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Don't Panic!

reeds flat cleaning

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#1 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 04:41 PM

I didn't really panic, but I was getting worried.

 

The draw A in the left-hand G-row of my recently acquired Dallas-Crabb Anglo was a bit flat. When I got it, a few months ago, everything had been in tune, if I remember rightly. But in the last week, the offending reed was getting flatter and flatter, and also sounded muted and didn't achieve even its flat pitch under light pressure, only when forced.

 

I took the end off to see if there was any debris in the chamber, but there wasn't. The set of the reed looked much the same as its neighbours, and the valve was equally inconspicuous. The reed was now seriously flat - 30 cents, according to my tuner.

 

So, still suppressing the panic, I decided to make my first attempt at tuning a reed. I removed the reed-pan, and got the reed out quite easily. When I had it in my hand, I noticed that there was some kind of dark brown deposit on the shoe, especially where the reed is clamped to it. The deposit was inside the slot as well.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness," as they say, so before doing any filing I got terpentine, a soft cloth and a toothpick and cleaned the  brown stuff off and out of the crevices. 

To check the flatness, I reassembled the end, and lo and behold! the offending note was as loud and clear as all the others, spoke immediately, and was in unison with the draw A in the C row!

 

To quote another adage, "A job begun is a job half done." In this case, a job begun was a job completed.

 

I then carefully played each note, and, listening carefully, noticed that a couple of other reeds were just starting to show a trace of this muting and reluctance to start quickly and to reach full pitch right away. so I cleaned them as well, and they came up bright and shiny, acoustically as well as visually. So I plan to clean all the reeds, a few at a time, with the prospect of playing a really brilliant concertina.

 

So the moral of the story is, even if a reed sounds disastrously off, it may just need cleaning, so don't panic!

I've learnt a lot about maintenance in this forum, but I don't recall reading anything about crud causing serious tuning problems. But it does!

 

I'll just have to postpone my first attempt at tuning - thank Heavens!

 

Cheers,

John

 



#2 Michaelmas

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 06:54 PM

Any ideas on the source of this "flattering" deposit?  lacquer? coffee? glue?



#3 gcoover

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 08:18 PM

Bernard Wrigley often jokes that his bass concertina plays better if one pours Guinness in it - maybe that's the dark brown deposit!?!

 

Gary



#4 JimLucas

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 12:20 PM

Bernard Wrigley often jokes that his bass concertina plays better if one pours Guinness in it - maybe that's the dark brown deposit!?!

 

That sounds like a bass canard.  :D  (He ducks!)


Edited by JimLucas, 02 August 2017 - 12:20 PM.


#5 David Barnert

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 02:16 AM

Any chance it was a flying insect that got caught in the air flow through the reed and didn’t make it all the way through? That’s happened to me, although it stopped the reed dead rather than throwing it out of tune.

 

The “couple of other reeds” you mention you identified in the early stages of the same condition: were they all on the “draw” side of the reed pan (the outward-facing side)?



#6 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 07:54 AM

David,

 

Insects can be counted out, because my Dallas-Crabb has cloth backing to the ends. But yes, the affected reeds are, in fact, draw reeds. The press reeds in the same chambers are unaffected.

 

One thought that did occur to me was whether a previous owner played for years in regular weekly sessions with a chain-smoker sitting to his left. He must have played a lot in A or D, because the draw A on the inner row was the worst affected. ;)

 

Cheers,

John



#7 David Barnert

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 09:53 PM

One thought that did occur to me was whether a previous owner played for years in regular weekly sessions with a chain-smoker sitting to his left.

 

Or played a lot at home while smoking with his ashtray on the table to the left of his favorite (sorry, favourite) concertina chair.

 

Anyway, very few things cause isolated reeds to need to be retuned. So it’s not surprising that yours turned out to be something else.







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