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Dana Johnson

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About Dana Johnson

  • Rank
    Heavyweight Boxer

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  • Interests
    Playing ITM and making concertinas
  • Location
    Kensington Maryland. USA

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  1. Even though 20 button’s only completely cover the 2 major keys and their relative minors (Amin and E min for a c/g), you can still play a lot of tunes in D for instance which is only missing the c#. Some tunes really can’t do without that note, but for many others, you can simply hold the previous note or substitute an ornament or chord for the duration of the c#. In Irish trad music, there are a lot of D tunes that leave out the C# presumably because they were composed on instruments that are like harps without sharping levers or one row melodions. Some great players like Jacqueline McCar
  2. 2 more little things. Lower reeds that are thin (and don’t have enough strength) may respond well, but are more subject to choking and also blowing flat under pressure. Badly centered reeds also blow flat more easily than well centered ones. Reeds need to develop enough spring force to return effectively against the playing pressure. In instruments like large duets, baritone and tenor Englishs need longer reeds in the mid range to compete in loudness with the naturally large, long and loud lower reeds, so the scale for baritone or tenor may be longer for the same pitches than a tre
  3. It is very possible to make two reeds of substantially different lengths that are still the same pitch. At the high end say C6, shortening reeds makes a big difference in pitch, so reeds that, as a practical matter, work as they should, end up very close to the same size. However lowering pitch by adding length creates reeds that in the lower notes C3 etc. get long fast and take up more room. In order to keep lower reeds a workable size in a concertina where space is at a premium, shorter lower reeds are chosen and then weighted near the tip either by grinding the reed to be thick at the ti
  4. It isn’t the number of posts, but the quality of them that counts🙂
  5. If the leather is actually white and not very light blue grey, it is probably alum tanned or tawed. It was commonly used in concertinas in the past and you’ll find many vintage concertinas of good quality that used it. It has the benefit of being quite springy for its thickness without being stiff or heavy. The big problem with it is that over time, it corrodes the brass of the reed shoes next to it. I discovered this on one of my instruments back for tuning after about 10 years and noticed the corrosion only on the reeds next to this kind of valve. Haven’t used it since. Here’s a pic of
  6. “My guess is that the curled up reeds prevent some of the high vacuum pressure from occurring inside the bellows by allowing some excess air flow through non-sounding reeds. This prevents too a vacuum pressure that would tend to choke the reeds that are intended to voice. If those reeds weren't so leaky in the first moments, perhaps the playing reeds would choke and not play at the right time. So we want maximum dynamics in volume, but don't want to choke the reeds.” In my experience, reeds that are set low enough to risk choking under either rapid pressure gradients or high pre
  7. There are a lot of tunes in ITM. That seem to have been built for along the rows playing. I figure perhaps they came from the melodion players. They organize themselves beautifully around the push pull nature of that kind of playing, matching good phrasing and rhythm, as opposed to other tunes that chafe at being forced into that restriction. C/G’s are very versatile given their pitch range which is similar to a fiddle and covers all the notes typically found in the whole ITM repertoire. The common ITM keys are very easily learned on a C/G.
  8. In old leather what people call drying is often degradation caused by decomposition of tanning chemicals left in the leather as well as absorption from atmospheric pollution especially from coal burning and similar high sulphur fuels. The same stuff in the air that tarnishes silver does a job on leather over the years, weakening the fibers to the point of breaking. Some tanning methods produce leathers that last centuries, but the modern age and chemical revolution weren’t much concerned about longevity, book binders were, but for most other people, price was the important feature. Recently
  9. The software company that administered the contact page of my website seems to have gone out of business, so I replaced their form with an image of my business email to avoid bots and spam. I am sorry you’ll have to copy it down by hand since it isn’t text or a link. To those who have wondered, I am still happily making concertinas. I recently had to increase my prices to cover having to cope with CNC software and hardware that was no longer supported on the new operating systems. Gone are the days where you could buy something once and have it work for a lifetime. File migration is
  10. Spring wire like any wire will return to its original shape unless bent past its elastic limit. Beyond that point it will not return all the way. The wire isn’t damaged at this point. Bending beyond a certain amount will start to create tension and compression failures which do weaken the wire. Coils that are too small for the wire diameter will do this and you can see it under the microscope. Annealing lowers the elastic limit, work hardening increases it. Spring wire needs a high elastic limit to be useful. In this context, “right” is dependent on the alloy and its properties af
  11. Generally hardenable steels are heated above their normalizing temperature (alloy dependent, but generally above well above 1200 degrees F) then quenched or quick cooled to lock the steel into a hard crystal structure, then reheated to a lower temperature to draw out some of the hardness to make it useful for something other than a file. Spring steel wire is annealed as thick rolled wire, then drawn out which hardens it. If it needs to be drawn out very thin, it may undergo a number of annealing stages between drawing through dies which makes it hard again. 300 series stainless steel can o
  12. Box players generally do the opposite and manage ok. You should be fine as long as you don’t rotate your torso any more than needed. Doing a few opposite twist stretches after playing should help keep your muscles balanced. Stay aware of your body. Dana
  13. Re plastic valves, advantage, predictability and stability, but compared to valve leathers, plastics are both dense and stiff. 1 mil Mylar might work for very small reeds, but 2 mil is 2x as thick and since stiffness increases very fast with thickness, even though you can buy it in 3, 4, and 5 mill everything gets way too stiff compared to proper leather valves of the right length. You’d need .001, .0012. .0014 etc. to give you workable gradations. I keep thinking there must be a good way to use the stuff, but I haven’t found it yet. Leather has the advantage of working well for years when
  14. 25 years ago I took an old Wheatstone McCann and converted it to a Hayden back when that was pretty much the only way to get one. Don’t regret it at all. Not a small job though. These days it is almost less work to start from scratch. Dana
  15. As you say, the opposite reed valve closing is what is going on. Under ideal circumstances the valve will lay flat in the closed position as soon as that reed is no longer sounded. Quick note reversals will accelerate the closing but in that case, the newly sounding reed will start at nearly the same instant and cover up any slap. It is common for valves at rest to be above the port, and will close once pressure is high enough. This is out of sync with the reed and can be heard both as a slap and an abrupt increase in reed volume when the valve closes. Changes in the weather can cau
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