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How To Care For My New Concertina


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#1 mathhag

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 05:50 AM

So I am now the proud owner of a new R. Morse & Co. Céilí from the Button Box. I have named her Sadie.
I am hoping I could get recommendations on care. Doug Barr has already advised me to do something for humidity in the winter. Not sure yet how I will accomplish it so any useful ideas are welcome. What other habits would been good to develop in order to take good care of my new love.

#2 Ken_Coles

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 07:19 AM

My Morse Céilí is 16 years old and I've never done anything special and it has been fine.  (Well OK, I don't dunk it underwater or bury it in garden soil or store it in a heated oven.)  Modern concertinas are in my experience much less touchy about low humidity, etc. than the antique ones I've known.  Have fun.

 

Ken

 

PS, I would add that keeping the new bellows fully closed in the case when not playing is the best way to break them in - I expect someone told you about that.


Edited by Ken_Coles, 26 September 2017 - 07:20 AM.
to add PS


#3 Bill N

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 07:22 AM

  • Keep it in the hard case when not actually playing it.
  • Don't leave it in a hot place (like a car in the summer-time)
  • Put a small humidifier in the case if you live somewhere where it gets really cold in the winter
  • Dust it off once in a while
  • If you have to take it apart, use a properly fitting screw-driver
  • Relax and enjoy- I have found my Morse to be practically bullet proof.  After 8 years of hard playing in every sort of condition, and schlepping it to festivals, Morris dancing, sessions in pubs, etc. it still plays great.

Edited by Bill N, 26 September 2017 - 07:23 AM.


#4 mathhag

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:46 AM

Glad to know the Morse stay in shape well. I was really lucky to get expert advice when I was trying to make a decision to buy at NESI. Unfortunately I did leave it in the car for about two hours , Windows were down but now the bellows do seem stiffer and are a little noisy . Is there any thing I could or should do? I am playing so hopefully that will break it in

#5 Tradewinds Ted

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:52 AM

On humidity -

 

You don't say what part of the world you live in, or what climate, and that makes a tremendous difference.

When I lived in Lancashire England, humidity simply wasn't a concern even in winter.  The winters are cold and damp there, and our heating was radiators fed by a boiler.  So the air really wasn't dry indoors even on the coldest days.

Now that I am in Wisconsin, the winters are bitter cold, with very low humidity, and our home is heated with a forced air furnace system.  So the indoor humidity is very dry, and a huge contrast to the hot humid summer.  Even more extreme than when I lived in the Northeastern US years ago, although the Northeast gets more snow.  The arid Southwest would likely also be a concern.

 

I tried using an in case humidifier the first winter here, but I didn't trust it not to leak, and I was concerned about mildew in the case, or worse - damage to the instrument.  So I soon bought a room humidifier which I keep running each night in the bedroom throughout the winter, and I store the concertinas in that room in their cases. (yes, two instruments now.)  I find that the humidifer also keeps me from getting quite so dry and itchy in winter, so it is a win all around.  Nothing too fancy, just an ultrasonic unit that I have to fill each night only during the winter months.  Running it just 8 hours or so each night seems to do the trick, so if you can't sleep with it running, then you could run it during the day instead.  I don't keep the humidity high, or even measure it, I just avoid the severe low humidity levels prevalent here in mid-winter.  By the way - exclusively using distilled water works wonders on keeping a humidifier clean.  You might balk at spending money for water, but I've never had any problems with deposits or mildew, so it is well worth it, at least for one room.

 

I suspect others are correct that your Morse instrument will be less sensitive to humidity than an antique concertina, but I can say that antique instruments are indeed sensitive to the humidity swings we can experience here in the US Midwest.  Last winter I took my Jones to a local session in an older home, and inadvertently sat fairly close to one of the registers pumping heated air.  I had the instrument alternately in my hands, or in the open case on the floor when I was not playing.  In less than an hour it was unplayable, having developed leaks between chambers which caused stray discordant notes to play in addition to whatever buttons I selected.   It took weeks of babying it back in the modest humidity of the room at home, diagnosing which notes were playing in combination, then taking it apart to lightly fluff and very, very slightly dampen ( ! ) the appropriate leather gaskets between chambers to swell them the thousandths of an inch needed to seal those leaks.  Never again - it could have been far worse.  I'll likely go the session again, but in winter keep far away from the hot air registers, and keep the instrument in a closed case whenever I'm not actually playing.

 

Regular playing is the best care.  It is good for you, good for the instrument, and you'll find anything that is going wrong right away, rather than letting it creep up and become a major problem.


Edited by Tradewinds Ted, 26 September 2017 - 08:58 AM.


#6 mathhag

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:06 AM

My Morse Céilí is 16 years old and I've never done anything special and it has been fine.  (Well OK, I don't dunk it underwater or bury it in garden soil or store it in a heated oven.)  Modern concertinas are in my experience much less touchy about low humidity, etc. than the antique ones I've known.  Have fun.
 
Ken
 
PS, I would add that keeping the new bellows fully closed in the case when not playing is the best way to break them in - I expect someone told you about that.



Yes, Doug from The Button Box wagged his finger at me to make the point about keeping thebellows closed. I don’t think I can forget

#7 Doug Barr

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:52 PM

Best way to break in new bellows is to play the heck out of it. All good advice from those above.  I try to always put it in the case, even to get up to go to the bathroom...accidents can happen and the case(make sure you latch it) is the safest place for it. 



#8 Jim Besser

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 01:01 PM

So I am now the proud owner of a new R. Morse & Co. Céilí from the Button Box. I have named her Sadie.
I am hoping I could get recommendations on care. Doug Barr has already advised me to do something for humidity in the winter. Not sure yet how I will accomplish it so any useful ideas are welcome. What other habits would been good to develop in order to take good care of my new love.

 

Congratulations.  These are fine instruments (I have 3, so I know)

 

Agree with Ken: they're remarkably durable, which is why these are the only instruments I use for Morris dance playing - outside, in bad weather, in chaotic pubs, etc.  My GD is 15 years old and has been on numerous Morris tours and has never required any service. And truth be told, I don't take fastidious care of it; it's taken some hard knocks.

 

My only advice: never leave it in a hot car. The wax holding in the reeds can melt.  Other than that - just play the heck out of it and you'll do fine.

 

Re cases: I have top quality hard cases for my vintage instruments, but almost always use soft cases when gigging - for me, clumsy as I am, the biggest danger is bumping into things with the hard case.   I believe the well-padded soft case provides better protection against that particular danger.

 

And while the Button Box concertinas are the best hybrids out there (IMO), their cases have a major flaw: the single latch doesn't hold securely.  I have three of them, and all have opened accidentally.  If you take your instrument out in the real world and use the case, get a strap to provide extra security, or bring it to a luggage store and have better (and multiple) latches installed. It's not hard to do.



#9 Ken_Coles

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 04:10 PM

And while the Button Box concertinas are the best hybrids out there (IMO), their cases have a major flaw: the single latch doesn't hold securely.  I have three of them, and all have opened accidentally.  If you take your instrument out in the real world and use the case, get a strap to provide extra security, or bring it to a luggage store and have better (and multiple) latches installed. It's not hard to do.

Or get one of the case covers by Cavallaro (Doug sold me mine) - it surrounds the case, zips up, and keeps the case closed.

 

Ken



#10 mathhag

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:02 PM

Such great hints. Thank you all

#11 Jeff Loen

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:17 AM

Take a tip from Noel Hill and keep it in a plastic bag inside the case.  You won't need to use a humidifier (which can drip, and dries out too quickly in really dry conditions).



#12 mathhag

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 04:54 PM

Great hint Jeff

#13 David Barnert

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 05:04 PM

Another bit of advice I’ve heard that I don’t see on this page yet. Don’t play it soon after bringing it in from the very cold outdoors to a heated room. Let it warm up, or moisture will condense on the cold reeds and lead to corrosion.

 

I don’t know your real name. Did we interact at NESI?



#14 mathhag

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 05:56 AM

Hi David,
My real name is Susan. I know I spoke with many Davids at NESI so I am sure we did.

#15 David Barnert

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 07:39 PM

Very likely. I spoke with more than one Susan (and a Suzana), too.

 

Here’s the whole bunch of us. I’m in the back row, framed by the 5th window from the left. Two people further to the right in the back row is another David.

 

GroupShot2017-WithText.jpg



#16 mathhag

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 05:46 AM

I am also in the back row but on the right side, next to Jody who is wearing a hat. I am wearing a light gray striped shirt and my mouth is open.

#17 RWL

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Posted 30 September 2017 - 09:19 PM

Center of the back row in a white shirt holding a metal ended Edeophone for me.  Maybe it was just the nice weather or maybe I've gone enough times that I've gotten to know a bunch of people, but this seemed like a particularly fun year at NESI.



#18 mathhag

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 05:51 PM

So I know I enjoyed our many conversations




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