Hmm. I wonder if Bert Levy would be interested in this beast?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm.  I wonder if Bert Levy would be interested in this beast?

However, examination of the keyboard in the photos shows that it is in a standard Chemnitzer layout, and not a Bandonion at all.

I thought he was playing Tango music these days, not Polka. :huh:

Edited by Stephen Chambers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! I knew of the Wheatstone bandonions from what had been said here, but I never envisaged that what we were talking about was a realisation of the beast as an English-made concertina. The concept is much like Dipper's Franglo.

 

[Long pause, then starts to speak slowly]

 

Of course, it would make a wonderful companion piece to our Accordiaphone, and I have always wondered what a Chemnitzer would be like to play ...

 

[Voice over: And this is what we find. Once Concertina Obsessive Acquisition Disorder has the sufferer firmly in its grasp no rationalisation is too tenuous to justify another purchase]

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm.  I wonder if Bert Levy would be interested in this beast?

However, examination of the keyboard in the photos shows that it is in a standard Chemnitzer layout, and not a Bandonion at all.

I thought he was playing Tango music these days, not Polka. :huh:

True, but with the anglo he wasn't exactly one to just slavishly follow where others had gone before. If he would like the idea of playing tango on a sort-of-bandonion with Wheatstone sound and feel (he might not), the somewhat different layout of the keyboard might not be a serious obstacle.

 

Many people play tangos on other instruments, from piano and PA to trumpet and fiddle. In April I'll be joining a friend in recording some of his own compositions, including a couple of nice tangos. Said friend plays PA and electric bass, not bandonion. Even the Argentinians play tangos on instruments other than bandonions, though I admit that I haven't (yet?) heard of them using either Chemnitzers or Wheatstone-engineered instruments. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excuse my ignorance everyone, but is it normal to have such a disparity in the numbers of buttons? one side seems to have about double the amount of the other.

 

Derek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Excuse my ignorance everyone, but is it normal to have such a disparity in the numbers of buttons? one side seems to have about double the amount of the other.

Not such a disparity.

The left side has 24 buttons and the right side has 28.

The right side has more buttons per row, but the left side has more rows.

 

And yes, that's a standard layout for a Chemnitzer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The left side has 24 buttons and the right side has 28.

The right side has more buttons per row, but the left side has more rows.

 

And yes, that's a standard layout for a Chemnitzer.

The number of rows is largely irrelevant, that's down to ingenuity in the action. There are less notes on the left hand because, of course, the lower the note the bigger the reed. You can't physically fit so many low reeds into the same space. In this, the English-made concertina has the same problem as the true Chemnitzer.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The left side has 24 buttons and the right side has 28.

That's almost the same right-to-left ratio (1.167) as for standard duets (1.2 for a 55-button, 1.162 for an 80-button).

 

I think the surprise, if any, is that there aren't twice as many buttons on the right side as on the left. The right side of smaller duets normally start an octave higher than the left. If the reeds were strings, then one might expect the RH ones to be half as long. (On an 80-button, it's 1½ octaves higher, which translates to 1/3 the length.)

 

Obviously, it's not that simple. It's not even that simple with strings, since higher-pitched strings are generally of a lighter gauge than lower-pitched ones. Lower-pitched reeds are not only longer, but thicker, and contoured differently. Then there's the reed frame. Probably other factors, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not strictly on topic but I thought this may be of interest.

I am glad to see some of the unusual instruments appearing in that I often relate to some of these when speaking to different people who, I am sure, do not fully believe that these exist. It is amazing what has been produced by concertina makers in the past and I firmly believe that many modern ideas have been tried before.

 

Indeed a perusal of the Crabb number records reveal, usually with very little detail, unusual instruments that have been made. For example, two oddities that I would very much like to have more information about are:

Crabb No 9061 of 1931, described as an ‘Accordion’ and

Crabb No 9177 of 1934, described as a ‘Piano Anglo’

 

For those commenting on bellows length, I include a picture below of a 67 Key Crane Duet made by my father around 1938. This instrument was fitted with a 35 fold bellows and when fully open the instrument measured 5 feet 6 inches end to end. It was made, against better judgement, for a stage performer whose intension was to skip with the instrument whilst playing. It takes little sense to understand that this is really impossible. Needless to say I believe the instrument was soon returned for a standard bellows to be fitted when the performer tripped and fell on the bellows at the first rehearsal. Unfortunately I do not have any records for the period 1935 – 1938 inclusive, so I cannot relate a number to this instrument.

 

 

 

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Geoff. That's a fascinating story.

 

Speaking of what ideas have been tried before:

 

I’m thinking that the Wheatstone "bandoneon" currently under discussion probably sounds a lot like other Wheatstones; but do we know if Wheatstone, or any other English maker, ever managed to double up on reeds to get octaves or wet tuning, like a typical chemnitzer or bandoneon?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
but do we know if Wheatstone, or any other English maker, ever managed to double up on reeds to get octaves or wet tuning, like a typical chemnitzer or bandoneon?

They did indeed, and we own the evidence! Click here for a photo essay on our Lachenal Accordiaphone.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... do we know if Wheatstone, or any other English maker, ever managed to double up on reeds to get octaves or wet tuning, like a typical chemnitzer or bandoneon?

Yes, George Jones may have been the first, as he claimed to have in "1859 made the Celestial English and Anglo Concertina." (At the time "Celestial" was being used to describe a tremolo-tuned German concertina, and "Organ Tone" an octave-tuned one.)

 

As Chris has mentioned, Lachenal's produced a number of their "Accordeaphones" in the early 1930's, and even Wheatstone's made at least one triple-reeded concertina, an enormous MacCann duet that used to sit on top of Jim Harvey's sideboard (minus its reeds, which Tommy Williams had "cannibalised").

 

I would suspect that the 1931 "Accordion" Crabb concertina, which Geoff mentioned, may have been double-reeded, and certainly they custom-made a brightly coloured trio of double-reeded instruments in the '60's, here's a photo of the red one :

 

post-436-1110766590_thumb.jpg

 

I have also seen one made by Colin Dipper, and I'm sure that there have been others ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Of course, it would make a wonderful companion piece to our Accordiaphone, and I have always wondered what a Chemnitzer would be like to play ...

 

[Voice over: And this is what we find. Once Concertina Obsessive Acquisition Disorder has the sufferer firmly in its grasp no rationalisation is too tenuous to justify another purchase]

Chris,

 

I see that Neil Wayne has "saved you from yourself" (or rather your "disorder") and bought this for US $2,425.00 (Approximately £1,258.76).

 

I'm not sure if I should offer congratulations or commiserations ... :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not sure if I should offer congratulations or commiserations ...  :huh:

To be honest, I'm not sure myself. I had to allow for the cost of repair when working out my top price, because I very much wanted to restore it to playing condition and then learn to play it. I have a sneaking suspicion that this won't now happen, and that it will end up a museum piece. I hope I'm wrong. :(

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×