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Author Topic: Bellows x-section area  (Read 1091 times)

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squeezy

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Bellows x-section area
« on: March 04, 2017, 10:01:20 PM »

I have been searching for the eventual replacemant for my lovely old brown Saltarelle Connemara II for ages.  It needs constant maintenance to keep going at the moment and most of the mechanical bits are on the verge of wearing out!  The obvious answer would be to get another Connemara II which are still made, but sadly I have tried a lot of these instruments over the years and none comes even close for response and tone - the only Saltarelle 2.5 rows which I've ever tried that were as good came from the same batch of dark brown wood Connemara IIs and IIIs and are not for sale as they're played by Pete Grassby and Brian Peters!

I've tried a lot of other models too over the years.  Many of them share it's deep powerful basses, nice just off-dry tone, and great reed response and range.  But none of those also share it's "chuck-about-ability" as I like to call it - which means it's weight, balance and feel that adds energy to thumpy dance-music.  It means a box that could play a ceilidh or session that would last all night long if you needed it to.  It means a box that screams when you need it to without fear of rupturing some muscle in your arm.

I've always had a bee in my bonnet about bellows x-section area being key to a box that feels like playing greased lightning or playing through treacle.  Of course reed quality and almost every other variable also have a say in this matter ... but it seems to me that all things being equal a box with the right bellows x-section area for the playing style will make a massive difference to comfort and performance. 

So I worked out the x-section area value in sq cm for a whole load of boxes I have owned or tried and plotted it against playablility (albeit a very subjective value based on my feelings) and it really did have the corellation I thought it would, without fail.  The sweet-spot sits right around the box I play at the moment (which might have something to do with it) at 414.7 sq cm.  In fact boxes with a smaller x-section down to about 380 sq cm also fall into that-feels-lovely-to play category (this includes my old Oakwood Model 7, Dino Baffetti Black Pearl IIs, Baffetti Bincis) ... boxes that fall below that like Castagnari Tommy (360 sq cm) tend to begin to feel like they're running away with the air a bit and this gets worse the smaller the value.  Boxes towards the higher 400s begin to feel a little sluggish to me like and they're mainly the full-sized continental 2 rows like Castagnari Studio and Saltarelle Nuage.  The biggest box I've ever played regularly was my Loffet Pro 18 that was 587.5 sq cm and it really explains the way I felt about playing it ... I could never play a Handry either at 600 sq cm.

I think this musing about numbers in relation to playability only affects players who's style relies on being in full control of rapid push-pull bellows passages plus the rapid extremes of dynamics of dance music.  However I do think that does represent a lot of people playing English style melodeon at the moment.  Of course the number that feels comfortable will be different for different players who have different core muscle strengths - but I think it should probably be an important bit of data published when you buy a new box ... far more important than weight is!

I enjoy the fact that my first box, the Hohner Pokerwork sits right in my sweet spot too at 420 sq cm ... perhaps that's why it's been so popular over the years!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 10:04:00 PM by squeezy »
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squeezy

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 10:35:25 PM »

It would be interesting if people posted the bellows x-section area of their boxes (just measure the 2 sides of the bellows in cm and multiply the numbers together) with a brief description of their playing style and how they feel their box performs for them.
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Psuggmog Volbenz

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2017, 07:16:41 AM »

I have thought about this also. I am thinking that it more than just x sectional area of bellows. I am speculating that it may be cubic volume rather than x section. I haven't done a rigorous study of this, but have played many different boxes. Two of my favorite and most frequently played one rows have the same type reeds and bellows with same x section. The box I find the most responsive has one less fold in the bellows. A linear change of the same amount is a greater change in cubic volume in box with with the shorter bellows.
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Andrius

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2017, 09:23:01 AM »

I think it depends more on the cubic capacity than from the area, however, highly dependent on the quality of reeds.
I never had problems with Hohner Erica. I have two Koch accordions, both a little smaller than Erica, both the same size, the same key A/D only different reeds. One of them is with original Koch reeds, another with Hohner H reeds. This one is near to "no problem" and one with Koch reeds not so good. Hope to optimize Koch reeds in future and may be to correct this (it was only tuned after I bought it.
I can not feel very free with Hohner Liliput, but i can play much more with Galotta that is 1 cm smaller  (:)
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squeezy

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2017, 09:37:53 AM »

That's very interesting, thanks!

This suggests that it might be possible to tweak the feel and responsiveness of an existing box by changing the number of bellows folds or bellows fold depth.
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Edward Jennings

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2017, 10:09:38 AM »

I've noticed that since I swapped my little International bellows for a modified larger set, I play it less frequently. It just doesn't have the "oomph" that the smaller bellows gave, quite disappointing, really. It seems that I'll have to wait until my mother wins the Lottery, and get some brand new ones!
However, in my ignorance, I wouldn't have expected the number of folds, as in increasing/decreasing the volume of air, to have anywhere near as much effect on playability as x section, other than not running out of air of course. Surely it is more to do with x section controlling the air pressure/speed of the wind, travelling across the reed, per pound of "push/pull" from the player?
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Andrius

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2017, 11:12:21 AM »

That's very interesting, thanks!

This suggests that it might be possible to tweak the feel and responsiveness of an existing box by changing the number of bellows folds or bellows fold depth.

Sadly but no. It depends on the reeds and reed valves quality only. Another important factor - corresponding acoustic camera size in reed blocks.

Bellows size can not change feel and responsiveness, only can prevent "out of air" problem.
No "out of air" problem with both accordions, but Hohner with 16 folds is more responsive like Petersburg accordion with 23 folds.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2017, 12:58:14 PM »

OK, I'll play!
Castagnari Hascy ( made in 2010 ) 28 x 17cm = 476 sqr. cm
Castagnari Tommy ( made in 2004 ) 23.5 x 15cm = 352.5 sqr cm
Hohner Erika ( made 1930's?) 29.5 x 15.5cm = 457.25 sqr cm.

I learnt on my Tommy and rarely if ever use the third treble voice, and have always felt the air was ok. I tend not to be an over-enthusiastic player, and have heard others question it running out of air. Perhaps I've just got used to it. Mine is an earlier model to the current one, I wonder if they've increased size slightly?
The Hascy is great and my main box, it always has enough air and is very quick to respond.
The Erika is so different, best described by someone here as 'a Moggie Thou whereas the Hascy is a Golf GTi...' and my air control is not as good possibly because I don't play it constantly.

I think you have an interesting point about the sweet spot, and I have wondered about something in between the Tommy and Hascy, but on another level, I'd be replicating boxes which is silly. Until now I always thought it was size ( weight ) dependant, but this thread shows that bellows responsiveness also is a factor. Interesting!
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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2017, 01:18:45 PM »

Serafini 2+2 is 2 voice 8 bass no thirds is 27 x 16 = 432
Older Castagnari Sander 2 row LMM 8 bass with stops  is 27 x 15. 5 = 418
Both feel lively though Sander has a bit more bite in its 2 voice setting.
I play French music cross row and appreciate the 21 bellows folds of the Serafini.
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TomBom

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2017, 04:09:39 PM »

Weltmeister 1 row 4 stop: 27.5 x 15 cm = 412.5 cm²
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melodeon

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2017, 04:46:29 PM »

". boxes that fall below that like Castagnari Tommy (360 sq cm) tend to begin to feel like they're running away with the air a bit and this gets worse the smaller the value. "

The very  reason I sold my G/C Tommy after 30 days ownership.  Asthmatic.

Also the reason that I find boxes such as the Hascy to be optimal.

Concertinas and Lillys to be another story.

Most Cajun accordeons around 450 Sq cm.

Castagnari Melodeon approx.  370.

Squeezy,

Do you have a photo of the bass end of your Conn II ?
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 04:54:07 PM by melodeon »
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Julian S

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2017, 04:56:29 PM »

Goodo - displacement activity from practising Watermans H.P !
Saltarelle Pastourelle 2 (30 years old or so) 406 sqcm. 21 +4, 12 basses.
My beloved D/G favourite, I reckon that they don't make them like that anymore (I think mine was made by Serenellini). Not so impressed with the recent Pastourelles - I wonder how they compare dimension wise. Mine is light enough to chuck around at about 3.2kg,and a really responsive box for English sessions, ceilidh, and my current favourites French/Breton. Also seems to be louder than my Dino Special 3v (424sqcm), used mainly for Border Morris, and my Castagnari Dony (around 470) but maybe I just drive it harder.
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george garside

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2017, 05:08:51 PM »

To me there are 7   factors effecting the bellows air  supplu irrespective of cubic capacity etc

1. the volume required  i.e the  louder the more air the bellwos have to shove past the reeds

2. on other than one row boxes  the skills of the player in using duplicate note in opposite directions to help control bellows movement -

3.  the players skill at 'managing' the air by using the air button to anticipate air requiremets   further along the tune  i.e. preparing for forthcoming long pushes or pulls.

4. the players skills at supplementing air control by eg leaving the bass off for a few notes to avert disaster or  using a handful of bass and/or a treble chord
 to in effect aact as a sqad of extra air buttons!

5.The players ability to vary a    tune from loud to a whisper  to either speed up or slow down bellows movement to avert a fully open or fully closed predicament.

6.the quality of and the way reeds are 'set up'

7. the airtightness of the box.

Having said that  the larger the bellows capacity the smaller the movement required to pump a given amount of air   and believe it or not I find I use far less energy playing a 96 bass box with 4 reeds in gear than I do a lilly with  far greater movement of the bellows being required

George.
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vof

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2017, 12:44:56 AM »

However, in my ignorance, I wouldn't have expected the number of folds, as in increasing/decreasing the volume of air, to have anywhere near as much effect on playability as x section, other than not running out of air of course. Surely it is more to do with x section controlling the air pressure/speed of the wind, travelling across the reed, per pound of "push/pull" from the player?

I generally agree Edward (and with Squeezy's hypothesis). Other thoughts I've had:
- effective x-sectional area is less than calculated from external dimensions due to folds.
- when considering the physics of what's happening, keep bellows force and (small) distance bellows are moved axially the same when doing any thought experiments for the various x-sectional areas.
- the internal air pressure for any given external applied force falls as the x-sectional area increases and rises as the x-sectional area decreases. Hence I am not surprised by the likelihood of a sweet spot or range where the pressure is high enough for the reeds to sound readily but not too high such that they choke (and I presume the sweet spot will vary by reed size/frequency).
- number of sounding reeds must have some effect so only compare similar with similar.
- total volume of bellows has little or no effect other than on the 'running out of air' problem.

I'm really interested (and waiting) to read what Ian (Dedic) has to say on this thread!
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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2017, 09:08:59 AM »

I think other things are at play here.

My Gabbanelli Compact 2-row (420 cm2) has a marginally lighter action, but is a little less responsive, than my Clement Guais 3-row (551 cm2). My Pariselle 2.6 row, Acadian 1-row and Junior Martin 1-row, all have identical bellows cross sections (434 cm2) and yet play very differently. The Pariselle has a very light and responsive action, the Junior Martin is more sluggish and the Acadian is somewhere between the two. The number of bellows folds don't come into it because all have 18. All are very airtight except the Pariselle, which has a leak I have never been able to locate.

I suspect (with no scientific evidence to back up my suspicion) that playability has more to do with the smoothness of the mechanism lifting the pallets, the configuration of the reed plates and the responsiveness of the reeds than with the size of the bellows.
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george garside

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2017, 09:52:43 AM »

I think other things are at play here.

 I suspect (with no scientific evidence to back up my suspicion) that playability has more to do with the smoothness of the mechanism lifting the pallets, the configuration of the reed plates and the responsiveness of the reeds than with the size of the bellows.



I don't think we need any scientific evidence to prove Bobs theory which ceertainly  tallies with my   experience of different boxes.

george
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2017, 10:20:30 AM »

I think it depends more on the cubic capacity than from the area, however, highly dependent on the quality of reeds.

Not in simple hydraulics theory it doesn't. 

      Force = pressure x area  ...
so   Pressure = force ÷ area

There's more to it than pressure of course. Let's ignore reed quality as that's a 'common' issue?  There are dynamics, and the "rate of build up" of a pressure wave will certainly happen more dynamically with smaller bellows.  So play should 'feel' more dynamic?

I think 'volume' is really just about how long one can sustain a note, or in practice a run of notes in any one direction.  But that isn't to say we can play in melodeon 'dynamically' with left shoulder about to dislocate ;)  As ever, there are compromises.

Concur with Bob/George that reed quality is paramount, however. You get what you pay for
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 10:22:38 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2017, 10:25:46 AM »

I think other things are at play here.

Bob,
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2017, 10:32:47 AM »

I've sent a PM too  ;)
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squeezy

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Re: Bellows x-section area
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2017, 11:04:59 AM »

I did expect a range of different types of response to this thread because I think how much this x-section thing affects you as a player has a huge amount to do with individual box playing style.  For players who tend to come from the continental side of things and try to maximise row crossing, the effect of melodeon size tends to have little impact on their playing and they can handle huge boxes with all the extra buttons and voices that allows whereas players like myself who come from a background of the rhythmic push-pull style tend to be quite specific when choosing the size of box to play. 

Maybe becase I'm biased towards my own style of playing I'm over-thinking it a little, but I found that seeing it as a numerical value was very helpful in trying to work out which boxes to narrow it down to.

One other variable that hasn't been mentioned is air-flow per pallet which is why 1-row 4-stops seem to have a different feel to a similarly sized 2 voice box.  Also my Hohner Lucia and Cornelia don't quite fit the feel curve on the graph because they are miniature models and have smaller reed chambers and holes under the pallets which has a definite combined effect with the x-section making the bellows 'feel' as if they are larger than they actually are.
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