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Author Topic: Renovated Preciosa  (Read 1976 times)

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Renovated Preciosa
« on: December 06, 2008, 01:20:26 PM »

Just got mine back from Theo this morning and it's brilliant!

-- retuned from C/F to D/G 4th button doh (but not de-clubbed)
-- 2Hz sharp/2Hz flat tuning (or "Dedic" tuning, as Theo called it -- word must be spreading :-)
-- accidentals changed (see details below)
-- pallets refaced (very airtight indeed now)
-- inside corner of bass end rounded off very nicely with curved pearloid (it hurt my hand before)
-- thirds in all bass chords replaced with a second unison fifth (Theo's suggestion -- great idea)

The bass end reed setup in the Preciosa is *very* unusual -- there are a total of 6 reeds for bass note and chord, with 2 reeds shared between then using a linkage. For example for G the bass note only reeds would be G2 and G3, the shared reeds are G4 and G5, the chord only reeds are B4 and D5 -- so the bass note plays G2 G3 G4 G5 (4 octaves!) and the chord plays G4 B4 D5 G5. As Theo said, this gives it a characteristically bright bass end sound, but means if you want to play minor and cross-modal tunes removing the third leaves a very thin sounding chord -- so he suggested doubling up the fifth, which sounds terrific :-)

The accidental setup was chosen to give all accidentals in both octaves, with the middle ones available in both directions -- I went through all the weird tunes (with accidentals and in other keys) that I play and logged which are used in which direction, and ended up with this:

half row:  G#/Bb(low)  Eb/Eb F/F  G#/Bb(high) -- Eb and F are unisonic, needed about 50:50 both ways

G row:  G/C  B/D  D/F#  G/A  B/C  D/D  G/F#  B/A  D/C  G/E -- complete scale down to low G (with D row)

D Row:  Eb/F(low)  F#/A A/C# D/E  -- standard D row but with low octave accidental

This works really well, especially for tunes that modulate from Dma to Dmi (Swedish), waltzes with accidentals (French), tunes that modulate into C (I've kept the F bass on push with C on pull) -- in fact I wish I'd worked all this out years ago. Mind you, by then I wouldn't have learned all the strange tunes on the 3-row (D/G/acc) that need all the odd notes and chords...

And of course it's fabulously small, light and crisp-sounding and effortless to play. You might think it would run out of air a lot given the two treble reeds and the size of the bellows (like many small modern boxes do), but the "stereo" air button lets in so much air so fast that this isn't a problem -- the linkage inside is ingenious, it opens two pallets (one at the top and one at the bottom of the box) each of which is similar in size to the one in most boxes so you can go from bellows full out to full in and back in under a second, a bit like a big airbed pump :-)

Then there's the internal bellows hook operated by a button underneath the treble end (no external bellows straps), and the ingenious right-hand reed placement which has to be seen to be believed -- they're laid flat with one set on the end and the other cantilevered out above them like a "T", which is how Hohner could get the reeds for 25 buttons into a box 8" high and 5" deep, because the reeds can use the whole area of the end instead of having to fit down inside the bellows.

As an engineer and musician I have to admire the ingenuity that Hohner put into designing and building the Preciosa -- I think it would be literally impossible to make it any smaller -- and the quality of the result, which sounds fantastic and is a joy to play.

Only a couple of small issues remain -- the box tends to swivel forward when played with one strap, which I'll fix by moving the strap hanger forwards half an inch or so (I've done this on other boxes and it makes a huge difference), and a few of the reeds are a bit too wet (especially a couple of the accidentals) but I'll wait till it's played in to get this sorted.

I have to thank Theo for a great job, he's completely transformed the box. It was well worth the wait (I gave it to him at Whitby -- but he said it would be several months) and the money -- total including buying it from Ebay in Germany was under �600 :-)

Now I'm going to annoy everyone in the house by playing it all weekend...



« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 12:50:34 AM by Clive Williams »
Oakwood Model 4, Castagnari Dony, Castagnari Tommy, Baffetti Binci, Hohner Preciosa, Melos, Lightwave SL5 and Kala California fretless basses
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