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Author Topic: Air Button Placement  (Read 3139 times)

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KLR

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Air Button Placement
« on: December 03, 2011, 09:44:52 PM »

Figured out why playing my old Weltmeister was so exhausting - they just stuck the air button in the far corner, ala piano accordions.  It does draw enough air to work for a push/pull box but with your hand necessarily being off-center you can't really drive the box.  

My solution was to make a new button, with a wire to press it:



The button is hollow, the wire runs through it into the lever operating the valve on the inside.  
This was inspired by info in this thread, courtesy user Bill Young:  Hohner Trichord III BCC# with 48 bass.  He took a piano accordion bass side and grafted it onto a diatonic treble; PAs have buttons which are purely for expanding and collapsing the bellows when you begin playing, or are putting the thing away; hence it needed both a larger air inlet, and also a more centrally located button/lever.  Bill says Hohner Shand Marino boxes had wire levers, and shows a pic of the one he installed.

I'm posting this in Teaching/Learning as it's a very simple mod, and might prove useful for players of whatever level.  My Weltmeister was almost unplayable before I installed this; perhaps it could help someone even if their box has a more suitable button/lever already.  Or they might be struggling with a button which is slightly off center.  Nothing I did in the way of fiddling with straps etc has had anything like the impact this mod has had; before the box really was a chore to play.  You really do need to be pushing on the ideal spot on the left side, whatever that might be, and this can't be based on the happenstance location of the button/bar/whatever.

There's little involved here in carrying out this operation; the original wire on the inside of my Weltmeister looked to be made of nothing more robust than the kind of metal paperclips are made of, and perhaps that would work OK.  For my lever I used musical wire, which is very stiff and requires pliers to bend.  You can get it in hobby shops.  I turned the new button out of boxwood, but you could as well use simple dowel, which you can get from most hardware stores.  The end of the wire is hooked into one of the holes in the grill; this has to be set up right or the button can stick.  The inside of the wire needs to be fit correctly, too, of course; put a bit of a kink in the metal to keep the button from falling all the way in.  It's all pretty simple, be careful not to foul the air inlet lever, is all.

Now back to practicing!  Can play this thing all day now.    

lars_jakabov's photostream on flickr has some shots of air buttons/bars; I notice how Paolos are big buttons close to the middle, while Baldonis seem to be equipped with the kind of bar you see on modern boxes.  I came across a pic of some other old box with a bar that almost covered the whole width of the bass side, forget where that was.  
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sticky fingers

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011, 06:11:20 PM »

well done you, the air button is one of the most crucial parts of any box, the more efficient the better!, my saltarelle has a huge one and with a little strengthening mod from myself, at the slightest touch, sucks in and pushes out litres of gods finest,( essential for playing fast irish jigs and reels ), i once played a honer pokerwork of a freind, and it had this dreadful pull down affair which needed more thinking time than the actual tune you were trying to play,( can't understand how they ever became so popular)(thats one for the melnet debaters e'h), thank goodness for progress, well done again, sf.

Stiamh

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2011, 07:05:26 PM »

SF, I'm surprised to read that you find sucking litres of air to be essential for playing fast Irish jigs and reels. Not my experience at all - I generally take very frequent little sips of air. Needing big gasps would tell me that I wasn't controlling the bellows very well.

In fact when the air button is too voracious, as it can be on small Italian-style two-voice boxes, or the two-voice Gaillard I had for a while, air-button "clutch control" becomes considerably more difficult. That's because I think continental boxes are designed for a different style of play, involving fewer but much more drastic bellows adjustments. Would be interested to hear others' thoughts about this.

I find the Hohner pull-down lever arrangement just as easy to manipulate as the Italian triangular lever type, or the Paolo-Cairdin push-in button for that matter. In fact I haven't met an air button I couldn't get used to in a couple of minutes! (Admittedly not having encountered a Weltmeister of the type KLR describes above....   :D )
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sticky fingers

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2011, 09:28:42 PM »

ah yes, what i should have said is,( my particular style of playing fast irish gigs and reels), unorthadox yes, which involves alot of cross fingering to make the most of the air available to me, that way i try to avoid the fast jerky push pull motion which is the trademark of the diatonic scale, well, i say at least try!, it's not always possible, as i seem to always fall for the more eclectic irish tunes, difficult at best on a d/g. a'h steve, i am sure we have had this debate in a previous life, best wishes. sf

Stiamh

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 03:26:16 PM »

Ah, on a D/G, that makes more sense. My apologies, should have paid more attention to previous discussions.
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sticky fingers

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 07:53:11 PM »

apologie humbly accepted, though not really necessary steve, after all i'm always in favour of any constructive comment or simple modification which enhances the life of our chosen fields, i guess we are all still on a learning curve. best wishes. sf

Owen Woods

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 04:47:08 AM »

I'd agree that playing Irish music on a D/G does sometimes require large gulps of air, but I find that most of the time little and often is, as Steve says, a better way of doing it.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 08:29:21 AM »

I personally concur - the air button is the most important one on the box.  To some extend it depends on technicalities and your style.  B/C and related, or 'up/down row' tend to balance naturally.  Tufty Swift then taught me the 'little and often' method in the 70's - it has been excellent advice.

Edit: apologies to Steve for missing this before... when the air button is too voracious, as it can be on small Italian-style two-voice boxes, or the two-voice Gaillard I had for a while, air-button "clutch control" becomes considerably more difficult. That's because I think continental boxes are designed for a different style of play, involving fewer but much more drastic bellows adjustments. Would be interested to hear others' thoughts about this.

Cross rowing doesn't balance, and people who play melody completely on the pull such as the Grenoble school - well it's critical. Gaillard sells a lot of kit there and I think that's maybe why has re-engineered his. You get a 'palate' about 1x2 cm with 3 small rubber knobs on. Brush it toward the floor with your thumb and the box gulps gas like a surfacing whale. The palate system means that interaction with the chord buttons is minimised - you sort of just 'reach toward it' :D

Frans v d Aa and I took this apart in Eindhoven and he was well impressed. It's simple lever but  does use some space inside and sadly not enough room for a copy in my new box.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 09:45:30 AM by Chris Ryall »
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george garside

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 09:38:55 AM »

Personally I don't have nay probem with the hohner air button  on DG or BC  small 2 row boxes. In fact if I'm honest it forms a handy little hook to rest the thumb on!. Having said dthat my preference is for  a good long air bar & this is of course essential on the stradella bass boxes.

The 'air' problem  on some boxes comes from  an insufficiently large air hole rather than  the type of air button.  My preference is for a hole large enough to 'collapse' the bellows now & again rahter than makaing constant small adjustments with a little hole.

george
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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 09:57:18 AM »

My idea of a well-placed air button is one where, whatever I'm playing (aka trying to) and whatever the air "refresh" needed", the thing forms an integral part of the use of the left hand (where I try to use all four fingers most if not all of the time) and I never have to think "now press the air button" and have to make a conscious physical movement to do so.

I can get along with both wedges and buttons, as long as neither involves a wide thumb stretch. On a couple of boxes with wedges, I have found that the length of the wedge is a bit short, or it's set too high up, but, as previously noted, this can be changed. Same sort of problem with some Hohner air buttons.

Personally, I've found that the ideal left hand configuration of buttons and wedge for me and my hand size is on my D/G Saltarelle L'Elfique. It also seems to deliver effortlessly as much or little air as needed.
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KLR

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Re: Air Button Placement
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 02:58:45 PM »

Looks like I ordered the wrong model:



My Welt is the Meteor model, which is usually a PA, which might explain why the air button is in the corner.

Played my friend's Boxeen the other night and we noticed its button is a bit off to the side too.  Doesn't slow him down though.  This Boxeen looks to have a button in the center, though:



Hard to find shots of buttons, but here's a couple from lars_jakabov:


Captured_2008-1-26C_00019.JPG=600 by lars_jakabov, on Flickr

Paolos:


IMGP0744 by lars_jakabov, on Flickr
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