Challen multi-tone: what is it?

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Manuelito
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Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Manuelito » 01 Nov 2011, 21:11

hi all,

can anyone help me with information on the "Challen multitone" ("multi-tone" resp.). I find it featured in a few vintage jazz recordings the "Jack Simpson Sextette" made in 1949. It sounds like an electric harpsichord. I have asked Challen but they did not answer. Information in the internet is null.

thanks a lot.

xaver fruehbeis, munich, germany.
(bavarian radio station "BR Klassik")

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Bill Kibby
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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Nov 2011, 22:56

Sorry, we have been asked before, I have no answers for that one yet, but it is probably the "jangle piano" pedal like the fifties one the Beatles used at Abbey Road. It operated by placing pieces of metal in front of the hammers, producing something close to a harpsichord sound, but with dynamics like a piano.
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vernon
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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by vernon » 01 Nov 2011, 23:48

Some new Challens in the 1960s came fitted with a "Honky Tonk" pedal that was in effect a celeste pedal but with leather strips tipped with a brass piece in place of the celeste felt that produced the effect described. I used to tune one in a hotel (Uncle Tom's Cabin)in Birchington.I can't remember whether it was operated by a pedal or a lever.
Better than drawing pins in the hammers tho.
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Bill Kibby
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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Bill Kibby » 01 Nov 2011, 23:51

And in the fifties, like the one I mentioned. They put the pedal way over to the left!
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Gill the Piano
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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Gill the Piano » 02 Nov 2011, 17:58

There is something called a Dulcitone, which involves hammers striking tuning forks - more bell-like than harpsichord, though.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Bill Kibby » 02 Nov 2011, 18:53

Yes, it's one of that confusing bunch of names...

DULCEANA STOP
Circa 1785 Ad (Courtesy John Davis): Robert & William Gray, No.72,
Queen Ann Street, East, Instruments Repaired, Tuned, &Let
to Hire. Organ, Harpsichord & Piano Forte Makers, Original
Inventors & Makers of the Addition of the Dulceana Stop
upright to the finall Piano Forte. [No details are available
to tell us what the Dulceana was.]

DULCEPHONE
1882 Collard piano is fitted with a celeste stop
called "Dulcephone", made by Challen.
1887 Challen ad in The Times mentions their Dulcephone.
Circa 1895 Challen piano has a brass-geared celeste stop,
marked "Challen's Dulcephone".

DULCICHORD
The Faulkner Dulcichord looks like an upright piano above keyboard level, but is designed to sit on a table. In that respect, it resembles the Cramer Portable Piano. The keyboard has only 51 notes C-D, and the tonal quality is not very good by piano standards, but it is, technically, a piano. In spite of the Faulkner name, the sole manufacturer is stated as J.E.Reeve & Son Ltd., Spelbrook Lane, Bishops Stortford. Registered Design Number 883.799. Date unknown, possibly 1920-ish? I used to tune one of these in Thurrock Technical College.

DULCITONE
1888 Machell patented the Dulcitone, a tuning fork piano, in
which the hammers strike tuning forks instead of
strings. "Dulcitone Regd. Patentees & Sole Makers Thomas
Machell & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland".
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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Nigelg » 26 Aug 2013, 21:38

Late to the party I'm afraid and you may already by now have the information you requested but the following link to the Billy Mayerl society website has a pdf file outlining the abilities of the Challen multitone attachment.

HTH

Nigel

http://www.billymayerlsociety.co.uk/BMSmag02.pdf

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Re: Challen multi-tone: what is it?

Post by Bill Kibby » 27 Aug 2013, 23:36

Thanks, I have no idea what HTH means, but it is an interesting description. For the benefit of those who are not diligent enough to plough through the pdf, the website for the Billy Mayerl Society says that "In 1938, probably spurred on by the tremendous interest generated by the Hammond Organ, Challen developed what they called a "Multi-Tone" attachment which could be fitted to their upright pianos. This attachment enabled various tonal effects to be obtained and thus the sounds of a harp, harpsichord, banjo and mandoline respectively could be reproduced in addition to the normal piano sound."

All this seems to be associated with a single pedal set to the far left of the instrument, and it is difficult to imagine how it could have been capable of all these effects, but Billy Mayerl was so impressed, he set up an "orchestra" of these instruments. There is a video on the net... somewhere! I think it is British Pathe.
1938BillyMayerlChallenMultitone3.jpg
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