|Here's a view of the left side of the instrument. If you compare this with the pictures of Darth on the previous page, you'll immediately notice that a third row of buttons has been added. That change permits a much greater range of harmonic possibilities. What may not be obvious to someone who doesn't play the instrument is that there are four other new buttons as well. Two of these at the top of the inner (C and G) rows, one in the middle nearest the hand strap, and one near the top of the strap where it can be played with the thumb.|
|And here's the right side. The thumb button here is normal; it's the "wind valve" present on all Anglos. But there are still four additional buttons beyond the ones added by the third row: Two at the top of the C and G rows, one at the bottom of the C (center) row, and the centrally placed one closest to the hand strap.|
One thing I like about these pictures -- especially the huge close-ups -- is that you can see the white circles of the air valves behind the metal grille. When a button is pressed, it lifts one of these valve pads, allowing air to flow to the two reeds in that chamber. A pair of one-way valves -- simple flaps -- within the chamber allows only one reed to sound at a time, depending on which direction air is flowing -- thus permitting each button to play two notes. (Or one, if the two reeds are turned to the same note.)
(Apologies for the blurred text -- that's a result of the "viciously agressive" image compression I'm using to try to keep this page down to a tolerable size.)
Once again, let's start with the left hand. Most of this, including the thumb button's playing F/C rather than a drone, is fairly standard for Jeffries instruments according to Levy's book (though he only describes a 31-button Anglo, not 38). I've circled one exception, where the C# is unusual.
Some instruments offer a Bb at that position. But the additional buttons at the top (right) of the keyboard provide two high Bb's and a low one (perhaps a bit excessive?), so yet another would be superfluous.
Paul Groff reports that:
... in most original (not retuned) Jeffries concertinas this button is A/D#, not to be confused with the Eb of the next higher button on the accidental row (C#/Eb). As originally tuned, the D# was tuned to a slightly lower pitch than the Eb. The D# would be used for a harmonious B major chord on the draw (B, D#, F#), and the Eb for a harmonious Eb major chord (Eb, G, Bb, on the draw, accidental row), among other uses. Substituting the D# for Eb, or vice-versa, on an original-tuning, unequal-temperament Jeffries will create a harsh "wolf tone." When concertinas are repitched to A = 440 and retuned to equal temperament, as is often done these days, many tuners don't know what to make of the apparently duplicate notes, both on the draw and in close proximity. Perhaps this is why yours was given A/C#. Of course it could have been original to that concertina, as customized or experimental layouts were common.Paul suggests that one way to find out what the original note was might be to examine the brass reed frame. If the reed was retuned, this may still have the original note stamped on it.
And here's the right side. The circled key is B/F# on some instruments (including Darth). This deprives me of a high F# on draw, which was somewhat more frustrating to me, since it interferes with playing the top end of the G scale and I had one arrangement that wanted that note (though I've since reworked it to use a lower F# instead). Jason O'Rourke and Paul Groff both say that the version shown here seems to have been standard for 38- and 39-key Jeffries anglos.
Jason says, "If you're playing Irish music, this extra G# on the draw
makes life a lot easier when you're playing in keys such as A maj or E
maj, because the other G# is awkward to reach". Paul agrees, adding:
"Some 30 key Jeffries and early Crabbs and Ball Beavons also have the
draw G#, paired with a press F# or F. More common for a 30 key
Jeffries is F#/F, often in the middle octave (the F# an octave lower
than in the B/F# key found in that position in most Lachenals and
Wheatstones). The high B is not a note most players need very often.
The high F# you have already, on the press, on your solo "inside"
button, right side. If you prefer it on the draw, as I do, e. g. for
combining as an octave with the index finger draw F#, simply swap the
little F# draw reed for the F press reed and it will be F/F#. Play it
by bringing the right ring finger in close to the handrest."
Here's what I've been able to learn so far, in the order I discovered it:
The earliest days of Charlie Jeffries are somewhat of a mystery. He does not appear to have been an ex-Wheatstone man, but a "new" maker, based in the West end of London, in and around Kilburn and Paddington. According to Henry Joseph "Harry" Crabb, interviewed in the early 1970's,"Charlie Jeffery (sic) was a tinker in the 1870's who used to go round with a barrow mending pots and pans. When he didn't get any tinkers' work, he used to busk on the concertina: People would say 'we like that, can you get us one made?' -- so that's how he got started. He came to my grandfather (John Crabb, 1831-1908) for making them, then he eventually started assembling them himself. My grandfather used to make the parts and he had somebody else to make the reeds. Gradually he accumulated enough knowledge to do it himself."This is confirmed by Tommy Williams, a Lachenal employee who knew Charles Jeffries and his sons in the 1920's --"Charlie Jeffries -- he used to be a tinker -- had never been taught anything, most extraordinary, as he turned out the finest anglos, an instrument that no other maker could equal. He used the hardest steel, and very solid construction. It was Harry Crabb's grandfather who made them for Jeffries -- he done the woodwork -- but later on, the first Charlie Jeffries became independent. There was four sons -- the last one dies some time back, and the ones he turned out was shocking!"His eldest son was also named Charles, and there were sons William and Tom Jeffries also in the business.