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Author Topic: have I got the dreaded bellows slap?  (Read 1679 times)

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Nick Hudis

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have I got the dreaded bellows slap?
« on: December 17, 2008, 08:22:59 AM »

I remember a thread a while back in which various worthies expounded on "bellows slap" as one of the worst sins of melodeon playing.

I'm working on getting crisp and rhythmic scale runs with lots of reversals trying to incorporate the advice I had received to keep the bellows tight (3-6 inches at the top) and slightly fanned at the top while working the reversals with a light wrist action and keeping the right hand very staccato.

Its all going OK and I'm delighted to find how much control and speed I can get out of a big buxom lass like my Club IV which is seriously heavy.  The problem is that at the bottom end of the instrument where the bellows is  only just open, the two halves of the instrument tend to clunk together.  It doesn't sound good and probably doesn't benefit the instrument. 

Is this the dreaded bellows slap?!?

The only solution I've found so far which is to have the bellows wider open and less fanned which seems to contradict the principle of keeping a tight bellows.  As George Garside has said in his tutor and on various threads here, its much easier to play runs with a tight bellows.  Things really do get messy with a wide bellows.

The other solution is to play runs across the rows all in one direction.  This way of playing comes very naturally to me and suits my big old Clubs but seems like a cop out.  As a matter of pride I want to master fast reversals.  Being able to play both ways gives you a lot of scope musically.

Any pointers would be most appreciated


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Re: have I got the dreaded bellows slap?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2008, 08:46:05 AM »

I was practicing the same technique and encountered the same problem.  The clacking noise was somewhat irregular and out of time so I resorted to keeping the bottom end of the bellows buttoned shut.  After a half hour, it wasn't much of an issue because I was able to play the reversals just as fast with the clip unfastened and the bellows opened slightly wider (about 2 inches at the bottom).

My three voice Club needs significant bass work to be a regular box, but the two inner rows and much or the outer row are functional, with two working chords to make playing fun.  With the "Hoover Dam" air lever on the Club I don't worry much about running an unmanageable bellows.  In fact I use the air bar frequently.  The three voices don't really start to shine until you open them up a bit.

Tony Gibbons

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Re: have I got the dreaded bellows slap?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2008, 10:43:03 PM »

Having the bellows less fanned is not really a contradiction. I presume you are sitting with the bottom end of the right hand of the box wedged in the inside of your leg near your crutch. I try to SQUEEEEEZE the notes out so my bellows also make a subtle 'S' bend when looking down on them. Air button control is also important to avoid too much air inside and too little. 

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