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How To Make A Tuning Jig For Traditional Reeeds?


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#1 John Sylte

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 06:58 PM

I searched the forums with no luck. My apologies if this topic has been covered.

I recently tuned the left side of a 30 button Lachenal using tuning software that appears to do a great job of telling me how sharp or flat a sounded note is. I was using my mouth to sound the note with the reed in the pan, and my fingers, when necessary, to make the chamber small enough that my mouth could make a seal. I realize this sounds archaic, but this method has allowed me to tune 3 Lachenals quite accurately. I don't know why this time was different, but when I put the end back on and tested the notes, I don't think there was a single one that was still in tune. The vast majority of them were too sharp. So, obviously a note sounded using my mouth is not the same as a note sounded using the bellows. I have seen pictures of tuning jigs (is that what they're called?) with one slot for a reed and a dedicated set of bellows that hangs below for creating air pressure. Can anyone share with me the easiest way to make one of these? I have three instruments lined up for tuning, and the process of trial and error, sounding the notes, writing down how sharp or how flat, taking the ends off, filing the reeds, putting ends on, sounding the notes again, etc. will take forever. Of course, the process of trial and error is hard on the reeds too if you keep going back and forth. I would like to make one of these tuning thingies so I can definitively tune each reed once and for all then put it in and be done with it. Can anyone help?

Thanks-

#2 Johann

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 01:40 AM

Taking the ends off, filing the reeds, putting ends on, sounding the notes again, etc. will take forever. Of course, the process of trial and error is hard on the reeds too if you keep going back and forth. I would like to make one of these tuning thingies so I can definitively tune each reed once and for all then put it in and be done with it. Can anyone help


Sounding reeds via the mouth is not a good idea, becaus with steel reed tongues you may get rust on them in the future. Swet on the fingers is also a danger.

As for the tunnig table, this can speed up the tunnig process, but the final tunnig always has to be done with the reeds inside the box for checking.

Is much a question of experinac how long it takes, sill a good job need time!
I am speaking about tunning accordions, but i it must be the same with concertinas.

The pitch of a reed is not only terminated by the reed it self, the sourounding air conditions influnece the pitch as well. Manly the size of the reed chamber, the size of the openning, the distance of the oppend flap, the valves, air pressuree and some more. So a tunnig tabel never can coppy the surunding conditions completly.

See what others will tell you concernig Concertinas.

Johann

#3 Chris Ghent

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 02:09 AM

A minimalist rig... A concertina bellows to sacrifice to a tuning jig is not a common thing, but there are lots of worthless accordions (what, almost all of them I hear you say?) around and if you take the air button end of one plus the bellows and seal it to a piece of wood with a hole in it, that might do. Then suspend it over the edge of a table with the bellows hanging in space.

You would then need some sort of device to put the reed in, a holder, though if you made a reed size slot in the wood you might not need that either. You could just hold the reed down hard over the slot. You would need several different sized slots and some way to block those not being used.

For pull reeds you can put the whole reed pan on the wood over the hole, partition side down and block the end of the chamber with your finger. This has the advantage that the conditions are closer to being inside the instrument.

You might need to weight the bottom of the bellows so it will sound of its own accord, ie. you lift it with the air button pushed and then let it go to sink by its own weight. You could also replace the air button with an outside flap valve so it worked automatically.

Chris

#4 Bill Crossland

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:47 AM

[attachment=2848:attachment]I attach a picture of a reed holder design used on some tuning bellows from Neil Waynes collection. This was a set of travelling tuners bellows, complete with a set of reference reeds - the reed to be tuned could be played simultaneously with the reference one to ensure a good match. The plates are cut from 2mm brass and the saw cuts allow the end of the holder to open out to accomodate the various sized reeds. Any more pictures or dimensions, please get in touch.

You will still need to fine tune in the instrument!!

Edited by Billcro, 02 August 2007 - 08:09 AM.


#5 McIsog

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 08:58 AM

[attachment=2848:attachment]I attach a picture of a reed holder design used on some tuning bellows from Neil Waynes collection. This was a set of travelling tuners bellows, complete with a set of reference reeds - the reed to be tuned could be played simultaneously with the reference one to ensure a good match. The plates are cut from 2mm brass and the saw cuts allow the end of the holder to open out to accomodate the various sized reeds. Any more pictures or dimensions, please get in touch.

You will still need to fine tune in the instrument!!



Fantastic picture! Can you add one more showing the whole device?

#6 Geoffrey Crabb

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 09:42 AM

The attached may be of help.
[attachment=2849:attachment]
The rig should considered as something that will sound and support a reed assembly whilst filing.

Tuning.
Here are some brief notes on the Crabb method which still closely follows the traditional methods.
With slide in reeds, all filing during tuning should be done on the rig. Each reed is placed back in the instrument and the top (endbox) temporarily held in place whilst the reed is sounded and checked. This is repeated until the reed 'sounds' at the preferred pitch. (No filing/scratching is done with a reed in place in the instrument). When all reeds are at this state, then the endbox is fitted properly and sounding of all 3rds, 5ths chords etc. can be carried out. Anything that sounds wrong to the ear is then addressed by repeating the above. This 'levelling' constitutes the fine tuning. It should be remembered that all tuning is a compromise.
Others may use different methods.

Geoff

#7 Johann

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:06 AM

Great pictures and very good explanation of the tunnig process.
(I do it the same way with most accordions, if the have reeds attached with hooks so i can take the reed out with every tunning. If the are attache with wax i must do the final tunning with filing and scaching inside the box.)

Yes nothing to add all is a compromise, but only the experianced tuner knows where he can and mast make a comprimise.

#8 tallship

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 03:57 PM

Once again we are humbled by the generosity of a master craftsman pitching in to share hard won knowledge. What a lovely bunch concertina people are! :)

Thanks to John for starting the thread, this was going to be my next question!

#9 Bill Crossland

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:02 PM

I can provide further pictures of the travelling tuning bellows, but their size precludes putting them up on the site - contact me direct if you would like to see them.

Geoff's design is far more appropriate for a workshop tuning bellows, using gravity to expand the bellows and sound the reed. The "travelling" tuning bellows work in almost exactly the opposite way: inside the bellows is a spring - rather like a bed spring. When the bellows are pushed closed and released the spring opens them and the reed sounds. They were obviously designed to sit on top of a table or on the knee, rather than be fixed to a workbench.

#10 Dana Johnson

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:02 PM

I would like to make one of these tuning thingies so I can definitively tune each reed once and for all then put it in and be done with it. Can anyone help?

Thanks-

Most of the tuning jigs I have seen involve a shallow box with an accordion bellows attached or part of one, or a concertina bellows. Having a weight control the pressure is a good way to keep it fairly even. ( quite important.) and also at a medium playing level. The jigs generally have three or four tapered slots to fit a range of diffrerent sized reeds., and behind each slot ( with it's window ) is a chamber that approximates the sizes of the chambers used with those reeds. Initially you make an accurate tunning chart for all the notes played as evenly as you can at a middle pressure level, indicating how many cents off of concert pitch they are. Then when you tune the reeds in the jig, you change them by that amount, irriespective of the pitch thay show in the jig. I find that this approach leaves me with very little retunning to do. I always do at least two rounds of tuning this way, but NEVER treat the note played by the reed outside of the fully assembled box as a note to tune to an absolute pitch. Reeds inside the box and outside are almost never the same, pitch sometimes by a lot, and your mouth creates a cavity that is both hugely variable and entirely too subjective regarding pressure to use as a vaccuum source. (blowing through a reed gets it wet, while sucking through one only exposes your lungs to a lot of crap.) Make a jig, Tune twice and likely you'll be fine. One note, I have found that the characteristics of an accordion bellows can be too much like an oversize chamber to allow the reeds to sound. (They need a very confined airspace) so if you use an accordion bellows, you really need secondary chambers for the reed jig.
Dana

#11 John Sylte

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:31 PM

I appreciate all of your wonderfully detailed feedback and suggestions. When I sit down and try to make myself a set of these, I'll probably have more...

Thank you-

#12 mike byrne

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 02:21 AM

Here are a couple of pictures of my set of travelling tuning bellows.
This set has four reed holders and a place on the right hand side where reeds can be filed.

[attachment=2856:attachment] [attachment=2857:attachment]

#13 John Sylte

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 01:35 AM

Okay, well... I still have a few concertinas that need to be tuned, but I haven't found the time to try to make one of these jigs. I have a set of airtight bellows I could use, and I have an old warped Lachenal reedpan I could cannibalize, but I haven't made the leap. Just curious, does anyone have one of these jigs they'd sell me? Or, does anyone have the necessary parts to make one, and the time to do it? I recently got a beautiful metal ended Lachenal and (lucky for me) it's made it harder to find time for fixing because I'm spending most of it playing!

#14 seanc

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 11:01 AM

maybe this would work with a bit of finagling??
It is the hrmonica tester that all the stores have..


http://www.encoremus...1...014&sid=211

#15 stella24

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:36 PM

that harmonica jig reminds me of what i worked out. i use something that is very easy and quick to make. i was lucky to have around a large section of bamboo, as in a large jar. i then sealed the end with a quality piece of plywood as in aircraft type; you could use hardwood. cut a slot in the top (prior to sealing) for the reeds, cut for the mid size, and adjust the size with pieces of dense foam. the slot needs to be relieved so you can seal the reed as you sound it. near the bottom of the tube, drill a hole that will accept the hose from a foot pump used for camping mattresses, available widely from chain outdoor stores. regulating the air flow is easy with the foot. you can sit at you kitchen table and chune and chune. all the previously posted advice is spot on. wes.

#16 tallship

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 12:43 PM

That's interesting Wes, I posted pictures in another thread of a box I made to support a concertina while working on it. It occurred to me at the time to make a bolt on top with a reed slot in it and drill a small hole in the side so that I could use the kind of camping foot pump you describe. I wondered if such a contraption might not work properly as it wouldn't really be anything like a set of bellows.

I'm encourage to try this out now as you are obviously pleased with the results you are getting and it's slightly less involved than making a full blown jig from an old set of bellows with no end frames. Foot pumping seems a bit better than knee operating too.

edited because of the usual typos. :rolleyes:

Edited by tallship, 28 August 2007 - 12:44 PM.


#17 Dave Prebble

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 02:28 PM

If I understand correctly what Wes describes, there would appear to be a fatal flaw in that, in order for a reed to sound, air has to be drawn through it from the tongue side, not blown through from underneath.

Now, ...a vacuum pump.....
I would stick to the bellows and plate - tried and tested :)

Cheers

Dave

Edited by Dave Prebble, 28 August 2007 - 02:30 PM.


#18 tallship

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 02:38 PM

If I understand correctly what Wes describes, there would appear to be a fatal flaw in that, in order for a reed to sound, air has to be drawn through it from the tongue side, not blown through from underneath.

Now, ...a vacuum pump.....
I would stick to the bellows and plate - tried and tested :)

Cheers

Dave


Hello Dave, the type of (bellows) foot pump mentioned also deflates air-beds etc, so it can blow or suck depending which port you attach the hose to. I'm still tempted to try it out because it is the work of minutes to put it together, parts costs are negligible and it will either work or not. If nothing else it's an interesting experiment!




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