RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

Deagan "Roundtop" Orchestra Bells

Mar 9, 2020, 08:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

Deagan Roundtop

Deagan No. 1228, Roundtop Orchestra Bells in flat case. 

Deagan Roundtop 2

The performer’s side of the instrument, showing the convex shape (both top and bottom) of the bars, as well as a sturdy leather handle with which to carry the instrument when the lid was attached. 

Donated by Carroll Bratman 1993-01-11 

Manufactured during the early decades of the 20th Century, the J. C. Deagan Company’s “Roundtop” Orchestra Bells are considered the highest quality glockenspiels, or orchestra bells, manufactured. Constructed from the best steel available at that time, the instruments produce a long, sustaining tone with brilliant, penetrating dynamic contrast. The solid oak cases and quality of workmanship have allowed many of the instruments to continue in use to the present day. 

Deagan’s Catalog “D” (ca. 1914) boasted that the “Roundtop” Orchestra Bells “have the best tone of any Bell in the world, and are very much easier to play than Flat Top Bells, owing to the fact that the top being slightly convexed, the full tone of the Bell is produced whether the Bell is struck at an angle or struck squarely, while the Flat Top Bells it is necessary to strike the Bell absolutely square in order to produce the full rich tone of the Bell. Owing to the peculiar shape of the Roundtop Orchestra Bell, all counter-harmonies or overtones are entirely eliminated, and when the Bell is struck nothing but the pure fundamental tone is heard. Owning to the fact that the tops of the Roundtop Bells are slightly convexed, there is no flat surface to reflect the light in the operator’s eyes; a fault so common in Flat Top Bells. As the underside of the Roundtop Orchestra Bells are convexed, there is less surface of the Bells to come in contact with the supporting felt, thus leaving the Bell more free to vibrate.” 

The bars were triple plated to prevent rust, and came in four sizes: 7/8 x 3/8 inch, 1 x 7/16 inch, 1 1/4 x 7/16 inch, and 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch. Each size of bar was available in 2-, 2 1/2-, or 3-octave ranges. They were available in either folding cases or in solid “flat” cases.

This instrument is Model No. 1228, a 25-bar, 2-octave (C to C) instrument. The bars are 1 1/4 x 7/16 inch in size, mounted in a flat case. The case measures 18 5/8 inches at its widest end and is 25 inches long. The list price in 1914 was $40.00. 

Deagan Roundtop Detail

Detail showing the lowest natural bars. Note the pitch “C” stamped “Deagan Roundtop.” 

Load more comments
Thank you for the comment! Your comment must be approved first
New code

Search for articles in the blog

Blog Categories

Contact Us

Percussive Arts Society
110 W. Washington Street Suite A 
Indianapolis, IN 46204
T: (317) 974-4488
F: (317) 974-4499