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Don Taylor

A Baffle For The Too Loud Lhs On A Peacock

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I found that the LHS of my recently acquired Peacock is too loud, so loud that if I hold a drone note then it alone masks the melody notes on the LHS. Never mind playing a chord on the LHS. I know of at least one other Peacock that has the same problem so I suspect that all Peacocks sound this way. Maybe all of Concertina Connection mid-level concertinas (Clovers and Roses) as I believe that they are all made in a similar fashion.

 

Anyway, I made a (removable) baffle and it seems to have helped a lot so I thought I would document it here.

 

First, I made a paper template from 3"x5" cards glues together. I marked the locations of the button holes with the template in place and used some punches to punch 1/4" holes in the template:

 

010.jpg

 

I have some scrap leather offcuts that I bought years ago from a junk shop, I have no idea what their original purpose was but the leather is quite stiff even though it is only a little over 1mm thick. I had to join two leather scraps together to make a piece big enough and I used some 'basting' tape from my wife's sewing supplies to stick the two pieces together. Basting tape is very thin double-sided tape. I thought that I would have to sew the pieces of leather together, but the heavy duty basting tape (from Sailrite.com) did the job on its own.

 

I cut the leather so that it fitted snugly inside the end of the concertina - I tried not to leave any gaps at the edges. Using the template, I punched 1/4" holes in the leather for the buttons. I used thin strips (~1/4") of sticky backed Velcro tape to attach the baffle to the inside of the concertina end. All the way round both the baffle and inside edge of the end with no gaps. I also used a strip of the Velcro backing material to make a pull tag on one side so that I can pull the baffle off and out of the end. Once the baffle is in place with Velcro all the way around then it is quite difficult to get it out again without a pull tag.

 

004.jpg

 

 

007.jpg

 

When I put it altogether some of the buttons no longer snapped back up when released. The holes in the leather were too small/inaccurately placed and they fouled some of the buttons. Enlarging the holes to 5/16" solved that problem.

 

Results:

 

A definite reduction in volume on the LHS, I can now hear a melody when playing a drone or even a full chord. There is also a change in the tone of the LHS reeds, I am guessing that some of the higher harmonics are being filtered out. It is not a huge difference, but it is noticeable if you alternate between middle Cs on the LHS and RHS. I can live with it for the benefit I get from quieting down the LHS. I might try a wooden baffle to see if that affects the tone/volume as much.

 

I cannot detect any difference in bellows pressure required as a result of blocking most of the airways on the LHS.

 

Looks OK too:

 

009.jpg

 

(Ignore the piece of black Velcro showing - I will trim that off the next time I open it up).

 

Don.

 

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Thanks, Don, for reporting your experiment - very interesting.

 

My concertina is much too loud too. Most of them are, in my opinion.

 

I've unsuccessfully tried blocking, with tape, most of the curly vent holes of my Stagi tenor-treble English concertina.

It did quieten it, but the tone became a horrible, cheap, plasticky bleaty sound.

I might again one day try with more sturdy padding over those holes instead of tape that tends to buzz

Since then I've just worn heavy duty industrial earplugs (32dB attenuation) when practicing.

If I ever end up creating the Concertina Nova I may in advance find out whether smaller reeds are appropriate.

Presumably the frequency of resonance of any note is still achieveable using reeds of different mass.

The engineering is so complex I'd confer with existing experts.

 

The perfect experimenting environment for the engineering would be a virtual world (such as SecondLife).

Create a simulation of physical spaces and reeds etc. Mathematically credible within limits.

Design it so that we could vary sizes and mechanical properties.

Thus explore all sorts of configuration of reeds and reed cavities etc, to hear the likely timbre.

 

Even better, use neural net artificial intelligence that autonomously learns what we like regarding timbre'

Then set it to trying billions of combinations of variables until it gave us marvellous new sounds, specifying the metrics of the configuration.

Ray Kurzweil did similar to that very successfully for keyboards in the 90s. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpfPyOD1Gks

 

Regards,

 

Bruce Thomson in New Zealand.

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Both metal ends of my steel-reeded Anglo are lined on the inside with thin, closely-woven fabric and, to my ears, the instrument has very pleasant well-balanced tone. When I read of leather or timber baffles it always sounds to me to be a somewhat extreme solution to the problem. Had I ever wished to remove or perhaps replace these original fabric ' baffles' with fabric of a different constituency it would be a very simple procedure. The existing fabric is simply held securely in position on the metal ends by an appropriate amount of adhesive.

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Don,

the problem of a 'too loud' left side on Duet concertinas can be fairly universal because actually both right and left keyboards ,usually have the same volume . This, of course, is also true of the Anglos and Englishes. An English is a single keyboard shared over the two ends and an Anglo is not really two keyboards but one continued over on the other end.

 

The English thus has to have an equal volume output from each end and an Anglo played in the melodic style needs this balance also.

 

At the player's ear the lower notes can appear to be louder and drown out the upper ones but I wonder if this imbalance is so apparent at the listener's ear. I made several recordings of my duets and noticed that the recording device did not 'hear' this apparent discrepancy anywhere as much as I heard it.

 

Duet Concertina... the name says it all.... is trying to be an instrument with two keyboards ... that the player can play two or more 'parts' on the one instrument. The problem is that trying to control the output of these two keyboards individually using a shared variable air pressure supply unit ( the bellows) is hardly possible. That the power of individual notes needs to be achieved by the instrument design , by the maker, is obvious but trying to produce one design that will satisfy different styles of use could prove problematic. That a volume balance can be achieved between low and high notes is demonstrated by the Wheastone Aeola where the low notes (generally) do not drown out the upper ones. My Baritone/Treble English is a good example of this....,it being like a normal Treble instrument with an extra octave tacked on the bottom end... so one can play the melody in the normal treble range and add chords and bass notes that never dominate.... so it can be done.

 

As the low notes tend not to carry so well through the air they appear to be over loud at the source and this becomes a problem for the maker to determine an average balance both for the player's ear and that of the audience. If one uses a Duet to play two or more voices ( parts) then the balance may well be fine but if we play melody on one side and chords on the other , then a more radical design might be needed.

 

So, now that you have baffled the left side what do you notice when you play a melody that extends below the compass of the right hand keyboard ?

 

An adjustable Baffle would be a great thing.... perhaps something like a Louvre window which could be opened and closed by one's left thumb.

 

One Duet that I sold a couple of years ago did have much reduced fretwork on the left and it is the best balanced duet I have come across so far.

 

I have not tried a Peacock but my Wakker 46 Hayden does have a tendancy to appear a little too strong in the bass notes but I have gotten used to this now, perhaps adjusted my style a little... but in the recordings any over powering by the left hand was not apparent.

 

A simple baffle can be made from any piece of cloth, ( blanket, shirt etc) thrown over the left hand end whilst playing, as a simple test of volume balance.

 

I find it interesting that you say the difference that your baffle of 1mm leather makes is not huge.

 

Another way to individually adjust the power of notes on a concertina is to vary the amount that the Pad lifts off. This can be done by changing the number of felt damper washers at the base of the buttons... more damper washers= less button travel= less pad lift =quieter note . At the extreme end of things this method may require some tuning adjustments.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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This is a very interesting question/issue/problem with an instrument where a singular bellows pressure drives all the music including both melody and accompaniment. That is the case for all concertinas. I play the Anglo, but the issues are the same. How to make the melody come forward in the listeners ear and the accompaniment be quieter?

 

Even though I play with the general plan of melody right and accompaniment left, there are many exceptions to this rule when the melody crosses over to the left side. My solution was not to baffle the low (left) side of my instrument but rather to adjust my playing style to make the melody notes play longer than the accompaniment notes. Using a playing technique of adjustable and controllable button duration, I lengthen the duration of the notes I want to be heard as musically more important and shorten the button duration of the notes that support and accompany the melody.

 

I've found that even a small amount of distinction between button duration of the important notes versus the less important notes makes a huge difference in the listeners ear. The less important notes end and leave the ones you want to remain

 

Your baffling solution of the left hand lower side will certainly quiet those lower melody notes too, but for me, that would be a defect of this treatment when for example, I want to play melody down there on the left hand low side.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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And in instances when a right hand melody note is being smothered by left hand harmony there are the odd occasions when the right hand note might as well be omitted altogether in deference to the left hand harmony, which will compensate adequately without adversley affecting the flow of the music.

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I've heard Tom (Jody's brother, also a great anglo player who plays a lot of morris tunes) gives the following extremely succinct advice for keeping the melody clear above the left-hand stuff:

 

1, "right hand long, left hand short"

2, "play fewer notes, [John!]"

 

It's not always quite as simple as that -- but these two basic ideas will get you well on your way to balanced sound, whether on an anglo or a duet.

 

I humorously add "John!" in #2 because Tom is always saying that to our friend John Dexter, a masterful classical violist (Manhattan String Quartet) whose very precise anglo concertina arrangements (John's an avid anglo player as well) are constructed as if they were Julliard theory exercises along the lines of "how would Beethoven arrange Trunkles" ... and the "first violin" melody part is often hard to hear, or just completely lost in the mix, as a result. The arrangements are technically perfect, the viola and second violin parts are moving exactly as the rules of counterpoint say they should, and would be perfect for a string quartet ... or for a concertina on stage with a mic on the right-hand side ... but not for a honkin' Jeffries concertina played acoustically outdoors!

Edited by wayman

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I've fitted baffles to a number of concertinas over the years, not to control volume but to sweeten the sound, especially for instruments intended for song accompaniment. Baffles can have a great effect on the tone and I would be reluctant to put baffles on just one end because your two ends would then sound quite different. Do you not find this?

 

The basic procedure of making a template, then cutting the leather to match and sticking it in place with double sided tape that you describe is what I do, and a technique I learned from Colin Dipper. However I am nowhere near so meticulous in trying to cover the whole of the end with leather, ever since I effectively sealed the ends of the first concertina I made baffles for, thus rendering it unplayable until I took the baffles out again.

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Timson

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Don,

 

How do you think a similar baffle would work that had one large area cut out around the buttons rather than individual holes for the buttons? Not as effective, of course, but i presume it would damp the volume to some significant extent.

 

ron

Edited by rlgph

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Don,

 

How do you think a similar baffle would work that had one large area cut out around the buttons rather than individual holes for the buttons? Not as effective, of course, but i presume it would damp the volume to some significant extent.

 

ron

 

Ron

 

Well, having played with this baffle in place for a few days I have mixed feelings about it.

 

I wanted to simulate a bagpipe so that I could 'pipe' in the haggis at a Burns supper. Without the the baffle, the constant drone overwhelmed the RHS notes. So it worked for that.

 

I made the baffle so that it was as air tight as possible because I wanted to quieten the LHS as much as possible - see this article by Robert Gaskins; http://www.concertina.com/gaskins/baffles/which, I think, contains the answer to your question.

 

I certainly did get sound level reduction, and the low chords do sound better, but the higher notes on the LHS are distinctly different to the same note on the RHS. Some might say sweeter, some might say muffled. Overall, I am undecided about keeping the baffle in place.

 

I might try opening up some more air space in the baffle to see what that does, if I can lay my hands on some thin tone wood then I will try making a baffle out of that. Robert Gaskins recommends acoustic fabric baffles for reducing sound volume without significantly change the tone. I think that these can be installed in a Peacock in the same way that Robert describes in his article.

 

The real objective is to quieten and sweeten only the low notes on the LHS without changing the tone or volume of the higher notes on the LHS. I suspect that this is not possible post-facto designing the concertina.

 

I suspect that the real answer is probably the Steve Jobs expression: "You are holding it wrong".

 

Don.

Edited by Don Taylor

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Don,

 

looking at your interior photos on the other thread I notice that all the low notes are at one side of the end. I wonder if you could dampen the lowest notes by using a half Baffle, just placing it over the lower half of the end. As the sound exits when the key is pressed it bounces off the inside of the end plate, if the fretted end is metal the sound level is greater than if the end is wooden.

I am thinking that a soft material will take the edge off the tone of those low notes, perhaps enough to make a better balance. Then the upper left hand voices can exit free of the muffling effect of a soft baffle....

 

I would try this.

 

Geoff.

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Don, thanks for your comments, and especially for the Gaskins link. A lot of information to absorb :lol: .

Edited by rlgph

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