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Discussions => Instrument Design, Construction and Repair => Topic started by: Dunny on January 11, 2008, 09:47:08 AM

Title: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Dunny on January 11, 2008, 09:47:08 AM
Theo's comments about needing practice to re-wax reedplates (in the previous topic) is very true! I had a reedplate come loose a couple of years ago and it took me a good few tries to re-seat it.

I've got a Malcolm Manning Louis box, and I see that he has screwed the reedplates on to soft leather - no wax at all! This seems to work really well. I'm a great believer in traditional methods, however maybe this is the way forward?

I'd welcome comments, as I'm in the process of building my first melodeon and I'm thinking of using Malcolm's method.
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: TomB-R on January 11, 2008, 10:13:41 AM
Interesting question, I hope some of the knowledgable folk around here will answer!

With all respect to free reed instruments, I think it's worth remembering the background.  They've mainly been made in a production environment with careful control of materials and labour input.  What is "best" in that situation is not necessarily best for one-off hand-made instruments.

Best practice in the violin world is based around the solo craftsman maker. Am I wrong in thinking that has rarely applied to the accordion world? (There's the hand-made "Cajun" one row tradition of course. Those makers have put a reasonable amount online. Don't remember noticing that they didn't use reed wax.)

Interesting to compare concertina practice and methods. Reeds fitted dry into slots....
(Sometimes production made, sometimes craftsman. I think the Dippers tend to build in small batches, but I could be wrong.)

Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Theo on January 11, 2008, 10:47:45 AM
Screw fixing for reedplates tends to be found in the very best instruments.  Some top range Hohners use screw fixings, the Morino range for example.  Some of the best Italian makes come with screwed reedplates too.  In quantity production with a skilled operator waxing is much faster, and therefore cheaper.  Screw fixing is definitely the quality method.  Waxing is also more forgiving of imperfections in reedblock material and construction. 

Some tips if you plan to use screws:

Use hardwood for the reedblocks so the screws can get a decent grip,
A gasket will be required between the reedplates and the wood, traditionally thin leather
Screws with wide heads allow you to dispensed with washers, the type used for holding down electronic circuit boards for instance.
Only used reeds with dural plates,  the soft aluminium used on the cheapest reeds (including Hohners) may distort.
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: C age ing on January 11, 2008, 12:55:17 PM
1) Thanks for the information Theo, but being a total wimp and not a metallurgist, how do I tell the difference between aluminium and duraluminium? ???
2) From your description and being totally unable to knock a nail in straight, without seeing the trees in winter, how do I tell the difference between hard and soft wood reedblocks? ???
3) I realise that this is likely to cause World War Three but does the fixing method make any difference to the sound?  ;D
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Theo on January 11, 2008, 04:44:21 PM
1) Thanks for the information Theo, but being a total wimp and not a metallurgist, how do I tell the difference between aluminium and duraluminiun? ???
You specify it when your order the reeds.  With Italian reeds all except the cheapest use Dural plates.
Quote
2) From your description and being totally unable to knock a nail in straight, without seeing the trees in winter, how do I tell the difference between hard and soft wood reedblocks? ???
Ask your timber merchant when you buy the reedblock material.  Sycamore is good.
Quote
3) I realise that this is likely to cause World War Three but does the fixing method make any difference to the sound?  ;D
Perhaps!
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Kevin Mack on January 12, 2008, 12:46:44 PM
Is there an audible difference when reeds are screwed in?
The older german concertinas had screw fixed reeds with thin leather washers, the newer ones waxed, but I can't detect any marked better sound from the old ones.
I wouldn't say screwed reed plates are easier to work with than waxed ones, not after you've done a few.
Quite the reverse really. Screw holes tend to wear and loosen after a while.
If it does improve tone, then I'm all for it, but otherwise, I'd rather wax every time.
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Dunny on January 14, 2008, 05:36:10 PM
Thanks to everyone who has offered advice and opinions on this!

Theo, at the risk of showing my total ignorance on the subject(!) do the reeds have to be removed from the block for tuning?

Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Theo on January 14, 2008, 06:09:17 PM
Hi Dunny

The best questions to ask are the ones where you don't know the answer!

Reeds should have their final tuning after being mounted on the reedblock.  The pitch can change significantly once mounted.   
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Dunny on January 15, 2008, 03:48:04 PM
Thanks for the info Theo. The trouble with melodeons is that there are hundreds of questions to ask about them - I wish I'd started on them much sooner in life.....  :D
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: BruceHenderson on January 15, 2008, 04:13:33 PM
Is there an audible difference when reeds are screwed in?  (snip)   If it does improve tone, then I'm all for it, but otherwise, I'd rather wax every time. 

    Fixing reed plates with screws seems to be very much in favor right now in French-Canada among the "personal builders".  They seem to think that there's a difference in tone; also, the seem to enjoy taking them apart and fiddling with the tuning.
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: suesqueezer on January 16, 2008, 02:50:33 AM
As Theo mentioned practice makes perfect on rewaxing reeds. So now I hope someone can give me some pointers in rewaxing (practice tips) by pouring (the spoon tool - hows it used?) method. I have taken out a reed and did quick fix with patchwork wax job before, but I'm gonna attempt a "clean" job on a latvian melodeon reed plate that has all the reeds afixed to it. Is there any links to visuals of this procedure that someone might know of? Any info appreciated!
PS: I love this forum !  -Sue
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: BruceHenderson on January 16, 2008, 01:46:53 PM
I hope someone can give me some pointers in rewaxing (practice tips) by pouring (the spoon tool - hows it used?) method. (snip)

   Sue, I can't help you with rewaxing procedures (never tried it) but I hope that you have a suitable double-boiler or other safe way to melt wax.  It's been known to catch fire with disastrous consequences.  Best wishes, BH NC USA
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Theo on January 16, 2008, 04:22:01 PM
Yes you really need a thermostatic wax bath like this (http://www.homecrafts.co.uk/html/product.asp?cat1=6&cat2=102&cat3=26) if you want to do the pouring method.   Melted wax is inflammable so take care.  It also makes a terrible mess if spilled.  You need the right wax too, paraffin wax is not suitable.

Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: an bosca ceoil on January 16, 2008, 06:52:15 PM
Wonder what the "old boys" with their meths burners would make of the batik boiler?
Surprises me that, whenever this topic comes up, no one suggests practicing on a piece of wood first just to see how the wax behaves (or rather does not!)
Regards,
Bruce
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Theo on January 16, 2008, 07:12:16 PM
Wonder what the "old boys" with their meths burners would make of the batik boiler?

I expect they would have smiled and said, "I'll have one of those please!" :)
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Waltham on January 17, 2008, 12:22:30 AM
[Crocodile Dundee]
That's not a melting pot.

http://www.tekcast.com/Metal-Melting-Furnaces/c7/p67/Electric-40-lb.-Wax-Melting-Pot/product_info.html

THAT's a melting pot.
[/Crocodile Dundee]
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Dunny on January 17, 2008, 08:48:57 AM
Now that's big enough to put the wife in! Save my razor always being blunt ;D
Title: Re: Reedplate fixing
Post by: Kevin Mack on January 17, 2008, 02:13:51 PM
I have an ordinary household steamer that does a good job.
It's safe, no flame, and you can do your veg at the same time.
Price : about 12 in Argos!