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Anyone Prefer Morse Instruments To Vintage/trad?

hybrid Morse traditional reeds vintage

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#37 Jim Besser

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:15 PM

 

 

morse english, Geordie EC Tenor.  But long history with anglo, including a metal-=ended Dipper County Clare.

 

INteresting. The reason I asked - I'm hearing more and more that the Morse English concertinas are quieter than the Anglos. Wonder why that is.

 

 

And apparently the Duets quieter as well; who's the Buttonbox member of Cnet who we can ping on this?

 

 

I expect I'll be seeing at least one of them at a Morris ale in Toronto in a few weeks, and I'll ask!



#38 JimLucas

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:38 AM

An anecdote: A few years back I was sitting in the outdoor terrace of a pub in London, Ontario with another c.net member, comparing concertinas. He was playing a Jeffries G/D, at the time and I was playing a Morse G/D hybrid.

 

We did a sound comparison.  Sitting in the pub, there was no question my Morse hybrid was the louder instrument.

 

But later, playing for the Morris on a crowded street, his Jeffries could be heard clearly above the din, the clear tone penetrating,  while my Morse was very hard to hear.

 

'Loudness' isn't the only factor in audibility!

 

Wasn't there a thread about such things not long ago?



#39 ceemonster

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:41 AM

yes, but we never tire of chewing it over... :rolleyes:



#40 ceemonster

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:43 AM

[[I'm hearing more and more that the Morse English concertinas are quieter than the Anglos. Wonder why that is.]]

 

there has been discussion here as to reasons for bisonorics, in general, being louder than unisonorics, in general.  i don't understand it, but it is annoying. 



#41 wayman

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 08:48 AM

 

 

morse english, Geordie EC Tenor.  But long history with anglo, including a metal-=ended Dipper County Clare.

 

INteresting. The reason I asked - I'm hearing more and more that the Morse English concertinas are quieter than the Anglos. Wonder why that is.

 

 

And apparently the Duets quieter as well; who's the Buttonbox member of Cnet who we can ping on this?

 

 

Morse anglo reed chambers and Morse English/Hayden reed chambers are quite different in construction and materials. (Photographs on the Button Box website may help illustrate this.)

 

Our anglo concertinas (Ceili and the forthcoming ESB baritone) have chambers assembled from thin strips of wood. This works very well for instruments where the reeds are all parallel to each other. It's also an extremely flexible system, allowing us to easily construct each different instrument (C/G Wheatstone with extra C#s, G/D Jeffries, etc) when it's ordered, allowing us to accommodate customer requests for unusual note layouts. This also allows for a much lighter-weight instrument.

 

Our English and Hayden concertinas (Albion, Geordie, and Beaumont) have chambers that are routed out of a solid sheet of formaldehyde-free MDF (and sealed with hide glue). For these instruments, where the reeds are not all parallel to each other, assembling the chambers by hand would add substantial time (and cost), especially for the Beaumont (where some of the reeds are at very precise angles in order for everything to fit!). We use MDF instead of hardwood largely because it gives a better tone (based on sound tests we did when we were experimenting with materials), but also partly because it's a lighter-weight material than hardwood.

 

This does lead to our unisonoric instruments having a subtly different character than our anglos, but as others have observed, that's somewhat in line with historical tendencies among vintage anglo and English concertinas by other makers.


Edited by wayman, 19 August 2014 - 10:17 AM.


#42 JimLucas

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:31 AM

I started out on an CC Elise Duet, got a Morse Beaumont, and now am both on Wakker's waitlist for a trad-reeded Hayden and also playing around with a vintage Crane. Still pondering out how I feel about the leap to trad reeds, whether by getting the Wakker or by getting more seriously into a vintage Crane.
 
I notice the Morse instruments are pretty popular overall, even amongst the players who can/do own trad-reed instruments. Do some folks find the Morses as good as or better than trad-reed for some purposes? Do you keep a Morse around so you aren't risking your "nice" ones, or because it's more reliable/durable, just for a change of pace, or because on some level you find it "better" than other options?
 
Has anyone tried both hybrid and trad and come to the conclusion that you're just happier with a Morse?

 
This thread seems to have contracted into a discussion almost entirely about audibility, in particular loudness and dynamic range.  I'd like to expand it again.
 
Some folks have reported that they actually prefer the sound of "accordion-reeded" instruments to "concertina-reeded" ones.  Bertram Levy, e.g., likes the sound of his Stagi.  I'd say this is definitely a matter of personal taste, and to each their own.
 
But I would also say that that overlooks the fact that there are significant variations within each category.  And not just sound or dynamics, but also action and response.  Do Morse concertinas sound exactly like an Edgley, Tedrow, Marcus, or Stagi?  I don't see any reason to expect that all hybrids sound alike, especially when some makers have more than one model, though the Morse instruments do have a reputation for consistency.  (Do they have Inspector Morse doing quality control?)  One might expect more uniformity in action or response from a given maker, but maybe not.

Vintage concertinas certainly don't all sound alike. I myself like variety, preferring the sounds of different instruments for different types of music, individual pieces, differing acoustic environments, or just my mood of the moment. Unable to afford all the variety I would like, I have  at various times nevertheless been quite happy with each of several different vintage instruments as my one "good for all". And while I generally prefer the sounds of the "concertina-reeded" vintage instruments, I don't dislike the "hybrid" sound. (Nor do I run from the room when somebody starts playing a melodeon or PA.)

The relative importance of different factors -- I've already mentioned action and response, in addition to tone quality and dynamics -- also varies among individuals. Steve Mansfield has mentioned yet another:

...I love my Wheatstone treble but it is a bit delicate and high-maintenance, whereas the Morse is always on and ready to play whatever I choose to throw at it.

However, in my experience, vintage instruments are just as problem-free, if they are in good shape to begin with... where "to begin with" can mean after a full, competent restoration. I've had a few that needed no work when I got them, but those that did need coddling when I got them became trouble free after being properly restored.

Of course, there are an awful lot of vintage instruments that aren't now in top condition, while few modern hybrids have yet had time to deteriorate, even under poor handling.



#43 Rod

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:45 PM

Back to the question of exactly what is meant by ' a full, competent restoration '. Does there come a point when a ' fully ' ( whatever that word may mean in this context ) restored vintage instrument has to all intents and purposes become a new instrument with a new individual character all of it's own and does it therefore deserve the right to retain the original name with which it was born. ? Perhaps it doesn't really matter.

#44 JimLucas

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 03:43 PM

Back to the question of exactly what is meant by ' a full, competent restoration '. Does there come a point when a ' fully ' ( whatever that word may mean in this context ) restored vintage instrument has to all intents and purposes become a new instrument with a new individual character all of it's own and does it therefore deserve the right to retain the original name with which it was born. ? Perhaps it doesn't really matter.

 

In the context in which I used that expression, I don't think it matters.  That wasn't about sound quality, nor even playability, but (as I interpreted Steve M's comment) a potential need for frequent adjustments or even minor maintenance.

 

I would expect the results of a "full" restoration to include (among other things)

  • uniformity of action, response, and tone
  • no significant leakage, either external (detectable with no buttons depressed/chambers open) or internal (detectable only when chambers are open, e.g., leakage around or between chambers)
  • nothing out of alignment, wiggling, wobbling, catching, or inappropriately loose
  • everything clean (including reeds free of loose rust)

"Competent" should include the selection and use of high quality parts and materials appropriate to the task (e.g., valves of the proper size and thickness for each reed/chamber, and also the right type of leather), as well as both precision and accuracy in craftsmanship.



#45 Jim Besser

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 04:23 PM

 

Vintage concertinas certainly don't all sound alike. I myself like variety, preferring the sounds of different instruments for different types of music, individual pieces, differing acoustic environments, or just my mood of the moment. Unable to afford all the variety I would like, I have  at various times nevertheless been quite happy with each of several different vintage instruments as my one "good for all". And while I generally prefer the sounds of the "concertina-reeded" vintage instruments, I don't dislike the "hybrid" sound. (Nor do I run from the room when somebody starts playing a melodeon or PA.)

The relative importance of different factors -- I've already mentioned action and response, in addition to tone quality and dynamics -- also varies among individuals. Steve Mansfield has mentioned yet another:

 

Jim - I think I've played all of the modern hybrids.  You're right, there are differences, but they are hard to describe.

 

As you said, the Morses are highly standardized.  I've played a lot of them, starting with their early prototype, and I see remarkably little difference in sound and feel.

 

In my experience the Tedrows have the most variation, both in sound and action (not surprising, since Bob is a creative innovator).  I hung out with Bob when he was manning a stall at a harp convention in the DC area and played a bunch of his concertinas; I remember there was one (a "Zephyr," I think) that was absolutely superb; if I had had the money, I would have bought it on the spot. Several others were good but not great.

 

I had an early Herrington which I liked a lot.  It  had the most accordion-like sound and was a wonderful player, but with a much firmer action. I still play in a band whose leader regularly chastises me for getting rid of it because he loved the sound.

 

The Edgley I once owned felt and sounded similar to the Herrington.  I remember playing at a Morris ale alongside another Edgley player whose box sounded very different from mine.

 

Actually - and I think I mentioned this before - the hybrid that to my ears sounded most like a traditional reeded concertina was the Guens Wakker, no longer made, but I assume which was a predecessor of today's Wakker Clover.  I've only played one Clover, and really liked the feel and sound, which to my mind resembled the Morse.

 

In the traditional reeded grouping, I've played a lot of Jeffries, and while I can usually tell a Jeffries by its sound, there is significant variation in sound between various examples, even more in action - not surprising since most have been worked on many times over the years.

 

After following this thread, what I'm wondering about most  is the tonal differences between Anglos and English concertinas - differences apart from the smoothness v. punchiness factor.  I'd ask this of Wayman , Greg and the other builders/overhaulers: are there structural differences between the two responsible for the differences in sound? We now know there are for the Morses; is this true for vintage instruments like the Wheatstones and Lachenals?


Edited by Jim Besser, 19 August 2014 - 04:25 PM.






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