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#1 wntrmute

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 09:39 PM

Is there any way, or even any point, to improve the playability of those $120 20 button concertinas that one can find on the internet? I received one as a gift, and I have found that while I like the idea of the concertina -- this specific concertina is more than a little annoying. I have a Morse on order (which I think will annoy that guy who complains that amatuers have no business owning anything better than a kazoo), but that's four long months away. Are there any basic things that I can do to keep the buttons from sticking? The stiff yet leaky bellows I can live with. The apparently non-standard layout on a couple of the buttons I can live with. The fact that the B/C and G/A buttons on the C row won't close makes playing anything a discordant nightmare.
I suspect I should just call Mr. Morse's people up and see if I can do the Stagi swap thing they appear to offer, but I'd like to be able to get the one I have working enough to play a couple of tunes on it for those who gave it to me. They're family, and so revenge would not be all that appropriate. So if there's a not terribly complex or expensive way to decrapify this thing, I'd be honestly glad to hear it.

#2 Woody

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 02:11 AM

...The fact that the B/C and G/A buttons on the C row won't close makes playing anything a discordant nightmare....

Can you clarify on this - do you mean that when you press the button the note plays clearly but that when you take your finger off the button it keeps playing and doesn't return to a full closed position?

#3 CaryK

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 07:39 AM

I suspect I should just call Mr. Morse's people up and see if I can do the Stagi swap thing they appear to offer, but I'd like to be able to get the one I have working enough to play a couple of tunes on it for those who gave it to me. They're family, and so revenge would not be all that appropriate. So if there's a not terribly complex or expensive way to decrapify this thing, I'd be honestly glad to hear it.


I wasn't aware the Button Box had a swap policy, I assume you mean trading in a Stagi purchased from them for full price, when that price is applied to a Morse concertina. This is the kind of offer Wim Wakker provides if you purchase a Rochelle from him and later upgrade to a Wakker concertina. I found nothing on the Button Box website that indicates they have this policy. Did I miss it.

You might want to get Dave Elliott's book, "The Concertina Repair Manual" it is a relatively inexpensive source of tips and methods that you'll find helpful. Just google Dave Elliot+concertina repair to find sites where it is available. Good luck

#4 Richard Morse

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 07:51 AM

Every few years we used to get some Chinese boxes in to see if they were sale-worthy. Every time we decided they were not. There were two main problems: 1. that they needed so much work to make salable that we'd have to price them unrealistically high, and 2. that they wouldn't *stay* "fixed". Even with very modest playing, within a week something else would go awry with the boxes. And beyond the "ordinary" breakdowns was that the various parts wore out incredibly quickly (like within weeks).

We're very pleased that Wim has triumphed with this Chinese efforts! What a task that must have been.

If you're a handy sort you can spend many hours fooling with your Chinese concertina and fight/play with the results... and then relearn things when you move up... or perhaps just rent a Stagi that's in great shape with all the notes in the "right" place. 4 months of rental is something like $70. Your time and aggravation to deal with a lousy box is worth more than that.

-- Rich --

#5 Richard Morse

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 08:02 AM

I wasn't aware the Button Box had a swap policy, I assume you mean trading in a Stagi purchased from them for full price, when that price is applied to a Morse concertina. I found nothing on the Button Box website that indicates they have this policy.

We do take Stagis in for trade-ups, but only at it's worth value, not full original purchase price. OTOH, we *do* have a full-value upgrade program for Rocelle/Jack/Jackie concertinas bought from us for which their trade-in is at full original purchase price toward one of our Morse concertinas.

There's a link in the box's description that takes you to our main concertina product page which explains it under the makers' section. Not well publicized... we really should be more visible about this. I'll get working that!

-- Rich --

#6 CaryK

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 08:04 AM

If you're a handy sort you can spend many hours fooling with your Chinese concertina and fight/play with the results... and then relearn things when you move up... or perhaps just rent a Stagi that's in great shape with all the notes in the "right" place. 4 months of rental is something like $70. Your time and aggravation to deal with a lousy box is worth more than that.

-- Rich --


I would agree. I did not rent, but purchased a 30b Stagi from the Button Box 2 years ago and it has played in-tune and trouble-free since it arrived. So, renting a playable Stagi from them is a good option. You can always thank your family for getting you started with the cheaper concertina.

#7 wntrmute

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 12:09 PM

...do you mean that when you press the button the note plays clearly but that when you take your finger off the button it keeps playing and doesn't return to a full closed position?

That's it. Not even a kinda-closed position on occasion. Maybe it's a feature, not a bug....deluxe drone action!

I did open the beastie up, and it didn't look like any picture of a concertina's innards that I've seen on the net, so far. I wonder how useful a concertina repair book would be in such a case.

Even with very modest playing, within a week something else would go awry with the boxes. And beyond the "ordinary" breakdowns was that the various parts wore out incredibly quickly (like within weeks).


C'est la vie, as the saying goes.

I have heard seen good reviews on the Rochelle on the site here, comparing well with the Stagi's (sometimes with a 'for the price' caveat). Also, they seem to be sold out at the moment at the ButtonBox, which may not be a bad sign.
All things considered, though, if I can't get the trade-in deal I'd probably prefer owning to renting...more to show for the money when all is said and done. May not be a bad idea to keep a cheap yet functional unit around for the kids.
I'll just keep my eyes open for the moment, keep practicing and remember that this, too, shall pass.

Thanks for the feedback.

#8 Woody

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 01:56 PM

...do you mean that when you press the button the note plays clearly but that when you take your finger off the button it keeps playing and doesn't return to a full closed position?

That's it. Not even a kinda-closed position on occasion. Maybe it's a feature, not a bug....deluxe drone action!


Hee hee hee! I like the drone idea. :D


Basically the problem occurs because the hole that lets air past the reeds is not being covered completely when not in use. The button is connected to an arm which has a pad at the other end that covers the hole. If even a tiny amount of the hole is left uncovered the problem occurs.

Hopefully you should be able to fix it. You can open the box by taking out the screws on the side concerned. I think you'll probably see something like this (though with fewer buttons)...

Keys.JPG


If so, the levers are held in place by a small metal plate either side of the arm where the metal pivot goes through. See these photos for a bit of a close-up....

Key___close.JPG
Lever_Closeup.JPG


These stop the arm from moving sideways, but the metal's pretty soft and easily gets slightly bent meaning that the arm can then move sideways, sometimes resulting in the pad at the end of the arm not fully covering the hole. A fine pair of pliers (needle-nosed?) can be used to gently squeeze the plates closer together and hopefully solve the problem.

Alternatively you might find that the pad is just badly positioned and just doesn't cover the hole. You could try getting around this by using a small piece of clear tape to permanently cover the part of the hole where the small gap occurs. Not the best, but if it gets you through the next few months.

If neither of these is the problem, look at the spring and see if it is damaged or loose. A problem spring may not be applying enough force to keep the hole covered.

Hope this is of some help

- W

#9 Bob Tedrow

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 06:21 PM

Here is an upgrade that has lasted a number of years. I installed this action in a Stagi w-15 in 1999

#10 Frank Edgley

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 06:34 PM

Nice job, Bob. That would make it quite a bit less of a bother. Still all the other deficiencies, but definitely an improvement.

#11 Bob Tedrow

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:25 AM

Nice job, Bob. That would make it quite a bit less of a bother. Still all the other deficiencies, but definitely an improvement.



Thanks..........I hope to never do it again.


Bob

#12 wntrmute

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:29 PM

Oddly enough, there is a waiting list for Rochelles.

Maybe Mr. Wakker got jealous of other manufacturers having waiting lists. ;)

(Yes, I know he's probably got lists already for his high-end line. Also, I learned that Dutch for 'mister' is 'de heer' which, apparently translates back as 'the guy.' Every day is a chance to learn something.)

Edited by wntrmute, 04 September 2007 - 01:35 PM.


#13 Daniel Hersh

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:40 PM

Bob Tedrow might have some on hand.

Oddly enough, there is a waiting list for Rochelles.

Maybe Mr. Wakker got jealous of other manufacturers having waiting lists. ;)

(Yes, I know he's probably got lists already for his high-end line. Also, I learned that Dutch for 'mister' is 'de heer' which, apparently translates back as 'the guy.' Every day is a chance to learn something.)



#14 wntrmute

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:48 PM

Tried him, and he's filling out a list for the Rochelle's. His website does show one of his nice Anglos is available though. So you could get a nice one while waiting for the not-as-nice one.
Which seems odd.

#15 m3838

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:55 PM

(Yes, I know he's probably got lists already for his high-end line. Also, I learned that Dutch for 'mister' is 'de heer' which, apparently translates back as 'the guy.'


No kidding!
Yiddish for Gentiles would be the infamous "Goy", which is an old Russian for the potent male. A potent male in those times was a warrier of an upper class, who often roamed the roads and, upon meeting another, supposedly exclamed: "Art thou Goy?"
It meant, "are you up to fight like a man?" Down through the centuries, we have "Goy" derivatory for common, but not polite, depiction of Penis. Less unacceptable is another word of he same meaning: "Hehr". Seems to me that English Guy, Russian Goy, German Hehr and Dutch Heer are of the same meaning. And Mister is probably Master.
Is it related to the mast (as in ships)? Which takes us back to, mm, sailors, who supposedly didn't play concertinas, but not exclusively.

#16 wntrmute

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 09:24 AM

And here I thought it was from the beer drinking toast "ziggyzaggyziggyzaggyhoihoihoi!" which was shortened to 'gyhoi' and then 'goy.'
Shows what I know, huh.

Edit to add: Rochelles seem to have fallen off the face of the planet. Well, the North American bits of the planet at least.

Edited by wntrmute, 05 September 2007 - 03:31 PM.


#17 lmc

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:49 PM

And here I thought it was from the beer drinking toast "ziggyzaggyziggyzaggyhoihoihoi!" which was shortened to 'gyhoi' and then 'goy.'
Shows what I know, huh.

Edit to add: Rochelles seem to have fallen off the face of the planet. Well, the North American bits of the planet at least.


I know of one Rochelle that was received by the Button Box today. I sent it back because I had actually ordered a Jack to try out but was sent the Rochelle in error. So...they have one!

lmc

#18 wntrmute

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:13 PM

I'm on a waiting list for a Rochelle, still, which I find pretty amusing (albeit in an annoying way). In the meantime I've been trying to identify exactly what brand and model my El-Cheapo actually is. I think it is a Merano AD-222 from what I see on ebay, but on the Hobgoblin site it looks exactly like the Scarlatti 20 button. It also looks like a Hohner D-40 I've seen on a couple of sites (but not the button box site), only with the plastic red 'pearl' finish instead of wooden ends (or wood-looking). The frets and bellows look the same. I'm wondering (in a pretty indifferent way) if what I have was rejected at QA and then sold unbranded, or if it a knock-off of the other design?

It is an increasingly disappointing instrument.
However, I have found that the button that I thought was mis-tuned is actually in keeping with what I guess was an older 20 button layout (G push/D draw on the 1st right-hand G row button). At least it is what the old tutors on concertina.com show (like THIS one). I think the current layouts favor either B/A or B/D for that button, which seems to make more sense. But I was being unfair to the junky thing in that regard at least.
The 'deluxe drone action' seems to be spreading...I reckon that with a few week's more playing I'll be 'droning' all 20 notes in each bellows direction. Which would have the advantage, I suppose, of making the fingering for all tunes and melodies completely uniform.

Edited by wntrmute, 14 September 2007 - 12:15 PM.





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