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Alex West

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Everything posted by Alex West

  1. No need to apologise David; my knowledge is only based on the instruments that have passed through my hands and I can't be sure of the history and dates of manufacture even of those. I suspect that what I assume (and referred to above) is a C Jeffries (senior) instrument could also be attributed to C Jeffries (junior) - my only comparison is to a similar looking instrument for which I've also seen a dated receipt but there's nothing I could call a definitive fact based on my direct experience. Now, why did the Jeffries produce instruments (albeit in relatively small quantities) in such a diverse range of keys? - I can only guess. C/G is certainly the predominant key (and there's no need to have an anglo concertina in each key if one is appropriately proficient - sadly that excludes me) Alex West
  2. I've had a couple of Jeffries G/Ds (and a few more Ab/Ebs) and whilst 1 was a Jeffries Brothers, so perhaps 19101920s, 1 was a C Jeffries so more likely to be earlier and well before the Morris revival. They were of similar overall size to C/G instruments but I've never checked the individual chamber sizes. The left hand reeds were certainly well weighted with solder and definitely not "long scale" so they could be a similar length to C/G reeds - but they were stamped as G/D so made that way Alex West
  3. David Excellent questions! For the first, you'd need to ask Paul. There's a lot you can tell from visual inspection - whether there's been significant filing post original manufacture, how tight the tolsrances are etc - but I suspect he'd tried them out in another instrument by swapping reeds in and out. As to the second - time will tell. My own suggestion would be that the majority of the movement has taken place in the first 50 years or so of the instruments life (or the wood's death if you prefer). Further movement which might open up the cracks will occur but should be limited. Now that the instrument is all back together and snugged up, the reed pans should be constrained from further warping. There are other posts which go into the need or desire to keep old concertinas in a constant (and less aggressive than North American) humidity. I have no direct experience of such matters Alex West
  4. The same thing happened to me when I lived on a farm just outside Aberdeen. I was playing outside in the late afternoon sun and the cows dashed up from the end of the field, hanging their heads over the fence to get as close as they could to the music. Best audience I ever had; can't claim it was anything to do with youth or cuteness though Cats have a very different reaction Alex West
  5. Just so nobody gets the wrong impression, this instrument was in poor condition, but it was never represented to me as anything other than a project and Paul Groff was a very honest and helpful prior owner. The quality of the instrument is down to Paul's ability to spot first class Jeffries reeds, the Dippers' work in setting me on the right road and whatever else I did along the way. I visited Paul back in 2008 whilst on a work trip to the US and saw this concertina. Paul was very open about the instrument even before I went to see him - it was a serious project but the reeds were really good. It was impossible to tell at the time as it wasn't playable but I had a good chance to look all over the instrument and Paul was extremely helpful, especially over the payment and shipping as I had neither the ready cash nor the space in my luggage to do everything in my trip. The reed pans were warped, the action faces had large cracks in them and there were a number of levers which needed replacing. Also the bellows, whilst functional weren't the prettiest. The first stage of restoration was down to the Dippers. Rosalie made a lovely set of bellows and Colin sorted out the warping - bringing the concertina back into cold damp England helped a lot! - and he also did a few other things which I hadn't asked him for and he didn't charge me for; he went well beyond his brief to help me along the way with things that, at the time, I would have had difficulty doing. I then repaired the cracks (most of them had closed up in the re-acclimatisation), rebuilt the action, cleaned everything and got it into working condition but never had the heart to retune to concert pitch and equal temperament - it was good enough as it was. I have very little need of a BbF - in modern pitch or otherwise - it hasn't had much use since restoration so I was happy to help Robin with his request. Thanks to Paul, Colin and Rosalie - enjoy the concertina Robin! Alex West
  6. Tried to send you an email off forum Robin - have I got an outdated email address for you? Alex West
  7. I'm pretty sure it was John Kirkpatrick on the record. Other concertina players were around the Albion Band at the time (other Johns were available....) but I think John K was occasionally in the stage show Alex West
  8. If there's a good logic for having three slots including the master reed, what about the tuning bellows which have four slots? Alex West
  9. I've just been sent a Lachenal New Model English 48 key treble for a bit of a tune-up. Nothing too serious, just a bit slow. There's one curious thing though. Although the layout appears to be a standard 48 key treble English, both the push and draw reeds for the upper Bb6 (the "northernmost "button on the accidental row closest to the thumb on the left side) are missing, thus creating an "air" button. The slots are all there, ready for reeds but there are obviously no valves or valve pins (notes that high probably wouldn't have them anyway) Was this standard, or might this be something that a previous owner has done (on the that that upper accidental was hardly ever used)? I'm asking the current owner whether he wants to keep it like this or have me put in replacement reeds but I'm keen to know what the original might have been. Alex West
  10. It's almost chromatic - just missing the Ab/G#. Could that be the thinking? Alex West
  11. Looks like Chris Algar got it. Be interesting to see what he retails it for! Alex West
  12. Ringo Starr? Competent musician? Presumably you remember the contemporaneous dialogue - "Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world" Answer "He isn't even the best drummer in The Beatles" Alex West
  13. I'm in Scotland - depending on where you are, when you need it doing and how major the issue is, I may be able to help. Send me a PM? Alex West
  14. Dana Thanks for getting me to think of other things than vent length. There's a possibility that one of the corner blocks isn't doing its job but I'm away from home at the moment and can't put a permanent fix in for that. Ther's also a possibility that one of the valves is a little heavy so I can fix that. By far the biggest revelation when I took a closer look was that a lot of the reed shoes, whilst apparently snug in their slots weren't propery supported along their lenght and particularly at the root. Once I'd shimmed that out a little better on 3 or 4 of the notes, a lot of the problems disappeared So I think it's been a combination of things rather than a single systemic cause. Proper diagnosis is more than half way towards the correct solution! Alex West
  15. Vent width and lenght might not be critical, but I've been having trouble with a concertina in G/D where the right hand "D" row was feeling very slow to respond. I don't think the reeds were great quality, but I got the set right, re-valved the most desperate ones (and removed valves in some cases) and they sounded OK on my tuning bench but not in the concertina. As an experiment, I tried blocking off some of the vent to shorten the airway (matching the vent in my tuning bench) and increase the pressure a bit and it seems to be successful (crossed fingers and toes!) Not scientific but it might have worked so I'll try a more permanent fix Alex West
  16. Titebond makes a wide range of adhesives for woodworking. They have cyanoacrylates, aliphatic resins, PVAs and some more advanced formulations. They all can have different applications and characteristics - be careful of what you're looking for and what you're asking the glue to do and you might well be happy! Alex West
  17. Roger I've got a Dremel and do use it for some of the repair/cleaning jobs but I've found that I use it less and less these days now that I have a "proper" router table and drill press. It's useful to have a small variable speed tool with a small chuck, but to get the precision I need for drilling holes, cutting slots for corner strengthening and a host of other jobs, I'd need to get attachments for the Dremel which are almost as cheap in full size tools. I'm not saying it's a bad tool or that you won't find it good for what you want to do, but think carefully about what you want to do with it and there might be better pieces of kit out there Alex West
  18. As I think I've said elsewhere Dave, the reeds in the Lachenal New Model duet (circa 1890) which I got just before Christmas are the best quality Lachenal reeds I've ever seen. That may not be a surprise since mostly I've worked on 20 and 30 button anglos but these seem to be to very tight tolerances and are just very nice looking. So on my limited sample, yes, they certainly had differnt quality reeds for the different instrments I haven't had the opportunity to hear how they sound yet as the rest of the box is just a heap of rotting woodwork at the moment but I'll get there! Alex West
  19. OK, I own up - it was me! It's a 62 button Lachenal MacCann "New Model", probably dating from 1890 or thereabouts. The fretwork is completely shot - delaminated, broken up, in fragments so totally unsalvageable - and there are no handrests. The whole thing has a coating of white mould internally so it's obviously been somewhere damp. I suspect that's down to the customer rather than the seller's though. However nearly all of the joints in the woodwork are coming or have come unglued. Is it really so great that hide glue is reversible? All the buttons are there - I may be missing one but that could be a miscount and the action looks to be very good for a Lachenal - I'm used to seeing more recent anglos which are nowhere near as nice as this. As for the reeds - well, there are a few rusty ones, but not many. The right hand side is pretty clear and only 5 or so on the left side are so rusty as to be doubtful. The rest look pretty good - as for the action, much better than any other Lachenal reeds I've ever seen before. I haven't found the silver inlay yet but that just relates to the number plate and the seller's reference is from a note within the case which dates back to 1979 so I wouldn't be surprised if that's gone missing. My big debate at the moment is whether to try and restore it or keep the components for spares. I'll take some time to decide and maybe try to dry it out and rebuild some of the woodwork to see if it will hang together. It'll definitiely need new bellows and a few new reeds which I think are the big cost items which I would struggle to do myself - maybe the fretwork is a step too far as well? I'd be interested in others' thoughts Happy Christmas everyone! Alex West
  20. Paul Groff (you'll find him on the forum somewhere) was in Miami for some time and may still be there. He'd be an excellent person to give you a good estimate of the work required particularly as he's relatively local to you but also because he'd be familiar with all of these types of boxes - easier than sending it all the way up north to the Button Box I would have thought (as long as he's interested in looking at them - but you can always ask) Alex West
  21. I can't claim the same level of expertise as either Jody or Bertam but this is more or less exactly the way I pick up tunes in a session. Unlike Bertram, I will try with Irish tunes, but then I've been steeped (soused?) in that culture for a long time. I have to say that I don't find the majority of Irish (or some Scottish for that matter) tunes as easy to pick up by ear as I do English, Quebecois and some Swedish tunes; the pace they are played at and the structure of a lot of Irish tunes doesn't always fit easily with my brain and fingers. One note of caution is to be sensitive to the type of session and the other musicians. One pub I played at regularly in Scotland was led by an extremely "procedural" musician whose view was that one should not join in at all if you didn't know the tune. Sessions were for playing in his view rather than learning and practising. This is not the typical culture in southern England, nor in the sessions I've been fortunate to attend in Quebec. Alex West
  22. Jim Even in the 1910 pricelist on concertina.com, the "standard" sizes were 30, 32, 36 and 40 keys and it was the same in the 1934 price list which Stephen Chambers referenced in a post in 2004. Model type 61 indicates that it's the very best quality ("...finest finish, .... extra superior steel reeds, improved action...") so whether it's stamped as a Linota or not, it's the equivalent of one. I used to have a 30 key of similar vintage (30948) and it was a terrific concertina Alex West
  23. John I've travelled a lot with my concertina and never had to check it in the hold - but as others have said it may not be possible to have the concertina and a rucksack as well on some of the budget airlines. I assume you're flying KLM? They'll let you carry hand baggage plus a "small accessory". The size they allow is a tad small for a concertina in a case but I've never found it to be a problem and it's not always necessary to even open the case for inspection. Some of the X-ray staff know what "accordion" or even "trekspel" is? That'll be Vic 32 you're going on - we often see it as we sail up the west coast and it's a magnificent sight. It's probably too late for you to learn the Para Handy theme tune (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP9_cbl5cjY) but I've played it for the crew when we've seen the boat rising up the sea lock at the Crinan Canal. In the original Para Handy TV series, Sunny Jim, the young deck hand played the concertina - but that was an English! If you need any assistance with anything while you're in Glasgow, drop me a line Alex West
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