Ringing a bell yourself
You can ring one or more of the bells yourself, either at home or in the tower. Most people, using Abel at home, use the PC keyboard to ring the bells. This gives excellent practice in listening, in rhythm, and in following the "blue line" or ringing call changes. For learners it saves you from the additional complications of bell control and rope sight. And, of course, you don't need a band of ringers in order to practise, and can start again as often as you like!
You can ring up to four bells from the keyboard: press and release ‘J' to ring the first manual bell, ‘F' for the second, ‘R' for the third and ‘U' for the fourth. Of course, tower bell ringers normally ring only one bell, using 'J'; and most handbell ringers ring only two, using 'J' and 'F'. Normally you ring a bell by pressing and immediately releasing the appropriate key, but you can also choose "up/down action": see Options/Ringing Options; this is particularly intended for handbell ringers.
If you are ringing tower bells from the keyboard using the Moving Ringers or Moving Ropes, you can choose whether your keystroke starts the bell movement, or immediately causes the bell sound, using the User Starts Bell Movement item in the Ringing menu. If you want to try using the key to start the bell movement, you may also want to turn on Highlight Bell To Follow in the View menu.
For tower use, you can connect sensors to one or more of your bells and connect these to the PC. With the bells silenced (clappers tied), you then ring the bells normally. Some people have a dumbbell or a mini-ring at home, and connect this to Abel just like tower bells. With more than one bell connected, you can either have the bells all rung by people, with Abel just providing the sounds, or you can have just one person ringing, with Abel filling in all the missing bells. (Yes, you can have more than one person ringing, but it's hard for them to keep in time with Abel's perfect rhythm!). See Abel in the Tower for further details.
If you're a handbell ringer, the best way to ring with Abel is to make some dummy handbells and connect them to your PC. Then you not only benefit from Abel's perfect rhythm but you also get the sense of the correct ringing action. If you configure your dummy handbells as external bells 1 and 2, they have the same effect as using the J and F keys.
Ringing from the keyboard
Before ringing, you need to tell Abel which bell(s) you want to ring. If the bells are in a circle (square pictures of sally/tail or a handbell), when you press the J key this always rings the bell at the bottom right of the circle (bottom left if you've set the option for an anticlockwise ring). For moving rope/ringer pictures, if the bells are in a line, when you press the J key it rings the bell that has an underline mark below it; if the bells are in a crescent, the J key rings the bell on the right. The F, R and U keys always ring the next three bells.
If you want to ring a different bell , you click the bell you want the 'J' key to ring. For example, if you want to ring the 2 to Bob Minor, click on bell number 2 before Abel starts ringing rounds. Bells in a circle or crescent will move round; the underline mark will move for bells in a line. Now, to ring the 2, press ‘J'. If you're a handbell ringer and want to ring 3-4, just click 3: the bells or underline mark move, and you press J and F to ring 3 and 4 respectively.
If you don't like the keys that Abel uses to control the ringing, you can change them. Click on the Options menu item then on Keyboard Mappings, and change the keys to your preferred ones.