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Ray

Stiff New Bellows

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I know new leather bellows tend to be rather stiff at first and get more flexible in time (and I know patience is a virtue!) ... but is there a way of hastening the process to get stiff new bellows playing more freely more quickly? Thanks.

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Yes, I'm a great believer in that ... but stiff bellows make practice hard work!

Cheers, Ray

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I advocate fully extending and compressing the bellows with the air button depressed 5 or 6 times before each practice session. Just playing will only break in the bellows to your normal playing rangewhich is often only half open if that. Make sure you keep it in the case until it doesn’t want to open on it’s own ( and even after that for protection ). Eventually you will have the full range to play with. ( I have a machine that does it for me a few thousand times in in an hour. Looks pretty silly, but it works great. )

Dana

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Thanks Dana. I did wonder about the possibility of a machine to work the bellows, so I'm fascinated by your final sentence and would love to know more about your machine.

Ray

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Dana's advice is exactly what I do with new bellows (not the machine, the slight over extension everytime for a while when starting to play, though I would use the machine if I had one).

 

Ray, you did not say whether it is a new concertina and what sort it is, or whether you have had the bellows replaced in an older one. Either way, have you checked the bellows stiffness with the air button depressed? What feels like stiff bellows while playing can be a result of less efficient reeds. If so, a partial solution is to play slower and quieter.

Edited by Chris Ghent

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The instrument is a new Morse Georgie tenor, fitted with TAM reeds which are very responsive and free-speaking even from new. The stiffness is definitely in the bellows - just as stiff whether playing notes or using the air button.

I'm giving it plenty of pulling and pushing with the air button depressed, and I am already detecting a gradual easing off, but the idea of a machine to speed things up is very interesting!

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The instrument is a new Morse Georgie tenor, fitted with TAM reeds which are very responsive and free-speaking even from new. The stiffness is definitely in the bellows - just as stiff whether playing notes or using the air button.

I'm giving it plenty of pulling and pushing with the air button depressed, and I am already detecting a gradual easing off, but the idea of a machine to speed things up is very interesting!

I don't (yet) have an exercising machine, so after I've made a new set of bellows I keep them in a press that compresses the inner folds fully closed, then when I'm watching TV in the evening I'll get them out of the press and manually exercise them over their full range until I get bored.

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I would be concerned that over-exercising stff bellows might introduce stress in the leather. I would apply a good quality, fresh, leather/shoe cream to the folds and gussets, allow it time to penetrate, and only then embark upon some gentle exercise of the bellows.

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New bellows can be made flexible and light! I had 3 sets ( ES! ) made by Mark Adey and one by Steve Dickinson - each time I specified "extra thin and flexible" all leather - and 7 fold. They may not last another 100 years, but 25 will do me fine...

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