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The Biggest Duets

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I've just had the existence of an 84 mentioned to me, which I hadn't heard of before. I'm not surprised to learn that they went bigger than the 'standard family size' of 81 keys, but wondered 1) if anyone knew whether this would be a one off, or whether I might hope to trip over one like it some day, 2) where the extra range is gained and 3) if it was the same physical size as an 81 as I suspect.

 

Were there any even larger instruments made? (the Herbert Green funny aside)

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I described an 82-key Hayden duet in September 2006 here. As far as I know, it is unique. It is now owned by Jim Bayless in Texas.

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Sorry David, thanks for that but I should have said Maccan is what I'm interested in.

 

(I think I did at first then editted it out as you do...)

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I remember reading somewhere that theoretically the Jeffries Duet system could go up to 81 keys but I can't remember where I saw that. I also can't begin to imagine how an 81-key JD keyboard would be laid out!

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Regards the 84 Maccan. I Knew one of the former owners of that instrument if it is the same one, and have seen inside it.

(1) It was a Wheatstone Aeola 10.75 inches across, and according to the Wheatstone Archives (see Horniman Museum) it started life as a Standard (largest size) 81 key Maccan.

(2) It had been altered to add 3 extra very low notes to the left hand side. The reeds of these low notes definitely made by Wheatstones were on "boxes" in the centre of the reed-pan. All below the usual lowest Bass C they were BB, BbBb, and ?AbAb.

(3) My guess is that the alteration had been done at an early stage by Wheatstones as the additional action exactly matched the existing ones. The BB & BbBb were in the places on a Maccan that you would expect to find them but the AbAb was inserted in the fretwork in an odd place. A surprising amount of the action had been rerouted to take these extra 3 notes.

(4) The story went that the instrument was originally made for a singer who usually sang in Flat keys hence the detached low AbAb rather than a low AA.

 

Inventor.

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I've just had the existence of an 84 mentioned to me, which I hadn't heard of before. I'm not surprised to learn that they went bigger than the 'standard family size' of 81 keys, but wondered 1) if anyone knew whether this would be a one off, or whether I might hope to trip over one like it some day, 2) where the extra range is gained and 3) if it was the same physical size as an 81 as I suspect.

 

Were there any even larger instruments made? (the Herbert Green funny aside)

 

 

Larger?

 

Do you mean by physical dimensions? Number of buttons? Range (number of distinct notes)?

 

Put another way, which is larger,

 

An instrument measuring more across the flats?

Number of studs or keys?

Uninterrupted chromatic range?

 

My bias would be for uninterrupted chromatic range with no less that a 5th and no more than an 8va overlap between the left and right sides. Just counting studs doesn't do it for me.

 

Kurt

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I'm interested in left hand range Kurt; I rarely run out of rh 'squeakers' but increasingly curse the lh on my 71 stopping at low F. (As for the overlap; I have a 9th, down to B flat in the treble and up to the second C above in the bass. I use all of it and would, I think, use more, but don't tend to worry about it)

 

I'm increasingly thinking I should look for an 81 and wondered what my chances of getting even lower were, but from the sounds of things the 84 was very much a one off, Brian? (and thanks for the explanation)

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Any 81 Key Maccann could have extra buttons added as I described earlier; up to 4 perhaps 5 on the left hand side. Colin Dipper recently made 5 Counter-bass english-concertinas and he chose to use Accordion Reeds. My club (WCCP) has two of them and the sound is excellent, in fact they sound better than many Bass & Counterbass ECs that I have heared.

However 10.75inch concertinas are very clumsy instruments; anything much over 8" becomes awkward, 9.5" as on a 71 Maccan is just about pushing the limit in my opinion. Had you considered adding buttons to your present instrument, possibly using Accordion reeds. Bass side should take another 3 perhaps 4 (?Bass accordion reeds) on boxes on the LHS. C, D, Eb, E would be very usefull. I see from my recearch documents that on the right hand side the air button of a 71 (criminally) wastes enough space for no less than 2 more notes round the edge of the reed-pan on the RHS. Whynot add g & g# there with the a on the inner space of the reedpan?

Inventor.

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Gosh that's an intriguing idea. No hadn't given it a thought, even though my 71 has 3 button holes blanked off on the LH for exactly this job; they look as if they were done by Wheatstones originally, completely homogeneous with the rest of the 'oles and it would be nice to use them.

 

The Rh keyboard comes in very close to the rest so I'm less interested in adding low notes there. Getting to the B is bad enough, and I'm not over excited at going higher; the top register isn't a nice noise to my ears, so I tend to avoid music that goes there more than occasionally. I think I would use the low notes if they were there, mind. Rather have extra overlap on the LH if anywhere, but it's lower priority than going deeper.

 

I sold myself the 71 on the principle that it was close in size to the longest dimension of my raised end 61 (now sold), it being an Aeola and 'rounder' and, as it has dural ends and shoes, of similar weight, but I can't con myself like this again. Up in weight and size is the only way with an 81 and I know it.

 

The big catch is getting it done. My only other instrument is a 56, not large enough for most of the stuff I play these days, so I have to trade it for a bigger instrument of some sort anyway before sending off the 71 for remedial work if my playing development is not to come to an abrupt halt for some time. It would leave me without a backup instrument for a while but that doesn't worry me too much. An 81 was the obvious route, but you've now got me wondering whether it should be a second 71 and send it straight off to be modified, rather than an 81. The 81 is the instant, probably cheaper, fix, but if I can keep the size down that would be highly desirable. Buy an 81 and get the 71 modified next perhaps?

 

Tricky. Thanks for that, Brian; an interesting oneto chew over.

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