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#1 David Hornett

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 12:15 AM

Hi,

 

This question bespeaks my laziness, but why reinvent the wheel?

 

Has anyone out there experimented with different reed pan woods? To this point I have made my pans from Huon pine, a soft, close grained (two annual growth rings per millimetre) Tasmanian species. To save weight and also for some resistance to humidity change, I am thinking of moving to King Billy Pine, a very light, strong, close grained (1 - 2 annual growth rings to the mm) wood. King billy is exceptionally light, but strong, a common use for it is high quality guitar sound boards and boat hulls. I already use King Billy in the pad board to no apparent ill, or beneficial effect. So rather than cutting a pan or two to experiment, is there any possibility that it will change the tone and how?

 

David.



#2 d.elliott

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 07:25 AM

Sycamore is the traditional material, you might consider maple



#3 David Hornett

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:07 PM

Thank you David. I am interested in difference, if any, in tonal quality with different woods, especially soft vs hard.

 

David



#4 Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:07 AM

Hi David

 

I have heard of people trying mahogany but cant be sure of the difference in sound. One would expect a harder wood to produce a brighter tone, sycamore and maple are very hard. Its difficult to prove such things as different tonal qualities produced by different  woods used for a reed pan without tests. Do you have any recordings of your concertinas? I would be curious to listen as I am not familiar with huon pine.



#5 Dana Johnson

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:24 AM

I notice a difference between acer saccarum (sugar maple ) and acer pseudoplatinus ( English Sycamore which is a type of maple very unlike the American Sycamore with it’s colorful flaking bark and fuzzy seed balls ). The harder denser sugar maple has a clearer brighter sound compared to the warmer sound of the English Sycamore. Both sound very good. ( all dimensions were the same ). An American Sycamore reed pan sounded dull and muted, while a big leaf maple ( favored tone wood for violin family instruments ) reed pan sounded incredibly harsh. It is both light and nearly as hard compared to sugar maple.
Try the switch, you probably will get a tonal change, but it may be one you like. Wood changes in other parts of the instruments also affect the tone, it is not just reed pans.
Dana

#6 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:27 AM

I reckon we should  - considering that the reeds don't sound via "vibration" but cutting off the air flow - not rule out the possibility of the material being entirely neutral, of no importance for the tonal quality to be produced (and my understanding of the OP was that David didn't do that either).

 

Even the ongoing discussion re wooden ends vs. metal ends might have the wrong reference point. Metal fretwork is usually thinner, so the difference could just lie in the flatter angles in which the sound is escaping metal ends.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

 

Edit: Having cross-posted with Dana, of course I bow to the experience of the makers - so take my post as a critical inquiry of an unexperienced...


Edited by blue eyed sailor, 19 November 2017 - 10:30 AM.


#7 OLDNICKILBY

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 06:10 AM

David

Are you sure that the Tazzy Pine has 50 plus rings to the inch. that makes it very slow growing. Could you be confusing the Spring and Summer rings as two rings per year If it is that slow it must compare with some of those odd Gold Field timbers from W A

Rock Chidley was also a Timber Merchant ( see Chris Flints paper) the Rosewood on his Tina's is of the first order whilst the Sycamore has a very close grain structure with around 15 to 20 rings per inch. Could this be that he was using timber that had grown in the  "Little Ice Age "  of the mid 18 C.   I have half a dozen Chidley's and they all display the same timber quality



#8 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 08:39 PM

In recent conversation, I would like to confirm that some of the most experienced concertina makers agree that the wood used makes a big difference in the sound of the instrument. I'm sure they know what they are talking about.

 

So what is going on? Surely the wood is not vibrating as the tone wood does in a violin or guitar - as a mechanical energy radiator pushing pressure waves in the air. Rather, I suppose, the wood characteristics affect the tonal spectrum through reflection... right?

 

Is it true then that the hardest woods with the highest mass produce harsh sounds and the softest woods with the least mass make dull sounds and that something in the middle is best?



#9 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:30 PM

In recent conversation, I would like to confirm that some of the most experienced concertina makers agree that the wood used makes a big difference in the sound of the instrument. I'm sure they know what they are talking about.

 

So what is going on? Surely the wood is not vibrating as the tone wood does in a violin or guitar - as a mechanical energy radiator pushing pressure waves in the air. Rather, I suppose, the wood characteristics affect the tonal spectrum through reflection... right?

 

Is it true then that the hardest woods with the highest mass produce harsh sounds and the softest woods with the least mass make dull sounds and that something in the middle is best?

Don't forget "absorption" as in the case of thick valves affecting the volume and sound of a concertina.  Another possible case of absorption is the difference in sound and volume of open vs. closed fret work.  Anecdotally I believe I've heard differences in concertinas when bone buttons are substituted for metal ones.  Lots of things going on here.

 

Absorption and reflection are my current concertina mantra.

 

Greg



#10 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 12:23 AM

Greg, would you however consider this wild guess of mine?

The ongoing discussion re wooden ends vs. metal ends might have the wrong reference point. Metal fretwork is usually thinner, so the difference could just lie in the flatter angles in which the sound is escaping metal ends.


Might that not at least contribute to the overall effect?

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor, 22 November 2017 - 12:27 AM.


#11 Chris Ghent

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 07:24 AM

Absorption and reflection is the current model here too. Do the materials and methods used absorb or reflect particular frequencies..?

Edited by Chris Ghent, 22 November 2017 - 07:27 AM.


#12 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 11:15 AM

Greg, would you however consider this wild guess of mine?
 

The ongoing discussion re wooden ends vs. metal ends might have the wrong reference point. Metal fretwork is usually thinner, so the difference could just lie in the flatter angles in which the sound is escaping metal ends.


Might that not at least contribute to the overall effect?

Best wishes - Wolf

 

No acoustic engineer here.  I do not have any theories about the possible effect of shape and thickness of the fret work edges.

 

However,

 

One huge revelation came when I was lucky enough to have two very similar ebonized Wheatstone T/T Aeolas in the same place at the same time and only separated by several hundred serial #s.  One was obviously louder and more aggressive in sound.  The other more measured and muted.  I was ready to assume the louder, brighter sounding one had "better" reeds.

 

I was able to switch ends (action boxes) which seemed similar in materials and construction.  Suddenly the timid one took on much of the characteristics of the aggressive one.  And the louder one now adopted a more tame sound with the other instrument's action box and fret work.

 

This dramatic change prompted me to look at the fret work of the instruments.  The louder, more lively Aeola had fretwork extending to within a half inch of the edges.  The more "timid" instrument had noticeably less extensive fret work leaving perhaps an inch of solid wood toward the edges.  My best guess was the less extensive fret work was muting some of the sound of the quiet instrument either not letting it "escape" or  perhaps absorbing some of the volume and overtones.  (Perhaps a very dramatic example of the influence of fret work on sound are the "dot and comma" Aeolas.  I'm lucky enough to have one at present and the sound of the closed fret work instrument is quite different.)

 

Dramatic but very unscientific conclusions.  Nonetheless very consistent with years of observations watching and helping Wally Carroll build instruments.  Wally and I had many discussions as to why concertinas sound the way they do and why, although Wally strove for and reached an amazing consistency in construction of his instruments, that there were slight variations in the overall sound of individual concertinas.  I can't speak directly for Wally but I believe our conclusion was something like "the response, volume and harmonics are in the reeds and the tone color and some of the volume is due to surrounding materials."

 

Again, these are anecdotal observations.  There is a lot going on in a concertina that produces its final sound.  How snug a reed fits in its slot may be as important as what material a reed pan is made of.  So many variables. :wacko:

 

Greg


Edited by Greg Jowaisas, 22 November 2017 - 11:21 AM.


#13 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 11:33 AM

Greg - thanks a lot for providing these interesting further insights!

 

Best wishes - Wolf



#14 Dana Johnson

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 03:08 PM

In recent conversation, I would like to confirm that some of the most experienced concertina makers agree that the wood used makes a big difference in the sound of the instrument. I'm sure they know what they are talking about.
 
So what is going on? Surely the wood is not vibrating as the tone wood does in a violin or guitar - as a mechanical energy radiator pushing pressure waves in the air. Rather, I suppose, the wood characteristics affect the tonal spectrum through reflection... right?
 
Is it true then that the hardest woods with the highest mass produce harsh sounds and the softest woods with the least mass make dull sounds and that something in the middle is best?


In my experience, hardness mass and stiffness in wood are variables that do not always parallel each other. The proportions of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and structurally how the tree uses them can create light stiff and relatively hard wood. Large quantities hemicellulose and lignin found in reaction wood can create very hard wood, but structurally quite different from an equally dense wood with low porosity and a lot of resin, like Blackwood or rosewood. Whatever absorption or reflection of sound the wood does, it does by moving or resisting movement caused by the sound energy or coupling between the reed shoe and reed pan. Those factors are frequency dependent. Different materials have responses in different ranges. Gross construction also affects the frequency response. Just about anything you do can have an audible effect, there are just so many variables that are all inter related. I have found trial and error to be a faster method to improve than trying to predict with insufficient information.
There can be more than one way to skin a cat though. In violins, the top and back are made from dramatically different wood, but in a good instrument are carved in such a way as to match the vibrational characteristics and their relationship as well as their pitch. It may be possible to change the dimensions of a reed pan to accommodate a different species.
Dana

#15 Rod

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 01:39 AM

Ultimately the exterior acoustic environment in which the instrument is played is of considerable significance.

#16 Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:59 AM

Ultimately the exterior acoustic environment in which the instrument is played is of considerable significance.

 

hugely. 



#17 David Hornett

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:34 AM

David

Are you sure that the Tazzy Pine has 50 plus rings to the inch. that makes it very slow growing. Could you be confusing the Spring and Summer rings as two rings per year If it is that slow it must compare with some of those odd Gold Field timbers from W A

Rock Chidley was also a Timber Merchant ( see Chris Flints paper) the Rosewood on his Tina's is of the first order whilst the Sycamore has a very close grain structure with around 15 to 20 rings per inch. Could this be that he was using timber that had grown in the  "Little Ice Age "  of the mid 18 C.   I have half a dozen Chidley's and they all display the same timber quality

Yes Tassey pine, both Huon and king Billy are some of the slowest growing, and thereby oldest trees in the world, the following quote is from the Tasmanian Forestry entry:

 

A conifer, Huon pine is probably Australia's longest lived species; individual trees have been identified as over 2000 years old. It has an incredibly slow growth rate of about 0.3–2mm per year, taking approximately 1000 years to reach a height of 30 m and a diameter of 1 metre.

 

david



#18 David Hornett

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 06:44 AM

Thank you everyone for your input, and I hope i am not being rude, but I'm none the wiser, but did take great interest in Dana's observations, thank you Dana. 

 

Tomorrow I'll rout  the King Billy pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides) reed pans and shall let you know how it differs, if at all, from my otherwise identical huon pine instruments.

 

All the best

 

David






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