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Wicki-Hayden duet


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I recently took possession of my new 46 key Wakker Hayden duet, made by my request with the handrest parallel to the key rows as in the 1896 Kaspar Wicki design. My rationale for this is here (Nov. 18, 2007). I find that this set-up gives more room to the little finger, and some players might find this feels more natural than the 11 degree slant. Wim is planning to offer this as an option on his new website, which should go online in about a month. The instrument is pictured on my profile as my personal photo. It will be at the Palestine (Texas) Old Time Music Festival at the end of the month if anyone is interested in trying it out.

Edited by jim bayliss
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The slant question is a tricky one. My current thinking is that it is easier to play straight melodies with the buttons parallel. But the slant gives access to certain button combinations for chording that would be tricky otherwise. I think it may be the sort of thing that depends on your style, but I suspect the slant gives more chording options.

 

I can approximate a parallel layout by holding the concertina twisted somewhat. Or I can try an opposite slant by playing it backwards (the left side with the right hand, and vice versa). That makes some of my chords not work out, but the melody comes out fine. I imagine you'll learn to favor whatever chord combinations are easiest with the slant you have.

 

In any case, let us know how you progress, and post some sound clips if you can. As well as a larger photo...

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I'd be eager to try it if you ever bring it north (or if I ever make it to Palestine). I've gotten so used to the slant that I'm tempted to think "why bother with something different?" but I'm always ready to try something new.

 

I'd also be curious about your impressions of the comparison between your new Wakker 48 and the Wheatstone 48 you've had for years (regardless of the slant). I had a chance to play Jeff's (Boney) Wakker 48 for a brief time and was impressed.

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I'd also be curious about your impressions of the comparison between your new Wakker 48 and the Wheatstone 48 you've had for years (regardless of the slant).

 

The sound difference between the two instruments is what I would expect between a wood and a metal end plate. The Wheatstone 46 with the metal end plate is loud and bright (as you know), and the Wakker with the Paduk end plate is more mellow and sweet. It would be interesting to hear a Wakker with a metal end plate. The Wakker has flat buttons. The Wakker is 8-sided and the Wheatstone is 6 sided. Construction-wise, the Wakker has 6 reed-plates positioned in the center on both ends, whereas all the reed plates are on the sides in the Wheatstone. Aesthetically, I am enjoying the tree patterned fretwork on the Wakker.

Edited by jim bayliss
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I'd also be curious about your impressions of the comparison between your new Wakker 48 and the Wheatstone 48 you've had for years (regardless of the slant).

 

. . . . Construction-wise, the Wakker has 6 reed-plates positioned in the center on both ends, whereas all the reed plates are on the sides in the Wheatstone. Aesthetically, I am enjoying the tree patterned fretwork on the Wakker.

By reed plates, do you mean metal plates with several reeds in each plate? Or reed cells that mount the reeds up sidewayrs, as in an accordion? I thought Wakker instruments used traditional reeds. But personally I think multi-reed plates are a great way to go, to pack in all those reeds that a Hayden demands.

 

As for the slant -- I always thought that the RH slant away from the pinky makes things tougher for a little finger that already has enough problems. But, like David, I've grown so accustomed to my Haydens that I might find it takes a while to learn a parallel keyboard.

 

And I do agree (with what Boney implies) that the normal slant of the RH is good for melodies, while the LH slant encourages chords.

 

Alas, one of our favorite Hayden players can no longer check in with his valuable opinion ... tho Rich did check in last year when we were comparing the slants on Stagis, Bastaris, and the "good stuff".

 

The question remains open as to whether the standard 12.5 degree slant was chosen for human-factors reasons (ease of playing).

So that new Wakker is another data point in such an experiment -- good!

--Mike K.

Edited by ragtimer
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By reed plates, do you mean metal plates with several reeds in each plate? Or reed cells that mount the reeds up sidewayrs, as in an accordion? I thought Wakker instruments used traditional reeds.

Wakker uses traditional concertina reeds mounted in what are properly called reed shoes or reed carriers, not reed plates, which suggests the accordion arrangement of two reeds per piece on a rectangular plate. I'm sure that's what Jim meant.

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Jim,

 

I'll be down at Palestine and look forward to hearing you duet. I keep going back to the Wakker sight and have started saving for one. It'll be nice to be able to actually see and hear one in person; maybe even try it out although I don't play duet at this time.

 

See you there

 

jim durdin

 

I recently took possession of my new 46 key Wakker Hayden duet, made by my request with the handrest parallel to the key rows as in the 1896 Kaspar Wicki design. My rationale for this is here (Nov. 18, 2007). I find that this set-up gives more room to the little finger, and some players might find this feels more natural than the 11 degree slant. Wim is planning to offer this as an option on his new website, which should go online in about a month. The instrument is pictured on my profile as my personal photo. It will be at the Palestine (Texas) Old Time Music Festival at the end of the month if anyone is interested in trying it out.
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By reed plates, do you mean metal plates with several reeds in each plate? Or reed cells that mount the reeds up sidewayrs, as in an accordion?

As David mentioned, the correct term would be reed shoe or carrier (or frame). Three traditional concertina reeds with frames are placed in the middle on each side of the reed pan, making 6 per end. I'll send a photo when (and if) I figure out how to do this.

Jim B.

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  • 6 months later...
I recently took possession of my new 46 key Wakker Hayden duet, made by my request with the handrest parallel to the key rows as in the 1896 Kaspar Wicki design. My rationale for this is here (Nov. 18, 2007). I find that this set-up gives more room to the little finger, and some players might find this feels more natural than the 11 degree slant. Wim is planning to offer this as an option on his new website, which should go online in about a month. The instrument is pictured on my profile as my personal photo. It will be at the Palestine (Texas) Old Time Music Festival at the end of the month if anyone is interested in trying it out.

And it occurs to me to wonder:

Slanted or parallel, why should the rows necessarily be straight?

After all, the only other popular concertina keyboard layouts that have strictly straight rows are the 20-button German "anglo" and its German derivatives. English-design anglo keyboards have rows with a built-in arc, even in the 20-button version. The button layouts of Jeffries-system duets are identical to those of Jeffries anglos with the same number of buttons. The rows of Crane duets generally have an arc (I believe I've seen some with more arc than others), though my Jeffries-made Crane changes this into a chevron shape. And the rows of the Maccann also form something of an arc or chevron. Even the English, which isn't really comparable, because of the quite different means of holding it, has two half-rows offset from each other, rather than single rows straight across. (The straight "rows" parallel to the length of the fingers I call "columns", to distinguish them from the "rows".)

 

A quick answer might be that the regularity of the Hayden layout would be lost. That is true, but it's only a geometrical regularity. "Only"? Isn't it that geometrical regularity that makes all fingering patterns -- for both chords and melodies -- the same, regardless of the key? Yes, but here's where I bring up another factor: The directions and distances between the buttons are the same for (e.g.) major triads in all the keys, but the distances and directions reached by the fingers are not.

 

Hayden players, when shifting from a tune in C to a tune in D, do you really (and always) actually shift your hand one button's worth to the right on the rail (hand bar)? Even if you do make such a shift when changing key, I'll bet you don't shift among the I, IV, and V chords of any given tune just by physically moving your entire hand, rather than by modifying the reach of your fingers. And so the uniformity of the keyboard layout actually requires a compensating non-uniformity in the movement of the hands and fingers. Would it then be such a bad thing to introduce a small "nonuniform" alteration to the Hayden -- specifically a bit of an arc to the rows, -- which could make it easier to reach "more distant" buttons with the little finger? And in changing keys, that could also reduce the sideways component of motion slightly by introducing a new, though small, rotational component.

 

For an extreme example of arced rows which bring the buttons for the little fingers closer to the hand rail, see the 1924 Pitt Taylor design (p. 16 in the PDF document, though with an"8" showing on it from the original document). My little fingers are much shorter than my other fingers, and since I own that instrument, I can report that it really makes a difference in my ability to reach the buttons with my little fingers. (You may also notice that the keyboards for the two hands are mirrored. I don't find that in itself to be either an advantage or a disadvantage.)

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I've ordered a Tedrow Hayden with parallel (no-slant) buttons and I know for sure of at least one other person who is doing the same. I see two key advantages to parallel rows:

 

1. Access by the little finger.

2. Reversed end playing.

 

Searching these forums, and interviews, I've tried to find a rationale for the slant and the best I can come up with is possibly easier access to some cording combos. That advantage seems to be completely overwhelmed by the negative aspect of buttons receding away from the little finger, always it seems, as the bellows pull goes out.

 

I remember when I first got my Stagi I sort of chuckled and thought "some silly person has taken this thing apart and put it back together backwards, because obviously if there is to be a slant it should go the other way". I was amazed when I discovered that it couldn't be turned around, and that it was, in fact, the standard! My next reaction was "hey, it's the standard, and the Hayden world has blessed it, so get busy squeezing." As time went by I started experimenting with trying to simulate a parallel handrest and have become convinced that the instrument would be significantly easier for me to play with the buttons parallel to the handrest.

Edited by Jim Albea
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i think that the adjustable handrest option such as carroll concertinas offers would negate this discussion... people can choose their own angle and distance from the keyboard, and could change it on a whim. any struggles i have reaching any button with a good tone with my pinkie would be moot if i had an adjustable handrest (i can reach every note, but getting good tone support AND reaching it with my pinkie is difficult).

 

i have seen some anglo players with adjustable handrests adjust the handrests to be at noticeable angles, much more extreme than the angle of a hayden's keyboard. rather than making this built into the instrument by choosing angled or un-angled buttons, why not give players control by allowing adjustable handrests?

Edited by david_boveri
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i think that the adjustable handrest option ... would negate this discussion... people can choose their own angle and distance from the keyboard, and could change it on a whim. ...

 

i have seen some anglo players with adjustable handrests adjust the handrests to be at noticeable angles, much more extreme than the angle of a hayden's keyboard. rather than making this built into the instrument by choosing angled or un-angled buttons, why not give players control by allowing adjustable handrests?

 

Here is a proposed design (with diagram and mock-up) of an adjustable handrest that I did:

 

Photos of adjustable handle mock-up

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So, how's it going with the parallel button rows? What are the main differences for you?

 

Of my 3 quality Hayden duets, the one I usually reach for first in practice is the no-slant Wakker 46. I've been unable to find any advantages to the slant, and the no slant Wicki design is easier on the little fingers and, I think, feels more natural. I think it is a big advantage of the Wicki-Hayden button arrangement to have a built-in, flexible, semi-systematic fingering system (call it "correct", "home", "scale", or whatever). I've been able to get fairly comfortable with going back and forth between my Wakker 46 and my slanted Wheatstone 46 by adjusting my wrists and mind.

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