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Author Topic: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem  (Read 439 times)

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Richard J Delong

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C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« on: May 20, 2018, 09:17:12 AM »

Hello!

I just received my first accordion (a long-awaited C/F Pokerwork, likely of 60's vintage in what appears to be excellent condition, surely rarely played) that made a long voyage (4 months!) from Germany to our home in Hawaii. 

I'm a completely new player, but I've been playing everyday for this past week and have already fallen in love with the sound.  However, as I was playing this morning, the C/F chord button on the bass side changed its tone in mid-push - going from sweet-sounding to an awful, out-of-tune pitch with a faint but audible buzzing noise.  To be clear, only this button is affected and it sounded excellent for the prior week, and it is only on the compression or push (the pull still sounds in tune) and the buzz (or perhaps 'rattle' would be more accurate) is quite faint.

After much internet research, I removed the bass side reed box and have inspected both the button mechanism levers on the bottom side, and the three outer reeds associated with this chord button - all of which look perfect with no rush on the reeds, no foreign matter obstructing their movement, and fresh plastic valve covers alongside each, all perfectly intact...

I lightly 'pinged' each if these outer reeds as well, hoping to free a stuck reed, but alas the problem continues... again, the button sounds fine on the pull, but sounds mighty sick on the push.  So far my best guess would be that a single outer reed has shifted and it is slightly rubbing the side of the reed plate, but wouldn't I notice this upon inspection? 

I would greatly appreciate any advice that could be offered as (fittingly) this C/F chord key had already become my favorite from the bass side...  also, does anyone have any recommendations for a reputable and thorough repair expert in the US? 

Thank you all for your advice!  I can tell already that its hard to have a sick box, particularly when I know so little about how to fix it!

Rich
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Theo

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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2018, 09:31:57 AM »


I lightly 'pinged' each if these outer reeds as well, hoping to free a stuck reed, but alas the problem continues... again, the button sounds fine on the pull, but sounds mighty sick on the push.  So far my best guess would be that a single outer reed has shifted and it is slightly rubbing the side of the reed plate, but wouldn't I notice this upon inspection? 


It would be unusual for a reed to go out of line suddenly like that.   It may yet be a small speck of airborne dust or fibre that is lodged in the gap at the edge of the reed.  Try pinging the reeds again and listen to the sound.  If the tongue is striking the plate the reed ping will sound dull compared with a good reed.

Another thing top check is the plastic valve on the underside of the reed.   Look into the vent on the bass of the reed block and see if the valve is in position.  They do occasionally fall off and get stuck in a way that interferes with the reed.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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folkloristmark

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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2018, 01:13:14 PM »

They do go quicky if they crack. If you can see a crack straight accross near the back its US. It may not be obvious to the eye. It may look like a wire under the reed . It is also quite possile the reed is lifting when blown this again may not be obvious look for the wax cracking or do a temp repair job.soldering iron. With a light blowing down the hole you may see movement its hard if you are not familiar with reeds.If its just one reed you can replace it if it really is hard to tell put another same size reed in to see if its the reed, does the issue persist. You can tape other other holes (two)with light tape to stop them sounding while you check the one reed. Do that to see if its not an issue with them as it gets more complicated air escaping.Wich note is it?

You will find with old boxes as you play them the wax will start to give problems it is often the wax not holding as its brittle. Charlie Marshal will be a good place for one reed he will post.

PS as a quick solution you can just but a little tape over the hole of the bust one. You will loose two notes but to be fair you might not really notice most of the time.Chord side that is.But can continue till a new reed arrives. May be years.But the tape over wood side not felt depending which way is gasketed.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:34:32 PM by folkloristmark »
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Richard J Delong

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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 03:31:29 AM »


I lightly 'pinged' each if these outer reeds as well, hoping to free a stuck reed, but alas the problem continues... again, the button sounds fine on the pull, but sounds mighty sick on the push.  So far my best guess would be that a single outer reed has shifted and it is slightly rubbing the side of the reed plate, but wouldn't I notice this upon inspection? 




It would be unusual for a reed to go out of line suddenly like that.   It may yet be a small speck of airborne dust or fibre that is lodged in the gap at the edge of the reed.  Try pinging the reeds again and listen to the sound.  If the tongue is striking the plate the reed ping will sound dull compared with a good reed.

Another thing top check is the plastic valve on the underside of the reed.   Look into the vent on the bass of the reed block and see if the valve is in position.  They do occasionally fall off and get stuck in a way that interferes with the reed.

Aloha Theo,

After tearing into it again this morning and lightly pinging the reeds, a single reed associated with that chord key actually snapped at the bottom and broke off - not from the pinging, I'm certain, but it must have failed during play yesterday... 

From your experience (and the experience of others here) is it very difficult to change a reed?  Would that new reed then need to be tuned in the box?  This is all brand new to me and although I imagine its done all the time, it seems like a big project from my perspective... Where do you buy replacement Hohner reeds and how are the waxed reed blocks removed, then rewaxed?

Lastly, how common of an issue would you say this is for older accordions? This particular Pokerwork looks beautiful on the inside, with the reeds shining and only a touch of rust on the longest bass reeds, and I know it's hard to speculate how long any older metal will last, but is this an issue that all players run into frequently, and on a brand new box, for example, how often would a broken reed occur or other reed issues that substantially affect the sound and tuning?

Thank you all for you patience and effort in answering my beginner questions - I have to admit that I absolutely love the sound of these accordions already, but I've begun worrying about the durability and longevity of the instrument if tuning or broken reeds are a frequent problem (particularly living in Hawaii with no other box players, or repair experts, for thousands of miles...)

Rich

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squeezy

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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 08:26:50 AM »

Hi Rich,

Older reeds do sometimes fail and crack in exactly the way you described, it's not all that common (i.e. don't expect all the other reeds to do that!) and can be for a variety of reasons causing the imperfection that has led to the eventual snapping.

It looks like a daunting task for the first time, but actually the most tricky step to achieve can be sourcing the correct replacement reed (I'm afraid I don't know the distribution networks for spare Hohner parts where you are).

Taking the reedblock out of the instrument is simply a case of loosening the screw on the left of the block so the metal piece can rotate and removing, wiggling the block if it is particularly tight.

Removing the offending reed is normally done by cutting the join between the wax and reed with something like a craft knife or scalpel taking care not to cut the wood of the block.  After the reed is out, clean it up by removing all excess wax and make sure no little loose blobs remain as these can foul the reeds.

Then you replace the reed and seal with hot fresh wax.  It's much better if you get hold of a genuine beeswax/rosin/oil material to do this as bees wax alone is too soft for the job and using candle wax is a punishable sin!  This can be done in a variety of ways provided your method of melting the wax isn't so hot that it burns the wax.  For a single reed most prefer to use something like a soldering iron.  Beware - waxing a reed in is one of the harder skills in melodeon fettling, much harder than it sounds, melted wax is still very viscous and cools on contact with the reedblock so it doesn't always flow as you'd hoped!  Also melted wax in the wrong place (on a reed or valve particularly) is a real mess and needs painstaking removal with solvents - so try to avoid that.

Finally the reeds (push and pull) will probably need fine tuning in position to sound good - there are many threads here about how to tune and it's complicated so I won't do that here.

Good Luck

John
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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2018, 11:42:42 AM »

Don't get worried about reeds breaking - you're unlucky in this case, but reed failure is actually quite rare. In over 30 years of melodeon playing I can honestly say I've never ever had a reed break in any of my instruments, regardless of age.  I have come across broken reeds in old wrecks I've bought for spares, but never experienced a breakage in a working box.

Speaking of old wrecks, many of us cut our fettling teeth on useless old boxes (usually PAs, because there are so many of them!). They're no use at all as instruments, but will give you a lot of education in how they come apart (and hence how they were put together), provide you with a risk-free bunch of reeds on which to experiment with tuning & waxing, and into the bargain yield a collection of small otherwise hard-to-find spares such as tiny screws, springs and other fittings. I was given the first one I pulled apart, and I think I paid £1.50 for the second one - which also provided the bellows for my tuning table - at a car boot sale.

Graham
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Re: C/F Pokerwork Reed Problem
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 03:20:04 PM »

Rich-
I encourage folks to learn to take care of their own instruments. However, as another option for you, I just checked and both the chord reedblock and bass reedblock will fit in a small flat rate US Priority Mail box (see picture BUT use bubblewrap or similar). Cost is $7.20 Hawaii to New York. I have the replacement reedplates and can tune all the reeds while I have it. I recommend you replace all 8 of the large composite bass valves as they do not age well on those Pokerworks. The plastic valves on the treble and chords are usually fine. I final tune 'in situ' (reedblocks mounted in the instrument half) and have Pokerwork cases around I could use for tuning yours so no need to send the entire instrument.

Scott

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