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Everything posted by sleepymonk

  1. You’re right. I was temporarily using foam pads to help form a good hand position (curved, not flat). Now I don’t need the foam, so I can use the air button and reach all the rows. I saw a fantastic video on youTube of a guitar, bandoneon, and orchestra. The bandoneon player used a concert piano stool as a footstool to play standing up, with his left knee raised way up.
  2. Update: the foam grip helpers came off yesterday. As I progressed this week, I found that the left hand foam was interfering. As for the right hand, my fingers are now nicely curved, and I can both reach the far row and the air button without the foam. I did try an intermediary step of carving the foam away from the pinky sides to see if that helped with support. I’ve got the left strap fastened on a fretwork anchor point and the right strap is back screwed into the hand rest. I’ve tightened the straps so they feel secure but with some wiggle room for the index & second fingers. The scrapbook tape came away nicely, without residue. In the violin world, there are bow hold “jigs” for beginners. I would call the foam grips a useful temporary mod for beginners, like training wheels on a bike. Next step is to sand the left grip corner so it’s not as sharp where the strap used to anchor. It’s a bit irritating to my thumb (yes, I’ll remove the end before sanding, mask the fretwork, and do it in my woodworking shop away from the instrument). Thanks for all the suggestions in this thread!
  3. That accordion link says the server is down. I noticed a listing for Wilson Music who service accordions - I bought a blues harmonica there a few years back, so that’s who I would start with for repairs. Thanks for clarifying this for me!
  4. Thank you for looking that up for me. It’s good to know. I looked at Edgley instruments online when I was first considering buying one, but didn’t think I wanted a more expensive instrument as a beginner. I didn’t think I’d become proficient enough to warrant the purchase.
  5. I remember why I briefly looked inside the concertina before and closed it back up. Here are two photos of the left hand reed pan (iphone photos so distorted). I'm not sure what I'm looking at, whether it's push or pull valves. Assuming I'm looking at valve 10 E (pull) on the far right (second photo), it is open, and would explain the gurgles. I also have some minor clicking on valve 4 F (pull) but nothing looks out of place there. I can't see the opposite reeds at all as they are enclosed in these wooden blocks. The valves themselves appear to be some kind of thin plastic. I don't know what I could do to close the gap, but I can live with it. I don't think it's bad enough to ship it back to MacNeela for a fix. I've no idea who repairs concertinas near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, so I hope I don't need any other repairs on this instrument. Some food for thought as I ponder which concertina might be next for me.
  6. I just tried it (seated, feet flat, one end on each thigh), and it helps with stability. Of course, the legs don’t control the bellows, but the ends can freely move as needed since I’m not pressing downward. I had been playing with my left leg propped up, and sometimes crossed over the right on a lab stool, so I guess the softer tone is now due to the instrument being further away on my lap. I wear jeans.
  7. I’m getting better at more efficient use of air. The biggest handicap is needing hand rest padding for my right, and moving the strap anchoring point so it’s over my knuckles. I’ll have to keep playing with that as general fingering skills improve. I realize the air button is going to be needed. I like the idea of moving it elsewhere, though. I wonder if anyone has tried resting an end on each leg, and using leg muscles to control the bellows?! The ultimate in stability ..
  8. I phrase as if I’m playing with a bow. A bit frustrated when I can’t add more pressure when approaching fully open or fully closed bellows. In watching online, players don’t seem to have the bellows open very far (generally), that is, they seem to work within a smaller range of the bellows.
  9. I am just a beginner, so trying out different technical things on my Wren. I am slightly ambidextrous. I find that I am most comfortable resting the instrument on my left thigh. Changing to the opposite thigh seems unstable. This may have something to do with being a violinist and using the bow right-handed. The further the bellows open, the less stable it feels, perhaps because I worry about running out of air (my air button is out of reach due to right hand placement). It all feels really unstable if I play standing up!
  10. I have a Wren, a beginner’s instrument. Bought a year or so ago, but I’ve only been practicing and making more progress recently. I’ve opened one side enough to check a problem with a valve or tongue (clicking, gurgling), but didn’t remove the pan. I’ve been reading the repair forum here, and have the concertina maintenance book, so will probably open it up again to look and maybe tinker with it. I have some minor valve and button issues that are more evident as I learn to navigate around some more difficult tunes. One vanished button popped back out when I merely loosened two long screws (and tightened them back up). That’s too difficult a maneuver while in the middle of a tune ... I’m probably going to want to upgrade to a better instrument, but not sure what at the moment.
  11. I don’t think the conversation got side-tracked at all. I learned a few new things.
  12. Therein lies one of the many challenges of bowing: maintaining an equal pressure and tone from one end of the bow to the other, regardless of bow direction. Depends on the music being performed. I’m trying to draw on my experience as a violinist (where possible) in phrasing and articulation on the concertina, without pushing my luck.
  13. I was reading the link that Howard Mitchell provided in his response, and read a bit of the reference to Wheatstone’s Letters Patent in the 1840s. Wheatstone’s fourth improvement was a tongue that would produce the same note on a push or pull, using a self-acting valve. Is this what you had in mind?
  14. That's why I'm glad this forum is here, for answers to some questions that books won't give. I've watched some sample tutorials online, and I'm a big believer in one-on-one teaching, but at the moment, the books will have to suffice in giving me the basics. I am a quick learner depending on the instrument (I can't play a flute or a tin whistle). At the moment, the Irish trad style escapes me, so I'll have a look at some point. Thank you for the Skype offer (I haven't had much success with Skype due to internet connectivity issues).
  15. It's really not the best setup for a violin, I agree. Perhaps fiddler Ashley MacIsaac can have the last word on left-handed violins (and a lefty concertina) "Well, if you change the strings on your fiddle, you'll never be able to play anyone else's fiddle. So if he's gonna learn that way, learn that way".
  16. Fascinating responses! Thanks. Keep 'em coming. This forum is great. I appreciate all the links too. Regarding the different muscles involved: As for the violin downbow being the preference, the wooden bow itself is stronger at the frog vs the tip, so one can definitely exert more pressure there. Also one has the weight of the arm and gravity to help with muscle strength at the frog, whereas at the tip of the bow, pressure normally needs to be applied using one's muscles for a downward force, and it's usually not equivalent to the downbow. This is a very simplified explanation, as there are more aspects that the violinist can control (or be at the mercy of, I suppose!). For non-bowed-string players, the frog is the mechanical part of the bow that holds one end of the horsehair as well as the hair tensioning mechanism. My ribcage and back are definitely sore after a week of intensive (for me) practice. I rest the concertina on my left leg, so I guess my right side gets more of a workout. Plus I just got two of Gary's books in the post today and I wanted to work through some tunes. The fingering system is great and I am sight-reading with great ease as a result. I would love to try a "wrong" direction concertina just to satisfy my curiosity. Can't afford a custom build to find out :< Looking forward to the revolution!
  17. As a violinist learning to play the anglo concertina, I am constantly questioning bellows direction. We are trained on the violin to use a downward (pulling) bow motion on the first note of a bar (very generally speaking, as there are lots of exceptions). An upward (pushing) bow motion is used on the upbeat of a bar, again very generally speaking. With the concertina, the opposite appears to be the case (generally speaking), where the push is the first note of a bar, etc. How is it that the instrument was designed this way? Is it inherited from other reed systems? Has anyone tried an alternate, like reversing the reeds on each note? (violins can be reversed for left-handed players). Curious.
  18. I think I better slow down the modifications but thanks for the suggestion ...
  19. Thanks for the video excerpt. I use wrist movement to control this effect. On the violin, vibrato is pitch modulation, which can be done with the finger, wrist, or forearm. Also on the violin, tremelo is bow movement (control of volume and timbre).
  20. Update: another unforeseen benefit (of moving the wrist strap to another anchor point) is that I’m forced to become more adept in bellows management, since I now can’t reach the air valve with my thumb! (index finger can reach it)
  21. Thanks for the link, Ken. It looks like you used the hard foam, which is probably easier to cut & carve. I opted for the soft foam. I’ve also moved the thumb side of the strap to the nearest long screw on both sides, and my straps are long enough that I can let them out for the extra distance. Hole #3 on the right and hole #4 on the left. I’ve noticed that I’m holding my wrists straighter now too - thanks for pointing out that important benefit!
  22. Thanks, Wunks, for this tip. I’ve just tried it, and it’s a fantastic idea. Now I have the nice cushiony handrests (I need the extra height) and my fingers can more easily curve over the inner rows. Instant improvement.
  23. Gary suggested what an optimal hand rest height might be, such as 1”. Since the hand rest is glued on, a shim is not an easy mod for me. The height of my Wren 2’s hand rest was approx 3/4”. I have a small hand. The added foam has increased the height to about 1.25”, which might be excessive for some, but seems to be more comfortable for me, and I’m able to play on my fingertips with better reach. I like the idea of added strap tension using the thumbs. If this mod starts to limit me, I can always remove it. I hope that more repertoire will be accessible to me as a result. That’s the goal, without creating bad playing habits. Cheers!
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