I have just seen the prototype of a new Hayden duet system concertina, made in Russia by a master bayan-maker. The instrument was shown to me by Brian Hayden, who was running the concertina drop-in sessions at Sidmouth on behalf of the West Country Concertina Players. But first, a couple of photos of the instrument provided to me by Brian:-
Left hand end
Right hand end
Please bear in mind when reading this that I am not a Hayden (or indeed any sort of duet) player, and that I only had the chance to handle it for a few minutes. As you can see, the fretwork is unusual and attractive. It is a fairly heavy beast, but considering that is has 65 (sixty five!) buttons - twice the number of the average anglo - this seems pretty reasonable. The action feels smooth and high quality. Brian tells me it is based on the Jeffries action, so the maker has followed a good model.
I was unable to look inside, but Brian showed me a picture of the reed plate. It seems that the maker has used bayan techniques to prduce this. As it happens I was unaware until now that bayan makers had their own techniques as distinct from those of Western accordion makers, but I now know different. The reed plate is one large sheet of metal, with the reeds riveted directly onto the metal sheet. In shape, the reeds are closer to concertina reeds rather than accordion reeds. The sound resembles that of accordion-reed based anglos - at the better end of those instruments, not dissimilar to the Morse Ceili anglo. It is pleasant and does not grate.
Brian says that the bellows are made from accordion materials, and I have to say that they look the most unsatisfactory feature of the new instrument. Brian himself estimates that they are only likely to last a few years of hard playing, but after that they can be replaced with a decent set by one of the major concertina makers such as the Dippers or A. C. Norman.
So, I have a caveat about the bellows, but the rest of the concertina looks a fine instrument. Brian himself was obviously very pleased with it, and no wonder. Now that Stagi have started making cheap Haydens again, and with this instrument coming onstream the stage seems set for an upsurge in the Hayden duet system.
Here are some technical specifications, courtesy of Samantha Boorer (who was instrumental in setting up the connection between Brian Hayden and the Russian maker):-
It measures 7" across the flats, has 65 buttons and weighs 4lb2oz. There are 30 buttons plus air on the left hand with a range from F (bottom space, bass clef), G, A, then fully chromatic to b' (middle line, treble clef), and 35 on the right giving a chromatic range from g (two ledger lines below treble clef) to d"' and then e"' (three ledger lines up off the top of treble clef). The first few instruments will be made of mahogany (solid not veneer). The retail price will it is hoped be initially US$2,000, plus shipping.
For further information you can email Samantha Boorer.