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Alex West

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  1. This website has a reasonable listing of music festivals in Scotland (http://www.scotland.org.uk/events-in-scotland/music-festivals-in-scotland/3) - it's a big country though so you may find that you're not travelling close to where the event is! There's the Marymass Festival in Irvine (Ayrshire, close to me) from the 20th - 24th August (http://www.irvinefolkclub.trad.org.uk/marymass-folk-festival/). Usually some good acts and good sessions. Sessions in Scotland aren't always well advertised. Depending on how your plans settle down, ask again and I'll try to find out if there's anything local to where you're going and what night it's on. Concertinas are a lot more spread apart than in England but there are a few of us and we are occasionally at the same events! Alex West
  2. There's a clue in Dave's original post where he talks about the difference between precision and accuracy; for example see this article: (http://www.dspguide.com/ch2/7.htm). Unfortunately, I threw away my university surveying notes a few years ago otherwise I would have dug up the formulae for error correction which simplified calculation of the standard deviation and hence precision. As Dave and others have pointed out, there has to be a tolerance - there is no such thing as "spot-on" on this planet; I've given up being offended by people who want an unachievable idea of perfection (and I'm talking generally here, not just about tuning concertinas), since it's usually pretty clear that when they ask for it, they have no idea of the effort involved in achieveng it, nor can they tell when they're presented with the outcome whether it's met the desired specification (since their own measuring faculties are mostly deficient). As Rory Sutherland has also pointed out (look him up on TED Talks and check some of his other posts), all value is subjective. I can't find his direct quote just at the moment, but he's also said that since most people cannot discriminate at the very high end of any item's specification, hence most people don't want (and can't determine) the very best of anything, they simply want something which is very unlikely to be terrible (since they don't want to be laughed at down at the pub). It could be that one tuner achieves exactly the same precision through taking six "passes" at tuning as another tuner might take through taking 3 "passes", simply because the precision is being improved through averaging of the measurements. This doesn't tell us anything about the accuracy, since there could be calibration differences between the instruments that the two tuners are using (for example - there may be a number of other differences as well - such as in bellows pressure, humidity, room acoustics). You certainly shouldn't assume that one tuner is "better" because she can achieve in one "pass" what it takes someone else multiple "passes" to achieve, nor that the tuner who takes multiple "passes" must necessarily be achieving either greater precision or accuracy. I put "pass" in quotation marks as it could be that we each mean different things by what a single "pass" is. My own tuning practice (based on 13 concertinas and around 700 reeds) is as follows. I try very hard to get a precise reading at moderate bellows pressure of what the actual note is in the instrument in my room. I use either an analogue device or a strobe tuning app on the iPhone. I typically go through this process a number of times and write down the readings to verify that I have something like a consistent impression of the number of cents sharp or flat a particular note is. I then tune the reeds outside of the concertina, using the same tuning device as used to record the readings, recognising that the actual reed frequency is different outside the box to inside and thus trying to sharpen or flatten the reed by the appropriate level of cents. That is one "pass". If I've had to tune by more than +/- 10 cents, I'd call that rough tuning. I then re-assemble the instrument and check all the notes again, not just the ones I've corrected; again, I note down all the readings and at this stage I'd expect to be at least within 5 cents and hopefully within +/- 3 throughout the box. I then leave it for a day or so and check the readings again, but this time I'll only note down the notes which are outside -1/+2 cents. Then I'll go through the tuning process again, but only on those notes which need it. That's a second "pass" and is definitely fine tuning. My aim is to get to within +/- 1 cent by the end of a job and this can take 3 passes and sometimes more. I'm not so constrained by time as others may be and I'm almost never working to the sort of deadlines that a professional repairer like Stephen is, whose customers need the concertina for a gig or recording. It also takes me longer to meet "my" standard since I'm still at the beginner level of tuning and I'm very reluctant to take metal off to make dramatic changes so I proceed very cautiously. In my experience (of many more instruments than those I've tuned), most instruments can have reeds which are out of tune to a considerable extent - up to 20 cents - and no-one notices, either because the other instruments adjust, or there are more serious issues which mask the out-of-tune-ness, or because they are close to a sweeter temperament or because they sound better in different rooms (or with an adjustment in playing style/dynamics), or, or, or. I have come across one player who had stopped playing her instrument (a duet) because the push note sounded different than the draw. I couldn't tell the difference and nor could the other players present but the tuner showed a 1 or 2 cents difference. I showed the reed the file, put the box back together, checked the tuner again which showed I'd made some difference and the "customer" pronounced herself very happy. Some people have very acute ears but most don't. If your customer has those kind of ears, then they have to be prepared to pay for more time to be taken. Alex West
  3. I've flown with a concertina a fair amount (and a tuba - but that's another set of stories) and never had a problem. Flights have mostly been within the UK and Europe but also to the US and the Far East. I'd guess the ratio of being stopped to being questioned is roughly 1 to 10, maybe even less than that. No-one has ever asked me to take it apart and only once have they asked me to play it. Once I was stopped simply to confirm an argument between 2 of the staff as to what it was properly called. In my experience, the airline staff never want to open a bag or pick anything up and fondle it without asking first - just in case it is a device? I've always volunteered to show them the instrument but mostly they take one look, lose interest and start looking for the bottle of hair shampoo which is larger than the regulation 100ml. There was a story of Liam O'Flynn passing through Belfast airport at the height of the troubles with his Uillean pipes. Allegedly he was stopped and asked jokingly whether he had a machine gun in the box and he said, "no, it's far worse than that". History doesn't record how long the search took after that Alex West
  4. Wes The fretwork looks a bit like a Nickolds and certainly like a 20 key Nickolds (badged as J Russell) which I restored recently (although "yours" has finer fretwork) but I've a feeling that Jones used this kind of fretwork too - I can't bring the pictures up at the moment. Alex West
  5. There's Shazam which is quite poppy, or I've also used Folk Tune Finder for - well, folk tunes. I don't know about classical Alex West
  6. Alex See this page for a brief review of the various bookbinding adhesives (http://www.edenworkshops.com/Bookbinding_Adhesives.html). A rabbitskin glue is typically harder than a standard hide glue and therefore shrinks less on drying than a hot hide glue (which is why it was typically used as a "size" for canvas). I've a feeling my bookbinding tutor recommended the starch glues for paper onto leather rather than leather onto leather, but I think it would still work for the reversibility, flexibility and low strength required. One advantage with starch paste is that it's reversible with just water rather than with water and heat I've a feeling (I think I heard it from someone) that there's one of the aliphatic resin glues which also "micro-cracks" like the hide glues - but I can't remember which one - you'll have to search! Alex West
  7. Alex I've not tried the glue you mention but rabbit hide glue works well and there's no reason to suspect that the glue you've seen at Hewit's shouldn't also work. However, if you're just repairing some small patches, the concerns that Bob expresses about PVA (also that it stiffens up in colder weather) aren't so critical. You can use a weaker PVA such as vinyl wallpaper adhesive, or you could also use a bookbinding starch adhesive which would also be one of the traditional glues. Alex West
  8. Spinningwoman - so where are your churches? Depending on where you are I may know nsome people who'd love to take you up on your offer Alex West
  9. I agree with Greg in using shellac. I make up my own solution with shellac flakes and meths using a thinnish consistency for french polish and as the spirit evaporates, the thicker consistency for valve "glue". You don't need a lot for valves and the consistency is controllable. I imagine the small bottles of button shellac would be just as effective and relatively inexpensive. One of the makers I know disagrees quite strongly and prefers a white glue or an aliphatic resin and I wouldn't argue with him either! (but please don't use Evostik or one of the rubbery glues) Alex West
  10. Some of you may have seen this concertina on e-bay ending on the 29th Dec (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/390728825186?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2648). I can confirm that it was me that heard the instrument on the 'phone but didn't get the chance to see it (my fault , not any reluctance of the seller). As the seller has said, I'm fairly certain that it's a C/G and in very close to modern pitch having heard a couple of notes. A shame that there are no indications of maker, but at least it confirms that the instrument exists and isn't likely to be a scam! Alex West
  11. DJ Whereabouts in Scotland are you? I'm in West Kilbride (well, mostly) and I might be able to help with part of your dilemma Alex West
  12. Well that just goes to show the risks in trying to be definitive about Mr Jeffries! I've seen a number of bone botton and metal buttoned sub-38 key Jeffries and I'd not seen any metal buttoned ones with mahogany action boards and only one 26 bone buttoned ones with sycamore boards - I also seem to recall Stephen Chambers discussing the bone buttoned mahogany boarded instruments. Ah well - I suspect you're right Ross that the choice of woods might have been more dictated by availability than musical tone choices, but might it also be a date of manufacture clue (just a guess, no facts to support this)?
  13. Sean Jeffries reedpans are sycamore (I've never seen or heard of any that aren't); the action boards for bone buttoned 30 key Jeffries are often (always?) mahogany whereas the metal buttoned ones are sycamore. As for the Jeffries bellows ends, I don't think they are sycamore. The grain pattern doesn't look right for sycamore; I'd say they were a hard pine or deal - either way a softwood rather than a hardwood. I've seen a Dipper with a multi-ply reedpan - certainly greater stability for humidity and temperature fluctuations than even quarter sawn sycamore Alex West
  14. Ross, There are other threads here that deal with bone, its properties and cleaning carefully without damaging integrity. Unless you clean with over-harsh chemicals, I wouldn't be too worried about bone structure. Old Nickilby, I'm not Scottish (I just live there), but I still try not to overpay. I don't know where the £1.80 per button and the £2.50 postage came from but according to sandylaneman's site, postage is free. at €14.00=£11.65, that's £2.33 per button - which is still 17p cheaper per button than someone else charges, not including postage charge of £2.50 for a small order. If I only need a few buttons maybe you'll sell me some for less (or even give them to me?) or are you trying to hoard them until they're so rare that then you can really clean up? Alex West
  15. Why so shocked? Maybe no bargain but at £11.65 for 5 including postage, that's about 0.76p per button cheaper than someone else charges Alex West
  16. Russell You could also try the Trumpet Hornpipe (Captain Pugwash), Off to California would be appropriate (if a little cheesy), perhaps the Lucknow Polka (for the Star of India connection), The Indian Queen (similar reasons), The Bonny Ship the Diamond would be appropriate (if only it was a whaler). A few more shanties : Haul on the Bowline Poor Old Horse What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor Hey Ho Little Fishes Having played on ships before, nothing can be regarded as "essential" - playing anything at all will be well regarded Good luck! Alex West
  17. Mike It sounds like you've got a big project on here. I'll try to stick to your two questions. You may be into replacing all the bolts for example from Concertina Spares; you can get drills taps and dies from www.modelfixings.co.uk but you're unlikely to match completely the original diameter and pitch of the bolts. You can get new M2.5 bolts and screw type inserts from Peter O'Connor (advertises on ebay as sandylaneman) and this will be a lot easier than trying to recreate the original tapped brass plate design unless you're trying to aim for total originality. The usual set-up for air buttons is to use two springs rather than try to just use one strong one. Is there a reason you wouldn't be able to fit two springs? Concertina Spares might be able to make you something up in a larger wire diameter than their normal phosphor bronze or in steel or with a couple more coils - that should give you more resistance but I'd go for two springs first. Is it worth the restoration? Not if you're looking to make your fortune! Good Luck Alex West
  18. Dave Steve and Chris (and others) have covered pretty well all of the things I was going to mention about the "what" so can I be permitted some thoughts on the "how" the book might look in linking the elements of a repair? One of the key differences between repair and making new is the issue of how much to preserve, and I know that I spend a lot of time thinking about how to tackle a repair to get the sequence of the jobs right and then save as much of the original as possible without compromising the integrity of the finished instrument. As you are a much more experienced repairer, it would be really helpful to see how you approach the decisions at each stage of a job - for example whether to repair the woodwork or replace with new, whether to adjust the action or replace selected levers; whether to repair the gorgeous looking but mostly knackered bellows or replace with new. It might also be helpful to see a couple of worked examples, like the photo essays on Roy Whiteley's or Theo's site but with some discussion of how and why certain choices were made at each stage. Perhaps an indication of difficulty might be given for some of the repairs - which jobs are relatively simple and straightforward even for someone with limited craft skills and which take a lot of time, patience and care in the set-up even for the more experienced tinker. This might lead also lead you into choices of tools. What might be easy with an expensive machine tool for a large or repetitve piece of work (like a router, scroll saw or paring machine) might be difficult with hand tools, but hand tools might be preferred for some jobs. As someone else has mentioned (I think), there could usefully be a small piece on how to make some of the more specialist small tools or jigs. I suspect you won't be short of proof-readers but I'd also be happy to help Best of luck for this venture - it will be much appreciated I'm sure and could prevent a lot of bodged repairs Alex West
  19. Ceemonster I'm not sure if these will help you, but here are charts for 2 "supra 40key" Jeffries anglos. You'll have to struggle with transposing the Ab/Eb and G/D into C/G if that's your preferred set-up but they should give you a clue as to what might be available. As I think the dots on the staves show, the range isn't significantly greater above and below a 30 or 39 key Jeffries (or 40 key Wheatstone), but there are certainly more options in differnt directions. The G/D is a little peculiar in that there are some fairly significant missing notes and discrepancies from any knind of "Standard" - I may get those fixed some time. The AbEb does seem to have more notes than usual down at the low end; this particular instrument is in high pitch and may be in an unequal temperament (which might also explain some of the apparently duplicated notes - for example the two E3s and the 2 F♯on the left hand. They aren't actually the same! On the subject of loudness, my wife's piano teacher asked me - having been mightily impressed with the concertina - what the dynamic range was? My wife explained afterwards that that was code for "so why don't you use it?". A lifetime of bad session habits Alex West 45 Key GD Jeffries.zip 50 key AbEb C Jeffries.zip
  20. Whenever I try to access the forums on my iPhone, I get a "Fatal error" as soon as I get beyond the forums main page and into one of the detailed forum listings. Is this a common problem? Alex West
  21. My concertinas come sailing with me; but they only come out when on autopilot (ie calm conditions) or having arrived at a destination. I'm sure the reeds and bellows suffer in the high humidity and marine environment but since I'm only sailing for - at most - 10% of the year, I don't think their life is shortened significantly so I agree completely with chrism. The most risky times are when transferring to and from dinghys and these days, I try to make sure they're in a watertight bag; I think the "drifting Jeffries" tale ended with a complete rebuild. However, there's not much call for shantys, or whaling songs on a modern yacht! My recorder suffers the most when at sea; the combination of humidity and salt seems to badly affect the windway so I don't take that with me at all. Alex West
  22. "Can I hope to get the existing leather ends off without damage so that I can reuse them? If so, how?" The short answer is yes. Most original bellows will have been glued together either with a starch paste or animal glue and in both cases, careful dampening will reverse the glue and allow you to gently peel back the leather end where it overlaps onto the first bellows card (under the papers and over the top of the gusset leather). Warm water will help as heat releases the glue as well; you don't need to soak them, just damp enough Removing the leather end from the bellows frame might be a bit trickier but the principle is the same. I've just achieved exactly this on a set of bellows I'm rebuilding at the moment. I haven't got to the stage of re-glueing the ends onto the new bellows yet though! Good Luck Alex West
  23. What about Roy Whiteley at Accordion Magic? (www.accordionmagic.com). He's done some lovely repairs to concertinas which you can see on his website and he's in Knutsford Alex West
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