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Crane Or Mc Cann ?


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Hello my new friends,

 

Since weeks I documented myself about different types of concertinas, exchanged mails with some of you, listened a lot and profited by wise and generous advices, I have been to the history site to see the layouts, ....

I am decided about the concertina I want : a crane (or a MC Cann ?) 48 keys with wooden ends and a warm, mellow, deep and talkative timber... !!! I will probably buy my instrument to Chris Algar.

But I need advices again, from duet players this time ! I would like to know about the sizes (I donot want a too big instrument), what about the straps (thumb or hand ?) what about the different sounds, how would you characterize and name wheatstone, Lachenal, Triumphs McCann, ... mechanically, soundly... talking ???

Crane seems easier to play to my logical but anyway, I could get used I think to any, i will work on it...

Any information is welcomed...

I am to sell my celtic harp and two beautiful bandoneons to be able to add to the price of my concertina !

Well, thank you to make me benefit from your experience again !

Caroline

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I am decided about the concertina I want : a crane (or a MC Cann ?) 48 keys with wooden ends and a warm, mellow, deep and talkative timber... !!!

 

But I need advices again, from duet players this time ! I would like to know about the sizes (I donot want a too big instrument), what about the straps (thumb or hand ?) what about the different sounds, how would you characterize and name wheatstone, Lachenal, Triumphs McCann, ... mechanically, soundly... talking ???

Crane seems easier to play to my logical but anyway, I could get used I think to any, i will work on it...

Any information is welcomed...

 

I am to sell my celtic harp........

Hi Caroline,

 

It's a shame that the harp has to go.

 

For someone approaching a Duet concertina for the first time, the Crane (or Triumph) keyboard might be considered easier to learn. I was already "dabbling" with the Maccann system when I tried the Crane, so did not progress very far.

 

The general concensus, from previous postings, seems to be that the minimum number of keys, for a useful instrument, is 48 for a Crane and 55 for a Maccann. However, it really depends on the type of music which you want to play. I'm assuming that you will want to play standing up (at least some of the time), so wish to avoid a weight penalty which the larger instruments carry. Wooden ends would be a good choice; more mellow and a little lighter in weight.

 

Duet concertinas have hand-straps as opposed to thumb-straps.

 

In terms of availability, Chris Algar will probably have both Crane and Maccann available. From recent buying/selling activity listed on this Forum, the Maccann Duets seem to be more numerous. In terms of maker, I would favour Wheatstone, but then Lachenal also made some outstanding concertinas. If you do decide on the Crane system, you might find only Lachenal currently available, unless you are prepared to wait.

 

I can only think of Jim Lucas, on this Forum, who has much experience with both systems. Others will only be able to advise why they favour their chosen system.

 

Hope that this is of some help.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Well, despite the name, I have owned both.

 

I sold the MacCann.

 

Nevertheless, both have their advantages and drawbacks. The Crane is probably more strictly logical, but is awkward in keys with lots of accidentals, because they're all in the outside rows. The MacCann has some accidentals in the middle. But hey, I can play most of what I want in easier keys.

 

Size depends on what you want to do. I could play most of my song accompanyments on a smaller Crane, I only really need the 48 key for dance tunes, though I've now got a 55, which gives more scope on the left hand. Smaller MacCanns, I believe, are more restricted as they only go down to the 'G' above middle 'C' in the right hand, whereas even the smallest Cranes go down to middle 'C'. For a lighter instrument, a 48 key Crane beats a 46 key MacCann for most things.

 

Try both. Speak to people who play both. Then get the best instrument you can afford. Whatever it is, you'll have to learn to play around its drawbacks and use its advantages.

 

I'm still glad I found a Crane as my first concertina.

 

Andrew

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Hi Caroline,

 

I can highly recommend buying a Lachenal Crane from Chris Algar -- he was very patient and helpful with me a couple of years ago when I bought my "Salvation Army Triumph" Lachenal 48 from him. I've found the Crane layout quite logical though I'll have to agree with Andrew that Cranes seem happier in simpler keys. A 48 would be fine but I think a 55 key would be even better, if they're neither heavier nor larger. Notice that many Cranes / Triumphs are from the Salvation Army and have wooden ends but plain black bellows. I hope you'll enjoy your Crane / Triumph as much as I do and please give Chris my best.

 

Henri in Central Florida

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You might care to read my article "So you think you want to buy a duet concertina" linked from the buying guide page: http://www.concertina.net/guide.html

 

The main choice at this level is between a 46-key Maccann and a 48-key Crane (or possibly, for reasons given in the article, a 42-key Crane, though there aren't very many of them in good condition around). The 46-Maccann will probably cost you about £200 to £300 less than the 48-Crane, or about the same as a 42-Crane, for a comparable quality of concertina.

 

Everyone above has trumpeted the advantages of the 48-Crane, though not putting in words the main one, namely going down to Middle C in the RH. But there are a lot of 46-key Maccanns out there being played, probably rather more than 48-key Cranes, so they can't be that terrible. But at the end of the day, what is best for you at a given budget level depends what you want to do with your concertina. I hope what I wrote in my article will help you think about those details, and help you make the right choice for you within your budget.

 

Someone said that they think 55 keys is the minimum useful size for a Maccann. What the minimum useful size for a Maccann is depends what you want to do with it. I would think that many people would rather have the smaller lighter 46-key than have a 55-key, whose main practical advantage is filling in that annoying missing D in the LH, a small gain for 9 extra keys, most of which I would happily do without. For most people, it is the 57-key, of the variety that goes down to Middle C in the RH, that provides a serious leap of extra usefulness over the 46-key. The best comparator for a 57-key Maccann is a 55-key Crane, which have remarkably similar capabilities. Both have 2 complete octaves from baritone C in the LH, and go down to Middle C in the right. I am not aware of a systematic price difference between them, which tends to suggest that the inherent differences between Maccann and Crane system are rather moot.

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Well, despite the name, I have owned both.

 

I sold the MacCann.

 

Nevertheless, both have their advantages and drawbacks. The Crane is probably more strictly logical, but is awkward in keys with lots of accidentals, because they're all in the outside rows. The MacCann has some accidentals in the middle. But hey, I can play most of what I want in easier keys.

 

Size depends on what you want to do. I could play most of my song accompanyments on a smaller Crane, I only really need the 48 key for dance tunes, though I've now got a 55, which gives more scope on the left hand. Smaller MacCanns, I believe, are more restricted as they only go down to the 'G' above middle 'C' in the right hand, whereas even the smallest Cranes go down to middle 'C'. For a lighter instrument, a 48 key Crane beats a 46 key MacCann for most things.

 

Try both. Speak to people who play both. Then get the best instrument you can afford. Whatever it is, you'll have to learn to play around its drawbacks and use its advantages.

 

I'm still glad I found a Crane as my first concertina.

 

Andrew

 

Andrew,

 

Thank you for your vues based on your experience. Why is it a disadvantage to have accidental on the outside rows on a Crane ?

Unfortunately I will not have the chance to try both, even one of them because THe only 4 concertina players in Montréal plays on other kinds of tinas !!!

What could you tell me about the sound comparing a Lachenal 48-K Crane (Mister Algar told me it would be this ) and a 55-K Mc Cann ?

:blink:

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Hi Caroline,

 

I can highly recommend buying a Lachenal Crane from Chris Algar -- he was very patient and helpful with me a couple of years ago when I bought my "Salvation Army Triumph" Lachenal 48 from him. I've found the Crane layout quite logical though I'll have to agree with Andrew that Cranes seem happier in simpler keys. A 48 would be fine but I think a 55 key would be even better, if they're neither heavier nor larger. Notice that many Cranes / Triumphs are from the Salvation Army and have wooden ends but plain black bellows. I hope you'll enjoy your Crane / Triumph as much as I do and please give Chris my best.

 

Henri in Central Florida

 

 

Hello Henri,

 

I have just wrote to Mister Algar, I am convinced he will be the best person for my need ! He doesn't have Crane 48 for the moment.

Does the 55-Crane have more keys on the left hand ? Why is it better ? Did you mean it isn't bigger and heavier ? Is it really possible ? The price should be !!!

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I can only think of Jim Lucas, on this Forum, who has much experience with both systems. Others will only be able to advise why they favour their chosen system.

My particular experience, such as it is, has been in comparing systems and what they can do. I'm not a great performer on either the Crane or Maccann; my performing is done mainly on the English, which I've been playing for much longer. But I do have the advantage of having both a Crane and a Maccann "at my fingertips", which allows me to experiment. And at my level of playing skill, I'm confident that if I can play something comfortably -- albeit slowly, -- then someone who concentrates on the instrument should be able to do the same, with reasonable speed and skill.

 

...both have their advantages and drawbacks. The Crane is probably more strictly logical, but is awkward in keys with lots of accidentals, because they're all in the outside rows. The MacCann has some accidentals in the middle. But hey, I can play most of what I want in easier keys.
Why is it a disadvantage to have accidental on the outside rows on a Crane ?

In my experience, it's not. I think that if Andrew experiences an awkwardness, it must come either from lack of practice using the accidentals or possibly the way he thinks about them; there should be no physical awkwardness.. And to make sure I'm not just talking through my own Crane-colored glasses, I have just tried a few pieces -- a tune in G, a tune in D, a tune in D with RH melody and LH chords, and a tune in G with RH melody and a LH harmony line, -- then each both up a half step (e.g., from G to G#=Ab) and down a half step (from G to F#).

 

I don't normally play in those other keys, but my fingers didn't experience any entanglements, and they quickly began to "feel" where each note of the scale was. And that was an exercise in transposing, making a mental shift of each note from a familiar key to an unfamiliar one as I was playing. When reading music, I don't think twice about where the accidentals are; I know. If I had written those pieces out transposed, I would have been able to play them much more quickly. While the pattern of the accidentals isn't quite as simple as the 1-2-3 of the natural notes, it's still a "pattern" which isn't difficult to learn with practice.

 

And the same is true with the Maccann. While I've personally been more comfortable with the Crane than the Maccann, that is a personal thing. I don't believe that either is inherently better for the majority of people, or even for any particular kind of music. You seem to have concluded that the Crane will suit you better, so I say, "Go for it!" But if you had decided on the Maccann, I would have said the same.

 

The general concensus, from previous postings, seems to be that the minimum number of keys, for a useful instrument, is 48 for a Crane and 55 for a Maccann. However, it really depends on the type of music which you want to play. I'm assuming that you will want to play standing up (at least some of the time), so wish to avoid a weight penalty which the larger instruments carry. Wooden ends would be a good choice; more mellow and a little lighter in weight.
I have just wrote to Mister Algar, I am convinced he will be the best person for my need ! He doesn't have Crane 48 for the moment.

Does the 55-Crane have more keys on the left hand ?

The 48 button Crane has 20 buttons/notes in the left hand and 28 in the right, while the 55-button has 25 and 30, respectively. In both hands, the additional notes on the 55 are at the top of the range; both the 48 and the 55 have the same lowest notes in each hand, and each is fully chromatic all the way to the bottom.

 

Why is it better ?

"Better", of course, depends on what you want to do with the instrument. The main "advantage" of the 55 over the 48 is the greater range in the left hand -- a full two octaves, -- with the additional musical capabilities that implies. The 48 has 1½ octaves (from C below middle C to G above).

 

Did you mean it isn't bigger and heavier ? Is it really possible ?

It is possible, though not absolutely true. Right now I have a 48-button, rosewood-ended "Crane & Sons" Crane (actually made for them by Lachenal, I understand) and 55-button, ebony-ended Lachenal New Model Crane. They are exactly the same size and weight. But I have had a 55-button, ebony-ended Lachenal Edeophone Crane which was substantially larger and heavier than either.

 

So if you're dealing with Chris Algar, make sure he knows you want a light-weight instrument (if you do), and he'll advise you appropriately. But my impression is that the commonest 55-button Crane is the Lachenal New Model, so if that's what Chris has, for weight it's likely to be as good as a simpler 48-button... though it will be more expensive.

 

Good luck, have fun, please keep us up to date... and of course, ask as many questions as you like. :)

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Caroline,

 

First, I'm by no means an expert player but I'll offer my observations accordingly.

 

I prefer the sound of the lower end of these concertinas to the higher end, so I tend to play the lower available notes of each hand, if that makes any sense.

 

Caroline, here's some additional "duet concertina anatomy" information that you may not be aware of or that you might not appreciate the utility of. The highest notes on the left hand are the same as the lowest notes on the right hand -- this is typically called "overlap" and allows refreshing flexibility in choosing the fingerings of various arrangements of music. Cranes, Maccanns, and even Anglos, include overlap, all in somewhat different arrangements. For example, the left hand on a 48-button Crane goes from the Ivan's valuable C below Middle C up a full octave to C and then it continues to the G above that. This second, higher C on the left hand plays the same pitch as the lowest note on the right hand, on it's own reed, of course -- so this higher half octave on the left hand duplicates the lowest half octave on the right hand, note for note. I find that I tend to play notes in this range quite frequently and having the choice of fingers and left / right hands is a definite "nice to have" for me. With a 55-button Crane, this "overlap" is be the full chromatic octave, which is something I'm looking forward to exploring down the line "when my ship comes in" and I'm able to trade up.

 

Good luck and keep us informed of your Duet Adventures!

 

Henri in Central Florida, where we had a few snow flurries last night for the first time in five years which caused only minimal damage to our citrus crops, thank goodness

Edited by Henri VIII
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I have both a 46 key MacCaan and a 48 key Crane, both Lachenal.

 

in terms of actual size, the 48 key is 1/4" larger across the flats than the Macaan, its noticeble, but hardly effects playing. Its also a tad heavier, which makes sense due to the extra notes and size). Neither box has an air button.

 

My feeling is that both systems are good, though I focus now on my Crane as its a Barlycorn special, fully restored, and my Macaan is badly in need of valves (though my right side works great). I'm having it restored by a pro restorer and will get back to it as I still want to play on it despite having my Crane.

 

The 46 key MacCaan lacks a low D, and has an amusingly awkward palcement of Eb, other than that I think its a fine system.

 

Howver, if I could go back in time, and could only choose one box, I surely would choose the Crane. BUT, I do like the MacCaan system: I come from a guitar/mandolin background and the zig-zagging scales of the MacCaan system remind me alot of playing on a guitar.

 

On the other hand, the consistent 4ths arrangement of the Crane layout also reminds me of my guitar - straight up the middle row is EADG.. which is just like standard guitar tuning (at least for a little while as it keeps going up in 4ths).

 

One last note (cough...) when your playing and you make a mistake on the Crane, such as hitting an extra button, it can be a note that fits in, that is, if I play a C and accidentally hit the G right below it, it doesn't sound nearly as bad as the squawking Eb which triumphantly announces your clumsiness on the MaCaan.

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The highest notes on the left hand are the same as the lowest notes on the right hand -- this is typically called "overlap" and allows refreshing flexibility in choosing the fingerings of various arrangements of music. Cranes, Maccanns, and even Anglos, include overlap, all in somewhat different arrangements.

True.

 

For example, the left hand on a 48-button Crane goes from the Ivan's valuable Middle C up a full octave to C and then it continues to the G above that.

False.

The left hand starts (low end) not on middle C, but an octave lower. It's the right hand that starts on middle C.

 

But I'm sure that Henri knows that and has just made an inadvertent error, because the following is true:

This second, higher C on the left hand plays the same pitch as the lowest note on the right hand, on it's own reed, of course -- so this higher half octave on the left hand duplicates the lowest half octave on the right hand, note for note. ... With a 55-button Crane, this "overlap" is [a] full chromatic octave, which is something I'm looking forward to exploring down the line "when my ship comes in" and I'm able to trade up.

Note that where you have the same pitches in the two hands, the fingerings are different, but with the "same" fingering in the two hands you'll get the notes played in octaves. The same is true of a 46-button Maccann. On a Hayden duet the fingering is the same in every octave. On larger Maccanns, some octave jumps have the same fingerings, though toward the higher end of the range in each hand this breaks down.

 

But don't worry; you should quickly get used to the patterns. Your fingers don't depend on "logic", only on practice.

 

Henri in Central Florida, where we had a few snow flurries last night for the first time in five years which caused only minimal damage to our citrus crops, thank goodness

Completely unrelated to concertinas, of course, but the weather does seem to concern us all. Here in Helsingør we're in our second of 3 windy days (steady at 11 m/s = 25 mph, gusting to 18 m/s = 40 mph), though the rain and snow are holding off until tomorrow, when the temperature will rise from just below freezing to just above. After tomorrow the winds are supposed to fall to a steady 7-8 m/s (16-18 mph) through most of next week, with continuing rain and snow. Not bad, though, considering we're 56° N latitude, or about 1100 miles (1750 km) north of New York City. :D

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