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Maccann or Crane Duet system?


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Is one better than the other, in a comparison between these two duet button arrangements? I've searched the archive here so if there's already a thread on this subject..can someone point me to it?

I've had a close look at both button layouts and I can’t work out if one is more 'logical' than the other, although I repaired a Crane recently and thought perhaps that felt sort of natural under the fingers. Sadly I didn’t have a Maccann there at the same time. 

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Neither is entirely regular or consistent, though I'd argue the Crane is perhaps more "logical". The Maccann differs from one octave to the next for reasons I've never understood. Someone (whose name escapes me for now) produced a a regularised version which is consistent from octave to octave. That is probably the most "logical" layout, but very rare. (The 5CC layout is also logical, but that's not your question.)

 

Whether one is easier to play than the other doesn't necessarily relate to how "logical" the layout is. It's more a matter of matching how your brain works to the layout. As you can see from my little picture, it's the Crane for me.

 

One important point is the all Cranes, from 35 buttons upwards, start from C4 (middle C) on the RHS. This is useful because much of the folk repertoire lies in the range D4 to B5. All Maccanns with fewer than about 56 buttons start from G5, and are also missing some of the lower notes on the LHS that Cranes have. So a 42- or 48-button Crane will be fine but a 46-button Maccann will be limiting.

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43 minutes ago, Little John said:

The Maccann differs from one octave to the next for reasons I've never understood. Someone (whose name escapes me for now) produced a a regularised version which is consistent from octave to octave.

 

K.V. Chidley, an employee of the Wheatstone company:

http://www.concertina.com/chidley-duet/index.htm

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36 minutes ago, RogerT said:

Thanks. What’s the 5CC layout?

 

A very rare but quite intriguing duet system found on one or two instruments by a 19th century Viennese maker. A client has commissioned me to make a new one modified slightly to have the same keyboard shape as a Crane.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Little John said:

Neither is entirely regular or consistent, though I'd argue the Crane is perhaps more "logical". The Maccann differs from one octave to the next for reasons I've never understood. Someone (whose name escapes me for now) produced a a regularised version which is consistent from octave to octave. That is probably the most "logical" layout, but very rare. (The 5CC layout is also logical, but that's not your question.)

 

Whether one is easier to play than the other doesn't necessarily relate to how "logical" the layout is. It's more a matter of matching how your brain works to the layout. As you can see from my little picture, it's the Crane for me.

 

One important point is the all Cranes, from 35 buttons upwards, start from C4 (middle C) on the RHS. This is useful because much of the folk repertoire lies in the range D4 to B5. All Maccanns with fewer than about 56 buttons start from G5, and are also missing some of the lower notes on the LHS that Cranes have. So a 42- or 48-button Crane will be fine but a 46-button Maccann will be limiting.

 

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My larger Cranes all have the right hand end starting from G3, with this starting point it is easy to play  chords in C, also it makes a very full sound with volume ideal for the Salvation Army bands on the streets.

Mike

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2 hours ago, Mike Acott said:

My larger Cranes all have the right hand end starting from G3, ...

 

Fair point! What I was getting at is that all Cranes from 35 to 55 buttons have a consistent layout starting at C4 on the right (and C3 on the left). Once you go beyond 55 buttons there's no consistency of additional note choice or button position. Some have an extra low row (sounds like yours does); some have a few extra buttons positioned in a sixth column or under the left thumb; etc.

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I wouldn't put too much thought into it tbh...I'm not a natural musician but I managed to teach myself to strangle a tune out of the McCann system. I would concentrate on getting the sweetest instrument with the most buttons you can afford....and just learn to play it, whichever system it is.

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16 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

I wouldn't put too much thought into it tbh...I'm not a natural musician but I managed to teach myself to strangle a tune out of the McCann system. I would concentrate on getting the sweetest instrument with the most buttons you can afford....and just learn to play it, whichever system it is.

I  agree  with Sadbrewer.  Supply  is  one important  area  of  difficulty  that  needs to  be  considered  .      Vintage  duets  are  great  value  purchases    but  generally    you'll find a  better  choice  of  MacCanns  .

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I agree with sadbrewer and Geoff. Whichever system you choose, you'll have to learn from scratch, so you'll grow into that system, and eventually find it "instinctive."

And as Little John says, "logicality" does not necessarily meann ease of playing.

One thought, however:

In the heyday of the concertina, when it pervaded the music hall and the Salvation Army Citadel, the Macann was the instrument of the professional virtuoso performer with his dazzling solos and all day to practise them; whereas the Crane was the preferred concertina for accompanying gospel songs, played by Salvationists who had day jobs and only played on evenings and Sundays. That might be an indication of which system is for you - depends on your ambitions and your practice time!

 

Cheers,

John

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Yes, both systems are perfectly playable, but both need a bit of work to get the hang of them, the Maccann possibly more so than the Crane.  Small hands might find the Maccann with its six columns of buttons a problem - for example the chord of F-sharp minor stretches across all six columns.  But then, I should imagine the Crane with only five columns makes you reach up and down the rows more, which despite my fairly large hands I would find awkward.

 

Also, on the Maccann, and despite nearly 25 years of playing (I wouldn't go so far as to call it practice), I can't get my head round the illogical position of the D-sharp/E-flat button.  So I mostly stick to the sharp keys, and forget about anything 'flatter' than F major.

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I totally understand the need/desire for more buttons, but I've noticed a huge difference in playability in Jeffries Duets depending on instrument size. My 50-button JD is quite nimble and a quick play, but the larger 60+ button instruments are surprisingly much heavier and much more stately in feel, like the difference between a motorboat and an ocean liner. I'll be trying a 77-button gigantor JD in a couple of weeks and by comparison it might almost seem immovable!

 

And then there is also the issue of extra buttons being harder to reach. The handrests are a constraint, fingers are only so long, and in the case of larger JD's one's fingers don't bend well laterally at all.

 

So my question is, for Crane and Maccann (and Hayden), is there a sweet spot for number of buttons that provides maximum utility without being too unwieldy?

 

Gary

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Gary, I agree that 50 buttons 61/4" is great for the JD.  I've figured out a simple reversible mod that solves several issues of playability  and gains a few extra low notes as a bonus depending on how far one wants to go with it.  If you're interested I'll send you an email.  If there is other interest I'll start a new thread.

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1 hour ago, gcoover said:

I totally understand the need/desire for more buttons, but I've noticed a huge difference in playability in Jeffries Duets depending on instrument size. My 50-button JD is quite nimble and a quick play, but the larger 60+ button instruments are surprisingly much heavier and much more stately in feel, like the difference between a motorboat and an ocean liner. I'll be trying a 77-button gigantor JD in a couple of weeks and by comparison it might almost seem immovable!

 

And then there is also the issue of extra buttons being harder to reach. The handrests are a constraint, fingers are only so long, and in the case of larger JD's one's fingers don't bend well laterally at all.

 

So my question is, for Crane and Maccann (and Hayden), is there a sweet spot for number of buttons that provides maximum utility without being too unwieldy?

 

Gary


For Haydens I’d say it is around 50 if you use normal handrest/handstrap handling. With my „antlers” handling? 66 buttons is completely transparent reach-wise. „Dry practicing” some larger layouts, I’d say I could play on nearly full 100+ buttons of original Wicki Bandoneon, with some limitation near thumbs only. 
 

BUT - even my 66 buttons, 8 2/3” box, is way closer in handling to a bandoneon, than to 30b Anglo or a typical treble English. Weight is one thing, but bellows cross section area changes the whole box mechanics a lot. Personally, I find sturdier, more „tanker like” box easier to play than my featherlight travel box, but I know most concertina players prefer it the other way around.

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