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Bellows: Less folds better?


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#1 Stefan

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:14 AM

I am thinking about getting new bellows for my 55key Maccann.

On the concertinaconnection.com website, there is this statement:  "During the 19th century concertinas usually had only 4 fold bellows. Because of the high standard of the playing technique they did not need more folds." ( http://www.concertin...20technique.htm  at the bottom of the page)


What could be the advantage of having less folds? More stability? Faster response? Were there also Duets with 4 folds?

Does anyone have experience with that?

#2 malcolmbebb

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:09 AM

It's an interesting assertion.

Since smaller bellows are cheaper to make, maybe cause and effect are the other way round and they had to develop better air control to stay within the limitations of the bellows?

Most of the 19th C basic instruments that I've looked at (not an exhaustive survery!) seem to have five folds, as far as I recall, and the more expensive ones (smaller sample!) seem to have six or seven (ignoring multi-fold accordion style boxes).

I mostly look at Anglos but English seem much the same. But as for Duets, I don't know.

#3 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:48 AM

I feel that the statement on the concertina connection site probably refers to the 'English' of the 19th Century and the style that it was mostly played in. Perhaps the players of that period did not go in for playing the large chords one might use on a Duet. Also there are not many big reeds on a English Treble. By the end of the 1800's a five fold bellows was normal on EC's of the better quality... though the Jeffries EC that I recall had only four fold bellows. I have a new six fold on my 48key EC and I do notice that I have to be very carefull with chords of more than four notes especially after I have been playing my, much larger, Baritone/treble which has seven folds.

I would suggest to stick to the original number of folds for your Duet Stefan, or increase it by one extra, because although it has all the big reeds of the next size larger MacCanns, it is still only just larger than the 'normal' concertina size (like the size of the 46key Maccann)and therefore it is the volume of air available that would affect my choice.

Will a longer Bellows be less stable and less easy to change direction precisely ?? Perhaps yes this could be true but it depends on the quality and rigidity of the components.

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 28 February 2012 - 07:56 AM.


#4 Frank Edgley

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:15 AM

The number of folds is probably less important on an English concertina, as you can decide when to change the direction, and it is not necessary to do so to change the note as it is on a an anglo. The type of music usually played on an English does not involve a lot of muti note chords, at least when playing straight folk music. (Yes, I know, someone will challenge this statement, but I am speaking about folk music players, not classical). I cannot say this with great authority since I don't play anything but folk melodies, and if I do stray from folk it involves mostly melody with the occasional single note harmony. With anglos, it is a different matter. Many Irish players move the bellows very little, and the bellows, even though it may have five or six folds is mostly kept in close. This gives stability and the small amount of air in the bellows to aid in quick turn around in air pressure necessary for fast playing. However, there are times when, even with and anglo playing IT, extra folds are useful, for example, when playing airs or when a chord is desired, or when there are multiple notes in the same direction that cannot easily be accomodated by alternate fingerings. Then extra folds are desirable. I always use seven folds on the concertinas I make. These folds are fairly deep, as shallow bellows folds restrict the expansion of the bellows somewhat. This results in no loss of stability if the bellows are played fairly close in for the most part, leaving the option of playing long sustained notes in one direction or long chords. I would think that longer bellows would be an asset with duets as they were design with the intention of playing with lots of chords, so my advice would be to get more folds rather than fewer.

#5 Ransom

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

You asked: "Were there also duets with four folds?"

I believe there were-- and over in the "buy and sell" section, somebody's linked to an ongoing auction of a very early Wheatstone Duetta with four folds.

#6 Geoffrey Crabb

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:28 PM



As with most concertina topics of this sort, replies can be very subjective and based on personal preference or assumption.

Although Stefan has not said how many folds in his 55key Maccann bellows, I think that Geoff Wooff's advice to 'stick to the original number of folds for your Duet Stefan, or increase it by one extra' is sound.
I would however remind any who are contemplating an increase in folds, that the instrument will increase in end to end size and may not fit the original case.

For interest, I have listed, below, a selection of the most usual bellows sizes as fitted to various instrument models made in the Crabb workshops.


English.

a. 48-56K Treble, 6 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

b. 48-56K Tenor,7 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

c. 48-64K Baritone, 8 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

12 sided instruments in b & c, usually 1 fold less.

Anglo.

d. 20K standard size C/G, 5 Fold (6 sided)

(6 & 8 sided in the following).

e. 26 & 30K small size (5-5.5 in. across flats), 6 or 7 fold.

f. 30K standard size (6-6.25 in. a/f) Ab/Eb - C/G, 6 Fold.

g. 30 – 40K standard size G/D, 7 Fold.

h. 38 & 40K large size (Crabb 6.75 a/f) - F/C & G/D, 7 fold.

Baritone C/G - 7 or 8 Fold

Duet. (6 & 8 sided). The number of bellows folds very much depended on the range of each side of a particular instrument and a performers possible chordal requirement.

i. 46 - 50K, 6 fold.

j. 51 – 59K, 7 fold.

k. 60 - 72K, 7 or 8 fold.

l. 70 – 81K, 8 or 9 fold.

12 sided instruments in k & l, usually, the lower number of folds.

Slightly off topic and apologies to Frank, but whilst it is a common assumption that 'Duets' were designed for chordal work. Actually, as the name implies, the 'Duet' and the 'Double' combination concertinas were intended for one player to be able to perform pieces written and normally executed on at least two English instruments (Baritone and Treble). The ability to include chords was an added advantage.

The youtube demonstration by Robert Dawson on Crane Duet amply shows what would normally have required two English concertinas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IE&hl=en-GB&v=IGkolUwGA9o

I am aware that there are some Baritone-Treble English players who can manage a similar performance and I marvel at and respect their ability.

Mention has been made here and elsewhere of the 'Duette' concertina. A known early example of this instrument, covered just over two successive diatonic octaves (G scale), the lower on the left side and the upper on the right side. Three notes were duplicated, appearing on each side and providing an overlap. The two octaves and small overlap were very limiting and subsequently, to address these shortcomings, the 'Double' and the 'Duet' were developed.

Geoff Crabb

Edited by Geoffrey Crabb, 28 February 2012 - 03:30 PM.


#7 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:56 PM

Will a longer Bellows be less stable and less easy to change direction precisely ?? Perhaps yes this could be true but it depends on the quality and rigidity of the components.


FWIW, when I was looking for replacement bellows, I visited Wim Wakker's site. Here he stressed that he makes different bellows for Anglos and ECs/Duets: the Anglo bellows stiffer, the EC/Duet bellows more supple.
I don't know whether this was his own idea, or whether he arrived at it by studying vintage Anglos and ECs.

At any rate, his Anglo bellows are excellent!

Cheers,
John

#8 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:25 AM


Will a longer Bellows be less stable and less easy to change direction precisely ?? Perhaps yes this could be true but it depends on the quality and rigidity of the components.


FWIW, when I was looking for replacement bellows, I visited Wim Wakker's site. Here he stressed that he makes different bellows for Anglos and ECs/Duets: the Anglo bellows stiffer, the EC/Duet bellows more supple.
I don't know whether this was his own idea, or whether he arrived at it by studying vintage Anglos and ECs.

At any rate, his Anglo bellows are excellent!

Cheers,
John




I also have a Wakker replacement bellows on an EC and I agree with you John, they are excellent.
Geoff.

#9 Frank Edgley

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:22 AM



As with most concertina topics of this sort, replies can be very subjective and based on personal preference or assumption.

Although Stefan has not said how many folds in his 55key Maccann bellows, I think that Geoff Wooff's advice to 'stick to the original number of folds for your Duet Stefan, or increase it by one extra' is sound.
I would however remind any who are contemplating an increase in folds, that the instrument will increase in end to end size and may not fit the original case.

For interest, I have listed, below, a selection of the most usual bellows sizes as fitted to various instrument models made in the Crabb workshops.


English.

a. 48-56K Treble, 6 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

b. 48-56K Tenor,7 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

c. 48-64K Baritone, 8 Fold. (6 & 8 sided).

12 sided instruments in b & c, usually 1 fold less.

Anglo.

d. 20K standard size C/G, 5 Fold (6 sided)

(6 & 8 sided in the following).

e. 26 & 30K small size (5-5.5 in. across flats), 6 or 7 fold.

f. 30K standard size (6-6.25 in. a/f) Ab/Eb - C/G, 6 Fold.

g. 30 – 40K standard size G/D, 7 Fold.

h. 38 & 40K large size (Crabb 6.75 a/f) - F/C & G/D, 7 fold.

Baritone C/G - 7 or 8 Fold

Duet. (6 & 8 sided). The number of bellows folds very much depended on the range of each side of a particular instrument and a performers possible chordal requirement.

i. 46 - 50K, 6 fold.

j. 51 – 59K, 7 fold.

k. 60 - 72K, 7 or 8 fold.

l. 70 – 81K, 8 or 9 fold.

12 sided instruments in k & l, usually, the lower number of folds.

Slightly off topic and apologies to Frank, but whilst it is a common assumption that 'Duets' were designed for chordal work. Actually, as the name implies, the 'Duet' and the 'Double' combination concertinas were intended for one player to be able to perform pieces written and normally executed on at least two English instruments (Baritone and Treble). The ability to include chords was an added advantage.

The youtube demonstration by Robert Dawson on Crane Duet amply shows what would normally have required two English concertinas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IE&hl=en-GB&v=IGkolUwGA9o

I am aware that there are some Baritone-Treble English players who can manage a similar performance and I marvel at and respect their ability.

Mention has been made here and elsewhere of the 'Duette' concertina. A known early example of this instrument, covered just over two successive diatonic octaves (G scale), the lower on the left side and the upper on the right side. Three notes were duplicated, appearing on each side and providing an overlap. The two octaves and small overlap were very limiting and subsequently, to address these shortcomings, the 'Double' and the 'Duet' were developed.

Geoff Crabb


I had always heard that duets were designed so they could play piano scores, but the name suggests what you have said. Thank you for the information, Geoff. I don't think I'll ever take up duet. I have enough just playing one persons part! :)

#10 Stefan

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:37 PM

Wow, after so much professionell advice, I surely stick to the 7 folds my 55key has. Thank you everybody.




Still it would be interesting how a duet would feel with a 4 or 5 fold bellows. I really like the control and the tone of rather closed bellows. I play mostly chords, often in a rythmic way by changing the bellows direction.  Could you say that less folds would mean less air to compress and less material to move, so the concertina would react more direct?









#11 Kurt Braun

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:39 PM

Wow, after so much professionell advice, I surely stick to the 7 folds my 55key has. Thank you everybody.
ou



Still it would be interesting how a duet would feel with a 4 or 5 fold bellows. I really like the control and the tone of rather closed bellows. I play mostly chords, often in a rythmic way by changing the bellows direction.  Could you say that less folds would mean less air to compress and less material to move, so the concertina would react more direct?


I have a six fold smaller duet and an eight fold larger duet. I was attracted to the smaller duet because, well, it is smaller. The two instruments, though they are very different is size, weigh about the same. (Take that into consideration for anything else I say).

My smaller duet has an advantage in that it can play a little higher on the left side. I find this useful for playing guitar transcription and other things. The larger can play a little lower on the left side, great for adding the bass to four part choral music. But let me set all of that aside and talk about the difference in air as you ask.

Here is my call:

There are some getting-used-to issues with the larger instrument. That is, for the neophyte the smaller instrument might seem easier to handle. However, any larger air difficulties will be overcome by practice, and by that I mean the practice of playing the instrument, not by any special exercises to handle larger bellows. For the player who is use to both larger bellows and smaller bellows, I don't imagine any situation where he or she would select a smaller duet instrument because there would be an "air" related advantage. On the other hand, the number of reasons for selecting the larger instrument because of "air" would be ... well, I'd feel silly trying to list them all. Like I mentioned earlier, there are some non "air" issues that sometimes draw me to the smaller instrument.

And as to the sub-thread on the original design purposes of the duet, is anyone aware of citations for primary sources on this topic?

#12 JimLucas

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:25 PM

Mention has been made here and elsewhere of the 'Duette' concertina. A known early example of this instrument, covered just over two successive diatonic octaves (G scale), the lower on the left side and the upper on the right side. Three notes were duplicated, appearing on each side and providing an overlap.

Geoff, can you tell us more about this example? It seems nearly but not quite the same as the layout given on the concertina.com web site, which seems to match the instrument coming up for auction on March 4. That layout is diatonic in the key of C, with an F# added in each hand outside the central array, thus letting it play in G as well. The range is an octave and a fourth interval (G up to the second C) in each hand, with an overlap of four notes giving a total range of two octaves and a fourth interval.

The two octaves and small overlap were very limiting and subsequently, to address these shortcomings, the 'Double' and the 'Duet' were developed.

The 'Double' I'm familiar with, but when you say 'Duet' are you referring to the Maccann (or even duets more generally), or do you know of Wheatstone duets other than the Double that were produced after the Duett but preceding the Maccann?

#13 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:55 AM

Whilst keeping the bellows in a fairly closed position does allow for a vastly greater speed of response to direction changes, for making shuffling effects due to there being very little 'elastic' efficiency losses in the bellows material, the opposite can happen with the bellows extended to about 80% of length. I find the slight 'bouncing' effect when the bellows is a good way out can be very nice for 'bowing over' a phrase. Therefore I would not want to constrict myself to just having the short bellows.

I am begining to find that I am using all the available wind in the 7 fold bellows of my 57key Aeola Maccann when playing larger chords... and thus if I was to replace that bellows I would go for an 8 fold. Likewise I would do the same for my little 48key EC..... but both have bellows in fine condition so I'll just carry on as it is.

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 01 March 2012 - 03:56 AM.


#14 Chris Ghent

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:50 AM

Very important when considering the number of folds is how efficient the reeds are. If they have tight clearances and use a minimum of air then fewer folds might suffice.

I suspect a greater number of shallower folds is a more stable setup than fewer deep folds. If you are not opening the concertina much then deeper ones have no opportunity to give you the extra air they can contain when stretched out...

#15 Geoffrey Crabb

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 04:58 PM

Mention has been made here and elsewhere of the 'Duette' concertina. A known early example of this instrument, covered just over two successive diatonic octaves (G scale), the lower on the left side and the upper on the right side. Three notes were duplicated, appearing on each side and providing an overlap.

Geoff, can you tell us more about this example? It seems nearly but not quite the same as the layout given on the concertina.com web site, which seems to match the instrument coming up for auction on March 4. That layout is diatonic in the key of C, with an F# added in each hand outside the central array, thus letting it play in G as well. The range is an octave and a fourth interval (G up to the second C) in each hand, with an overlap of four notes giving a total range of two octaves and a fourth interval.

Jim, in order not to detract from the original subject, my comments were to address a perhaps, common belief as to the purpose of the duet.
As you correctly point out, the Duette is in the key of C + F# and the overlap is four notes. However, my comment was to simply desribe the range and limitations of the instrument.

Geoff

The two octaves and small overlap were very limiting and subsequently, to address these shortcomings, the 'Double' and the 'Duet' were developed.

The 'Double' I'm familiar with, but when you say 'Duet' are you referring to the Maccann (or even duets more generally), or do you know of Wheatstone duets other than the Double that were produced after the Duett but preceding the Maccann?


Duets in general.

Geoff

Edited by Geoffrey Crabb, 02 March 2012 - 05:00 PM.


#16 Laurence

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:03 PM

Thanks for the heads up on bellows design. I have been thinking I'd like 8 folds instead of 6 on the concertina I play most. Someone mentioned the depth of the folds, and that got me to thinking. I measured the depth on my 8 fold bellows, and compared them with the 6. Hummm...the 6 folds were almost 1/4" deeper. I assume deeper bellow folds means more air. They'd open up wider, right? So, I'm resigned to leave well enough alone and not try to swith them over. Both are exactly the same size (6 and 1/4",) high quality full black leather bellows, and both are tight. After reading this thread, I doubt now that I'd get a lot more air. B)



#17 apprenticeOF

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 12:38 PM

I'm guessing that reed quality has a lot to do with the total air requirements?

 

The Lachenal EC that I use for day-to-day definitely seems to need more air than my wife's Aeola. Enough difference that for practical purposes (based on my talent-challenged playing) that the Aeola's 5 fold seems equivalent to the 6 fold on the Lachenal (which originally had 5). Both are steel reeds. The brass reeded Lachenal (replacement 6 fold) I like to play for a softer sound seems to need a lot more air, although being circa 1870 it has not seen some of the refinements that show up on the later (1905 & 1913) ones, so the comparison may not be totally fair.

 

The depth of fold is the same for all three, and all three are air-tight.






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