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Author Topic: What type of keyboard is this?  (Read 814 times)

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John Cohen

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What type of keyboard is this?
« on: March 09, 2017, 06:18:31 PM »

I'm about to purchase this old grey Paolo Soprani B/C box.  It's an odd one that has the couplers on the back of the keyboard.  I have not seen a keyboard mechanism quite like this one before, and the shape of the aluminum plate over the keyboard is not as rounded as one usually sees.  Any insight as to why this is?
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 07:34:16 PM »

Do you have more pictures, specifically of the grille, the coupler(s), the bass end board, and the name badge. They should reveal a lot more about it.

And if you don't want it, can I have it?  ;)

John Cohen

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2017, 08:04:23 PM »

Triskel, I just sent you a private message.
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 09:41:20 PM »

And I've sent you one back John.

Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2017, 10:03:52 PM »

...  I have not seen a keyboard mechanism quite like this one before...

It's sometimes called a 'reverse lever mechanism'. All my Paolos have the same mechanism. It's typical of Italian
boxes I think. Its advantage over straight levers is that the pallets and air/sound holes are more open, allowing the sound to get out.
It's believed that a brighter, less muffled sound is produced.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 01:44:04 AM »

It's sometimes called a 'reverse lever mechanism'. All my Paolos have the same mechanism. It's typical of Italian
boxes I think.
I've seen it on some Dino Baffetti, Serenellini and Saltarelle instruments, but not Castagnari.

Quote
Its advantage over straight levers is that the pallets and air/sound holes are more open, allowing the sound to get out.
It's believed that a brighter, less muffled sound is produced.
The reverse lever/pivot system allows the pallets on both rows to open by the same amount and at the same angle, with the idea that the sound volume and quality is more even across the rows. With straight levers, the outside row pallets often open slightly more than the inside row pallets, resulting in a slightly brighter sound from the outside row.

However, the inside row of both systems of lever design can suffer from muting by both a poorly designed grille and/or placement of the inside row of pallet holes too far down towards the keyboard. Conversely, a well-designed grille - especially in conjunction with a keyboard top plate grille - can minimise the difference in sound of the straight lever system. Castagnari seem to have got this sorted pretty well.
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 02:38:22 AM »

Reading between the lines of John's question, I realised he was looking more for confirmation that the unusual grey box was "right" or "pukka" - and that's why I sought more photos from him, and messages have been flying to and fro.

All is well!  ;)

triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 02:48:05 AM »

It's sometimes called a 'reverse lever mechanism'. All my Paolos have the same mechanism. It's typical of Italian
boxes I think.
I've seen it on some Dino Baffetti, Serenellini and Saltarelle instruments, but not Castagnari.

Not as common as you might think Pearse Rossa. In fact, at the time this box was made Paolo Soprani only used the reverse, or cantilevered, mechanism in the 4-voice boxes where there is more of an issue, but the 3-voice ones had direct levers. The same applied with Casali in those days, and even my permanent 4-voice Hohner C#/D, made about 1929 or '30 has the reverse levers.

I got Serenellini to put them in the 233 DeLuxe boxes they made for me Steve, and I think it became their normal practice after that.

John Cohen

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 03:00:06 AM »

I'd like to thank Stephen for all of his help- he is most knowledgeable.  Now that I've completed the purchase of this box I'll share some more photos of it. 
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Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2017, 03:48:36 AM »

.. at the time this box was made Paolo Soprani only used the reverse, or cantilevered, mechanism in the 4-voice boxes where there is more of an issue, but the 3-voice ones had direct levers...

I don't know exactly when it became the standard for 3-voice Paolos, but my 1950s 3-voice ones have the reverse lever mechanism.
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2017, 06:14:16 AM »

.. at the time this box was made Paolo Soprani only used the reverse, or cantilevered, mechanism in the 4-voice boxes where there is more of an issue, but the 3-voice ones had direct levers...

I don't know exactly when it became the standard for 3-voice Paolos, but my 1950s 3-voice ones have the reverse lever mechanism.

Yes, and my 1960's "Joe Cooley model" 3-voice has them (and a lovely keyboard action to it) too, but I'm talking about ones from the previous two decades.

triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2017, 06:19:44 AM »

Now that I've completed the purchase of this box I'll share some more photos of it.

That's a humdinger of a box you've bought there John, and as rare as hens' teeth...  ;)

It turned out to be what I suspected from that initial photo, but I couldn't be sure until I saw the rest of them.

Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2017, 09:20:00 AM »


I don't know exactly when it became the standard for 3-voice Paolos, but my 1950s 3-voice ones have the reverse lever mechanism.

Yes, and my 1960's "Joe Cooley model" 3-voice has them (and a lovely keyboard action to it) too, but I'm talking about ones from the previous two decades.

The oldest "Cooley model" that I have come across is from 1956, in the key of C#/D.

..  Now that I've completed the purchase of this box I'll share some more photos of it. 

I saw it advertised only recently and did wonder at the description!
Yes, It's a beauty for sure.
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2017, 06:31:31 PM »

The oldest "Cooley model" that I have come across is from 1956, in the key of C#/D.

Here's a post about Joe Cooley's boxes that I made a couple of years ago, in reply to a question from aradru:

I know his 'old grey' is in a vault in Co.Meath...and I heard recently about another one of his that "disappeared" after his death.
How many were there in all I wonder? Where are they? Can anyone say for certain at this stage?
I don't imagine that he held onto every single box that he ever owned, no more than the rest of us I guess.
It would be good if someone could assemble a montage of all the various photos of him and the different boxes that he played.

Here you are then Tom!

In Joe Cooley's day there was nobody to repair or tune boxes in Ireland, so people had to regularly buy new ones, but I only know of 4 Paolo Soprani boxes that he played, which are in these photos:

The first was a 3-voice D/D# dark grey one, with aluminium grille, that may have been made just before, or just after WWII.



Joe with the Tulla Céilí Band, 1947-8 or 1951-3.



Then, in 1953, when his friends bought him a new silver-grey to take to America with him, Joe sold the "old grey" to fellow Tulla band box player Joe McNamara (Christy McNamara's father) who worked at Our Lady's Hospital in Ennis and kept it at Sean Reid's house in the town, for when he needed a box there.

I'm told that Tony McMahon borrowed it from Sean's house, but by then it no longer had its original bass end, and then Tony got a French accordion maker to do some work on it - and it seems he destroyed the original reeds!  :o

However, Charlie Harris has since restored it for its new owner, and the original bass end has been retrieved and put back on it.

Charlie reckons the 2-coupler silver-grey (below) was Joe's only C#/D (though he is so identified with the C#/D box! :o) and that that model was the first Paolo Soprani one to be made in C#/D.



Paddy O'Brien and Joe Cooley, surrounded by a sea of Irish-American (Baldoni and Walters) boxes and their players:



John Lavelle often played with Joe, and here he is (on the outside row of his red 9-coupler D/C#), with Billy Soden (drums) and Joe Cooley (on the inside row of his silver-grey 2-coupler C#/D) playing together in the Blarney Club ballroom:



But, sadly, Joe's silver-grey "fell overboard" off a boat and got drowned!  :(

He next got an early '60's 2-coupler red D/D# box, which is the one that Jeremy Kammerer has.



And interestingly, John Lavelle got the identical 2-coupler red box (so probably bought around, or even at, the same time), and his appears to have been converted (from C#/D?) to D/C# because I've examined it (seeing that it now belongs to a friend of mine in San Francisco) and there's loads more wax on the blocks than the factory would ever have used.



Joe's final box was a red 3-voice D/D# that Charlie tells me was bought for him by The Dubliners in the late '60s, and the first photo of it that I know of was taken in 1969 by Joe's wife Nancy, showing Joe Cooley, Kevin Keegan and James Keane playing together at the Cooleys' apartment in San Francisco.



Here's a crop of Joe, from that photo:
 


It's the same 3-voice, red-badge, red box that he was filmed playing in 1973 (Joe Cooley 1924 - 1973) and the one he's playing on his album.

I've heard Joe may have left that one to a friend and neighbour in Peterswell, but nobody seems to know for sure.

So which one are you meaning?

Mine is the same as the last of them, and Des Mulkere's reaction was priceless (declaring "That sounds like Joe Cooley's box!") when it was first played with him - he immediately recognised the sound of it, though he hadn't heard another like it since 1973.


Edited to add photo of John Lavelle, Billy Soden and Joe Cooley.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 04:27:58 PM by triskel »
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triskel

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2017, 06:43:51 PM »

Now that I've completed the purchase of this box I'll share some more photos of it.

It turned out to be what I suspected from that initial photo, but I couldn't be sure until I saw the rest of them.

In fact it's a close cousin of Joe Cooley's "old grey" that he played with the Tulla Céilí Band.

Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2017, 01:52:24 AM »

The oldest "Cooley model" that I have come across is from 1956, in the key of C#/D.

So which one are you meaning?

Mine is the same as the last of them, and Des Mulkere's reaction was priceless (declaring "That sounds like Joe Cooley's box!") when it was first played with him - he immediately recognised the sound of it, though he hadn't heard another like it since 1973.


I was referring to the 3-voice, red badge model just like the one in your photo.
That's a very interesting history you have given in the above post by the way.
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Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2017, 02:30:10 AM »

... Tony got a French accordion maker to do some work on it - and it seems he destroyed the original reeds! 

...Charlie reckons the 2-coupler silver-grey (below) was in C#/D and of the first Paolo Soprani model to be made in that key. But, sadly, that one "fell overboard" off a boat and got drowned!

Holy Hell! That's horrible. What a terrible shame.
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richard.fleming

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2017, 10:53:44 AM »

How about the story of Tony Ledwith (used to play in The Favourite) dropping an old (new then) grey Paolo off the platform of an old London bus under the wheels of the traffic and going straight to Bells in Surbiton to get another one?
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Pearse Rossa

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2017, 11:30:58 AM »

How about the story of Tony Ledwith (used to play in The Favourite) dropping an old (new then) grey Paolo off the platform of an old London bus under the wheels of the traffic and going straight to Bells in Surbiton to get another one?

Enough already! I need to go and lie down.
I wish it was as handy to pick one up today!
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Chris Ryall

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Re: What type of keyboard is this?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2017, 02:33:32 PM »

Frans van der Aa uses a development of this system - see video attached

   https://youtu.be/4uZmT3RdISI
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