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Accordion Reeds Or Concertina Reeds. What's The Difference?

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#1 Sidsqueezer

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:46 PM

Hello all. my 1st posting on this forum being new to the Concertina as a new venture from other instruments. I read that better instruments have "real" Concertina reeds as opposed to Accordion reeds fitted in cheaper instruments. Please explain the difference? No doubt this has been discussed before but I can't find suitable thread to answer this question.

#2 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 09:13 AM

Hello  Sidsqueezer,

 

welcome to C.net....

 

Explaining the difference  could take a while  so I do suggest you search as far as you can on the various forums.

 

However, I've a couple of minutes to kill whilst some glue dries  so:

 

Probably the main difference between the accordéon reed and the concetina reed  is the way of mounting them in a Box.  

 

  The accordéon reed  sits on a 'reed block'  along with the other reeds, in a line, somewhat like an harmonica... and has been described as an 'open chamber' free reed...  this type can be tuned to pitch outside the instrument and when mounted in the accordéon the pitch changes little, if at all.Usually the accordéon reed comes as a pair (one for  suck and one for squeeze) monted on an aluminium plate along with the leather (or plastic) air valves.

 

The concertina reed is  mounted into a tapered dovetail slot in the reed pan and usually has a Brass frame... these slots are made inside  a closed chamber and one reed is on each side of the Reedpan.  The closed chamber  has an effect on tone and tuning... so this type of reed needs to be  offset in its tuning when adjusted before mounting in the instrument.... usually the reed chamber imposes a regime on the reed which lowers the effective pitch slightly... some would say that the better the chamber design  the less pitch differential is created.... others say  it is the differential that creates interest in the tone.... so, one can say  the concertina has 'closed chamber' free reeds.

 

Of course it would be possible  to mount  modified accordéon reeds into 'closed chambers'  and achieve a sound very similar to a traditional concertina.

 

Best to find some pictures of the Insides of concertinas with  each type of reed  to more fully understand what I am trying to say.

 

Accordéon reeds can be bought from factories that specialise in producing them.... whereas Concertina reeds are mostly hand made.

 

There is, of course, a lot more to it than this... !


Edited by Geoff Wooff, 17 September 2014 - 10:02 AM.


#3 Frank Edgley

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 10:16 AM

The main difference is, as Geoff says, the way the reeds are mounted in the box, and is as Geoff describes. There are some tonal differences between the two types, but not as much as between different makes or eras of concertinas, and either can have a great tone. A Lachenal is more different in tone compared to a Jeffries than a top-of-the-line accordion-reeded instrument is compared to certain concertina-reeded instruments, of course, depending on the make. Other than superficial differences relating to the outward appearance of the concertinas there is little, if any, difference in the quality between the two types of concertinas, and depend more on the make than anything else.


Edited by Frank Edgley, 18 September 2014 - 10:18 AM.


#4 ceemonster

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 06:05 PM

accordions can also come with reeds chambered. they are called "tone chamber" or "sound chamber" accordions. I think in Italian it's "cassotto," though I could be mistaken as to what "cassotto" is in accordion jargon.  tone chamber accordions are usually the unisonoric accordions, piano accordion or chromatic accordion or bayan.  tone chamer accordions are astronomically expensive, and IMHO not worth the $$$, particularly if you are playing world dance music on your accordion.  classical maestros sometimes have them, I guess some of the serious jazz virtuosos...

 

accordion reeds come in grades.  the factory reeds Geoff mentioned come in sub-grades under the umbrella term of "factory reeds." those subgrades have names, such as "export reeds"  (cheap), "durall" (more solid), and so-called "super-durall" (best quality factoryreeds).

 

there are also hand-made accordion reeds, and what I think of as "semi-hand-made" accordion reeds. wim wakker refers to those as "hand-finished" reeds, while the Italian term for them is "tipo-a-mano" (TAM) or, "hand-type" reeds.

 

an accordion-reeded concertina with premium reeds of at least TAM grade (actually i'm not sure literal hand-made accordion reeds are done in concertinas) will perform and sound beautifully.  even some of the cheapie factory-accordion-reeded concertinas have a hell of a lot of charm to their sound. they just don't always respond optimally.

 

technically speaking, "concertina" reeds probably respond with more suppleness, and probably offer a more nuanced dynamic spectrum of expressiveness.  but premium hand accordion reeds give plenty of that.  additionally, the "voice personality" of "concertina" reeds and that of accordion reeds differ, though sometimes subtly.  I have repeatedly encountered un-indoctrinated listeners hearing my own concertina-reeded instrument, or hearing gorgeous irish concertina cds in my home or car, who find the sound of "concertina" reeds um, an acquired taste.  whereas, my TAM-reeded concertinas always get sighs and remarks at the beauty of their tone. 

 

this won't be the case with the indoctrinated listener, particularly in an irish setting.  in county clare, a devoted trad concertina fan will discern the accordion-reed tone immediately, and will say, oh, it's nice, but you can really hear the accordion to it there, tch, tch.... :rolleyes:


Edited by ceemonster, 18 September 2014 - 06:13 PM.


#5 Sidsqueezer

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 03:43 AM

Fascinating replies. thanks all. I suspect some players have far better ears than me.

So "Accordion" reeds are basically what they fit in Melodeons are they? Ie Put together externally and fitted as a block.
I know from playing Melodeon that one test of a quality reed is how little air it needs before starting to sound (less the better) without a noticeable sudden breathy start.

#6 Lester Bailey

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 09:11 AM

Fascinating replies. thanks all. I suspect some players have far better ears than me.

So "Accordion" reeds are basically what they fit in Melodeons are they? Ie Put together externally and fitted as a block.
I know from playing Melodeon that one test of a quality reed is how little air it needs before starting to sound (less the better) without a noticeable sudden breathy start.

Re quality of melodeon reeds, indeed the amount of air needed to start a reed is a sign of quality but it is also a sigh of the set up of the box. I have played/reapired expensive boxes that have had poorly set reeds that use more air than my usual Hohner box which I have set up correctly.



#7 Theo

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 10:27 AM

A significant difference between concertinas and accordions is that concertinas generally operate at a higher air pressure than accordions.  This is just a consequence of the much smaller cross sectional area, so the same force applied to the ends of a concertina generates a higher pressure inside.  Concertina reeds are designed to work inside a concertina and accordion reeds are designed for working at lower pressures.  One consequence of this is that the extra responsiveness of hand made accordion reeds may be lost when they are used in a concertina.



#8 ceemonster

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 10:43 PM

[[[the extra responsiveness of hand made accordion reeds may be lost when they are used in a concertina.]]]  ha, you answered a question i meant to post today about this.  i have noticed that my accordion-reeded concertinas even with nifty TAM reeds are just stuffier and more work to play than my concertina-reeded concertina.  i don't mean they're problematic by any means, and they are definitely more responsive than a factory-reeded concertina.  but they do not respond as fast as TAM reeds in an accordion do.  and they do not respond as quickly as concertina reeds do. 

 

on the other hand....i'm currently playing TAM reeds in a tenor EC.  and i swear the back-and-forth sound has just about as much sense of lift and movement as a bisonoric played "across the rows."  and i have been wondering if perhaps the stuffier response of the accordion reeds actually works to give the unisonoric more of a "push" feel, and to make it  sound more "lift-y."


Edited by ceemonster, 19 September 2014 - 10:44 PM.


#9 Frank Edgley

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 08:35 PM

Fascinating replies. thanks all. I suspect some players have far better ears than me.

So "Accordion" reeds are basically what they fit in Melodeons are they? Ie Put together externally and fitted as a block.
I know from playing Melodeon that one test of a quality reed is how little air it needs before starting to sound (less the better) without a noticeable sudden breathy start.

No, only the cheaper instuments come with the reeds fitted as a block, if I understand you correctly.



#10 Frank Edgley

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 08:41 PM

[[[the extra responsiveness of hand made accordion reeds may be lost when they are used in a concertina.]]]  ha, you answered a question i meant to post today about this.  i have noticed that my accordion-reeded concertinas even with nifty TAM reeds are just stuffier and more work to play than my concertina-reeded concertina.  i don't mean they're problematic by any means, and they are definitely more responsive than a factory-reeded concertina.  but they do not respond as fast as TAM reeds in an accordion do.  and they do not respond as quickly as concertina reeds do. 

 

on the other hand....i'm currently playing TAM reeds in a tenor EC.  and i swear the back-and-forth sound has just about as much sense of lift and movement as a bisonoric played "across the rows."  and i have been wondering if perhaps the stuffier response of the accordion reeds actually works to give the unisonoric more of a "push" feel, and to make it  sound more "lift-y."

The reason may be that you are comparing Tipo a Mano when the best (most sensitive) are "A Mano" reeds. The reeds I use, at least the way I set them up in my instruments, are more sensitive than the very expensive vintage-style concertina-reeded concertina that I own, made within the last  22 years, by a famous maker.


Edited by Frank Edgley, 22 September 2014 - 08:42 PM.


#11 Dana Johnson

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 07:34 AM

One important difference between accordion and concertina reeds that hasn't been mentioned is that while the window in accordion reeds has vertical sides, meaning the opening at the reed face is the same size as it is on the back of the plate, concertina reed windows are back beveled so that the opening on the back of the Reed shoe or frame is larger. This allows the Reed to begin it's cycle at lower amplitudes than would be possible with straight sides, giving much increased dynamic range. It also makes the reeds feel much easier to play. The amount of back beveling is not uniform over the scale, the higher reeds requiring more than the lower ones to maintain a similar playing experience and volume level at a given pressure. Though I have not tested this myself, judging from other good instruments I've seen, lighter reed sets require less of a back bevel angle than stiffer sets, so each maker has their preferred bevel that works best with their reeds. In 1995 while visiting a concertina maker in Wales, he showed me his reeds that were made by an accordion reed company which had a more stepped version of this back relief milled into the back of his reed shoes which were otherwise made to fit the tapered dovetail type mount in a traditional reed pan. The reeds themselves were riveted on in the fashion of normal accordion reeds and some later Wheatstones. I thought this was an interesting compromise between the two styles of reeds.
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#12 Sidsqueezer

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 04:50 PM

I have just discovered that my Rochelle actually has its reeds mounted in mini-blocks like a miniature melodeon and the reeds sit protruding into the bellows space sloping slightly inwards. they also have plastic valves. I suspect that this design of construction is common to all "budget" instruments made in China.

SO, (he says with a huff) the advice us beginners are given to religiously store our boxes on their side is all tosh. In fact , it would be better to store this type of box on its end so that valves are then approx vertical. I suspect it doesn't really matter with plastic valves anyway.

I do understand that it may be good practice to get into the "on its side" habit for when we upgrade to a "proper" box, but why be so obsessive about it with beginners?

#13 Dana Johnson

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 11:19 PM

Firstly, not all or even most beginners have Rochelles. Second, habits are easy to develop and hard to break. Third, behind the visible reed is a valve which will be acting against Gravity if the press side valve is going with gravity. With plastic valves and the different orientation, they are less vulnerable to end sitting it is true, but even accordion cases are set up so the reeds hang in storage with little force on them, rather than the plane if the reeds being approximately horizontal. Lots of accordions have leather valves though. Accordions often have feet on the bass end to facilitate proper orientation when you aren't playing. Boxes like the Castagnari Tommy or Lilly with face mounted reeds are better off in playing position even though I don't think their cases are set up that way.
I wouldn't be overly concerned about it with a Rochelle, but since you have been inside a Rochell recently, you might remember what the axis of the reed blocks is. The valves will be under the least stress if the axis of the reed blocks is vertical. I seem to recall that is the same as playing position in that instrument, but I haven't had one apart in five years.
Finally, no one here is trying to brow beat you, they're just trying to help you get the most out of your instrument. I admit people can get pedantic ( myself included ) which never helps. If the advice seems good, use it, if not ditch it. One size doesn't fit all.

#14 Lester Bailey

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Posted 22 November 2014 - 02:07 AM

<snip> Boxes like the Castagnari Tommy or Lilly with face mounted reeds </snip>

<snip I admit people can get pedantic ( myself included ) which never helps.</snip>

<pedant>The Castagnari Tommy does not have face mounted reeds, there are three reed blocks in the treble and two in the bass.  :)   </pedant>



#15 Dana Johnson

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 08:03 PM

<snip> Boxes like the Castagnari Tommy or Lilly with face mounted reeds </snip>
<snip I admit people can get pedantic ( myself included ) which never helps.</snip>

<pedant>The Castagnari Tommy does not have face mounted reeds, there are three reed blocks in the treble and two in the bass.  :)   </pedant>
My mistake, my Lilly did ( single reeded ) and I thought I'd remembered Rich morse mentioning that was why his Tommy was as loud as it was. That was nearly thirty years ago though.
Dana





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