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#1 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 02:18 PM

This will be a rather long post, but I hope it won't scare any of you off:)

I'm asking this questions hoping that one of you, concertina builders, could give me some general advices and directions on making my own instrument... I don't expect you to share "secrets of the trade" with me - I'm hoping for general "been there, done that, it does/doesn't work" answers and some general knowlege. I've read what I could find on this forum (and on Bob Tedrow site) on concertina building, but I'm still wondering on a few things..

The basic goal of this project is to build a Hayden duet with a range of a typical button accordion, as my desired repertoire consist mostly of conterporary accordion, klezmer, balkan and rock music. I now own an Elise, which being a great entry-level instrument has reached its limits and purchasing larger instrument is not an option because of two main reasons: first - range of available instruments (even Wakker H-2, Tedrow layout, and discussed elswere on this forum hypothetical Morse maximum layout do not fit my needs). And second - prices which, as reasonable as they are, are sadly far from reach for central european wages...

I have a quite large set of DIY skills, including metal machining (from stop-motion animation armature making) and both large and small scale woodworking.

As for the project itself - as I see it, it will be a hybrid instrument, with reeds scrapped from russian button accordion. I plan on building reedpan and action board first (with a final quality) and put it into a mocked up, prototype but playable case and then build final instrument gradually around it. It will have a normal single reed per note, riveted action aluminum buttons (same as in the modification of the Elise I own) with brass levers, will probably be square (to be as small as possible) and with leather bellows (in its final form - for the protype phase I plan on modifying an accordion bellows).

Now, finally for specific questions:

a) I wish to obtain as mellow, concertina like, sound as possible with accordion reeds. I have made some experiments to understand how different materials and fretwork pattern/fretless design affect sound. As for other factors to consider in modifying sound, can any of you make a sorted list of them, in order from the most influential to the least? (Except for proper concertina reeds of course:))

B) As far as I can see, the hybrid reed chambers of modern concertinas are mostly the size of a reed shoe and "cubical" in shape. But accordion reed blocks are trapezoid in shape and often have inserts in them to further change the volume and shape of the reed chamber. Can someone explain to me how these differences affect sound and reed response (in general - again, I don't expect you to give me equations, rather answers what makes reeds slower/faster to speak and sound more mellow/bright)

c) I know that using reedpan or reedblocks affect the sound considerably. Is it because of the airflow direction (straight vs "cornered") or sound reflection inside of the a reed chamber? As far as I know, reed instruments don't base on resonant qualities of wood - does a single reedpan affect the sound on any other basis than airflow direction/number of sound bounces in reed chamber (e.g thickness and mass of woodblock etc)?

c') As I can see on the only available picture, accordeaphone had a mix of reedpan and an accordion style reedblocks. Have any of you tried "layering" reedpans? It's a little hard to explain what I mean, but what I have in mind would allow overlaying reeds by as much as half of the lenght of the reed shoe and fit reeds in smaller box at a cost of thicker concertina ends (same as when using accordion-style reedblocks). Would such layered reedpan retain the concertina characteristic of sound? ( for some reeds air would have to travel twice as far between reed and valve/lever)

d) Does method of mounting reeds to the reed pan affect sound? I'm asking whether wax, wedge mount or L-screw have different stiffnes thus afecting sound in any significant way?

If you could spare a moment and answer some of those questions I would be thankfull.

PS.: please forgive me any mistakes, english is not my native language...

#2 inventor

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 11:13 AM

I am always pleased to hear of anyone who is interested in building Hayden Duetts. Wellcome to Concertina Net. On the internet for security reasons I prefer to remain anonymous but you can probably work out that I am neither Mr Wheatstone, or Herr Eulig and most certainly not "Professor" Maccann. 

I have studied Accordions, Bandoneons, and Concertinas for many years, and have designed and helped in the design of several Hayden Duetts. I would be very pleased to help you in any way I can.

Inventor.



#3 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 06:04 PM

After reading through this forum for some time now, I think I have a pretty good idea of who you are, and I must admit, that getting support and a helping hand from the inventor himself  is very encouraging. Thank you.

 
I have listed my main questions above, but maybe I'll add some detail to one of them, as it is the most fundamental. Because of overall number of keys and number of bass notes I'm aiming for, this would be a very large instrument if done using hybrid reedpan-accordion reeds method - probably in chemnitzer size range... On the other hand, using reed blocks will keep the size managable but it will make it sound more like accordion and increase the time and effort needed for woodworking all blocks. So, I came up with an idea of making something I called "layered reedpan" (attached is the schematic drawing of the idea).
schematic no.1.jpg
My question is - has anyone tried it before or have an idea of how the elongated air and sound travel will affect both the sound and response of reeds? From what I figured out so far, depending on the finish of the surface it will cut some of the higher harmonics, but I'm totally guessing on all the subjects regarding air pressure buildup and reed response (as in determining proper reed chamber sizes for example).  Are there any resources on this matter which I can study?
 
For further clarity of what I have in mind on this project, I'm attaching note/button range maps.
range.jpg
The main section (darker) is "a must", accidentals in lighter color will be put in the instrument only if I somehow manage to do button linking, as I have only two sets of reeds and I don't want to increase size/weight further to fit doubled buttons with their own reeds.

Edited by Łukasz Martynowicz, 02 April 2013 - 11:14 AM.


#4 inventor

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:19 AM

The "layered reedpan" has been used before in the "Hohner Preciosa". These are minature button accordions, and extremely loud. 

These were a 2 voice accordion; the reeds on the two adjacent (long and short) reedpans were tuned to almost the same note and always sounded together. I suspect that the timbre of the two voices may be different, which could cause a problem if you were using them individually to play different notes. 

"Ukebert" who writes extensively on "melodeon.net" might know the answer to that, as he has a "Preciosa", which incidentally has a Bass converted to a very basic "Hayden system". He has gone deeply into the structure of button accordions, and has writen about them on his personal website.

The darker section of your button diagram is almost the same as the Bandoneon style concertinas that I had made by Bastari some 30 years ago, these were a 2 voice (octaves) instrument and came out at an 8 inch square instrument; the reeds were set up in the conventional reed block form as is used normally in accordions. Maybe this is a larger instrument than you envisage?

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#5 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:46 AM

I know of Bastari square concertina - and yes, it is has a range that would satisfy my needs and - for a brief moment of hope - was my desired upgrade, but isn't it an unnobtainable instrument nowadays? There are only photos of a single one of them on the web. How many of them were ever produced?

 

Unfortunately, even if one would be available, there is a problem of cost of such instrument - building my own from scrapped reeds might not be a good way to obtain a perfect, concert class instrument, but it cuts down cost, leaving me only with a cost of material and time needed for designing and building an instrument (as I already have a workshop equipped quite well for the task). 

 

As for "Hohner preciosa" and Ukebert - thank you for that. I've read what he has writen on his website and it looks that it's worth to give it a shot... At least to build a test setup for a couple of notes and test how it performs. 

 

[I've edited my previous post a little: by darker/lighter range on the diagram I mean the colored section. The black&white hexes are just part of a grid on which I've worked on my desired layout and studied which buttons are needed to play in every key with uniform figering]



#6 Lofty

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:51 AM

So, I came up with an idea of making something I called "layered reedpan" (attached is the schematic drawing of the idea).

My question is - has anyone tried it before or have an idea of how the elongated air and sound travel will affect both the sound and response of reeds? From what I figured out so far, depending on the finish of the surface it will cut some of the higher harmonics, but I'm totally guessing on all the subjects regarding air pressure buildup and reed response (as in determining proper reed chamber sizes for example).  Are there any resources on this matter which I can study?
 
I don't know whether this will help, but I have a 56 key single acting Wheatstone bass/baritone English concertina. It uses two layers of reeds and was built in 1886, so this isn't a new idea! 
 
'Single acting' means that it only plays on the push, having valves in the bellows to re-fill them with air when pulling.
 
It has reeds in two layers, as shown in the attached photos. One photo shows the second layer taken off: it is just held in place with 2 wood screws.
 
You will notice that there are no valves: as it is single acting, they are not needed.
 
As you will want a double acting instrument, however, I am not sure that this construction method would help. If there was a second set of reeds, there would be no way to gain access to them. You would have to take the 'cantilever' holding the second layer of reeds apart to get to the 'pull' reeds, so it wouldn't be possible to tune them in the instrument. There might be clever ways around this, of course.
 
Steve

Attached Thumbnails

  • Bass reeds dismantled (small).jpg
  • Bass reeds (small).jpg


#7 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:48 PM

Steve, this is very helpful - it's a definite proof, that the concept is valid and I won't just waste money and time on builiding something that has fundamental flaw of some kind :)

 

I've never heard of single acting concertinas, and I must say that the concept is quite strange to me.. It must be quite a challenge to play it, even when it's bass/baritone, slow instrument...

 

As for tuning the reeds - I don't think that it should be bigger problem than tuning standard waxed accordion reeds... I'll probably tune one side of them and then flip them over and tune the other side. 



#8 Theodore Kloba

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 04:36 PM

I'm still catching up on Chemnitzer topics after a long absence. I think this is the last thread.

 

c) I know that using reedpan or reedblocks affect the sound considerably. Is it because of the airflow direction (straight vs "cornered") or sound reflection inside of the a reed chamber? As far as I know, reed instruments don't base on resonant qualities of wood - does a single reedpan affect the sound on any other basis than airflow direction/number of sound bounces in reed chamber (e.g thickness and mass of woodblock etc)?

d) Does method of mounting reeds to the reed pan affect sound? I'm asking whether wax, wedge mount or L-screw have different stiffnes thus afecting sound in any significant way?

 

The resonant quality of the wood may not make a difference, but it's absorptive/reflective qualities may.  A while ago, Australian accordion maker Henry Hyde did some experiments with balsa wood reedblocks in flutinas & button accordions. He sent me some of his notes many years ago; I'll have to see where they are.

 

In chemnitzers, the method of mounting does seem to affect sound, but unfortunately there are several variables that are hard to isolate, e.g.: Most makers using wax to attach reeds also use reedblocks that are screwed and gasketed onto the action board while most makers attaching reeds with L-screws also attach the reedblock to the action board directly with glue.

 

 

So, I came up with an idea of making something I called "layered reedpan" (attached is the schematic drawing of the idea).
My question is - has anyone tried it before or have an idea of how the elongated air and sound travel will affect both the sound and response of reeds?

 

I have seen the layered mounting on bandonions and old german concertinas. (I am not allowed to post images apparently, but otherwise I would post one.)

 

More commonly though is on octave instruments to have the high octave reeds parallel to the action board (since they're smaller) and the low octave reeds perpendicular. You could do a variation on this, but getting it to work with the keyboard layout will be a trick.



#9 David Barnert

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 01:56 PM

(I am not allowed to post images apparently, but otherwise I would post one.)

 I have long since run out of posting space here. What I do now is put images in my public folder at dropbox.com and link to them here. If you click the icon above the text entry window that looks like a square picture and paste the url in the resulting window, the image appears here.



#10 Theodore Kloba

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 02:58 PM

I have long since run out of posting space here.

 

I didn't think it was a space issue, since the Manage Attachments page says: You have used 944.01KB of 7.81MB.

 

In any event, I found a photo online of an A.A. Chemnitzer with the layered mounting. Here it is:

 

SMIT4.JPG

 

Found at Pictures of Bandoneons.



#11 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 04:37 PM

Thank you all for examples!

Theodore: this bandoneon mounting looks most like what I intended to do.

 

After doing precise plans of possible reed layouts it came out, that using layered method I can decrease instrument diameter (flat to flat) by 25mm - from 220 to 195mm for 62 button instrument (same as 64 button Wakker W/H-2). This comes at a cost of added 2cm at each end thickness (from 4 to 6cm) AND a lot more work, due to those layered reeds being on 15 separate "reed blocks" (some in groups of 2 to 5 reeds). 

 

But...

All those examples, except for Steve's bass Wheatstone, use layered reeds only for multiple reeds per note. From what I read in this thread: http://www.concertin...=15225&hl=nasal this layered layout may produce clearly audible differences between reeds. This thread doesn't answer the question whether this is caused by longer air travel or smaller pad clearance in those instruments (the pad clearance effect on sound is described in the last section of this text http://www.concertin...rtina reeds.htm ). I only had time to work on this project at nights, so I could not yet determine this by experiment (my workshop is next to my bedroom)... Hopefully I will manage to test it next week.

 

Steve, could you tell me are there any differences between "feel" in sound of reeds from different layers?


Edited by Łukasz Martynowicz, 07 June 2013 - 04:37 PM.


#12 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 05:15 PM

Ok, I finally had time to do some tests, regarding influences on sound of reedpan wood choices, chamber dimensions, hole placement (relative to tongue in "concertina layout" and in accordion variant) and of course layered layout...

 

Turns out, that layered layout doesn't affect tone character much, but it does affect volume in significant way. I haven't yet tested methods of countering this as this will require different testing setup, but I'll probably have to build larger version of my instrument...

 

As for woods, I tested spruce, oak, merbau and balsa (I did also mdf and plywood tests for reference on "how much material choice affects sound"). None of those was seasoned tonewood - just what I had in my workshop. There were some audible diferences between woods, but they were subtle, except for mdf and plywood - mdf being most dull, while balsa and oak being most rich sounding. ( I'am aware of the ongoing debate on wood influence and do not claim my tests to be conclusive enough to take side in this thread: http://www.concertin...pic=4485&page=4. Before milling chambers I tested woodblocks for differences in sound just by droping them on milling table and effects that those woods had on reed tone were adequate to differences in their self-tone, but much more subtle).

 

From all variables I've tested, hole placement has the biggest influence on tone, then chamber dimensions and wood choice can be treated more of a "spice" at the end.



#13 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 02:18 PM

Finally, I was able to start working on my instrument, so this thread will now change to something like "progress blog"...

 

As you can see in the attachment, I decided to do a flat reedpans, because I couldn't get rid of change in volume and "nasality" of sound using layered design. This is a raw cut, straight from milling machine. They were cut from single block of beech, so the wood will probably work over time, but the idea was to do a reedpans removable and exchangeable in the future - I'm building this instrument with emphasis on compass and low cost, so I'm using accordion reeds salvaged from 30+ years cheap russian accordion. If the design and my worksmanship quality will prove useable, I'll invest in higher quality reeds, so the design allows for some change in reeds dimensions (at a cost of about 1cm in diameter). It'll be quite large concertina, measuring 22 cm flat-to-flat. 

 

This instrument will have wooden ends, riveted action with bushed brass or bronze buttons and brass levers. It'll have 62 or 66 buttons, depending on whether I'll manage to squeeze in links on Eb's (the levers for links must run across button-space and things get a little crowded) and a compass of almost full 4 octaves from F2 to E6 without only two lowest accidentals. 

 

It also won't have traditional handrests and handstraps. Instead, it'll have "thumb holes" (a kind of rigid thumb "straps"), anatomical, rising handrests and open "back-of-palm rests". This would allow greater movement of hands to make all buttons easily accesible while still retaining bellows controll as in other Duets and Anglos rather than Englishes. I play with shoulder strap, so it'll also have mounts for it.

 

There is no timeline or deadline for this project, as I can only work part-time, so I'll just keep posting till the instrument is finished (or I'll give up, which is unlikely :)).

 

reedpans.jpg



#14 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 08:13 PM

It's been quite a long time since I've updated this blog. (Un)fortunately I got a new job this fall and could not find a free moment at hours early enough to make some noise. This week however was fruitfull enough to show my progress to whomever might be interested in it. 

 

To date I managed to finish the full set of frames, roughcut endplates and cut reedpans to fit into frames. Hopefully tomorrow I'll finish installing the reedpans into frames and will be able to screw everything together. I won't glue the endplates to frames for now, because I'm affraid that I might wreck them while doing fretwork.

 

Here are the pictures of all of the parts of woodwork I now have:

concertina_parts.JPG

 

And here is a closeup to show some details. I'm especially proud of the bellows frame, it took some time to do the chevrons. All of the frames fit dead flat to each other.

parts_closeup.JPG

 

One note: this unusuall "amoeba-like" layer of thin plywood was not a part of original design - I had to add the extra thickness to the reedpan after final flatening. I did not anticipate how much it will bend because of released tension after milling chambers. I was left with only 3mm of the board, while my original design requires at least 5mm to drill lever and button posts holes.



#15 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 05:44 PM

Ok, so here is the final photo of this weeks progress, both reedpans have been fited and everything can now be assembled together.

concertina ends.JPG



#16 Frank Edgley

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 08:59 AM

Nice work. I look forward to your next pictures.



#17 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 10:03 AM

Thanks, such words from a professional concertina maker are most encouraging :)



#18 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 09:08 AM

After more than 70 hours of work later it's finally time for another update.

 

So, here it is - my brand new bellows. It's probably not the best bellows out there and is quite stiff for now, but I'm quite happy how it came out. Papers will come later, I must yet design them and print somewhere...

 

miech_7.JPG

miech_8.JPG


Edited by Łukasz Martynowicz, 10 April 2014 - 09:09 AM.






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