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Author Topic: Loads of questions  (Read 1215 times)

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Elliot Warburton

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Loads of questions
« on: June 13, 2019, 12:37:37 PM »

Hi! I'm Elliot (new member, please bear with  (:) )
So, I recently got into doing things up and fettling in general when I got one of those East German Anglo Concertinas (I know it's not a melodeon but it's practically closer to one than a concertina, lol) and it was in pretty bad nick. Thing is, this concertina and the (also bad) Saxony made --ancientttt-- melodeon I bought have reeds on long reed plates, the plates are made out of aluminium and zinc respectively and the reeds are made out of brass (ugh! I've already had to make and rivet on 3 new ones from scratch and I haven't even started tuning the things). My first question: How on earth do you tune the darn things? I already had a phone chat with the very understanding Mr Theo Gibb this morning about it but some further input would be fantastic. I know Mr Bellinger has some magical set up that he uses but to be entirely honest it's rather out of my field of possibility, as it were.
Thing 2: Glued in reed blocks!! Agh! I know everyone says not to take them out but if I could it would make tuning the thing so much easier. Any input on that? If I could manage that then I could just tune them normally.
Thing 3: Tuning table wise, I can't seem to find a set of bellows to use. I'm a student so I can't spend a whole lot and second hand anything music related, esp. free reed, never comes up where I live. I have noticed, though that Argos sells those camping foot-pumps that can do both positive and negative pressure, with about a 3 litre capacity, for only about £7. Any suggestions on how I could make that work?
Thing 4: (gosh, I do go on don't I) I'm really interested in buying a Chemitz style concertina and they have similar issues as described previously (only this time with even MORE reeds) and I'm wondering if anyone here has had experience with these things who I can Message when I get one for a bit of assistance.
Thing 5: Bandonikas!! They're very cool and equally rare but I'm always on the look out- has anyone (esp in the UK) ever seen/bought/played/fettled one? I'm pretty sure hobgoblin have a C/F one for sale at the moment- but it's C/F which isn't 100% the most helpful tuning in this part of the world, surely?
Thing 6: Does anyone have or have advice on getting spares for basically everything? Reeds, Bellows, Buttons, Blocks, anything. On the cheap, as that's the way I'm currently financially inclined.
Thing 7: I've been playing a Delicia Popular that I have on loan for the last year and a bit and I've been getting pretty decent put I'm just wondering if it's worth buying a derelict Hohner something (club maybe?) and fettling it to within an inch of it's life for my next box before I either go on Emmanuel Pariselle's course in several years or buy a Castagnari or similar in a few years time.
Thing 8: If I do go in the Hohner Club direction, what are the suggested modifications? I'd probably de-club, and (assuming I get one without an excessive number of accidentals) re-tune the accidental row to something resembling the layout Andy Cutting has for his 2.5 rows- it seems, to me, to be the most logical. Then on to the bass end- is it possible to add bass buttons? I know it would be a pretty huge undertaking but I'm just wondering- i.e. transformation from 8 bass to 12 bass. It would require a new bunch of reed blocks and some bass end action re-jigging I suppose. While I'm at it, is it possible to add in a stop to remove all the IIIs that people always talk about? Maybe I'd remove the celluloid too if it's in bad nick, make it all wood-y looking.
Thing 9: Finally, (I said I do go on and I wasn't joking  :D ) German eBay ! It seems like some kind of gold-mine wherein the vintage craze hasn't yet managed to get it's overpriced claws. My German is passable so that's not a problem but is it really all it seems to be? it seems pretty good.
That's it! Thanks for reading through my ranting and answers are v valuable!
-Elliot  :||:
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playandteach

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2019, 12:51:15 PM »

There will be lots of help here, but I'd suggest also trawling through the site for previous threads. You have combined a lot of questions, when there are good discussions that already exist (and you might find fuller answers there) - so taking some time to search through those is well spent.
You'll quickly find out that nobody can make a final purchase suggestion for you in terms of what instrument to aspire too, but there will be plenty of support for starting with a decent Hohner.
One last tip which others may disagree with, is to buy a  half decent box to start with. Sure, if you want to practise tuning skills, then by all means wreck a nasty box or two, but you will never turn a wreck into a great instrument - make sure the bellows etc. are good enough to allow your hard work on the reeds to be rewarded.
Good luck.
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richard.fleming

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2019, 12:58:25 PM »

And if you get a decent box, treat it to being tuned by an expert. I'm sure it's fun to mess with box-fettling, but if you want to play a really good instrument, get it fettled by an expert. It's well worth it - you don't even know, by definition, how much you don't know yet. Don't learn at the expense of a good box.
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Elliot Warburton

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2019, 01:13:21 PM »

Yeah, when I can afford it and I have a proper nice box I wouldn't dare set any tools near it! I have a nice Exelsior PA that I treat in exactly that fashion. And as for previous posts, unfortunately the single reed plate problem doesn't come up a whole lot. Or maybe it does and I'm just bad at looking  :P
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malcolmbebb

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 08:10:48 PM »

You may do better to search on "long plates" with the quotes, or just long reed plates. A quick search got a number of hits.

Getting glued on reed blocks off rather depends on how well they were glued and how much repair work you want to do if they were indeed well glued. And how you're going to fix them on after you've carried out initial reed tuning.

German ebay is fine as long as you recognise that most (cheap) boxes will need a lot of work. Not all sellers will ship to UK, assuming you're in the UK, but if you speak German you can ask. And sort out postage costs. If the casework is decent you can (on Hohners at least) fix most other stuff, but it can cost and may not be economic if you want a different key. You won't find many D/G boxes there. Don't rely on the description being accurate.

Tuning bellows, well I guess just persistence and asking around. Or Ebay. Depends how much you're prepared to pay, and maybe your negotiating skills. Asking here has been known to work.

Clubs seem to be relatively cheaper than two row boxes these days. You can do all the stuff you suggest, depends on your skills. You may not get it right first time... but all practice helps. If you wreck the box or reeds you might solve your tuning bellows problem.
You have the option of learning the Club system, it's not without advocates, instead of de-clubbing.

Spares, the No 1 UK source is Charlie Marshall (CGM Musical). Or buy a wrecked Ebay donor box, if the outside is trashed the internals and maybe bellows can be OK. Look at the various flavours of Student 1 boxes for Hohner two-row spares, nobody here will mind you scrapping one of those. Just ignore the keyboard...
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Peadar

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 08:18:57 PM »

On any very old melodeon the reeds are bronze/brass. At one point (c.1930) Hohner and presumably other makers offered steel reed and bronze reed models of otherwise identical accordeons (aka melodeons). Personally I like the timbre of brass reeds- they don't generate the dB that steel reeds do and they also seem to have two tones-some of them at least produce a very sweet tone when you play them gently and a much harsher sound when you up the bellows pressure.

That low volume actually has it's advantages if you live in shared accomodation and don't want to be the flatmate from hell, because you can practice quietly with real air.

Pete (Playandteach) comments about bellows are spot on- reasonably air tight bellows are a must. Charlie Marshall (search cgmmusical) is a great supplier of errrr... supplies- putting neoprene bellows gaskets onto an old box can work wonders....it also rapidly shows you where the secondary leaks are as you can then feel them jetting in your face.
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It's not MAD...just stress management:  Antoria: 3-Stop A. Hohner 1040-G  Chanson:C. Hohner AD and then there's the workshop.

Elliot Warburton

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2019, 08:24:52 PM »

Yeah, I tried as much with my Saxony one-row; it still leaks like a colander though... I’m wondering if the problem is in the (nailed on!) bass ‘mechanism’ somewhere. As for the long plate reeds posts, after looking less badly, I found them... sorry!
Just to clarify when I said spares I meant more like literal odds and ends off of things- I suppose ancient PAs are the way to go. As for the club bass end question, my main point on that was whether it was possible, and how it is done when one literally just adds buttons to the bass mechanism rather than replacing it with a 12 bass PA end, as has been done before.
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malcolmbebb

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2019, 08:34:30 PM »

There are loads of post about leaks - and as Peadar says, you fix one category, you find the next. It's about patiently working through them, and getting good with the search engine  ;D
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Peadar

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2019, 08:49:31 PM »

Old Computer printers are a wonderful source of tiny screws....they may well yield springs too.
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Squeaky Pete

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2019, 09:09:01 PM »

There's a lot you can do with club boxes if you don't want to make use of the club system.
Flipping reed plates and a small amount of retuning and you can have whatever you want.
If you check my thread on refurb of a club IIIBS you will see what I was doing, though that was mainly on the mechanics. I have fettled a CF IIB (Darth) in the meantime and matched the helper row to a DG 2.6 row I currently play.
It's only my 3rd or 4th project, (though my first was 40 years ago) so I'd say go for it.
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Elliot Warburton

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2019, 11:50:19 PM »

Thanks for that, I’m sure I’ll be referencing that club thread in the coming months   (:)
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Peadar

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2019, 08:12:31 AM »

Thing 2: Glued in reed blocks!! Agh! I know everyone says not to take them out but if I could it would make tuning the thing so much easier. Any input on that? If I could manage that then I could just tune them normally.
Thing 3: Tuning table wise, I can't seem to find a set of bellows to use. I'm a student so I can't spend a whole lot and second hand anything music related, esp. free reed, never comes up where I live. I have noticed, though that Argos sells those camping foot-pumps that can do both positive and negative pressure, with about a 3 litre capacity, for only about £7. Any suggestions on how I could make that work?

#2 : Take a reed plate off and make up a reed block for it. use the plate itself as the template for  sole plate (a bit of hardboard or thin plywood will do) and the rest of the block is basically a ladder cut from small section square moulding 6mm x 6mm ? from a DIY shop. Use a drill or chisel to cut air holes in the sole plate. When you are tuning  absolute air tightness between reed block and tuning table doesn't really matter- you just need to get enough air going through the reed plate to wake the reed enough that whatever tuning app you are using can hear it. and you can do that just by holding the reed into the reed block with your fingers.

By the way glued in reed blocks on 2 voice melodeons are very often built in situ- the sides glued directly to the fondo.

#3 Those camping foot pumps might just be a very good idea. your tuning table might come down to being a small wooden box with the hose from your foot pump attached
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It's not MAD...just stress management:  Antoria: 3-Stop A. Hohner 1040-G  Chanson:C. Hohner AD and then there's the workshop.

Steve_freereeder

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2019, 09:00:27 AM »

#3 Those camping foot pumps might just be a very good idea. your tuning table might come down to being a small wooden box with the hose from your foot pump attached
I don't think it would work very well. There is not enough capacity in the foot pump to give a stable air pressure over a long enough period of time.
For a tuning rig you need a good steady air supply to enable you to sound the reed at a constant moderate sound volume for ideally around 8 - 10 seconds minimum duration. This is to allow (a) the tuning meter to respond properly to the sound and (b) for the reeds to attain their stable pitch - the larger reeds especially need a couple of seconds or more to achieve stability. A bellows from a melodeon-sized instrument is the way to go. It also enables you to sound both push and pull reeds.

Tuning reeds on glued-in reed blocks can be a bit fiddly but it is usually perfectly possible to do in situ without removing the reed blocks and risking destroying the blocks/fondo in the process.

And as has been described many times on this forum, the final tuning of any instrument needs to be done with the reeds in situ, mounted on the reed blocks and in situ in the instrument.
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Squeaky Pete

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2019, 09:17:26 AM »

One question. Where are you? There might be someone with plenty of experience near you.
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Theo

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2019, 09:33:22 AM »

If you want to do tuning properly then you have to learn the technique of tuning with the reed blocks in situ. 
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Elliot Warburton

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2019, 11:55:18 AM »

In response to the fooot-pump thing, I’m now on the lookout for some junky piano accordions to take the bellows (and the reeds? I feel like they could be made diatonic) from. And I’m in Dorchester  (:)
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Elliot Warburton

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2019, 11:56:40 AM »

And thanks for that reedblock-building advice- putting the reedplates in one of them specifically made for tuning seems like a great idea.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2019, 12:26:40 PM »

Regarding building a reedblock especially for tuning:
I did something like that originally, but since then I've found that using blocks from a scrap PA is much better; they're the right sort of size and shape of shaped chambers, and one PA will yield blocks with just about every size chamber imaginable without messing about.
The odd scrap PA is still often available on eBay or Gumtree at a reasonable price (£10-£15).
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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2019, 02:02:05 PM »

For the flat bandoneon/chemnitzer style reed plates, I use sheets of craft rubber (you can get it in The Range) and cut slots in it, lay it over a tuning table (and or for bigger reeds I have a 1cm piece of plywood with some slots, use that on the table, with rubber template), then hold the plate over the slot. But you really need a foot operated tuning table for that, which are quite easy to make, esp if you are an engineering student. I’ve come to the conclusion that the rubber craft sheets offer the easiest and quickest way to make a custom template to tune reeds, rather than spending hours making wooden frames/blocks etc.
Of course reeds should be tuned in situ... but when you are learning it’s ok to tune out of the box (really...just get used to that first, get to grips with the profile/set of the reed, get it to sound good etc...worry about doing it in situ later...that’s kind of advanced and I wouldn’t worry about it at this stage). And if you are tuning a tremolo instrument you won’t really notice the difference in/out. Where you will notice it is on a bandoneon/chemnitzer instrument, which has octave reeds. Getting octave reeds in tune is much more challenging than your standard tremolo pair, esp with high reeds. The slightest deviation means you will hear a tremolo rather than a clean note (To demonstrate, try tuning a mandolin. You know a string pair are perfectly in tune because it sounds like one note). I found that tuning chemnitzer/bandoneon reeds while they are in the instrument is nigh on impossible for some reeds, esp the inside high reeds, so you need a quick way to remove the plate, tweak it, put it back, check it in the instrument, repeat. Ditto with some Organetto boxes where the reeds are fixed flat, down within the case. You can't really get at the inside reeds, and if you do it’s easy to mess up the set so they stop working (some organetto are very wet tuned..they sound like a fairground organ....my theory is that they are so hard to tune the manufacturers don’t bother). So by all means tune in situ, but it’s a skill you can learn *after* you’ve worked out how to do it with the reeds out of the box. With flat plates, use a template on your tuning table. With glued in blocks...you can tune some reeds in situ if you get the hang of using a hook...but sometimes it’s easier and gives a better result if you pop them off, sort them out, and put them back. This is of course just my experience. Others will have other experiences to share.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 02:04:07 PM by RogerT »
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Frank Pallister

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Re: Loads of questions
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2019, 05:26:18 PM »

hi  i am in York and in summer i visit local car boot sales hunting boxes etc found a few old Jerry built  melodeon s but always a few P/A never a decent hohner D/G prices vary but usually below £10
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