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Dana Johnson

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About Dana Johnson

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    Heavyweight Boxer

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  1. Dana Johnson

    Reed Chamber Length Experiment

    It will be fun if it is of some use to you. I know we are all indebted to you for the work you did at the Button Box. best, Dana
  2. Dana Johnson

    Reed Chamber Length Experiment

    I have found using a similar setup to Alex’s that the “nasal” sound occurs at certain locations of pad hole along the chamber length. Since most concertinas even with long reeds tend to put the reed dovetail close to the outside end wall, the usual place for the pad hole at the end of the chamber is generally a safe space. For the reeds I have tested, mid and low range, there are usually 2 nasal sounding positions along the chamber, perhaps three if the chamber is a long one. Their distance apart seems proportional to chamber length, which is why a secondary chamber shortening partition can sometimes solve this for a nasty sounding reed. dana
  3. Dana Johnson

    Reed Chamber Length Experiment

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest note on my G/Ds lies on the press side of a chamber sized for a reed the next shoe size larger. Mostly the reeds never are paired with ones much different in size. I found that while the longer of the two reeds was excellent in response, the smaller was not satisfactory. In this case, I divided the chamber and cut down its length on the higher note. It was instantly right up there with all the other reeds. I haven’t had a problem on any higher pitched instruments because even my wonderful personal A/E doesn’t have a large shoe size break in the high end. While Jeffries reed pans are oriented with the parallel chambers perpendicular to the Button rows, I had difficulties getting my long scale reeds on the Left to fit anywhere close to the buttons they were connected to. I found that by turning the reed pans 60 degrees clockwise and anti clockwise ( left and right pans respectively, ). That not only could the longest reeds be placed in the longest chambers, but my shortest lever ( 3/4 inch on a Jeffries) was now 1-1/2 inches and much more similar feel to all the others. I also was able to put the pads for the important doubled notes on a c/g like the middle D and g/a Button’s so they were placed in similar positions relative to my hand so that they had the same timbre when played. (Also placing the air pad under my hand to quiet it a bit.) I have done them this way now for the last 28 years. It also really helps with the low pitch instruments, where the reeds are that much longer. dana
  4. Dana Johnson

    TT modification on the low end (D# to B?)

    The reed tip where solder weighting is applied / removed is the point of least bending/ most movement. Consequently even if you lower the temper at that point, it will have negligeable effect on the reed’s “strength” compared to the added stiffness from the solder. (also negligeable ). For years I have been using a low melting point lead free synthetic rosin core silver bearing solder for this purpose where needed “Kester” brand, for moving into a lead free zone and it’s superior wetting power on carbon steels. I shove a sheet of silicone rubber under the reed tip and apply the solder, then as soon as the solder freezes, I use a tissue or bit of paper towel to wipe off the still liquid flux. I can’t remember the last time I bought tin/lead solder. Must have been 40 years ago when the 95/5 tin antimony solders came out. These days, there are a number of better choices. Dana
  5. Dana Johnson

    Tricks To Cover Up Mistakes

    Pretend it was on purpose and keep playing. If you can hear a musical variation based on the “mistake” then play that and add the variation to your repertoire. But for the most part, trying to think your way out of it will just create more errors. Mistakes aren’t the end of the world.
  6. Dana Johnson

    Pop Up Ads

    Don’t mind the ads, but they should push the whole page down. Otherwise much of the navigation menu at the top of your web page is covered. Unfortunately, if you close the ad, google asks you why, making it obvious that they are collecting more info on you. However, these things are so ubiquitous that it isn’t going to make much of a difference. Going to a good cause!
  7. Dana Johnson

    D/a Vs C/g Starting Out?

    Unless you have perfect pitch, your concertina is just a bunch of notes at fixed intervals. If you are playing by yourself, then think in terms of do, re, mi. instead of ABC. Noel Hill plays his D/A in concerts because it carries really well. The fingering doesn’t change. If you wan’t to play in multiple keys, a 30 Button is something to look for. It opens up lots of possibilities, especially playing with others. A c/g gives a good range of keys with minimal fingering difficulty, though most keys are easy if you practice them for a while. But if you are playing by yourself, get a 30 Button c/g layout chart and treat your d/a as though it was a c/g. Then if/when you switch, your g tunes will be in g, your A minor or other modal tunes that don’t use a c# will be the real thing and you’ll be able to add keys without having to relearn all the fingering. I think thinking of your instrument as a badly tuned c/g was really the best bet. Don’t get stuck with labels.
  8. It is a difficult decision to make as I do make use of almost the full low end of the instrument. Meanwhile there are at least 3 buttons on the high end I can honestly not remember ever using in a tune. That is a good point about the full F major scale. I don't actually know any F Major tunes, but I suppose I may wan't to in the future. I guess it might be just be better to look for an instrument with more buttons or a drone button in the future. A lot of East Clare tunes are in F or Bb. The more I learn in these keys ( or the modes that use the same notes), the more I want to learn. They often go well with C tunes, which was clearly someone’s idea of an important key
  9. I changed the low F to a low draw D on my personal instrument thinking it would be really useful in itm. I do use it more than I used the low F, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. I am a pretty experienced player, using chordal accompaniment as appropriate. On another instrument, I replaced the draw middle D on the g row with a low d, which created a lot of possibilities that were quite useful. I believe I also changed the low F to a low A. Noel Hill likes the press/ draw middle d’s on the g row because you can treat them the same as the g’s on the C row. He opted to swap out the F for the draw A for the same reason, making all three rows function the same in the low end. He has his low d as a drone Button. Especially after discovering I really like the key of F, I haven’t opted to change the equivalent button on my A/E. At some point I may make a low F# to trade for the F ( now D) on my C/G just to see what it might offer, since the middle f# is such an important note. Making my own instruments makes these experiments risk free, but altering a Wheatstone could create problems if it needed to be reversed. Reed shoe sizes change quickly in the low end, so there is no guarantee you can simply swap their positions even if the chamber space accommodates it. The dovetail slots may need modification. While quite possible, it is harder to reverse. Simply weighting the F down to a D works quite well, and in the future can be removed with only minor retuning required. Dana
  10. Dana Johnson

    Amusing Carpentry Capers

    Hey Ross, I remember that instrument very well. It was a lovely one. I’ve missed seeing you at the NE NHICS. Sorry I never had the chance to hear your Ab/Eb. I finally made an A/E after Mark Bickford’s Jeffries, and love it. If you still have family in Alexandria, Becky and I are only a half hour away on the beltway in Kensington, MD. ( non rush hour time) Very Best Wishes! Dana
  11. Dana Johnson

    Amusing Carpentry Capers

    I didn’t think Colin used the mahogany in reed pans, though he may have. He has an interesting laminate he has used for reed pans for instruments exported to the US. with it’s variable climate. Not sure the wood he used, but it looked a bit like Spanish mahogany ( like you find in old cigar boxes). Still sounded great. A number of older large concertinas had mahogany action pans, I presume for the greater stability across such a wide piece of wood. The big hassle with “vintage” pre ban materials, including ivory is proof, which except in rare cases doesn’t exist unless you are the original owner. A pipe maker friend of mine had a modest amount of pre ban ivory he used for fittings. None of that matters now. You would be hard pressed to use even mastodon ivory even though it is legal. If you can document your purchase, it might be a good idea. Your concertinas are well below the weight limit though so traveling with them should be ok. Black lacquered hand rests are not likely to draw attention in any case.
  12. Dana Johnson

    Amusing Carpentry Capers

    Colin Dipper managed to get an excellent piece of mahogany furniture via the British museum at one time that found it’s way into concertinas. It is a fairly stable wood that has a history of use in action pans of larger instruments. For instruments of a local nature, you should definitely consider a higher use than hand rests. Sadly, it is not CITES friendly. Dana
  13. Dana Johnson

    Scored A Miniature Lachenal

    What a cutie! Not surprised it is so good. Will be awesome when it doesn’t leak. Size really makes a difference in air capacity, where reeds of a given pitch use the same amount of air regardless of the size of the instrument. Playing force depends on the end area but air capacity is severely reduced on a small bellows. Unfortunately small bellows with lots of folds are harder to control, but If you can get 8 fold bellows, I’d do it. Dana
  14. Brass is denser than steel, so it’s weight will lower the pitch for the same sizes and profiles. Brass also is considerably less stiff than steel which also lowers the pitch for equivalent sizing. The more weight you have at the point of maximum travel you have ( reed tip ) the lower the pitch. The more stiffness you have at the point if maximum bending ( reed root ) the higher the pitch due to increased return force. Stiffness can be increased by using stiffer materials or by increasing the thickness in the profile. Weight can be increased by using denser materials or adding weight to the tip of the profile. Since the increase in weight at the tip has a more or less linear effect on pitch, low reeds can require a lot of extra weight to lower the pitch. The effect of adding thickness to the area of maximum bending has a much larger effect, ( as does subtracting it ) so flexible alloys can lower the pitch quite effectively. Other factors make a difference, like the maximum volume a reed can produce at a given size and swing. Reeds are a mass of trade-offs.
  15. I think Wheatstone probably did continue their scale to the lower notes. Certainly the case on my old McCann duet. But that wasn’t an Anglo. Even if you limited your reeds to the size of a low C, and weighted them way down, adjusting the chamber lengths accordingly could help improve their response. On my duet, while for upper notes the chambers were only as lone as the reed shoes needed, the lower you went, the longer the chambers got till at the lowest G, the chamber was much longer than the reed shoe. On my Bb/f Jeffries, though it had a wonderful tone and great response in the mid and upper range, the weighted low notes response wasn’t as good. I make a guess that there is some optimal proportion between stiffness and tip weight at any given pitch. Heavier tips tax the reed’s ability to counter the extra momentum, causing wide swings at lower pressures like with a weak reed. Increasing the stiffness to regain the needed strength, and you raise the pitch and have to add more weight, defeating the purpose. You can gain stiffness without too much pitch change by adding thickness to the mid section of the profile where the location of the mass has a more or less equal effect on pitch, the increases mass countering the increased stiffness. It is likely that even if Jeffries used the same reed sizes for the lower notes, the profiling may have changed to better suit the weighted ends. Chris, where are you? Don’t you have a Jeffries G/D? I’m talking a bit through my hat.