42-button "Improved Anglo-German Concertina"
by George Jones
fully restored

  • 42-button anglo concertina
    • George Jones #22795
    • keyboard layout described in Jones' 1884 patent, "Improvements in Anglo-German Concertinas"
    • recently and fully restored
    • concert pitch

  • Construction Basics:
    • steel reeds
    • rosewood ends, 6-3/4" across the flats
    • 42 bushed bone buttons, 21 in each hand, w/ numbers stamped on their ends
    • rivetted action
    • apparently new 6-fold, black bellows, with papers
    • original wooden case, though with cracked lid and broken hinges & latch

  • Something Special:
    • This is a very special instrument.  How so?
      Aside from being a rare bit of history and fully playable, its deliberately chromatic layout is, in my opinion, much better than a standard 38- or 40-button layout for playing music that isn't restricted to a few simple diationic scales or "keys".  E.g., popular songs or jazz.  But it's no disadvantage for playing the "simpler" traditional musics.  The placement of the "accidentals"and the number of notes found in both directions give the player far greater control over when to change bellows direction and whether to push or pull.  (See below for more about the keyboard layout.)
    • Then why would I allow myself to part with such an instrument?
      Because my hands aren't right for it.  To make best use of the 7-wide rows -- with 6 mm buttons on 14 mm centers -- requires longer and stronger little fingers than mine.  But for someone with larger hands, especially someone who finds the usual anglo-German layout too compact and wishes for a compromise between that and the larger layout and buttons of the cheap German "anglos", this could be just the thing.

  • The Keyboard Layout:
    • Chris Algar, who had this instrument restored, at first thought it was some sort of bandonion.  It's not.  As Jones says in his patent, "The object of this Invention is to enable the performer to play music in every key on an Anglo German concertina which cannot be done with such an Instrument as heretofore usually constructed."
    • As such, the "core" 20 buttons are the same as on a standard C/G anglo.  All the usual 3rd-row buttons are also there, but not all of them are where you'd expect them.  In the left hand, the reverse G/A is not in the 3rd row, but at the end of the C row, right beside the regular G/A.  And the right hand has a reverse G/A at the left end of the 3rd row, right under the index finger.  In both hands, the main C# and D# are next to each other in the 3rd row, and each in both directions on a single button.  The same is true of G# and A# (Bb).  The left hand has a pull middle C, a reverse E/F, and in addition to the usual F#, another button under the index finger that has F# in both directions.  The right hand has "extra" both-way buttons for both F and F#, again under the index finger.  These just some of the details that I feel make this layout useful; for the full detail, see the diagram in the patent.
    • But aside from the individual buttons, what are the overall advantages of this layout?
      • From the lowest G to A above the highest G -- more than 3 octaves -- every note of the chromatic scale is available.  Of those 39 notes, all but 5 -- the lowest G# and the notes above the highest E -- are available in both directions, and 8 provide alternate fingerings in one of the directions.
      • This means that *any* 3-note chord (major, minor, diminished, augmented,...) is available over more than a 2 octave range in both directions.  Even all 4-note chords (6ths & 7ths, major & minor, etc.) are there for 2 full octaves, though the very highest are only in one direction.
      • It also means that quick runs of notes can always be made in a single direction, and in either direction, except at the very high and low ends.  Yet you can always change bellows direction if you want to, and when you want to.
      • Although I find the 3x7 button layout to be too wide for my hands (at least with this size and spacing of buttons), I'm glad that it's all in three rows.  I find the fourth row of buttons between the G row and the hand rail on a standard 38- or 40-button awkward to reach.

  • Further Comments:
    • Do I have anything to say about this instrument that's not superlative?
      • The action isn't as quick as either my Jeffries, Morse, or 32-button Jones, though I think it's certainly adequate.  Also, I think that's due more to the action than the reeds, and that it's because the buttons have a longer travel than on the other instruments.  If I were keeping this I think I would eventually put extra bottom bushings on the buttons to shorten the travel, as the pads have plenty of clearance.
      • The rows have very little arc; they're almost straight.  I prefer a more pronounced arc, but someone else might not.  (I think I would have less problem reaching with my little fingers if the outer ends of the rows arced downward.)
      • This design by Jones apparently never caught on, and it seems that very few were made.  I don't know why, but I certainly don't think that it was musically unsound.  Quite the contrary.  Though the instrument doesn't fit my hands, I find that the more I try to work with the layout, the more I like it.  If I ever win the lottery, I think I would order a new instrument built with this layout, but smaller, closer buttons and more arced rows.
      • And neither good nor bad, but the mechanism on the air button is unusual.  Not unique; I've seen something like it before, and William Wheatstone describes something similar in his 1861 patent.  But I've taken some photos specifically to show its mechanism.

  • Photos & Sound Files:
    • Photos to show the instrument and its condition.
    • Some sound files to give an idea what the instrument sounds like, and a little of what it can do.  I'm not an expert player, so this is simple stuff.  In particular, I haven't worked up any arrangements which adequately demonstrate its chromatic capabilities.  I hope the push and pull chromatic scales show that those capabilities are there..

  • Some sound files of this instrument:
    • Young Collins -- an English Morris dance tune (126 Kb)
      "English style" playing: left-hand chords against right-hand melody
    • Redesdale Hornpipe -- an Irish hornpipe (283 Kb)
      "Irish style" playing: just melody
    • Derwentwater's Farewell -- a Northumbrian air (308 Kb)
      simple 2-part harmony
    • Santiano -- a bit of a sea shanty (271 Kb)
      showing simple modulation: Dm/C to D#m/C#
    • each note in each direction -- to demonstrate sound and response (210 Kb)
      (you're not expected to memorize from this which note is where)
    • all-push chromatic scale -- Ab-E, almost 3 octaves with no gaps(72 Kb)
      there are still some notes above and below these, but some gaps in the scale
    • all-pull chromatic scale -- C-D more than 2 octaves (81 Kb)
      actually, it goes down to A before there are gaps, but I missed recording those lower 3 notes
    • reversals -- response with quick bellows reversals (71 Kb)
      a random selection is representative; I think doing all 42 buttons is too much

Click on any image to see it full size.
Each full-size image is 90-190 Kb.

Oblique view fof left end and bellows.

View of left end.
Side view,
showing bellows.
View of right end.
View of action.
(Right end)

Underside of right-end action board.
Top view of reed pan.
(Right end)
Underside view of reed pan..
(Note air valve mechanism.)
"G. Jones Maker" stamp
on reed pan.

Serial number.

Button tops showing numbers.
(Hmm.  Not all in the right places.
That should be fixed.)
View into bellows,
with bellows partly extended.

Detail of rivetted action.
Air valve mechanism,
from the top.
Button part of air valve mechanism,
from the side.
Valve part of air valve mechanism,
underneath reed pan..