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 Post subject: So I got myself a box...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:46 am 
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Hi fellow free-reeders,

I got myself a vintage Hohner Black Dot Double Ray Deluxe B/C box off ebay...it's not a new one, as it was made in Germany and not China. The previous owner already had someone remove the extremely wet stock tuning, so the box already has a nice tone. But I'm not happy yet...here are some photos:

Image Image Image Image

As you might have noticed, the box features two big golden swastikas. I really have absolutely no idea why they're there, maybe Hohner wanted to make clear this way that the box was german-made...but it most certainly wasn't made in the 30s or 40s. Really, no clue what that should tell me. Anyway, I'm planning to rip the red perloid foil off the box completely as it is just a little bit too much for my eyes, so the swastikas will vanish, too. I don't know what awaits me under the foil, so if the wood looks nice, I might just leave it as it is and add some clear varnish. I'm also thinking about a sturdy matte black finish with gold or silver accents. The grill is pretty thin and doesn't look very cool. I will probably make a new one from some kind of metal, maybe stainless steel, aluminum or german silver. Will be a lot of work, but why not...I'm also planning to remove the original red perloid keyboard grill, as it is a solid piece of plastic. A metal grill will look nice here, too. As the buttons are going deep into the keyboard, I'm planning to add some kind of rubber padding under the buttons to improve snappiness and reduce action. And the buttons look old and dirty, so I might look into getting/making new ones.

We'll see how it turns out...I have a fully equipped flute-making workshop, so I'll probably be able to use some of the tools I have for the work. But the metalwork will be tricky...I'll keep you updated if you like.

Ah, if anyone has hints or thoughts that might help a new B/C box player to get started, that would be most appreciated. I can knock out a tune or two already (have been playing the concertina a bit), but a few hints regarding technique or tunes that fall nicely onto the keyboard would be great.

Cheers,
Gabriel


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:49 am 
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Congratulations on the nice box, Gabriel.

How odd about the swastikas - I did not know that. From Google search, it seems the swastikas are apparently part of the original Double Ray design both before and after the Nazi period, and not directly related. But covering or hiding them does seem like a good idea to avoid unnecessary explanations.

It sounds like you're considering this to be a "project box" with your modifications. That's fine, it's your box! But frankly, in terms of resale and/or posterity ... One man's improvements are another man's destruction :o of a desirable classic, a vintage (and now somewhat rare) instrument, red perloid and all (which many like as part of its charm). Except for the button stops, the radical alterations you describe would ruin it for me. It would no longer be a Double Ray.

If you don't like the looks, why not pass it to someone who will appreciate it exactly as it is? Or at least wait until you're sure you'll keep and play it.

I'm completely self-taught on the B/C box, so no real advice to give. Except that it's the Devil's instrument, and nothing falls nicely on the keyboard. :lol: So just pick some favorite tunes (I'd avoid reels at first) and have at it.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:15 am 
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Red perloid is a common enough sight - why not get used to it? You can cover the swastikas with stickers, maybe a nice holographic/laser diffracted mylar. I agree with MTGuru about minimizing modifications (except perhaps necessary for playability) of a historic instrument. Get yourself another project box to completely re-tool.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:50 am 
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Hmm. I didn't know the older Double rays are so valueable. I got it fairly cheap for a good box (a bit over 300 euro) and it was already in playing condition. The wet tuning can be restored easily, the reed pans in question are just covered with paper...so I might just go and polish the slightly rusted grill up and cover the swastikas with something. Maybe a "my other box is a flute" sticker?
I guess I'll have to reconsider everything. Thanks for replying!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:16 am 
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Verena Commins plays a stripped down Hohner here:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8oBSOQhOoE

There's quite a lot of info re old hohners and discussions about swastikas on this forum (you'll have to search)

http://forum.melodeon.net/


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:27 pm 
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Gabriel wrote:
I got it fairly cheap for a good box (a bit over 300 euro) and it was already in playing condition.

Oh, that's a very good price, Gabriel. In fact, if you ever decide that the instrument is not for you, please let me know. My oversized Saltarelle box has always been a bit too heavy for me, and I sometimes think of replacing it with a smaller Double Ray or Bou√ębe or something similar. Meanwhile, enjoy it!

Josephine Marsh plays a vintage Double Ray (it's the original accordion from her childhood), and it sounds great.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:03 pm 
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JohnB wrote:
Verena Commins plays a stripped down Hohner


Martin Quinn is another top player who uses a Double-Ray or Erica stripped down to the bare wood. And it sounds wonderful. Much of that may be down to Martin's playing, of course. And I've heard that he put some old Paolo Soprani reeds in it...

I had a Black Double-Ray probably from the 1960s or 1970s and it had swastikas, something I found curious rather than offensive.

In fact I posted a query about them on the previous melodeon.net forum, here it is:

http://melodeon.aimoo.com/category/Swas ... 24568.html

PS I sold the box to a Jewish friend who plays it quite happily.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:02 am 
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I put a layer of foam rubber on which I glued a strip of the material I use for flute key pads under the buttons...action is fine now, and it is easily reversible, just pull the strip out again. I think the B/C system is much easier than a C/G concertina...and the buttons are easier to hit for my stubby fingers. ;) It's really a fun instrument...

MTGuru, I'll keep you in mind if I'll ever sell this box. A friend has a C#/D Clancy accordion, it's really small in size and weight and sounds lovely...might look into that one day, if I decide to stay at box playing. But at the moment, it looks like I will...

Thanks for your input!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:59 pm 
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Hello,
I also have an old Honer double-ray with 12 basses that I bought from Micheal at Dancemaster accordions.

I saw the thread and thought that it was odd that yours has swastikas on it. I took a closer look at mine and yes there are two of those insignias on it left and right just like yours. It looks like they are just painted on and half of one of mine is partially rubbed off. My recommendation is to get some polishing compound with the lightest abrasive like you would use on a car and see if you can polish it off.

Just my 2c!

Nate

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:52 pm 
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My understanding of german law is that since the war its been illegal to display a swastika. Granted, the shape on this box is about as far from a nazi swastika as its possible to be while still being a swastika, but its making me wonder how Hohner managed to keep the design.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:50 pm 
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Yes, displaying a swastika is illegal here, if it is shown in a context that implies any kind of glorification of what it stood for in the nazi period. That's probably why Hohner continued using it - there's no connection between their symbol and what it stood for until 1945. I still don't like it.

If anybody wants to buy my Double Ray, let me know - I'm upgrading to a newly made B/C box in the end of january and might sell the Hohner...


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