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« on: April 29, 2013, 09:28:55 PM »

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« Last Edit: October 13, 2015, 01:08:12 AM by . »
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Ray Dempsey

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Re: What's this?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2013, 09:40:44 PM »

Hi Tom,
It is a bit of a mystery box. Its a four voice smaller than a Hohner Erica. I bought it a few years ago from the NY area and it has returned to live in the states for the time being under the care of Paul Groff. It has been discussed before here...

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,3158.msg37835.html#msg37835

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Ray Dempsey

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Re: What's this?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2013, 10:04:41 PM »

Tá fáilte romhat a mhac!
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gettabettabox

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Re: What's this?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 11:02:28 PM »

I hope these lads are playing in gaelic keys?!! good men the pair of yous...keep them old boxes coming.
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gettabettabox

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Re: What's this?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 11:19:00 PM »

ha! just seen the vid, great lift...I could dance to that, and as someone once said....I could trample on that music!
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pgroff

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Re: What's this?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2013, 01:49:26 AM »

Great playing for sure Ray!

I seem to remember that this O'Brady box showed up on ebay, located in Pennsylvania.  I know a few of us were bidding on it, or thinking of doing so.  As often the case, the first to mention it on melnet may not have been first to notice it. ;-)  Anyway, Ray was the lucky winner and the rest of us have been lucky that he was willing to share more information about it!

More recently I've also appreciated the chance to inspect this very interesting instrument.  I think it was made in the US.  One unusual feature is that the bass and chord buttons, each superposed above a single pallet hole, are very widely spaced.* The pallet holes are located almost as distant as you might expect for the pallet holes of paired spoon basses, but of course spoon bass keys have their two touches situated in between the pallet holes. See the photo below of the O'Brady and Gallagher boxes for comparison of the button spacing. The air button of the O'Brady box, at back of the bass box, is made the same way, with a low-profile pearl button located right on the air pallet itself, in the middle of the pallet hole. With my own hand geometry, I personally find it a little tricky to use the air, bass, and chord buttons of the O'Brady box with the full independence that I would like. Raising the height of the air button helped me out.  I wonder if the original owner also had to struggle with the air valve, because the floppy bellows suggests there might have been a history of caterpillar wrestling. 

These ergonomic issues make Ray's nice playing on the video all the more impressive!

It does have a fast light melody keyboard of black "chiclet" keys, and altogether it's a nice compact and comfortable box for melody playing with the occasional bump from a chord or bass note.  Still, the design issues have led to speculation whether the box may have been a sort of prototype, which could explain its lack of a retailer's label.  Wartime restrictions on manufacturing could be another explanation, or as I suggested years ago in the thread that Ray linked above, maybe this box was never sold by Walters at all. I consider it an unlabeled NY box that has similarities to some contemporaneous boxes that are labeled as sold by Walters, Superior, and Baldoni-Bartoli.

A couple of the original reeds were not returned to Ray when he had the box overhauled, which is too bad because the reeds are interesting and may have a story to tell.  There is some oral history that in the late 1930s and early 1940s, disruptions in trade due to the war forced Walters (and/or perhaps those who made boxes for him) to work with whatever reeds he could get.  The Madden Walters, internally dated 1938 (possibly a repair date) and even the Gallagher Walters box from 1948 have somewhat mismatched reeds.  . . but still sound great of course.

Here's another thread on the O'Brady blue box.  We also discussed it on facebook.

http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,7617.msg94549.html#msg94549

Here in Miami I like to think of its color as Surf Green (as Fender designated a custom color used on some 1960s guitars). 

PG

* The well-labeled Ed Fitzgerald Walters box, supposedly from 1935 according to melnet member Kimric Smythe who restored it, has a more typical "button type" bass box, with separate holes for the pallets and the buttons, but still the buttons look fairly widely spaced:

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5042/5356060486_a295d0a456_z.jpg



« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 02:43:36 PM by pgroff »
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