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Does Anyone Build New Cranes?


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I've been jealously watching all those threads telling us about your new toys; a Tedrow here, a Geuns-Wakker there...

 

Is there any maker around who would build me a new Crane Duet? (And why not?)

 

Cheers,

T.

 

PS: If this has been discussed before, sorry. I searched and couldn't find a relevant thread. Pointers welcome!

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Is there any maker around who would build me a new Crane Duet? (And why not?)

Colin Dipper has been known to make new Cranes, though you would expect to wait several years if you ordered one now. I think the same would be true of Steve Dickinson=Wheatstone.

 

The Crabb family has a history of making and playing Crane duets, and I know some folks have been urging Geoffrey to start making concertinas again, but so far he hasn't announced that he's (back) in business.

 

For other makers, a major obstacle would be designing the internal layout to go with a given keyboard. As I've mentioned elsewhere, one maker told me that being able to copy the dimensions of an existing instrument could save him 100 hours of design work. Makers such as Geuns-Wakker, Morse, Norman, Tedrow, etc. can't copy the design/dimensions from an existing vintage instrument, because various details -- e.g., the reed mountings -- in their construction are different from the old ones. A new design would have to be constructed around those things they can't change.

 

But it probably wouldn't hurt to ask what someone like Norman or Tedrow -- both of whom have been known to make custom instruments -- would charge to build you a Crane.

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That's what I'm playing at the moment. But think of the future - even the most lovingly restored vintage instruments will have a limited lifespan, so the Crane Duet will finally die out in a hundred years or so, if there aren't any new ones built. (Tongue only half in cheek here!)

 

Your argument that there are already instruments around is of course true, not only for Cranes but most other types of concertinas and indeed other instruments. With this logic, hardly any new instruments needed to be built - and you'd be out of a job soon! ;)

Edited by Cream-T
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...think of the future - even the most lovingly restored vintage instruments will have a limited lifespan,...

More limited than your own?

 

There are at least a few 150-year-old concertinas still being played. Deluxe models of later periods were of even more robust construction. Many 80- to 100-year-old instruments still command premium prices because they're considered to be as good now as they ever were, and expected to be prime players for at least another 100 years if properly cared for. My Jeffries-made Crane was playable but in need of work when I got it. Restored by Colin Dipper, I believe it's as good now as it ever was, and with proper care I think it will actually be playable for centuries to come. The need for restoration and repair of vintage instruments -- at least the better models -- is far more a consequence of neglect than of being played. I've played 100-year-old instruments that showed no sign of being worked on since they were built, but which were still in prime playing condition.

 

...so the Crane Duet will finally die out in a hundred years or so, if there aren't any new ones built.

If it dies out, it will be because people lose interest in it, something that seems to have almost happened with concertinas generally, at least English-built ones. It really is true that some of the best concertinas ever made were sold in the 1950's and 1960's for less than £10, and others thrown in the trash because they weren't considered valuable enough to try to sell.

 

That has changed, in part thanks to Concertina.net. It could change again, but we hope not.

 

Your argument that there are already instruments around is of course true, not only for Cranes but most other types of concertinas and indeed other instruments. With this logic, hardly any new instruments needed to be built - and you'd be out of a job soon! ;)

Not so. It's no accident that most of the new instruments being made are anglos, with Englishes second, and the various duets a distant third. That's mainly because the demand for quality instruments of the first two has outstripped the supply of decent vintage instruments -- a vintage Jeffries can claim as high a price as a new Dipper, -- but the supply of quality vintage duets is still strong compared to the demand. There are other factors driving the new concertina market, such as someone wanting particular details in their instrument or the need for mid-priced models that don't need restoration, but increased demand is the strongest one.

 

A thought that just occurred to me is that if we had Concertina.net but no eBay, prices might be much higher than they are, because interest would be stimulated, but it would be far more difficult for prospective buyers to find the particular sort of instrument they want. eBay is keeping prices low? Well, it's an interesting speculation. B)

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Jim writes.....

 

>>Not so. It's no accident that most of the new instruments being made are anglos, with Englishes second, and the various duets a distant third. That's mainly because the demand for quality instruments of the first two has outstripped the supply of decent vintage instruments -- a vintage Jeffries can claim as high a price as a new Dipper, -- but the supply of quality vintage duets is still strong compared to the demand.<<

 

 

That may be true for the smaller Crane duets, but it's not true for 55 button and up quality instruments. Larger, quality Cranes (55 button or larger) are rare, both from my experience and according to Chris at Barleycorn Concertinas. I recently asked about getting a nice 55b Wheatstone, Crabb or top end Lachenal and he said he'd keep me in mind but it might be a while as he rarely comes across them. 48b or less, and lower quality Cranes are easy to find, but that's not what someone thinking about getting one built is likely to be after.

 

If you guys know where these Cranes are hiding.....out with it!

 

bruce boysen

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... the supply of quality vintage duets is still strong compared to the demand.
That may be true for the smaller Crane duets, but it's not true for 55 button and up quality instruments. Larger, quality Cranes (55 button or larger) are rare, both from my experience and according to Chris at Barleycorn Concertinas.

I didn't say that there was a massive excess of supply.

 

They are rare, maybe even rarer than Jeffries anglos, at least for sale in the market today, but not rarer in comparison to demand. They're not just sitting on the shelf, but I seem to recall at least two nice 60-or-more-button Cranes by Crabb on eBay in the past year. I also know of at least three 55-button Cranes (one an Edeophone) that have changed hands in the last year or two, not on eBay. You're still likely to find a nice vintage Crane Æola or Triumph Edeophone or New Model before your order gets filled by either Colin or Steve.

 

I waited something like 20 years before I was able to buy my first working Crane. At the moment I'm happy enough with what I have, but I'm sure that if I were searching now I wouldn't have to wait more than a year to find one that would make me really happy.

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Durability, reed quality, keys, color, weight, action, tone, age and expense are all important when considering an instrument of any kind. Just about everyone agrees, no matter what instrument you are planning on buying, get the best possible instrument that you can afford. While almost a cliché, it is very good advise.

 

 

The issue with the Crane as Bruce looks at it; it seems to me, is the cost of waiting. That is a terrific cost. There is always more money. There is never more time. I would pay more for a year of playing the concertina than I have spent on any of the many musical instruments I have bought in my life. I have a wonderful new (four years old) saxophone. It is bright and shiny, no scratches, no dings, plays beautifully. Even the case and neck strap are pristine.

 

 

My concertina is good shape. But it is not new (55 years old). It is in hand and way better than me. I played it yesterday. I played it today. Tonight I'll play at a Christmas party. I'll play tomorrow. If it breaks I'll fix it or have it fixed. The biggest problem getting it fixed will not be finding a repair person or paying the bill. It will be doing without for however long it takes. My advice is to get the best instrument (new or used will be incidental) you can afford today or very, very soon. And, if you have to wait, take up something else in the meantime.

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I play my 150 year old Wheatstone every couple of days. It is very quiet; good for playing in my study withough bothering the other inhabitants of the house too much. This fall I got a 92 year old youngster of the same make, which is much louder, so good for sessions and dances. Having that one makes the time my 1851 model will be in the shop this spring getting some renovations done less painful. I'll still be able to play every day, though not quite so late at night!

 

Just in case you needed an excuse to have two vintage instruments :).

 

Larry

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Thanks, Larry. I'll keep that in mind! :)

 

Kurt, it wouldn't be a matter of not playing while waiting for a new instrument being built, I would continue to torture my venerable antique instrument with my attempts at playing. In my experience (from having had two guitars handbuilt to my specs), the waiting time is actually very exciting and enjoyable, especially if you have regular updates (and perhaps photos) from your instrument maker.

 

Jim, I am well aware that my life expectancy is lower than that of my (roundabout centenary) New Model Crane. When I was pointing in the future, I was more thinking along the lines of "plant a tree today, the next generations will enjoy it". Having a new Crane built would mean to keep a tradition alive; it's a concertina system that is worth preserving, and in my opinion it would deserve the benefits of today's technology and advances in concertina building. This doesn't mean I don't value the existing instruments, which are often wonderful examples of craftmanship and should not be condemned to life in a museum for the sake of a new model!

 

There's no urgency in getting a brandnew Crane, I will happily chase after an upgrade of, or a companion for, my current one (anyone got a nice Wheatstone, or perhaps even a baritone model?) and ponder all your interesting thoughts and ideas - and most of all: keep playing what I have.

 

Happy squeezing!

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Kurt, it wouldn't be a matter of not playing while waiting for a new instrument being built, I would continue to torture my venerable antique instrument with my attempts at playing. In my experience (from having had two guitars handbuilt to my specs), the waiting time is actually very exciting and enjoyable, especially if you have regular updates (and perhaps photos) from your instrument maker.

 

 

Hmmm. That does sound good. If you do it, don't tell me. I'll be jealous.

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