Deagan Una-Fon 4-Octave Model with MIDI


Item #AM00101
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This J.C. Deagan Una-Fon electric glockenspiel xylophone was built in the 1920's. It has been functionally restored and is in cosmetically excellent condition for its age. It works perfectly and sounds great! This Una-Fon has been MIDI-fied and includes a detachable keyboard.


The Deagan Una-Fon is an electromechanical musical instrument built by the J.C. Deagan Company, having orchestra bells that are played by a system of solenoids and beaters that are activated with a keyboard. Each beater has a mallet that is activated by a solenoid that corresponds to the note played on the keyboard, which causes the beater to strike the orchestra bell bar. Deagan Una-Fons can be configured to play with a single strike and others with reiteration, such that if one holds down the corresponding key on the keyboard, the beater will strike the orchestra bell bar several times per second.


The bell bars have a unique concave scalloped shape, and each note’s fundamental is amplified by a resonator mounted behind the bar. As a result of this and of the hardness of the beaters, the tone is very loud but with a clear timbre at the same time. The higher pitched bars are similar to those on a 1.5"-wide set of Deagan Parsifals, but scalloped in order to increase the sensitivity of the bells. The upper bars measure 1 1/2" in width. The lowest bar is 1 5/8" in width.


The most popular use of Deagan Una-Fons was for parade units, similarly to the use of air calliopes in the early twentieth century. An example may be seen at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin. However, the instrument was largely marketed toward the mobile advertising industry, focusing on the instrument loudness relative to that of a piano. Ads portrayed the Una-Fon riding in the back of a banner-bearing automobile with a musician playing the Una-Fon.


Some experts say that Deagan Una-Fons were never factory-installed in coin pianos or orchestrions, though certain collectors added them to various automatic instruments. Others resources claim that Una-Fon bells and beater systems were used in certain early Cremona Style J orchestrions (as Unatone bells) and Wurlitzer 180 band organs (as Uniphone bells).

Condition Used / Vintage

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