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John Sylte

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Everything posted by John Sylte

  1. I've played irish fiddle for 15 years, diatonic harmonica for 3 years, and just last October began learning concertina. I run a weekly session at one of our local pubs. I would really like to play music full time, but that just isn't possible where I live. I would have to live on foodstamps I work for a software company 40 hours a week... I consider my tune lists vital to the long term maintenance of my repertoire. I keep a seperate tune list for my irish repertoire and my old time/appalachian repertoire. As nerdy as it sounds, I have them on an Excel spreadsheet which allows me a lot of flexibility. I have tune names in rows and different columns for key (G/C/D/A), mode (Aeloian/Major/Dorian), type (reel/jig/hornpipe), instrument, and source. This allows me to sort them using these categories. A couple times a year I will sit down and go through every tune on my list. If I cannot start, repeat, and finish a tune completely on my own, I demote it, pull it off my tune list, and put it on my TODO list... My TODO list is always overwhelmingly long, but I feel it is important to keep my work-in-progress tunes seperate from my solid tunes. Sometimes I'll learn a tune that I end up just not liking anymore, then I'll delete it entirely. There are tons of other tunes that I have heard hundreds of times that I have never officially committed to memory. I just consider these bonus tunes. If I think of it, I'll write down the name, then add it to my TODO list, and practice starting and finishing. If I can handle it on my own, it then gets promoted to my repertoire list. For a while, many years ago, I was learning a new tune each week. Anymore, I'm lucky if I learn a new tune every month or two. I have a couple hundred tunes on my irish list and almost that many on my old time list. I can only play about 40 or 50 of my irish tunes on the concertina now. I have been heckled by many other traditional musicians for even having a list, let alone in spreadsheet format. But, if I couldn't start any of my tunes or remember which ones I knew, I think I'd be worse off. The trick is to leave it in your case, or at home, and not need it when you are at a session. I encourage everyone to have a working tune list. If I hadn't started keeping one years ago, I would have easily lost over half my tunes by now.
  2. Well, it came today, and it's beautiful. I've never had a metal ended concertina, but I've played a Suttner, a Jeffries, a Carroll, and plenty of wooden ended Lachenals, and this one is incredible. I am still at work... When I get home tonight I will have a peek inside and play. Beyond knowing that I am absolutely thrilled, is there anything in particular you would like to know about this beauty?
  3. I appreciate all of your wonderfully detailed feedback and suggestions. When I sit down and try to make myself a set of these, I'll probably have more... Thank you-
  4. All of the 20 button Lachenals I've seen have parallel reedpans. Only the 26 + button models (that I've seen) have radial reedpans.
  5. I searched the forums with no luck. My apologies if this topic has been covered. I recently tuned the left side of a 30 button Lachenal using tuning software that appears to do a great job of telling me how sharp or flat a sounded note is. I was using my mouth to sound the note with the reed in the pan, and my fingers, when necessary, to make the chamber small enough that my mouth could make a seal. I realize this sounds archaic, but this method has allowed me to tune 3 Lachenals quite accurately. I don't know why this time was different, but when I put the end back on and tested the notes, I don't think there was a single one that was still in tune. The vast majority of them were too sharp. So, obviously a note sounded using my mouth is not the same as a note sounded using the bellows. I have seen pictures of tuning jigs (is that what they're called?) with one slot for a reed and a dedicated set of bellows that hangs below for creating air pressure. Can anyone share with me the easiest way to make one of these? I have three instruments lined up for tuning, and the process of trial and error, sounding the notes, writing down how sharp or how flat, taking the ends off, filing the reeds, putting ends on, sounding the notes again, etc. will take forever. Of course, the process of trial and error is hard on the reeds too if you keep going back and forth. I would like to make one of these tuning thingies so I can definitively tune each reed once and for all then put it in and be done with it. Can anyone help? Thanks-
  6. Just noticed your post here. I bought the Lachenal. I'll let you know how it looks when it has arrived. Will probably be a week or two...
  7. I must say, concertina.net continues to surprise and impress by its educational possibilities. Here for instance we have an unparalleled opportunity for the educated Englishman to learn something of the argot or common speech that is seemingly so widely spoken spoken by our cousins across the Pond. If I understand it correctly your posting is, er, "phat", John, thank you. Not spoken by everyone on this side of the pond. I have no idea what these words are about, except from context. Probably this is because I do not own a television (lots of time saved!), and am not around children much (unless you count college students in that number). Ken Well, I was having a little fun trying to use updated slang, but I don't talk that way myself. If I do, it's usually followed by chuckling. However, there are plenty of young folks on this side of the pond that speak this way regularly, but I doubt that they're concertina players. Bob's bellows making techniques are very clever, very logical and yes, quite awesome! I just wish Jeffries and Wheatstone could comment. I'm sure they would sing praises of some sort, though maybe not in a hip-hop idiom.
  8. Yes I quite agree. I'd go so far as to say that your bellows making skills are, technically speaking, both "sick" and "phat". I think even Wheatstone and Jeffries themselves would concur that Tedrow's bellows are "the shizzle fo' rizzle"... Way to keep it real T-Row!
  9. I live in the US and I've shipped things (I've sold on Ebay) to the UK before via FedEx. Shipping costs are more expensive, but I don't recall there ever having been an issue with the government and taxes... Aren't user to user sales exempt? They are in the states. If not, certain measures could be taken to avoid them, likely without breaking any laws... I'd be happy to take someones new Tedrow or Carroll for a test drive before forwarding it to the UK.
  10. Here`s the link: http://www.spiegel.de/flash/0,5532,14958,00.html Median household income (PPP) USA - $46,000 UK - $39,000 If the above is true, average (hmm) american has extra $7,000 a year to spend on Dipper Concertinas. Basically it means that compared to UK, Dippers are free in the US. That's why America is called "The Land of Free". Yeepity-yapity Yee-hah! I hadn't realized it worked this way... I'll take two!
  11. It's mine and it's definitely a concertina. At least it's more like a concertina than a ham sandwich. It's not a whole lot unlike a regular Stagi really . It's got accordion reeds in banks. It plays very nicely. The action is by far better than the Stagi I had. No rubber sleeves and crooked buttons. This one has metal buttons that are fixed to the levers. It is quick and easy. Actually, the action is superior to any of the Lachenals that I currently prefer. Unfortunately it's volume really can't compete in a noisy pub session. It would be quite well suited to a singer or someone who plays amplified. With regard to the metal ends and it's excess of buttons, I've never seen another like it, except on the Dixie Chicks live performance of "Travelin Soldier"...
  12. Thank you Dave for your detailed reponse, and for making me second guess myself regarding the bushing decision. I checked for those things you listed, and found none of them to be the exact problem, but upon closer inspection of my "sticky" buttons I noticed that despite the fact that I had sanded them, their sides were still not perfectly parallel. The offending buttons had unique wear patterns that were all a little different in profile. As an experiment I tried different buttons in their place, buttons that didn't have any wear patterns, and voila, problem solved. All of my offending buttons were on the left hand side G row, so I'm guessing the previous owner(s) had difficulty with hand position and pressing the buttons directly down, causing these wear patterns on the sides where the buttons rubbed against the wooden ends. This instrument had been played so much, and this was so evident in the buttons themselves, that I was feeling nostalgic about the using the "original" parts. Glad I changed my mind! Thanks-
  13. A truly modal tune, as I understand it, avoids the third. It's neither major nor minor. So play a tune in A and stay away from the C#, or play in D avoiding the F#. These are more common in American Appalachian (old time) tunes than Irish. In fact, I don't think I know any modal tunes in the irish tradition. I think most folks confuse Dorian and Aeolian modes with "modal". But then again, I have learned my music theory through necessity and curiosity and not through any school, so maybe I'm the one that's wrong here. In any case, I play a lot of old time tunes on concertina, and I like to play "in the rows". I find it much more intuitive. I have been working on my cross fingering, but it's a slow cerebral exercise for me. Sometimes I just want to play music. My solution to the A question (and the D question) was to take a 20 button C/G lachenal and tune all the reeds up a full step, so I now have a D/A. I love it. And, bonus, 20 button Lachenals are relatively inexpensive... I know there are many on this board who advise against this. All I can say is that tunes in A and D (and their relative modes) are now as easy for me as tunes in C and G. I've worked on a few Lachenals now. If anyone is interested in a D/A of their own, let me know.
  14. You've all been very helpful with this project of mine. This 26 button Lachenal has become my main player, and it really has a nice sound. All of the reeds speak easily and are in tune now. I have noticed though that there is quite a bit more friction in the button action than on my 20 button C/G Lachenal. I can play the same tunes significantly faster on my 20 button, and it's because the buttons on my 26 don't slide so easily. Triplets are a challenge, and it's not because my fingers are too slow. I got out some sandpaper and sanded the sides of the bone buttons, because many of them had worn some grooves and other unique textures on their sides from years of use, and this seems to have helped only a little. I also gently sanded the insides of the holes. I've got some nice felt, so I could bush them and probably solve my problem, but can anyone tell me of any other techniques that might solve my problem before I dive into bushing a wooden ended Lachenal? I'm reluctant because it would involve making the holes a little bigger to accomodate the bushing felt. Right? I have found instructions on bushing buttons, but none specifically for bushing a wooden ended Lachenal that was never bushed in the first place. Advice much appreciated! Thanks~
  15. I read that note and it put a lump in my throat. Makes me want to find the intended recipient! Or maybe that is the person who sold it...
  16. Hmmm. I've reinforced cracked fretwork with cardboard and glue from behind and that allowed for a certain degree of imperfection with my fretwork cutouts. I was hoping the same would be true with hidden metal. Sounds like it wouldn't work. Any handmade metal ends I make would likely end up looking like an incident between a shark and a cheap hubcap. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a metal ended concertina. Thanks for your feedback.
  17. Metal ended? Pictures? Price? What/where are the extra 7 buttons?
  18. Hi All, I would like additional volume out of my steel reeded Lachenal, and I was thinking about putting metal plates behind the wooden fretwork, without (of course) plugging the fretwork. I've got some stainless steel sheets that I could cut to the same dimensions as the interior of the ends and mimic the fretowrk so that no one was the wiser when the ends were on. Has anyone tried this? Would the wooden ends still absorb the energy or would the sound escape the concertina more efficiently? Just an idea... and maybe a bad one!
  19. The trusty old wooden-ended Lachenals are quite light compared to the others I've held. And adding an extra button to a standard 30 button instrument can be done.
  20. Hey, that pup looks like my Ruben! He's only got a nub to wag himself, but he wags it generously! Nice tune in G too, kinda reminds me of Lost Girl, which also works well on Anglo...
  21. Here in North Idaho I am aware of Mayday only from a maypole dance our 3rd grade teacher coordinated (in 1983!). Nowadays, it's all about Cinco de Mayo... Mas cerveza por favor!
  22. Amazing - he's playing harmonica as well - i.e. at the same time! I would love to see this, but the link takes me to a web page with no video, I click "WebTV" and then what? Can anyone help?
  23. Hello Again Everyone, This 26 button Lachenal has become quite a beauty. I've fitted new bellows on it (from David Leese), I've replaced some pads and valves, replaced a couple springs, fixed some of the cracked fetwork, cleaned and tuned all the reeds... I'm quite excited when I come home from work to see it sitting on my coffee table! Last night I was playing some tunes and noticed that the left index push (G) on the C row was a tad sharp, so being the obsessive perfectionist that I can't seem to not be, I opened her up again to take just a little off the reed belly. What did I get myself into?! I have tuned nearly all of the reeds, some up, some down, and then I've reset the gap so that they aren't too windy or too tight, and I've been successful with all of them. Now for some reason, after taking just a little off this particular reed, it continuously sounds the harmonic note when I blow through the chamber with my mouth, and when I reassemble and try again using the button, it sounds irregularly and stressed, like it's working hard to make any sound at all. Prior to my tuning, it was only sharp and didn't have any trouble apeaking at all, so obviously something I did messed it up. But I compare to it's mate and the shape looks the same, I adjust it's lateral position to make sure it's not touching the shoe on either side, and I get the same thing... And, I only took 3 or 4 scrapes of metal off, the reed looks fine!? I finally gave up and went to bed, feeling quite dissatisfied with my work. Can anyone offer any ideas? Thanks-
  24. I've never experienced the discomfort you're describing so I have no ideas about that. I can say that I'm not a big fan of the Lee Oskars, the reeds don't speak as easy and consistently as I'd like. I like the feel, sound, and reed sensitivity of the Golden Melodys the most. And my second favorite is the Special 20. You can get a Special 20 in Low D too, which is great for melodies. They also work great for opening bottles of beer I'd try a different brand and see if the problem continues...
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