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Big T

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  1. Big T

    Getting a grip

    Hello, I have also been learning (self-taught) using a Wren 2 and I initially experienced the same problem with the hand rest and straps. Then I read in one of Gary Coover’s books that it’s OK to ‘augment’ the hand rests to suit your self. So, I did just that – and experimented with various options to make the concertina more comfortable for me to use and to improve my control of the bellows and the reach to the buttons. I bought some ‘U’ shaped rubber on eBay and cut and fitted it over the existing hand rests. It’s an ‘interference fit’ or to put it another way it’s a tight fit that holds itself on without any fixings or glue. It now measures 28mm from the end plate. There’s a picture of it below (I hope it loads OK, if not send me a message). Two weeks ago I took delivery of a new higher level instrument from Jake at Wolverton Concertinas (It’s a wonderful instrument and I’m absolutely thrilled at owning it!) But before it was made I agreed with Jake that the hand rests should be 28mm high – which is how he made them. It’s a perfect fit. I hope this helps. Good luck with learning to play your concertina. Best Wishes Tony
  2. OK Wrightguy, Thanks for the update. I'm pleased to hear that you are enjoying learning, as I am, despite the shortcomings of the instrument. BTW, as a tribute to the sales patter of the man that sells the Wren 2 Concertina, I am learning the tune 'The Blarney Pilgrim' 😉 Best Wishes, Tony
  3. Hello Wrightguy, I have a Wren 2 concertina from the same supplier as yours, although mine doesn’t have leather bellows (mine appears to be some kind of black plastic coated fabric, with white corner pieces). My concertina sounds exactly as yours does. As you say, it happens mostly on the lower notes when the bellows are changing direction. When I took mine apart (to sort out sticking buttons) I thought I would try to determine the cause of this annoying noise. I saw that there is a piece of plastic covering one side of each reed that serves to prevent the reed from sounding when it isn’t required to i.e. when the bellows is moving in the wrong direction for that reed. I couldn’t fix that particular problem because I worked out that the most likely cause was that as the air pressure drops and changes direction with the change in bellows direction, the plastic covering the reed vibrates until it settles in its closed position. So, I believe that the noise you and I hear is the vibration of the plastic, together with the reed sounding. The good news is that as you improve your speed with the concertina it becomes less noticeable, but is still annoying if you like to play slow airs. If you do decide to send yours back for repair I would be interested in hearing how you got on, and what the cure was. Best Wishes Tony
  4. Hello Olderhugh, I also have a Wren Anglo from McNeela in Ireland, which I bought in the summer of 2018 to serve me as my ‘beginners’ instrument. Sadly, it has also suffered from sticking buttons. Here’s what I found – bear with me because I don’t have the correct concertina parts vocabulary. As has been suggested already, you will need to take the end(s) off the concertina. (Be prepared for a disappointment at the standard of workmanship – mine looks as though it has been built by a first year apprentice on Black-Eye Friday!) I found three issues related to the sticking buttons. Firstly, when you remove the end(s) and have a look inside, you will see that the buttons have a hole at the bottom through which the rocker arm passes. The hole at the bottom of the button is shrouded internally with a small piece of rubber grommet, and on my Wren there has also been applied a very liberal amount of a very sticky substance around the grommet. This substance may be non-setting glue, or it may be lubricant, I don’t know, but let’s call it ‘goo’. With the constant action of the buttons, the goo on my instrument has migrated up the buttons such that when it has reached the internal surface of the wooden end plate it has stuck to it and thereby caused the buttons to stick. Using cotton buds and some ‘Sticky Stuff Remover’ (bought at Aldi years ago), I cleaned all of the buttons and removed the excess goo from around the grommet. I also cleaned the guide holes in the wooden end plate. Secondly, because the only guide that the button has when it moves in and out is the hole in the wooden end plate, the button must be positioned on the rocker arm so that it is 90 degrees to the end plate. The tolerances on the holes in the end plate of my Wren are poor, and as such it’s possible for the buttons to come through the holes at an angle, which causes friction – wood against plastic as there is no felt bush - and this causes the buttons to stick and sometimes to jam. Many of the buttons on my Wren were misaligned. You can move the buttons along the rocker arm at the point of the rubber grommet to get them back into exactly the right position, but even then they might move over time. The third issue relates to the position of the springs. On my Wren, there was a noticeable difference in the spring tension between various buttons with the weaker return tensions contributing to the sticking buttons. The top arm of the spring wraps around the rocker arm and is therefore captive, and the bottom one rests freely on the base plate. Some of the bottom free moving arms of the springs were set at a poor angle for them to be able to afford the best return tension, i.e. they were far off to one side. So I set them as best I could to be as near in-line with the rocker arm as I could get them, thus improving the return tension. The buttons on my Wren rarely stick now, but it has been a deeply frustrating journey. I could have sent it back to Ireland as it’s under warranty, but that might have added to the frustration. (One of the reeds on mine sometimes doesn’t sound, but as of this moment I haven’t worked why that is). It’s a beginner’s instrument of course, and priced as such, but still not cheap. Nevertheless, it should still work properly and as beginners, we are more likely to give up if we find our instrument is faulty and of poor quality. Caveat Emptor. Best Wishes Tony
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