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I wonder if any of the current makers of budget concertinas with beginner-friendly price tags have considered offering models with duet keyboard layouts other than Hayden/Wicki? I am thinking of the Crane system in particular, which seems to be having a bit of a revival in popularity lately, but there might also be a market for new Maccanns or even less-common systems like Jeffries.

 

The standard advice is to buy a vintage Lachenal or similar, but it can be difficult and time consuming to find a playable one at a moderate price, and beginners often just want to start on something cheap and cheerful with a manufacturer's warranty before deciding whether it's worth upgrading to a higher quality instrument.

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Well, I'd be a market of one for a Jeff duet, "playable at a moderate price" but I doubt my desired mods would be a standard for any makers to make a bunch of them.

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I am curious whether it would be feasible to sell duets that have a beginner-friendly price tag but also enough range to justify buying one over an Anglo. It seems to me that the general lowest button count for duet concertinas is around 35 buttons, which is the number of buttons on the smallest Crane in the Crane & Sons Crane tutor (though I'm sure that smaller ones exist) and 1 button more than the Concertina Connection Elise, so I think it would be relatively reasonable to say that this is where a lot of beginner-priced instruments would be at. While this may not be the experience for everyone, if we are talking about Cranes specifically, I feel that the minimum number of buttons needed for the music I play is around 40 and would not like to play with much less than that. I guess it is a personal preference, but for the me the appeal of a duet is to be able to play music with decently large musical range with an intuitive button layout, and the advantages a small duet has over a 30 button anglo are not terribly significant to me.

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1 hour ago, JimR said:

Are you considering the beginner market, Alex? I'd be interested. :)

 

Not me, I'm busy enough already. Where I'm coming from is that I'd like to see more options for beginners to start out on a wider range of duet systems.

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4 hours ago, charleschar said:

I am curious whether it would be feasible to sell duets that have a beginner-friendly price tag but also enough range to justify buying one over an Anglo. It seems to me that the general lowest button count for duet concertinas is around 35 buttons, which is the number of buttons on the smallest Crane in the Crane & Sons Crane tutor (though I'm sure that smaller ones exist) and 1 button more than the Concertina Connection Elise, so I think it would be relatively reasonable to say that this is where a lot of beginner-priced instruments would be at. While this may not be the experience for everyone, if we are talking about Cranes specifically, I feel that the minimum number of buttons needed for the music I play is around 40 and would not like to play with much less than that. I guess it is a personal preference, but for the me the appeal of a duet is to be able to play music with decently large musical range with an intuitive button layout, and the advantages a small duet has over a 30 button anglo are not terribly significant to me.

 

I'm not sure it's fair to compare a duet to an Anglo. Some players simply find it easier to learn an instrument that plays the same note in both directions and doesn't jump left and right like an English. It is fair to ask what is the minimum useful number of buttons on a beginner duet. The 34 button CC Elise seems to be popular despite its limitations. An instrument doesn't need to be able to handle an advanced player's entire repertoire to be a useful learning tool.

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A nice thought  Alex,

  but  having tried  the  MacCann  and  the  Hayden/Wikki  I  cannot  see why  a  'duet beginner'  would  want  to  start  on a budget  Crane or  MacCann  other than  the availability of  real  quality  vintage instruments when  they  wanted to  upgrade.   The  Hayden/Wikki  is  definately  the easiest  keyboard  to  learn, IMO,  and  the only  problem  has  been in the supply    of  fine  quality  instruments.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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16 hours ago, alex_holden said:

... offering models with duet keyboard layouts other than Hayden/Wicki? I am thinking of the Crane system in particular, ...

 

Interesting question and a good starting point. The Hayden and the Crane both have an obvious logic to their layout. (I think Brian Hayden once said on this forum the he probably wouldn't have invented his system if he'd been aware of the Crane at the time.) But their logic is very different and what might suit one person might not suit another. So it would be good if both systems were readily available to try out.

 

There's a curious reversal in availability. Reasonably-priced Haydens are available (Elise and Stagi), but vanishingly few high-end concertina-reeded Haydens exist. The opposite is the case with Cranes. And yet interest in the Crane system seems high: why else would Alex be making at least as many Cranes as he is Haydens? So if, despite the availability of good Crabb and Wheatstone Cranes, there is still a demand for really high-end Cranes it seems likely there would be a demand for entry-level models.

 

10 hours ago, charleschar said:

... the general lowest button count for duet concertinas is around 35 buttons, ...

 

10 hours ago, charleschar said:

I feel that the minimum number of buttons needed for the music I play is around 40 ...

 

This is a bit of a conundrum! I learnt on a 35 button Crane (and a very useful start it was too) but it does have its limitations. So if a 35 button were offered it would need to be viewed rather like an Elise - a good taster but something you will probably expect to trade up from. And yet, as @charleschar indicates, only a few buttons more gives you an instrument you could probably live with forever (except for hankering after a high-end instrument). This 41 button instrument for example has very few limitations for what most people want to play on a duet. I could play virtually all my repertoire on it.* 

 

LJ

 

* I must confess I would have to have the (bass) C#3 tuned to B2. That would supply the one chord otherwise missing (B minor). I also use it frequently for a first inversion of G major.

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9 hours ago, alex_holden said:

 

Some players simply find it easier to learn an instrument that plays the same note in both directions and doesn't jump left and right like an English. 

I suppose that's a reasonable perspective to consider.

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Why should someone prefer a Duet to an Anglo? Perhaps for the reason that led me to look for a Duet in addition to my Anglo. And that was the freedom to play in any key that might happen to be preferered by singers, or required by wind players.

Of course I thought about a small Duet that might fit a beginner's budget. Of course there would be limitations, and my study of the button layouts proved this.

HOWEVER ...

Study of the button layouts of the 35-b Crane and the Elise Hayden showed different limitations:

The 35-b Crane is limited in pitch range - more specifically, the top notes of the bigger Cranes are omitted, and the overlap is less, by reason of the missing high notes on the left side. But even the 35-b Crane is fully chromatic from bottom to top note, as far as the range goes. So you can't play as high as you might like, but you can play in any key you like. LH chords are all available, though most of them in only one voicing.

 

The Elise, on the other hand, is missing notes from the middle of its range, and the missing notes are sharps and flats, so their absence counteracts the Duet principle of full chromaticity. I decided that this wasnt' enough added value over and above my existing 30-b Anglo, so I plumped for the Crane.

In the end, I bought a 48-b Crane, which can handle anything I care to take on, pitch-wise.

Key-wise, I find myself playing mostly in C, G or F major - keys that suit my singing voice.:huh:

Cheers,

John

 

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I agree with pretty much everything John @Anglo-Irishman says, in particular pointing to the way the nature of the limitations of the Elise and the 35 button Crane differ. However one point needs to be corrected: not all chords are available on the LH of a 35 button Crane. Specifically A major, Bb major, B minor and B major are not. (Neither is Bb minor, should you ever find a need for it!) But it requires the addition of only two or three buttons to overcome most or all of this deficiency.

 

On the RHS of a 35 button Crane the significant notes missing are the top A and B. The 48 button Crane overcomes all these shortcomings but, as both @charleschar and I have indicated, 40 or 41 buttons is probably enough for most people. So if some current maker of budget instruments wanted to add a Crane to their portfolio (at minimum cost and size) that's probably the size to be looking at. Unless they wanted to offer a 35 as a real starter instrument and a 45 as an upgrade.

 

LJ

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Re the number of buttons - I was looking for a versatile instrument that I can explore grow into over time, so started off looking for a 48 by preference, with a suitable quality 55 as an option due to the limited availability of decent Cranes. Having ended up with a 51 (Little John's, actually), I'm well pleased - not sure if I have the reach to cope with any more, and can avoid feelings of 'if only' at a later date.  

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