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Author Topic: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?  (Read 5856 times)

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Malcolm Austen

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One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« on: October 01, 2008, 10:20:50 AM »

Having ended my 2 year spell without buying a melodeon I now have a nice 1 row in G thanks to a fellow mel.net member (thanks Chris). It arrived, like most do, without strap brackets and before fitting them I have been playing with the thumb strap alone. I have found that I have adapted at a reasonable pace but do not feel as comfortable as with a shoulder strap and the reason for raising this is that it feels totally different and gives the tunes a different feel.
Any comments about thumb or shoulder strap?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2008, 10:51:16 AM »

Having ended my 2 year spell without buying a melodeon I now have a nice 1 row in G thanks to a fellow mel.net member (thanks Chris). It arrived, like most do, without strap brackets and before fitting them I have been playing with the thumb strap alone. I have found that I have adapted at a reasonable pace but do not feel as comfortable as with a shoulder strap and the reason for raising this is that it feels totally different and gives the tunes a different feel.
Any comments about thumb or shoulder strap?
I think the shoulder straps are a relatively recent fashion addition to the one-rows. In years gone by they were not supplied with shoulder straps nor brackets and many players just started using what was there - i.e. the thumb strap only.

Here are a couple of pictures of the great Oscar Woods playing a one-row four-stop. He clearly uses just the thumb strap, and no shoulder straps are fitted on his instrument
http://www.eatmt.org.uk/oscar_woods.htm

Similarly, Dolly Curtis is only using a thumb strap on her Erica
http://www.eatmt.org.uk/dolly_curtis.htm

Percy Brown appears to be using one shoulder strap and possibly a thumb strap, though it's difficult to be sure about the latter.
http://www.eatmt.org.uk/percy_brown.htm

Cecil Pearl uses thumb strap only here:
http://www.eatmt.org.uk/cecil_pearl.htm

Video of Ray Hubbard talking and playing a Weltmeister 2-row using thumb strap only.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UwmNxlC6a9E

OK that's enough. I'm sure you get the idea.

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Bill the Farmer

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2008, 10:54:22 AM »

I don't like thumb straps, so took it off my Hohner one-row and fitted strap brackets, the sort listed here as Strap bracket, single strap type. But then, if you live in Quebec, you can rattle away quite nicely with the thing balanced on your knee, and no straps.
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Dazbo

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2008, 12:46:02 PM »

I've found, almost without exception that the thumb straps supplied are way to big for me and as a result I spend more time fighting the box to keep it where it is rather than playing it.  I'm sure I could spend time adjusting the thumb strap but the Hohner ones require rebuilding the box and are just too rigid for comfort.  If I was starting from scratch I'm 67% sure I would have overcome the difficulties but 33% of me thinks I would have given up and gone to another instrument.  As it is I can play the things, I don't need the hassle of learning to play with a thumb strap.

Also, not checking the photos Steve's linked to I'd bet that all the thumbstrap users are sitting down and supporting most of the weight on one or other of their legs.

Strap(s) for me all the way.
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Darren

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 04:39:56 PM »

My father has used a 2-row Hohner with a thumb strap for 50 years, putting his thumb in a handkerchief to make it more comfortable!
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Steve

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2008, 07:48:14 PM »

My daughter (who is 6) uses the standard thumb strap on our Hohner single row C by inserting the thumb down from the top - the fingers going around to the keyboard causes the strap to tighten sufficiently.

Here she is playing Ray's single row C box a couple of weekends back..

« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 07:50:47 PM by Steve »
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baz parkes

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2008, 10:19:13 AM »

[Any comments about thumb or shoulder strap?
[/quote]

I use one strap on my two rows, even when sitting down.  I use the thumb strap on my hohners asI play them sitting down.  Shoulder  strap on my Salterelle 1row,for some reason.  The thumb strap seems to add to that characteristic 1 row "bounce"

Baz
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Malcolm Austen

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2008, 04:53:45 PM »

I have resisted fitting the shoulder strap and have been paracticing and have found that the bend in the bellows where they join the right hand end of the box fits around my leg just above the knee and helps hold it steady. I played in public for the first time last night and found two things:

First, as expected, as the tunes went on it all gradually started to fall apart with my thumb slipping through the strap too far and the box starting to move about but I did make it to the end.

Second and this I just could not stop was the tapping of my foot, now I tend to do this but with the one row balanced on my leg is causes problems but the more I concentrate on holding and playing the box the less I can think about not tapping my foot.
Off to practice a 3/2 hornpipe but that should be on another thread.
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Theo

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2008, 09:30:55 PM »

Second and this I just could not stop was the tapping of my foot, now I tend to do this but with the one row balanced on my leg is causes problems but the more I concentrate on holding and playing the box the less I can think about not tapping my foot.

Malcolm, if you rest the box on one leg then ,according to my understanding of arithmetic, there should be one leg/foot free for tapping? ;D ;D
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Malcolm Austen

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2008, 09:09:56 AM »

Theo you are right but it seems that for years I have been tapping one foot or the other during playing. This foot tapping has never been a problem and it was only vaguely aware of it but now with the one row balanced on my leg it becomes obvious very quickly. I could develop it as a type of tremolo or possibly vibrato with some experimentation.
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BruceHenderson

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2008, 01:53:53 PM »

Any comments about thumb or shoulder strap? 

   How about both?  I broke my back a number of years ago, leaving me "one wing low" and I find that a one-row is *much* more comfortable with both.  What I can't get right is thumb position.  What seems to work best usually is the thumb (in the strap) up against the edge of the buttonboard (best for steadiness but less good for flexibility of moving the right hand).  What makes the hand really free is the thumb in the strap with the thumb extended behind the buttonboard (that's how Sabin Jacques places his thumb -- Sabin keeps a couple of elastic hair bands ("pony tail" holders) around the thumb strap so it's really tight.

   But no matter what I do, the box is much more stable with the shoulder strap, for me.

BH NC USA
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Rob2Hook

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2008, 04:49:35 PM »

How about both?

Yes, I tap my heels when I'm playing a good bouncy tune.  But I tap both together, so the box doesn't tend to fall off!

Rob.
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Mike Gott

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2008, 08:16:05 PM »

I was lucky enough as a child in Lincolnshire to live next door to an old boy (he was in his late 70's in the mid 1960's) who played 1-row - he's got a lot to answer for - and of course he played with a thumb strap only, so if it was good enough for him and the likes of Oscar Woods, it's been good enough for me. Take a bow from above, George Dinnie. When I played the 1-row for a dance team however, I did have a single strap on it which I seem to remember I had somewhere around my right elbow when I played! Nowadays I put my left leg up on the melodeon's box if I have to play stood up, and have the melodeon resting on my leg which is of course where it sits anyway when I'm sat down. I tend to have the instrument canted slightly forwards with the bottom corner digging lightly into my leg to keep the instrument stable (I hope this makes sense). I think Baz has made an interesting point in that playing the 1-row "loose" on the thumb strap only may contribute to the classic sound. I'd not thought about that before.

Mike

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2008, 01:32:37 PM »

More insights:

Although I normally use two shoulder straps, as an experiment I've now had a few days experience playing with thumb strap only on various melodeons.

For me, a Hohner 1-row 4-stop is by far the easiest to do this - principally I guess because of its lightness. So long as I was sitting down, I would be mostly happy to play using the thumb strap only.

Next was a Hohner Erica. This was more difficult to get used to. Heavier than the 1-row. It was mostly OK so long as I just played 'up and down' the rows, but the instant I did any cross-row stuff the box became very wobbly and unstable to the point that I had to stop playing to re-settle the box.

I also tried a Castagnari Max just using the thumb strap. Sort of OK, but the shape of the LH end isn't too amenable to gripping it for stability.

My recently-built Stowmarket special, based on a Louisiana Cajun accordion design, with its shaped LH end was also fairly easy to play just on the thumb strap, but a bit hard and tiring at the moment as the new bellows are stiff.

I tried my Castagnari Lilium without shoulder straps ..... not a hope!


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george garside

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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2008, 04:06:04 PM »

More insights:
 
Next was a Hohner Erica. This was more difficult to get used to. Heavier than the 1-row. It was mostly OK so long as I just played 'up and down' the rows, but the instant I did any cross-row stuff the box became very wobbly and unstable to the point that I had to stop playing to re-settle the box.
   


there is a very good track of  Sir Jimmy Shand playing O' gin I were a barons heir on the DVD 'dancing with the shands'.  He is using only the thumbstrap (seated of course) and is playing accross the rows as one does  on a C#D box when playing in A.

george
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Re: One Row: Thumb or Shoulder Strap?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2008, 01:41:59 PM »

With or without thumbstraps.... English Melodeon styles sound very thumbstrappy to my ear. Modern Irish music is very shoulderstrappy.

The use of either way tends to define certain basic characteristics of how you can handle the instrument. Further playing specialization follows as more expertise is gained.

A great example is Cajun Accordion playing. The whole technique is evolved around the thumb in the thumbstrap, and the hand on the full octave. The old chording way of playing melodeon that also exists in its archaic form in some exponents of 'Old Time' Australian Dance music. I have a feeling that this may have been the way the 19thC. Austrian teacher/salesmen peddled the first Melodeons to all those little nooks and crannies around the globe. Any old Box has a thumb, not a shoulder strap.

Try playing on a shoulder strap, without your thumb in its proper place in Eunice La and see what happens. Castigation and social ostricization. You just don't play that way there, and eventually you can hear that there is a difference in their way of playing single row Box.

But Irish styles need a floating hand position which can take on the intricacies of rolls and other ornaments, as well as move across rows for alternative fingerings and other notes. Try playing the 'Boys of Marlin' in A on a C#D in a thumbstrap, and I think you'll end up pretty sore and sorry.
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