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Posts posted by 4to5to6

  1. My favorite English concertina from 1856 only has 4 folds and surprisingly, I never run out of air. However, the folds are much wider than normal giving it a lot of extra capacity.  Serial number is sandwiched between one for Regondi 7572 and Blagrove 7574 so I presume it is a best of the best instrument.  Charles Wheatstone was still alive when it was built. It was also cared for and stored extremely well as it is in exceptional condition... even the wooden case is almost mint perfect.  It is untouched original except for the steel reeds tuned to A440.  I have a number of Aeolas, an edeophone, etc. but this is the one I love to play the most and I am sure the deep fold bellows has something to do with it!  Thinking about it, Regondi played 4-part harmonies with 4-folds and I’m sure he didn’t run out of air.  I’m really not sure that the later instruments are better when I see how express and fun to play this 1856 is!  Maybe in some ways technology moved on but the early craftmanship, especially on concert level instruments, was amazing!  I found out later that I purchased it exactly on it's 165th birthday!


    My later (also very rare due to the war) brass shoe, steel reed 1942 Aeolla treble has a factory 8 fold fellows which is fun but a bit extreme in my opinion and takes away from the tone and expression, also in my opinion. :)  It is still an exceptional instrument as well, totally untouched as it was factory tuned to A440 but there is something special about my 4-fold 1856 Bulteel.

  2. Congratulations!  Enjoy!  


    Playing octaves is a great way to get used to your instrument. You could also do 3rds and 4ths etc., then harmonize the major and minor scales with 3 note and 4 note (7ths) arpeggios.  I enjoy practicing scales adding a sharp or a flat each time as if I was going around the circle of fifths/fourths...  C scale, G scale, D scale...


    Practicing aside, always have fun.  Play your favourite music with friends.  Get in a session.  There is no end to getting better and better and the rooms you move into just get larger and larger so always enjoy where you are at.  Separate the practice head space from the art headspace.  In the end, it’s about the art and expression.  That’s music.


    Wow!  Enjoy!

  3. I have a 64 button maccann Wheatstone aeola that I should part with.  I’m an English player and can barely play a scale on it.  I only purchased it as it was a local sale amongst a batch of accordions someone had purchased and on the same ledger page as my TT Aeola.  Interesting enough, I later met another local player with yet another Wheaststone also on the same ledger page!!!  What is the chance of that?  I imagine that it is a rare occasion to have three concertinas from the same ledger page all together at one time.  I’ve always wanted to line all three up for a photographic moment :)  PM me if you are interested and I will dig it out take a few photos for you.

  4. Thanks Dave.  Good info.  I’ll download the 1915 price list.


    Would you agree that even though an instrument goes down to the bass range (1-1/2 octaves below the treble range) and also up to G, the tenor range (1/2 octave lower than a treble’s highest note), because the middle C is on the RH side, it should be called a “Baritone Bass” and also with the extra high notes, possibly an “Extended Baritone Bass”?


    Here’s the price list:




  5. What is the precise definition of a Baritone English concertina?  One octave lower with finger switched from left to right?  Middle C on the RH side?


    48B Treble

    Range similar to a violin, 3-1/2 octaves, G to C.  Middle C is on the LH side.


    56 Tenor Treble

    Same as the treble but a full four octaves C to C, going further down to one octave below middle C.  Middle C is on the LH side.

    48B Baritone:

     I have a Lachenal 48B with the exact same fingering as a treble but transposed one octave lower and understand this is a typical “Baritone”.  It is great for playing low notes as you don’t have to learn any new fingering… just play it like you would a treble.  It’s tricky however if you want to play the regular treble range as you have to mirror image the fingering to go up an octave.  Middle C is changed to the RH side.  


    Then there are the Wheatstone Baritone Trebles:

    Model 14 - 56B, G to G

    Model 15 - 62B, G to C

    Model 16 - 64B, F to C

    The price lists call these Baritone Trebles but I’m not sure what side the middle C is on.


    I was just lent a newer 1955 model 12E with 64B, F to C for the weekend.  The fingering is not switch side to side on this one so it is exactly like playing a Tenor Treble but just continues down to a low F in the bass range.  Middle C is on the LH side.  Would this then be called a Treble Baritone?


    I am also borrowing a 64B 6-sided Wheatstone stretched bass that only plays unidirectional on the push.  It goes further down all the way to a low bass C and all the way up to a high G, the range of a Tenor instrument.  This started the definition discussion again as the middle C is on the RH side just as a Baritone!  So would this instrument then be called a Baritone Bass? …an extended Baritone Bass?  Maybe a Baritone Bass Tenor?  Does the swapping of middle C to the other side define it as a Baritone and trump the other titles?  This instrument is in the missing ledger period so I don’t have a model number.

    This has to have been discussed before but I can’t quickly find a specific discussion on it.  Unfortunately, the price lists give the instrument ranges but not which side middle C is on.


    What is the precise definition of a Baritone concertina?

  6. There’s a 72B good period McCann Aeola for sale near Vancouver, BC Canada


    Vancouver Craigslist:


    1919 Wheatstone Aeola 72 key McCann duet good period concertina. For sale or trade. Very good Aeola model with superior long scale steel reeds in brass shoes. Sounds wonderful. Metal ended. 72 button. Tuned to A440 concert pitch. Airtight 8-fold bellows. Good woodwork and finish. Air button. New straps. Low F to high C (baritone to treble range).

    Please see photos. More photos and detailed info to come.

    Willing to trade for a Baritone Treble English or similar, straight trade or plus / minus cash depending on condition, make and model.

    I am open to any reasonable offer.

  7. Here is an interesting article on the history of bakelite with mention of celluloid plastics:


    Leo Hendrick Baekeland and the Invention of Bakelite



    “Baekeland made the first public announcement of his invention on February 8, 1909.”


    I can’t give out the serial number as it is not my concertina but it is a 1937 extended treble Aeola described in the ledgers as “shell”.  There is no shrinkage characteristic to say a nitrocellulose pickguard on a guitar so I can’t see it being celluloid.  Nitrocellulose plastic emits corrosive gases (and is highly flammable) which can corrode surrounding metals if left in the case unvented and there is no evidence of this happening here.


    I contacted the owner to do a non destructive rub test on it to see if it has the typical bakelite smell when heated slightly by rubbing.  I’ll give an update if I get any additional info.


    It’s a very good representation of natural torteshell and I am sure would fool most.  Photo attached.



    • Thanks 1
  8. .

    Thanks Dana.  Great info.
    I plan on building a batch of A440 reeds in different lengths, widths and thicknesses with different back bevels, straight slots, tapered slots, etc. just to see how they all compare: sound, respond, their dynamics, etc.  I may even build a small test concertina containing all A440 reeds to help compare them all.  Just a thought.  I understand the theory but still can’t fully visualize the sound generation of reeds (ie. chambers on one side only but both draw and push sound the same) but will build some models to help figure it out.  I can sometimes hear larger reeds ringing on when the air flow stops so these vibrations must contribute to the the tone as well as the reed “chopping” up the air flow at a certain frequency.
    I understand one of the biggest challenges is the reed back bevel.  Lower reeds having almost none and higher pitched reeds needing a lot to dump the air quicker decrease power while still having good dynamics and fast response.  The challenge of controlling the balance between response and dynamics... getting balanced response with equal power across the entire range.  This will be a fun challenge and a real learning experience.  Can I get all 56 keys to act as one big happy family fitting them all into an 8 inch octagon?  I am sure there will be a lot of design compromises to juggle back and forth.
    Then there is the chamber sizing, action board holes / pad sizing, hole location over reed, etc.  Then on to getting the lever pivot locations right and balancing spring tension and feel with the action levers.  I have same gram gauges to help with this.  I picked up some different gauges of stainless and spring brass wire to experiment with.  Diameter and number of Spring coil turns will be a challenge.  I like a fairly strong spring tension for control and speed but too much and the concertina feels heavy to play, too light and no button feel or speed.  Dynamics and balance are critical to me.  Balance and feel across the entire range is going to be the challenge.  I’ll try to model each lever on the computer first.  Use the theory then experiment.  what have I missed?  What don’t I know that I don’t know?  Reed vent slot sizes and profiles need to be considered and are not easily observed in existing concertinas as they are covered by the valve and reed. Then the valves, type and thickness of leather and valve pins.  No pops once the reed starts as pressure is increased.  I got some gold plated craft brass for valve pins but may just use piano wire.
    On and on and on... I have some challenges ahead but will try to use my 1919 McCann duet and 1919 tenor treble as a detailed model first drawing them up and then transfer this info over to the photos of Geoff’s 1927 56 button model 14 BT as a starting point to achieve my goal of having a model 14.  I will model everything on the computer first and build experiments then the final instrument.  Reed scaling will definitely be the biggest challenge but I’ll just keep experimenting until I’m happy.  Hopefully I can learn better how reeds work through these experiments first.  There’s also the break in period of reeds to contend with so results won’t be instant.  I find reeds take maybe a hundred hours of playing before they really come alive.  
    My 1856 treble once owned by the Bulteel family is such a fun instrument to play.  Completely enjoyable.  Perfect except for those missing low notes I now need.  I can make it sing sweet or get it to growl.  Perfect balance of feel, dynamics and control.  Not super load but still crisp and responsive.  perfect for at home playing.  How did they do this and it’s not even a newer Aeola?  Research showed that Richard Blagrove may of had some influence on this instrument as he had a connection with Emily Bulteel and bought the next serial number on the same day so 7573 may have been made with especial care and attention.  I play it a lot which probably helps as well.  Check it out: http://www.horniman.info/WNCMARC/C1050/PAGES/C6P0140L.HTM Note the 12 guinea price.
    I haven’t found a decent source for spring steel for the reeds yet or an inexpensive way to sheer it to prevent those tiny micro cracks that will cause reed failure later on?  I did see an inexpensive hand sheer that looks like a big pair of scissors that will do up to half inch mild steel but with a lot of curve in the jaws so I rejected it.  I can’t afford or justify a small fly press but did use them before in an electrical enclosure manufacturing company I worked for so know the advantages.  Any ideas?
    Lots to think about.  Let's to do.  One bite at a time.
    i’m talking a lot about my project but a lot of this applies to understanding the characteristics of what makes a good concertina so hopefully I haven’t completely hijacked this thread. 
    All the little things that make a quality instrument.
  9. On 11/27/2021 at 7:35 AM, Christian Husmann said:

    Just curious:

    in the ledgers you’ll find both Tortoiseshell and Shell, sometimes on the same page.

    just two words for the same material or is there actually a difference? 🤔


    just saw this...  Not sure if this is always the case but at least sometimes “shell” in the ledgers refers to a bakelite plastic made to look like tortoiseshell.  Bakelite was invented in 1907 so it would be interesting to see when the “shell” references began.  “Tortoiseshell” refers to that made from the shell of a turtle of course.  I’ve also wondered if there is are different materials when the ledgers say “ebony” and “black”.  I often suspect that “black” refers to ebonized wood while ebony is the type of wood. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/finishing/ebonizing_wood/

    • Thanks 1
  10. That’s awesome!  Yes.  Play, play play!  Keep those bellows nice and supple and that reed metal work hardened!


    Leather is a bunch of fibres. Connolly is the lube that keeps the stiff fibres soft and from rubbing against each other and breaking down.  That’s how I visualize it.  The first thing I do after getting an old concertina that has not been used for year's is condition the bellows with Connolly Hide Care.  I’ve never had it interfere with later repairs (glue sticking) or card/lesther seperating, etc.  Don’t use a liquid oil.  That would be a disaster.  I can’t believe how 150 year old leather can rejuvenate!  The other best alternative is to build a new bellows but why go to all that  work and expense if you don’t have to.  if too many gussetts and hinges are cracked and the top runs have yo be redone that it may be worth just building a new one.


    Disengrated cards can also be repaired using wood stabilizer or petrifier.  It will turn soft cards rock hard again and even fix cards with minor cracks.  I’ll add the exact brand name I’ve successfully used here later on when I get home.

  11. I just received some white “muslin” fabric from Amazon that I am going to use for replacement cloth baffles:


    Neotrims UK Finest MUSLIN Loose Weave Cheesecloth Fabric, 100% Cotton, 55 GSM. Semi Transparent Weave.
    Natural Ecru and White = 129-130cms wide
    Sold as By the Meter


    I laid it out flat and generously sprayed both sides with a few layers of red paint and It is a perfect match to the material in my metal ended treble Aeola.


    I don’t think the thin material will affect the tone noticeably so I want to add it to the inside of my metal ended tenor treble to keep the bugs and other reed fouling debris out.  There is some traces of old glue on the onside with an embedded cloth pattern so it was there originally.  I also got a metre of it in black as well but it will have to be sprayed to stiffen it up and look the same.  Black or red?


    I have a wonderful 1856 treble once owned by the Bulteel family (Lord Revelstoke) in near perfect all original condition with leather battles.  It is my go to instrument for playing quietly at night even with it’s steel reeds... quiet yet still very expressive with great dynamics.  It is the quality of instrument I am sure Messrs. Blagrove and Regondi woukd of used.  Fast and responsive.  Don’t laugh but I play along with the TV (love the commercials) while watching.


    Another instrument still in the process of restoration is an 1852 treble with it’s original wood battles.  It came to me in very poor condition but is coming along.  It is beautiful with it's amboyna and green leather and has colored buttons engraved with the note names and accidentals on the tips and nickel silver reeds.  No end bushings and so clacky so maybe a tutor model though not sure they were known as this that early on.  Wonderful instrument too with lots of character but it is very muffled and subdued but then again it could also be the reeds.  I much prefer the dynamics of the wooden baffled Bulteel with it’s leather baffle and steel reeds.


    Maker’s label and serial numbers are attached to the baffles as someone previously stated.  The thin wood baffle had the serial number stamped right into it.


    If you do remove your baffles, make sure you add an equivalent thickness spacer to the wooden posts supporing the thumb straps and pinky slides.


    PM me if you would like photos of any of the above.

  12. Thanks Geoff.  Very nice instrument!  I’ll try my best to figure out what makes these “golden age” Wheatstones play and sound so good.


    The first thing I immediately noticed was the air holes in the action plates are a bit different...  There is much more variation in hole sizes compared to my 1919 TT and 1919 McCann and other photos I’ve seen. They must of spent a lot of time better balancing the chamber air pressures and air flows by tweaking the air holes and pad sizes and probably also their locations over the reeds I would guess.  Interesting.  Balancing these pressures resulting in consistent fast reed attacks through out the range of the instrument would definitely increase the ease of musical expression.  I wish I was there to give it a try.


    I can’t wait to draw it up and model it in SolidWorks. I’ll also do my 72B McCann in hopes that the reed scaling is somewhat the same so I can temporarily rob some reeds from it.  I’ll find out.  I still need an affordable CNC router and some other tooling and especially a good source of quarter sawn rock maple in Western Canada to make this happen but these will come.

  13. It’s been a struggle...  I’m really only doing this because I badly need a baritone treble English for some parts I want to record.  I was going to start building concertinas a few years ago but there is so few players in my part of the world that I ended up discouraged.  I do my best to promote the instrument by getting decent good playing affordable instruments into young players hands and trying to chase the sharks away.  I have been analyzing what makes a concertina good and bad for year's now mostly by rescuing instruments and analyzing them.  I recently picked up an 1856 Wheatstone treble originally owned by the Bulteel family (Lord Revelstoke) and it is amazing.  Just as good as any Aeola. Mr. Blagrove also bought one on the same day.  It is a fairly simple instrument even though in the highest price range of the time so the added value must of been because of the reeds.  It completely changed my view on the older instrument and taught me a lot about reed quality.  I am sure most of my other old ones would be put in the bin by most restorers.  I do have an Excellsior with great reeds that I could redo the wood parts on.  It is so warped that I named it Pringle.  I spent maybe 80 hours on it and it does play and sound awesome now but there is no value in it and I could never sell it because of the warpage even though it is currently air tight.  Maybe this one would be a good one to copy as a first try... quick reeds, great dynamics and a clear tone.  Not as responsive or expressive as an Aeola but still a real joy to play with its clarity.  I will eventually make everything including the reeds myself if I can get things together and then experiment with new ideas as well but I would like to start slowly to at least try to get my workshop together again.

  14. I want to design and build a complete 56B baritone treble english by the end of 2022.


    The reed scaling (thickness, width, length of reed tongues), chamber sizes including reed pan taper, the action plate hole sizes and their location over the reeds... details like the slot shape and size underneath the reeds... these are currently mysteries to me.  I think I can work out the action levers, pivot points, spring rates and stiffness and the valve leather thickness / size can be easily tweaked to get right.  I want to keep the feel as uniform as possible.  I would also like the dynamics, responses, tuning, etc. to be as even and predictable as possible across the full compass of the instrument at all volume levels.  I want clarity and quick predictable response for superior musical expression. These are not easily adjustable with out making the reed pans and the reeds over and over.  Are there formulas for these items or was it figured out through mainly time, experience, trial and error, etc.?  I often think about how much the three generations of crafts men and women who collaborated, lived and breathed concertinas their working lives must have known?  Wow!  


    I was going to sell two instruments that I am not using and simply purchase a vintage BT Aeola but local demand is lie, shipping and taxes etc. are high... and most of all BT prices are much too high and the selection of quality instruments much too dmall (the supply and demand thing) so I am seriously thinking it is best just to build one.  It will be the unexpected next step in my concertina life.  I have the technical craftsman background and musician’s ear and know what a great concertina is do why not?  Tell me if you think I am crazy to do this.


    I will start by building regular fretted amboyna wood ends and then ebony dot / comma ends for my raised metal ended ultra fast, short stroke, wall paper peeling loud, Wheatstone model 22 48B treble.  This will give me three configurations to compare against each other and to get the cnc router programming and machining working well.  


    I am then contemplating using the reeds from my 9-1/2” Aeola 72B McCann duet to build the 8” Aeolla 56B baritone treble English as the next step.  I’ll copy everything that is already there as a starting point and to hopefully find out the many things that I don’t know that I don’t know.  It would be nice however if there were studies and design formulas to use to calculate and build the entire instrument including the reeds. Mathematical modeling is a great start.  Trial and error is necessary but time consuming and wastes material.  I’ve seen formulas for calculating pipe organ pipes and read piano and violin string length studies but have seen very little on free reed design.


    How I wish I could go back a 100 years and be a fly on the wall for a few days at the Wheatstone and Lachenal factories.  Today we have high speed video to see things they couldn’t see and computers to do modeling and simulations and cnc routers to make the same piece predictably over and over and over again but nothing beats 150 years of multi generational experience and collaboration!  Wow!  


    Free reed chamber sizing and reed tongue scaling info would be especially valuable.

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  15. It has steel reeds in brass shoes.  Good.  looks all original with no replaced reed tongues and there was possibly some tuning done recently.


    Could you give me the two dimensions (across the two different flats) please?  Or maybe a photo with a ruler across the action plate?


    I have a 48B lachenal baritone that appears to be very similar with 190/199mm across the flats (2 measurements as it a slightly stretched instrument).  That's 7.5 / 7.84 in inches.


    Has it been tuned to A=440 concert pitch?


    Interesting instrument.  My gut feeling is still that it is some type of limited compass baritone.  You say it is an F instrument.  Does this mean that the normal C button position is an F (LH side, 2nd row over from thumb strap, bottom button)?


    The action plates appear to be mahogony.  I wonder how this affects the tone?  Probably a bit more “snap” to the notes as compared to European sycamore or American rock maple.


    Are the action plates flat?  Any serious warping?


  16. I am still searching for a 56 button baritone treble.  Nothing is coming up that I can afford.  I could also really use a bass concertina.


    Does anyone have one of these in any condition for sale at an entry level price?  I can fix it up.  I’m getting really good at restoration work (out of necessity). I’ve done everything except for a complete bellows..  I just bought a cheap skiver so this too will happen soon.  I am going to first make some amboyna ends then hope to make my first complete instrument soon after this.  It’s going to happen.


    How about this… I would be willing to trade restoration work on this or another instrument if you would let me use your baritone treble for a month or so to do some recording.  There must a lonely baritone treble out there somewhere that needs some love and to be played!


    Any ideas?

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