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About alex_holden

  • Birthday 02/06/1980

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    Wood carving, metalwork, Morris Minors, folk music.
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    Lancashire, England

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  1. Yes, areas that have wide/rapid seasonal humidity changes are particularly hard on things made from solid wood.
  2. It depends on the kiln drying process; they generally use steam to control the rate of drying, final moisture content, and avoid case hardening and cracking. It is my understanding that North American timber suppliers typically dry their wood to a lower moisture content than European ones, though this may vary depending on the climate of the local area the wood is being sold to. I have a "swamp cooler" (evaporative air conditioner) in the workshop to prevent it turning into a kiln on hot summer days. It's not very effective at cooling but it does keep the humidity up.
  3. There's also the modern 'hybrid' concertinas (starting with the Wheatstone "May Fair" I believe) that incorporate German-style mass produced accordion reeds into English-style concertinas, most often with an Anglo keyboard layout. Some of these hybrids are now being manufactured in China. Also the "Franglo" concertina invented by Emmanuel Pariselle and Colin Dipper, which has a melodeon-inspired keyboard layout in something that looks like and has similar construction methods to an English concertina.
  4. I don't think Brunner exists any more. The Stagi brand is now owned by this company, Concertine Italia, also based in Recanti: https://www.fabbricaconcertine.com/eng/index.html
  5. I think A P James has a good reputation, and if you find one that's only a few years old it's likely still going to be in decent condition.
  6. It's not entirely a new idea, but the ABC standard formalises things like how you denote the octave and length of each note, and the header lines that specify metadata like the title, composer, key, time signature, tempo, etc. By standardising all that stuff, correctly formatted ABC can be interpreted by a computer program that draws a pretty score or plays it back, which wouldn't be possible if everyone used their own slightly different version.
  7. I don't think that's accurate. It's written in the Javascript language and can run inside a web browser window, but the code doesn't have to live on a remote web server. The docs also describe some ways to run it from a command line (like abcm2ps) using a Javascript interpreter like Node.js. https://chiselapp.com/user/moinejf/repository/abc2svg/doc/trunk/README.md
  8. Today (6th May 2022) it's Bandcamp Friday, a promotion where Bandcamp gives 100% of proceeds to artists who sell music through their platform. I'm not totally sure but I think this might be the last time they do it. I've just pre-ordered Cormac Begley's new album 'B' of bass concertina music: https://cormacbegley.bandcamp.com/album/b Who are some other concertina players on Bandcamp?
  9. A regular octagon is slightly smaller than a regular hexagon with the same width across the flats. I have made a 38 button Jeffries-layout G/D with long scale reeds and parallel chamber reed pans in a 6 1/4" wide hexagon. It plays faster and with more pitch stability than a typical vintage G/D because they usually have shorter, heavily weighted bass reeds and shorter chambers. I suspect I could have got it down to F/C with some slight compromises at the low end. There was no space for an extra button on the left hand on that one, but it might just have been possible to squeeze in two more on the right. If a future customer asked for a 40 button F/C, I would probably suggest going a bit bigger, maybe 6 1/2" wide. https://www.holdenconcertinas.com/?p=1664
  10. Yes, I think that is true. Higher quality reeds can be more prone to issues too because the gap between the tongue and the frame is really small, so it doesn't take much pressure to distort the frame enough to cause it to interfere with the tongue. Also solid wood reed pans are more humidity sensitive than the plywood construction you often find in cheaper instruments.
  11. It will probably already be reasonably straight once you've unrolled it. Beware it is likely to instantly and violently unroll itself if you simply cut the band that holds it together (and to make matters worse it may have razor sharp burrs on the edges). Once you've cut a piece off the roll and sheared it lengthwise into roughly reed-tongue-sized blanks, you can clamp one end of each blank in a vice and use pliers to grip the other end while manipulating it to take out any twist and bend it straight.
  12. Can you get them to give/sell you a small sample that you can try first? A few years ago I bought a 10Kg roll of spring steel from a new supplier, cut 50mm off the end, and made a couple of test reeds from it. It was no good: much too soft. The supplier refused to take it back for a refund because I'd cut some off it. Expensive mistake.
  13. I don't have a good way of measuring it. Certainly less than 1 thou. I used to use a low power optical binocular microscope, but I've lately switched to a 1080p video microscope connected to a 22" monitor. I place the reed assembly on top of a lit stage to illuminate the gap.
  14. Hi Paul, if they are ABS presumably they were made on an FDM printer? My (limited) understanding of 3D printing is that the SLA process produces more accurate parts and finer details but is slower and more expensive. A slide caliper tends not to be a very reliable way to take accurate internal measurements, but if your numbers are good it sounds like you got a width variation of about +/- 0.1mm or +/- 4 thousandths of an inch. That is probably good enough if you are individually hand fitting the reed tongues to the slots (i.e. making the tongues oversized and then filing each one narrower until it is a tight fit in a specific slot, or conversely filing the slot wider). It wouldn't be good enough if you were buying mass-produced tongues that are an accurate width and hoping to calibrate the print to make the tongues fit without individually adjusting them. The way I make mine is to cut the slots on a CNC mill, then use hand files to make the corners sharp, add the back bevel, and try to get the edges as straight and smooth as I can. The result is probably more accurate than your 3D prints but not perfectly consistent. I then shear the tongues oversize, and file them down to a tight fit in each slot. There is enough variation from slot to slot that if I fit two tongues of the same pitch and then swap them around, they will usually be a poor fit in the other frame. Then I profile the tongues. Annoyingly this sometimes causes tongues (particularly long bass ones) to go slightly banana-shaped due to some weird stress relief effect and they no longer fit as well as they did before profiling. Then I do a 'second fit' where I carefully refine the width of the tongues to get a consistent very small gap around each tongue. There always has to be a gap between the two or it will buzz and stick, but you want it to be as small as you can practically make it for reasons of efficiency, response, and tone. Other makers may do things differently. I imagine a CNC wire EDM machine would be a big time-saver, but they are very expensive.
  15. Interesting photo. I would guess they are using an SLA resin printer for the reed blocks? How many reeds does a bandoneon have? Harmonikas.cz is able to make reeds with a relatively low labour cost because they have invested heavily in tools like sets of punch dies, CNC wire EDM machines, profiling grinders, etc. that automate a lot of the process. Concertina makers like myself and Jake who make traditional reeds largely by hand instead invest many hours into every instrument doing painstaking work with a hand file and a microscope. If it took you say an hour to handmake and fit each reed tongue, multiply that by your hourly pay and overheads, do you still have an affordable instrument?
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