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Are English Concertina buttons supposed to be loose


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#1 Troy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 05:19 PM

Hi, I just got my 56-key Stagi EC just in time for Christmas. But when I tried to play it, I was disappointed. The buttons on it are somewhat loose. They tilt along when you tilt the concertina. So, needless to say, they move/tilt quite a bit when I try to play. Because of this, it is harder for my fingers to hunt-and-peck for the buttons. I just resign to the fact that at least, they do not fall off from their holes. Though it sure feels like they might.

I looked around the internet for images of Stagi concertinas, and it seems that Stagi never got into the habit of putting bushings around the buttons of their concertinas. This, I kind of understand because Stagi has been associated with low-quality and all. However, the Stagi concertina images I saw on the 'net show buttons that are straight and aligned (and looks stable) despite of the lack of bushings around them. I kind of expected the same for my concertina and so when I received it and the buttons are tilting to and fro, I was truly disappointed. (There's a whole series of bad language going through my mind right now, but it is Christmas and I am trying very hard to stay positive/optimistic).

On other fronts, the 56-key Stagi seemed to have received a little bit more attention from its maker(s). All the reeds sound and are in-tune to my ears. The enharmonic notes (Eb & D#, Ab & G#) sound the same in pitch and the volume is even between them. The push/pull notes sound the same in pitch and are also even in volume. It is interesting to note that my concertina has more responsive lower reeds/pitches than the higher reeds/pitches. Only the top-most notes/pitches require a somewhat harder/faster push/pull from me to get them to sound out. The bellows of this one that I got looks so much better than some Stagi concertinas I've seen online (for example, there was one on eBay where the cardboard inside the bellows were exposed in several places!) At least mine has got bellows that is fully covered with leather (well, it looks and feels like leather to me). One thing I noticed about the bellows is that I could sort of pull/push it still even though I was not pressing any button (is this a sign of bellows leaking?)

I would like to know everyone's opinion on how I could go about fixing these problems - especially on how to stabilize the loose/tilting buttons and on how to go about fixing the leaky bellows (or is some leakiness to be expected from bellows of new concertinas?) There is one piano and accordion repairman in town (Carl Teplitski of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). But I wonder, do accordion repairmen have the skill to put bushings around buttons of concertinas? And what is the cost to have it done to 56 button-holes?

I do not know if my problems belong on this forum or on the General Discussion forum, so I will cross-post this in the hope of getting as much opinions/suggestions as I can before I take the next step.

Thanks,
Troy

Edited by Troy, 25 December 2012 - 05:22 PM.


#2 malcolmbebb

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 06:25 PM

Hi Troy,
Here is good... I don't know about this model. Are you up to removing the end plates and providing a photo of the action? Or just a photo of the end plates might start things off.
From what I've found out about the Stagi kit, some actions are repairable and some aren't. A photo would narrow it down.

Did you get it from a dealer or privately?

Cheers,

Malcolm

#3 Troy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 10:27 PM

Did you get it from a dealer or privately?

Cheers,

Malcolm


I bought the Stagi through Castiglione Accordions. Now that I think about it, I distinctly remember reading on their website that the Stagi with handmade reeds was supposed to cost $1599. When I contacted the proprietor (John) to inquire about it, I remember he was anxious for me to formalize it into an order by putting in a deposit of $500. He said he has already sent his regular orders to Stagi, and if I put in order for the 56-key concertina with handmade reeds then he will try to special order it from Stagi so it will arrive with the rest of the orders the next month. This all happened in the middle of October. So I said OK and I'll put my order in but only if he and his tech will do a quality control inspection of it for leaky bellows, responsive reeds, quiet action etc. He said yes they do quality control on their products.

End of November, I received an invoice from them for the $500 deposit I put in for the concertina. I noticed the order was for a 56-key Stagi but it does not say handmade reeds on it. I emailed John twice to inquire about it and to plead him to do quality check on the concertina when they get it. It took 1-1/2 week before he responded. He did not address the missing handmade reeds on the invoice but assured that they'll inspect the concertina for me. I did not hear from him again until December 19 when his daughter, Stephanie called me to tell me that they have just gotten the concertina and they will ship it to me right away. And then I said "Whoa Bessy, what happened to the verbal agreement between John and me to do a quality control?". Then she asked me to hold for a few seconds, and after a brief pause she returned and said the guys at the shop has inspected it. So I said OK ship it to me. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking - quality control in one day? This can't be a thorough quality control check.

The concertina arrived on December 21. The invoice is for $1200 (So I have a very strong suspicion that this concertina does not have handmade reeds). I also paid custom duties on it of $160. So I guess, all in all, I should be thankful that all the reeds on this concertina plays and are in-tune (according to my ears) but will find out how much in tune when I bring it to the accordion repairman. So really, the main problem is the wobbly buttons. I think they're wobbly because they do not have bushings. At first, I want to blame this on Castiglione Accordions' lame quality control - that they missed checking for the bushings. But when I saw a few other Stagi concertinas online, I realize that these concertinas do not come with bushings around the buttons! So I guess it is not Castiglione Accordions' responsibility to put bushings in these concertinas. However, I still think that they have a responsibility to do something to stabilize the wobbly buttons as part of their "quality control". Somehow, I still feel that Castiglione Accordions have shortchanged me somewhere in this whole process.

Troy

#4 Troy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 11:29 PM

Hi Troy,
Here is good... I don't know about this model. Are you up to removing the end plates and providing a photo of the action? Or just a photo of the end plates might start things off.
From what I've found out about the Stagi kit, some actions are repairable and some aren't. A photo would narrow it down.

Cheers,

Malcolm

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC01352.JPG


#5 Troy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 11:49 PM

Hi Troy,
Here is good... I don't know about this model. Are you up to removing the end plates and providing a photo of the action? Or just a photo of the end plates might start things off.
From what I've found out about the Stagi kit, some actions are repairable and some aren't. A photo would narrow it down.

Cheers,

Malcolm


My photos of the left end plate in various angles are too big to attach to this forum so, I will have to give you links to them instead.
They are stored in a temporary hosting site, so they may not be available for viewing after a week:

http://www.filehosti...12/DSC01353.JPG
http://www.filehosti...13/DSC01354.JPG
http://www.filehosti...14/DSC01355.JPG
http://www.filehosti...15/DSC01356.JPG
http://www.filehosti...16/DSC01357.JPG

Troy

#6 Troy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 11:58 PM

Hi Troy,
Here is good... I don't know about this model. Are you up to removing the end plates and providing a photo of the action? Or just a photo of the end plates might start things off.
From what I've found out about the Stagi kit, some actions are repairable and some aren't. A photo would narrow it down.

Cheers,

Malcolm


Here is the link to a short AVI video clip of the left end plate. It shows my finger nudging the buttons to show how loose and wobbly they are. Toward the end of the clip, I gave the concertina a shake to show how wiggly the buttons are:

http://www.filehosti...18/MOV01358.AVI

One thing I want to remark on, which may or may not be apparent from the pictures or clip, is that the buttons are not even in height (some sit lower than others) and some buttons do sit at an angle different from others.

Here is the link to a short AVI video clip of the right end plate. This clip perhaps shows more clearly how wobbly the buttons are than the first video clip. Also, this clip to me shows more clearly the gaps between the button holes and the buttons sitting in them:

http://www.filehosti...21/MOV01359.AVI

Troy

#7 Theo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:41 AM

I have seen a few Stagi ECs and they all had wobbly and uneven buttons, bushes are not usually fitted on these concertinas. Also I don't think you should worry about the lack of hand made reeds, as long as you have not paid extra for them. On this type if concertina they would not really make a big difference to the overall performance of the instrument.

And please DO NOT remove the end plate as suggested by Malcolm, not unless you want to spend a long time getting all the buttons back in their holes.

I'm afraid what you describe is a typical Stagi concertina, and IMHO it is not worth spending more money on it to make improvements. You could get the retailer to adjust the button heights which I think should be covered by their warranty, but other than that you should just play it, despite the apparent looseness of the buttons they do play ok.

#8 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:47 AM

I am tempted to say, from the outset, send it back, get a refund and spend a little more money on something with a better keyboard.

I have already edited the above sentance because what I first wrote was less tactfull. I have tried to repair the keyboards of several Bastari Anglos in the past... and I can imagine that the Stagis are of somewhat similar construction.

I did play one of this type of English (don't remember if it was branded Stagi) briefly at a large music festival here in France. It was on the Stand of an Accordions dealer. All I will say is that it was a horrible experience.

Getting someone else to 'improve' the keyboard and leaks sounds to me like throwing good money after bad.

The feel of the keyboard on a Keyboard instrument is vital... even the very cheap Rochelle/Jackie/Elise range have had a lot of thought put into the design of their button actions.

#9 malcolmbebb

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:54 AM

Hi Troy,
I didn't realise it was a new concertina. Certainly, if you're not confident with getting the end plates back on then Theo's advice is to be followed - don't!

I tried the photo site but as soon as I looked at the privacy policy it filled my screen with porn, so I guess it's been hacked. So I'm afraid I won't be having any more to do with it.

I would imagine that the dealer did do their quality check, but their expectations and yours are clearly quite different.

Theo and Geoff are both very experienced, two opposing pieces of advice. I think I would initially go with Geoff, if you have the option to send it back and get a refund, do so. Then you can come back here for advice on where to go next.
Under UK legislation you have a few days to cancel the contract, don't know how it works there.
If you decide to keep you can take comfort from Theo's observations.

Cheers,

Malcolm

Edited by malcolmbebb, 26 December 2012 - 04:56 AM.


#10 Don Taylor

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:11 AM

Troy:

As a fellow Canadian I think I can understand another problem that you might have with this purchase and getting it fixed - Canada Customs and usurious brokerage fees!

If you need to send it back to Castiglione (or elsewhere) then you don't want to pay GST/HST + brokerage fees on it a second time when it is returned from repair. I have had this happen to me with some electronics that I returned for repair under warranty. By the time all was said and done I might as well have just thrown the faulty unit away and bought a new one. I now act as my own broker so I have been able to avoid this hassle by bringing stuff over the border myself. I use a forwarding service in the nearest US town, they receive the goods and I drive down to pick them up and negotiate with Customs myself.

One thing that you might consider is getting Button Box to service your Stagi. They have a Stagi Enhancement service:
http://www.buttonbox...airs.html#stagi

Here they say: "Customers who bought a Stagi elsewhere have spent hundreds of dollars with our repair department to fix problems that the Button Box takes care of before you buy."

Don.

#11 Troy

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:22 PM

Troy:

As a fellow Canadian I think I can understand another problem that you might have with this purchase and getting it fixed - Canada Customs and usurious brokerage fees!

If you need to send it back to Castiglione (or elsewhere) then you don't want to pay GST/HST + brokerage fees on it a second time when it is returned from repair. I have had this happen to me with some electronics that I returned for repair under warranty. By the time all was said and done I might as well have just thrown the faulty unit away and bought a new one. I now act as my own broker so I have been able to avoid this hassle by bringing stuff over the border myself. I use a forwarding service in the nearest US town, they receive the goods and I drive down to pick them up and negotiate with Customs myself.

One thing that you might consider is getting Button Box to service your Stagi. They have a Stagi Enhancement service:
http://www.buttonbox...airs.html#stagi

Here they say: "Customers who bought a Stagi elsewhere have spent hundreds of dollars with our repair department to fix problems that the Button Box takes care of before you buy."

Don.


Speaking of custom duties and brokerage fees, I must say that UPS has got to be the worst broker! And this month, I had the misfortune to be sent two items through UPS from two different retailers/sellers: one is the Stagi which I paid $160+ in customs duties, and the other is the 25-key full-sized organ pedalboard for which I paid $220+. It is just outrageous! But it is a matter of choosing between two evils: "Do you want to get your item or don't you? If you want it, then we can ship it to you by UPS or we can ship it to you by UPS. You'll just have to suck it up and hand over your hard-earned money."

I've heard about these US-based temporary storage outlets. They'll receive your shipment for you, then you drive over, pay them a small fee, pick it up and drive back again with the item after dealing with customs yourself. The nearest one to my city is about three hours away. But with our dear Winnipeg winter looming around, and me being the perfect candidate for "Canada's Worst Driver" and billed by my friends as "Driving Miss Daisy"... This is one option I've got to seriously think about.

I've originally planned to purchase the 56-key tenor/treble Stagi through Button Box. But Margaret(?) over there told me that they are no longer going to deal with Stagi, and they are just pretty much trying to get rid whatever Stagi they have in stock which unfortunately does not include a 56-key TT Stagi. At your prompting, I've just re-read their Stagi Enhancement and what it consists of, and it does not include resetting/re-aligning or adding bushings around the buttons, so I guess if they were able to sell me a 56-key Stagi, it would still have come to me without bushed buttons or the buttons reset/re-aligned (although it may have better tuned reeds).

So far, I have been considering how much it would cost me to ship this baby out to get it fixed, versus spending the shipping money to have it fixed here (and giving a fellow Winnipegger some business). Moreover, aside from the concertina, I also have a Harmonetta that needs to have work done on it (i.e., its low notes rattle and some middle and some high notes sound "choked") which gives me additional motive to see a repairman.

I am doing some computations in my head. The Stagi plus custom duties plus repair had cost me what? $1200 + $160 + $300 = $1660 CDN? And how much would it have cost me if I had bought a fully-restored 56-key steel-reeded 6- or 7-fold bellows tenor/treble Lachenal from UK, including shipping and custom duties? Would 2000 GBP be a good estimate? Times 1.7, that's worth $3400 CDN.

Troy

#12 Don Taylor

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:55 PM

Troy:

I am fortunate in being able to drive to Ogdensburg, NY in less than 30 minutes. There are at least 6 places there that accept parcels and the cost is $3 to $5 unless it is something really huge.

I was tempted by that 56 button TT Stagi (actually I wondered how they managed to stuff 56 accordion reeds inside a concertina, but that is another story) but now I have a 48 button treble I can't see why I would want all those buttons on one instrument - at least not for the music that interests me.

You can buy the bushing material from Concertina Spares in the UK (link). It would probably be a very fiddly job to bush (is that the correct term?) all of the buttons, but I don't think that it would require any special skills apart from steady hands and an incredible supply of patience. I am sure others will correct me if I am wrong about this.

Lining the buttons up again to fit them back in their holes might be challenging!

Sad to hear about your unfortunate Christmas present,

Don.

#13 Troy

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:56 PM

Hi Troy,

I tried the photo site but as soon as I looked at the privacy policy it filled my screen with porn, so I guess it's been hacked. So I'm afraid I won't be having any more to do with it.

Cheers,

Malcolm


I am sorry to hear that. I tried to download from the links myself and only got a couple of pop-ups to try some kind of online game, but no porn.
Anyway, I've uploaded the video clips on YouTube, to give you and others an idea of how wobbly the buttons are on my concertina.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Xaq_A4kPt_8 (left end buttons)
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=czuz9X1-WCQ (right end buttons)

Maybe I'm just over-thinking this? Maybe this kind of wobbliness is ordinary for concertinas?
Let me know if I'm over-reacting to this wobbliness?

Troy

#14 Steve Mansfield

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:17 PM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Xaq_A4kPt_8 (left end buttons)
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=czuz9X1-WCQ (right end buttons)

Maybe I'm just over-thinking this? Maybe this kind of wobbliness is ordinary for concertinas?
Let me know if I'm over-reacting to this wobbliness?

Troy


Troy, I can assure you that you're not 'over-reacting' - those wobbly buttons are completely unacceptable. I only watched about 30seconds of the first video, but even that was enough to see that you've got a real problem there. Goodness only knows what's going on with the rest of the action, but if that's a new instrument it needs to go straight back!

#15 Don Taylor

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:19 PM

Troy:

I looked at your videos and then checked my two concertinas.

The CC Jack does have some button wobble (which I had not noticed before) but less than half the deflection you have. It does not have bushings, but the holes look to be a closer fit than your Stagi.

My Lachenal Excelsior does have bushings and there is no discernible deflection.

Looking again at your videos there looks to be enough room around the buttons for bushing material. Maybe they left them off at the factory? I wonder if you could check directly with Stagi to find out if there should have been bushings fitted. This is their top of the line model and they are not giving them away for free so it would not be surprising to me if they were meant to have had bushings. You could ask Margaret at BB for her opinion.

Don.

#16 Theo

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:53 PM

No, Stagi concertinas do not usually have bushings. IMHO they are over priced for what they offer, and I'm not surprised that the button box no longer supply them. As I said before, the effort of bushing the buttons, which will also mean reaming out the holes to make space for the felt, is really not justified. I think I would endorse Geoffs suggestion that you might be best to cut your losses and return the instrument for a refund. The only situation in which I would advise otherwise would be if you particularly like the sound of the Stagi.

#17 Troy

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:22 PM

No, Stagi concertinas do not usually have bushings. IMHO they are over priced for what they offer, and I'm not surprised that the button box no longer supply them. As I said before, the effort of bushing the buttons, which will also mean reaming out the holes to make space for the felt, is really not justified. I think I would endorse Geoffs suggestion that you might be best to cut your losses and return the instrument for a refund. The only situation in which I would advise otherwise would be if you particularly like the sound of the Stagi.


Having not heard in-person a Wheatstone or Lachenal EC, except for all or most of the YouTube samples as played by the likes of Wim Wakker, Pauline de Snoo and Juliette Daum, I can only comment on the kind of sound this particular Stagi evokes in me: the lower octave sounds like a cross between a violin and a clarinet, the middle two octaves sound like a clarinet, and the top octave sounds like a cross between a piccolo and a flute or a recorder. And when I mention all these instruments, I do not mean a Stradivarius or Guarneri, but something like a top of the line student brand or a middle of the line semi-professional brand. The sound is mellow enough for song accompaniment and loud enough for a 5- or 6-piece folk instruments band/group.

Also, only the top-most 6 or 7 notes/reeds takes a bit more prodding from the bellows to get the sound out. The rest, especially the lowest three octaves, are quite responsive. My first thought when I tried it out was "butter" (First impressions, I understand, change over time). The action mechanism to me is quiet or non-distracting at least - though this is probably because I have a little bit of organ-playing so my fingers are not "trained" to slam on the keys or buttons. The bellows don't give me trouble either - but they give in too quickly sometimes that I wonder if they have a leak somewhere.

If it were not for the wobbly buttons, I would say this concertina is just perfect for the kind of thing I would use it for: song accompaniment and occasional solo pieces (the ones arranged like it's for simple fingerstyle guitar-playing) for friends and family in classroom-sized or boardroom-sized venues.

I'll see what the local accordion repairman has to say about bushing the buttons - whether he can or cannot do it, and whether it will cost more than $300 budget I got for it. Of course, the cost will always be the deal-breaker, won't it? If it proved too costly, I'll try to return it and get my refund. However, I've done a little bit more snooping around on Castiglione Accordions, and from what I've gathered, this might turn into one heck of a battle.

Troy

#18 david robertson

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 05:48 AM

Troy:


You can buy the bushing material from Concertina Spares in the UK (link). It would probably be a very fiddly job to bush (is that the correct term?) all of the buttons, but I don't think that it would require any special skills apart from steady hands and an incredible supply of patience. I am sure others will correct me if I am wrong about this.


Don.


Forgive me, but bushing previously unbushed ends is not quite that straightforward. The essential step you have ignored is reaming out the holes to make them big enough!




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