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Alex West

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Everything posted by Alex West

  1. With regard to playing a concertina close to the sea, here's where my experience differs. My main squeeze is a Jeffries G/D which I got nearly 10 years ago. I live quite close to the Firth of Clyde (within 500 metres) and we occasionally get salt storms which are bad enough to take the tender shoots off plants and turn the leaves of the trees brown. We sail during the summer and I always take a concertina on the boat with me for up to 3 months at a time. It's usually the Jeffries although one year it stayed home while I tried a less valuable instrument - but the joy of playing disappeared so I haven't tried that again. I don't play in the rain or when the waves are crashing over the sides but I do play outdoors. On reviewing the correspondence here, I thought I ought to take a look inside at least to check the reeds - not a sign of rust or tarnishing. Maybe I've been lucky but I don't think it always has to be the case that playing concertinas close to the sea necessarily involves replacing the reeds frequently Alex West
  2. I'd echo Frank's caution - before leaping to conclusions about the cure, have a good look around to see what's causing the problem. If it's the pad failing to close it's unlikely to be something stuck in the reed (so bashing the concertina, however gently isn't the cure - and in any case, there are gentler ways to remove dust from reeds). The logical answer is that there's something preventing it closing - which could be: something physically in the way a misalignent of the lever mechanism (which might be the staple rising) friction in the action mechanism either at the lever pivot, at the button where it passes through the fretwork (unlikely with a Lachenal 20 buttin but possible) a weak or poorly performing spring There may be other issues associated with the above but the cure will depend on the problem. If it's a weak spring, then removing and regluing the pad isn't necessarily going to fix it. If it is the humidity, waiting until spring probably isn't an option! Alex West
  3. Mike The cross row fingering is indeed different. It was made for a specific person playing Southern English music in an idiosyncratic style but he was an anglo player first (although he did gravitate towards Cajun button accordeons before giving up free reed instruments entirely and becoming a proper musician - saxophone and drums!). Since I now play normally configured anglos, it's harder for me to get the most out of the Dipper but I still get it out occasionally for a bit of exercise Alex West
  4. Looks more like sellotape holding the ends together! BTW, I have a relatively early Dipper (No 104) with pierced ends. It's a GD but with the G row an octave higher than a normal GD. It's a very piercing sound but how much of that is due to the pierced ends and how much the pitching is difficult to tell Alex West
  5. As with most things, it depends. If it's the Lachenals you're looking at, the quality range when new varied from cheap mass produced beginner instruments to top end boxes with more bespoke reeds and woodwork. The ones you see on ebay are across this spectrum and it's not always easy to see what the extent of the damage and likely repairs might be. All of the issues you describe are fixable, but whether it's worth it depends on whether you can tackle the work yourself (and don't cost your time) or have to outsource it and how much extra you'd have to pay for an instrument with all of those issues fixed - up to the point of a fully restored instrument from one of the restorer/dealers. It might be worthwhile repairing Whereabouts in Scotland are you? Happy to chat more over a cup of tea if you're nearby Alex West
  6. Does anyone know who the English concertina player is here with Emannuelle Pariselle and Christian Maes? I though it was my old pal Roger Digby until I realised it wasn't an anglo! Alex West
  7. Rich I'm in North Ayrshire and I'm an Anglo player. There are also EC players around and if you send me a PM, I can see if I can introduce you to some. Otherwise, there's the Central Scotland Concertina Group with a number of EC players which meets once a month - not in Ayrshire but in some cases within striking distance - the Arran Concertina Event coming up in early October and a few local sessions where it doesn't really matter what system you play but can help you along the learning road Alex West
  8. This one's been at David Robertson for restoration, then at auction and on ebay before within the last 12 months. Here's the keyboard layout Alex West 72k Aeola anglo.pdf
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Tried to send you an email off forum Robin - have I got an outdated email address for you? Alex West
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. It's almost chromatic - just missing the Ab/G#. Could that be the thinking? Alex West
  19. Looks like Chris Algar got it. Be interesting to see what he retails it for! Alex West
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
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