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Author Topic: Tuning bellows  (Read 620 times)

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mselic

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Tuning bellows
« on: July 19, 2018, 07:28:19 PM »

Ok, folks, I’m looking to get a little more involved in tuning and am wondering what my best option is for making a set of tuning bellows or something like that. Up until now, most of the tuning I’ve done has been in situ using the box’s own bellows, but I will be taking on a project where I will have to remove all the reeds and work on individual plates outside of the box (before returning them to the box for final tuning). I currently have two older bellows (one from a HA112 and one from an older pokerwork) that I could potentially use to create tuning bellows. Help, please!!
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Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 08:50:01 PM »

The first set I made very easily. Screwed a piece of decent ply to one side of the bellows and another, bigger, piece on the other end (using proper gasket, mind) then fastened two hinges together for the pivot and a coat hook to the other end for a handle.
The bigger bit of ply fastens to the top of my Workmate with two clamps, and the bellows hang over the end. Two holes drilled in the top and Bob's your uncle!
I now more often use my second attempt, which is just a straightforward "U" shape (again which clamps onto the Workmate) into which the melodeon bellows slide, and I take the blocks off and put them back on to try each reed as I go.
Ever so slowly, though!
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mselic

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2018, 03:44:06 AM »

I will be tuning individual reedplates more often than reedblocks. Given that reedplates vary so much in size, what’s the best way to accommodate this?
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Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2018, 07:15:35 AM »

I've noticed all sorts of adjustable gubbins to accommodate different sizes of reedplates, and I initially cut reedplate sized slots in a longish piece of ply, sealing either side with felt, but it proved to be unsatisfactory in the long run. I now cut up old PA reedblocks, as required, and have a growing collection of double sided reed chambers with which to hold the reedplate onto, over whichever sized of my two drilled holes suits, whilst working the bellows.
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RogerT

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2018, 07:37:00 AM »

A foot pedal operated tuning table means you have both hands free to hold down reeds/blocks etc. I use craft rubber to tailor the right apertures for blocks and reeds. But the foot pedal is a game changer. And it’s cheaper and quieter than the air pump powered tables. I used old PA bellows, held on with hot glue and sealed with bits of tape (it really is nothing fancy).

Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2018, 08:49:12 AM »

Tuning bellows operated by a foot pedal? You were lucky!

I've got a space about 4ft x 5ft between my shelving, into which I have to fit my seat and workbench, which is a Workmate, so no room for anything which is not easily dismantlable.
Horses for courses, I suppose; I dream of converting a small bedroom into a workshop, but it's not practical at the moment, one day...................?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 09:08:49 AM »

I will be tuning individual reedplates more often than reedblocks.

This is fine, but do remember that when tuning individual reed plates on a block outside of the instrument, the pitch will tend to be sharp, sometimes  in the region of 5 - 10 cents, compared with the pitch when properly installed in the instrument. The discrepancy is due to factors which (as far as I know) are still poorly understood, but are partly related to (i) the volume of the tuning bellows compared the volume of the instrument's bellows, and (ii) the rigidity* and mass of the reed plate/reed block/tuning bellows set-up, compared with that in the instrument.

It is useful to pre-tune reeds outside the instrument when there is a big pitch shift required, involving a lot of filing or perhaps adding weights to the reed tongue tips. Diatonix (a highly respected maker and a member here) has produced a very useful Youtube video. But as you observe in your original post, final tuning, and certainly fine tuning, must be carried out with the reed blocks and reed plates in situ in the instrument.

*The rigidity factor seems to be important for accurate tuning, even when done in situ in the instrument. So consistency is necessary, e.g. in the tightness of the reed block clamping screws, or the presence/absence of a brace strip connecting two or more reed blocks. I have even noticed measurable differences (~ 1 cent) in the pitch of reeds depending on whether the bellows pins are fitted or not.
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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2018, 10:22:56 AM »

Re: out of instrument tuning, off reedblock

As Steve_freereeder points out, tuning reeds outside the instrument is usually good only for doing major changes before tuning inside.

I forget where I saw it originally, but I made this fairly crude gadget up to do occasional single reedplate tuning. I've mainly used it after de-rusting and revalving some very "iffy" reeds, to see how they sound and make basic adjustments before any more work like putting them on the block.

It sits over an airhole on the tuning table, the central "holding" wedge slides to accommodate reedplate lengths, and the V-slot handles variable widths. It's not ideal, as airtightness and therefore consistent pressure is hard to achieve, and I lay different widths of leather strip into the slot so the plate edges get some sealing. There's also the problem of getting enough air to the reed.

I've managed to get some reasonable "first start" results, but it's a poor third to first, in-instrument on-reedblock tuning, and second, out-of-instrument on-reedblock tuning on the tuning table. This of course because it's steps away from where it will end up in the box, its orientation, how it will get its air supply and all the other factors involved.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 11:03:50 AM »

That's a nice looking little thing, and it would be much easier to store than my load of part reedblocks! It looks like as if the operation will be similar to the gadget which is on those tuning tables which appear on eBay for £149 every now and then.

But isn't it great to knock up something which "does the job"?
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mselic

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2018, 11:39:19 AM »

I’m going to be tuning a few sets of reeds that are *wildly* out of tune, and which normally belong in a Hohner HA114, so doing them outside the box seemed to be a good starting place.

When reeds are sold by a maker, they are pre-tuned and usually ready to install, no? (with small adjustments to be made once fitted). How is it that these reeds are tuned so close to pitch outside of a box if, as has been suggested, such practice is only good for making big changes?

Any pictures (aside from the one shared) of people’s tuning bellows/tables/jigs? I’m most interested in hearing how people deal with tuning reeds from something like a Hohner 4-stop where the blocks are glued down and there’s very little room to work, and tuning (particularly sharpening the pitch) of the higher/piccolo “pull” reeds simply can’t be done in situ.
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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2018, 11:43:12 AM »

Re: out of instrument tuning, off reedblock

As Steve_freereeder points out, tuning reeds outside the instrument is usually good only for doing major changes before tuning inside.

I forget where I saw it originally, but I made this fairly crude gadget up to do occasional single reedplate tuning. I've mainly used it after de-rusting and revalving some very "iffy" reeds, to see how they sound and make basic adjustments before any more work like putting them on the block.

It sits over an airhole on the tuning table, the central "holding" wedge slides to accommodate reedplate lengths, and the V-slot handles variable widths. It's not ideal, as airtightness and therefore consistent pressure is hard to achieve, and I lay different widths of leather strip into the slot so the plate edges get some sealing. There's also the problem of getting enough air to the reed.

I've managed to get some reasonable "first start" results, but it's a poor third to first, in-instrument on-reedblock tuning, and second, out-of-instrument on-reedblock tuning on the tuning table. This of course because it's steps away from where it will end up in the box, its orientation, how it will get its air supply and all the other factors involved.

I've got something similar to that; I pinched the design for mine from a YouTube video,but I couldn't tell you now how or where I found it.  I'd just add, I'd go for an old PA bellows rather than a melodeon one - the more air you can shift in a single bellows movement the better.

Graham
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Theo

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 12:05:42 PM »

New reeds do come pre-tuned, but only approximately. They need tuning on the blocks on a tuning table, and then final tuning inside the instrument.
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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 02:06:08 PM »


I forget where I saw it originally, but I made this fairly crude gadget up

I too made something similar, but without the snazzy knob.  :o Actually, I made two - one is so far out it takes ages to correct, the other is within a few cents.
The first is in the bin.
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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2018, 04:54:04 PM »

This is my tuning table...made from an old school exam desk..the craft neoprene/foam sheet comes from The Range (a store in the UK that sells just about everything except food..).
https://photos.app.goo.gl/dCpZKarhgBfN3go96

Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2018, 05:33:53 PM »

Here's mine, I would have tidied, but I'd be sure to lose something of my eventual D/G box for Whitby!
The single reed tuner rig is in the 2nd picture lying against the wall.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 05:36:19 PM by Winston Smith »
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Pete Dunk

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2018, 08:16:00 PM »

I made my table using bellows from a scrap 120 bass PA, pulleys underneath allow the bellows to be closed by treading on the piece timber, a large lump of plate steel screwed to the bottom of the bellows opens them using gravity. The top was later covered with self adhesive foam from a craft shop. I chopped up some of the PA reed blocks to give me a variety of apertures for the various sizes of reed plates. The removable legs screw onto two pieces of beech from a chopping board that split in half, the table top is blockboard. Two bungee cords hold it closed when not in use. I also added four webbing straps which prevent the bellows from over extending with the big weight underneath.






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Winston Smith

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Re: Tuning bellows
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2018, 09:01:51 PM »

That looks and sounds smashing, Mr Dunk, well done.
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