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Chris_Hill

General Care / Maintenance Of Conertinas

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Hello,



Following on from the recent discussion about cases and the advice that it is apparently best to store your concertina on its side rather than on its end (something I didn’t know), I was wondering what other advice and tips people had for just general care, maintenance, storage, cleaning of concertinas.



Chris

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No bright light, don't get it wet, and don't feed it after midnight no matter how much it begs.

 

Well, those rules are specific to Gremlins, but do follow rule #2 no matter what kind of concertina you have :)

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Mainly, don't put it in an attic or garage. They don't like the damp, any more than the wet.

If you have a REALLY expensive concertina and want to keep it mint, get an old knacker to practice on.

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Play tunes every day. Play all the notes on the instrument every day. Wipe the dust off the bellows and ends with a dry soft cloth. Store it where temperature is relatively stable. Avoid leaving it in hot vehicles or in snowbanks.

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Thanks everybody! That's really helpful. I'm new to owning and playing a concertina so forums like this are a great place to benefit from the wealth of experience you've all built up!

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Hello,

 

Following on from the recent discussion about cases and the advice that it is apparently best to store your concertina on its side rather than on its end (something I didn’t know), I was wondering what other advice and tips people had for just general care, maintenance, storage, cleaning of concertinas.

 

Chris

 

Chris,

 

  1. Don't store a tina on its end because it causes the valves which are under the respective reed pans to curl and misbehave, store with its axis horizontal
  2. store the concertina with it's bellows firmly compressed, this helps with phrasing. The soft gig bags and un-blocked modern flight/ new concertina boxes will not do this
  3. every now and then, press a load of buttons and positively stretch the bellows to their fullest extent, as with 2, this helps with phrasing.
  4. wood warps when wet, or damp, air leaks and ghost notes may result
  5. bellows go hard with being baked in a car in hot weather, or being left in direct sunlight say in a window or on top of a radiator etc
  6. wood shrinks and cracks with over dryness and heat glue lines can pull apart
  7. The glues are usually animal or starch glues, they do not like wet or damp either.
  8. tinas do not like being dropped or bumped
  9. Check, periodically, the condition of the bellows inner fold hinges, if they start to spit then the bellows will self destruct from inside
  10. reeds corrode when they get damp or wet, this can also mean as a result of condensation.
  11. dirt in the bellows fold needs removing (soft brush.)
  12. playing the tina with the bellows folds stretched across a knee will reduce the life of the bellows
  13. if you ever open up your concertina, never, ever try to adjust, release or tighten the small screws that hold the bridge clamps over the reed tongues
  14. using dubbin, leather treatments for boots, or tack will contaminate the bellows leather, spoil the bellows papers, separate the bellows glues and make the bellows later un-repairable. It does however, leave nasty marks on your clothing
  15. using adhesive tapes of any variety to temporarily fix a leak will leave a residue which can mean that the glues used in a subsequent repair will not stick
  16. Sticky tapes on the end polishes will pull off the wood polish (think about this when using sticky stuff to velcro mics into place).
  17. don't over tighten end bolts
  18. do not oil the action levers/ springs,
  19. do not oil the buttons
  20. do not wipe the reeds with oil
  21. do not lubricate anything except your voice.
  22. do play regularly
  23. do use the full dynamics of the instrument
  24. too much alcohol causes the buttons to change place randomly
  25. playing in the car (someone else driving) increases vibrato effects
  26. I also talk nicely to my concertina. It seems to work for us.

 

If however you like to ignore some of the above, then I am sure that the various repairers will be glad to make your acquaintance.

 

Dave E

Edited by d.elliott

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Dave, thank you so much for this! A pretty comprehensive summary of the dos and don'ts and more than I'd expected anyone to reply with. Greatly appreciated.

 

I'm looking forward to experimenting with No.25 but will be sure this is with the full consent of the driver / other passengers otherwise I'm concerned they may also cause damage to the concertina!

 

Thanks very much,

 

Chris

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Here's one nobody's mentioned yet:

 

Let the instrument warm up to (near) room temperature before playing it indoors after bringing it in from a cold outdoors.

 

Warm moist air passing through cold reeds will cause water to condense on the reeds, leading to rust/corrosion/etc.

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Here's one nobody's mentioned yet:

 

Let the instrument warm up to (near) room temperature before playing it indoors after bringing it in from a cold outdoors.

 

Warm moist air passing through cold reeds will cause water to condense on the reeds, leading to rust/corrosion/etc.

 

 

Hello Dave,

 

Actually the mass of the steel reed is relatively low, so as the warm air passes over it then the reed should quickly get to dew point, I would be more concerned if the tina were stored cold. However what you say will certainly do no harm.

 

Dave

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Dave, I suspect that David is thinking of an Albany,NY cold rather than a Sheffield, Yorcs cold...

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Dave, I suspect that David is thinking of an Albany,NY cold rather than a Sheffield, Yorcs cold...

I have no idea what the winter weather is like in Sheffield. My comment was not a result of what I have observed in frozen Upstate New York (limited sample size), but what I have read here at concertina.net.

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I think there's less to worry about re rust on reeds than there used to be.

I'm 66, and when I was a kid, our windows were regularly completely frosted up on the INSIDE in the mornings in winter.

No double glazing or central heating back then. It's hardly surprising that steel reeds got rusty.

But in today's conditions, so long as you avoid storage in a loft or cellar, or car boot, for extended periods, I doubt if reed will suffer much rust.

I would guess that playing a cold concertina wouldn't cause any bother, as any moisture would evaporate in seconds with the warm air whizzing about.

Makes you wonder about stainless steel though. Has anybody ever tried it as reeds? I'm guessing it must give poor tone, otherwise it would be ideal. I have one with silver nickle reeds which never corrode, but the tone is just the same as brass, and I'm guessing the durability is much the same. It has had one replacement with a brass reed, in approx 150 years, so not too bad. (I'm guessing the others are originals)

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Makes you wonder about stainless steel though. Has anybody ever tried it as reeds? I'm guessing it must give poor tone, otherwise it would be ideal. I have one with silver nickle reeds which never corrode, but the tone is just the same as brass, and I'm guessing the durability is much the same. It has had one replacement with a brass reed, in approx 150 years, so not too bad. (I'm guessing the others are originals)

It's apparently fairly common in high-end harmonicas (because of the issue with warm breath causing condensation), but I haven't heard of anyone using it for concertina reeds. I'm planning to try it myself a bit further down the road.

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Makes you wonder about stainless steel though. Has anybody ever tried it as reeds? I'm guessing it must give poor tone, otherwise it would be ideal. I have one with silver nickle reeds which never corrode, but the tone is just the same as brass, and I'm guessing the durability is much the same. It has had one replacement with a brass reed, in approx 150 years, so not too bad. (I'm guessing the others are originals)

It's apparently fairly common in high-end harmonicas (because of the issue with warm breath causing condensation), but I haven't heard of anyone using it for concertina reeds. I'm planning to try it myself a bit further down the road.

 

That's interesting. But with harmonicas, it's only competing against brass, not carbon steel.

I suppose you could use carbon steel in harmonicas, so long as the owner always used some sort of warm air dryer after use.

But that's not likely to always be practical, as they chop and change instruments so often.

 

I made a reed out of a stainless razor blade once, and it worked ok, but sounded very wooly.

But it was probably too thin for it's size, so it wasn't a good test.

 

I vaguely remember a tv program on the bronze age, somebody saying that early bronze was similar to steel in strength, and much stronger than brass. I wonder if it would work better than brass as a reed?

Edited by Patrick McMahon

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That's interesting. But with harmonicas, it's only competing against brass, not carbon steel.

Some of them are phosphor bronze, which I believe performs similarly to brass but is much less prone to metal fatigue.

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I've seen a couple of Wheatstone Aeolas with copper alloy reeds. The metal looked more like phosphor bronze than copper.

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