The Leonessa is a high speed key with a totally unique design: a dual-lever paddle with narrowly spaced finger pieces that can be converted into a dual-action single lever key with a few turns of an adjustment screw. The additional adjustment screw achieves the nearly impossible feat of creating a precision key which can satisfy operators of both “persuations”, single and dual-lever, and allows you to experiment with both modes of operation to determine which suits you best.
As you see in the photo, the contact points are located right behind the finger pieces and are adjusted on the opposing side. This facilitates superb tactile feedback for high speed operation and still gives you plenty of room for wider contact gaps. The spacing between the finger pieces is adjustable between 6.5mm and 14mm (1/4” to 9/16”).
The Leonessa, of course, has all the characteristics of our best keys: light weight aluminum arms, perforated finger pieces for a secure grip, precision racing bearings, solid silver contacts, finely adjustable contact gaps, magnetically controlled return force, and a heavy black base with titanium oxide coating and a beautifully engraved lion. (The city of Brescia, the home town of Begali, is also known as Leonessa d’Italia for heroic feats in its long and varied history, and it carries a lion in its coat of arms).
The secret to the Leonessa’s extraordinary flexibility is the adjustment screw on one of the finger pieces that you can see in this close-up. When the screw is retracted the Leonessa works as a dual lever paddle with narrowly spaced finger pieces – perfect for high-speed iambic operation. If you advance the screw you can prevent the contacts from both closing when you squeeze the paddles – the Leonessa turns into a dual action key which is operated in single lever fashion, a mode which is preferred by many of the fastest operators in the world.
If you come from a history of using mechanical bugs or straight keys you may find the operation of a single lever key easier than the “squeeze” mode of iambic paddles. With the Leonessa you are not locked into one or the other mode.