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Alex West

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Everything posted by Alex West

  1. Gary The first, and I hope still the best, advice here is that with your history it's worth more to you than it will be to a later buyer so try to learn to play it yourself first. More or less whatever style of music you like can be played on your great grandfather's concertina and there are examples to convince you of that either lurking in previous posts here or on youtube somewhere. As to value, to my opinion, unrestored high end instruments seem to sell for a higher price than restored instruments (if you take into account the unrestored instrument cost, logistics costs, proper restoration and tuning costs and sensible dealers' margins). Sale prices for instruments in the US seem to be lower than in the UK and Eire; I'm not too sure about mainland Europe. Although Australia and South Africa are also places where anglos are to be found, not many come up for sale in the usual channels so it's difficult to see trends. With any auction (ebay or auction house), it depends very much who's there and the timing as to whether you get the top price or something less. Even though interntet search engines allow anyone to find an appropriate live or ebay auction for these instruments, the sale results don't give a completely consistent picture. Which is a long way round for saying that if you want to know what yours might fetch, then take a look at some recent auctions through ebay or saleroom and go figure it out - that's what I would have to do! If you want to know what it will fetch, then put it up for sale. But I do hope you'll try to learn to play it yourself or pass it on to another family member who'lll cherish it for both its intrinsic and family value Alex West
  2. Given that a Lachenal 20 key anglo went for £360 a week ago, it's got to be worth something! Alex West
  3. Daniel I've just finished restoring a very similar one, labelled and stamped as a J Russell of 158 Goswell Road, Clerkenwell but with all the characteristics (action, reed clamps) of a Nickolds Alex West
  4. And here's the second file; I should perhaps have said that the red ovals indicate the reed locations where there is scalloping on the corresponding action face. I concur that the scalloping varies in quality (to be pedantic the better ones look like a sharp gouge was used whereas a knife (or a labrador's tooth) was used on the more ragged ones). In response to Adrian, the thumb button isn't universally the most nasal sounding of the reeds on the concertinas I could lay my hands on quickly; in some cases, it's the "inner" reed - the one(s) located on the lowest (4th) row. The C/G does seem to suffer particularly from the nasal quality but the lower pitched boxes I could get to are slightly larger anyway so the reed chamber volume may be that bit bigger anyway. There does seem to be a subtle difference between the draw and the press, but there is so much variability in timbre on the Jeffries that I doubt this is the significant variable. I have noticed in the past that Wheatstone anglos have much less of the timbre variability and "nasality" and that's certainly true of the quick test I just did; the Wheatstone C/G with a radial reed pattern is much more consistent in tone across all the reeds. In some ways, the tone variability is what gives the Jeffries its character and appeal - but perhaps not so much that it's difficult to bear playing it! Alex West
  5. Here's the first file containing pictures of the corresponding reed pans
  6. Laurence, Adrian I'll take a look at both of your queries and post later. It may take a little time so bear with me! I don't know whether it's significant that all of the scallops I've seen are to instruments with sycamore action faces. From a quick check on a very limited sample, the mahogany pans are just over 1mm thinner than the sycamore pans and from personal experience, the mahogany is considerably softer than sycamore so I'm sure that will affect the tones. I seem to recall being told or reading here that the mahogany built Jeffries always came with bone buttons and the sycamore built ones always had metal buttons. That's confirmed by teh ones I've seen but I don't know whether this a universal truth and whether this was an option or just a historical accident. Equally, I haven't done any research on the acoustic differences Alex West
  7. I'm attaching here a file containing some photographs I've taken of various instruments which have the scalloping to the pad holes. I haven't got the recording equipment to enable me to carry out detailed trials but to the ear, I haven't been able to discern any noticeable volume difference from reeds which have the scalloping to those which don't and it's not always consistent as to which of the reeds sound nasal; in the case of the two 39 key C/G instruments, one sounds nasal and the other doesn't but I haven't thoroughly measured to find the differences. As you'll see from the photographs and the notes, there doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern as to which locations have the scalloping although it may be generally true that one is more likely to find the scallops on the larger Jeffries rather than smaller (30 keys or less) Jeffries and instruments from other makers Alex West
  8. For what it's worth, here's the note layout for my G D concertina where the G row is higher than the D row. This concertina was made by Colin in the late 1970s I believe Alex West
  9. A good friend of mine plays Scottish small pipes (and highland pipes and border pipes) and has given me this answer: "The "A" chanter, is probably the most common chanter for the Scottish Small Pipes and can play tunes that fit on the following scale (low to high): G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A. So the A chanter is "A mixolydian". You could think of them as playing in the key of D, but only the notes in this particular 9-note range. Just to confuse matters, pipe music is often written without any key signature, because the key signature is always the same. Occasionally you'll come across pipe tunes with accidentals, e.g. Cnatural. These accidentals require cross-fingering technique that typically doesn't work on the small pipes, but will work on border or highland pipes. "Most of the well known Scottish pipe tunes will work fine on the small pipes, i.e. any tune (such as the Rowan Tree) that fits in the above scale. Unlike the Highland pipes, a set of small pipes 'in A' will indeed play in the above scale (A mixolydian). Other popular alternatives would be a "D" chanter or a "Bflat" chanter. You can swap chanters in the same set of pipes, but your drones may or may not be tuneable to a range of chanters... "Highland pipes are a different beast : the music is written in A mixolydian (the scale above), without key signatures, but the instrument usually plays in Bflat, i.e. sheet music A = highland pipe Bflat. To complicate things even further, many sets of Highland pipes are tuned slightly higher than Bflat, to give a brighter sound." I hope this helps, Jody Alex West
  10. Marien In Theo Gibb's "Workshop stories" on his website (http://www.theboxplace.co.uk/workshop-stories/), you'll find a small photo-essay on repairing cracks in a Lachenal action pan and perhaps this is what you're going to need. If the cracks have been caused by the wood drying out over the lifetime of the concertina and the instrument is now in a stable humidity, they aren't going to close up again so there'll always be a weakness there unless it's repaired. ( I've seen cracks close significantly if the instrument has come from the US to the more humid UK but I've still completed the process by glueing in a repair strip). There are resin treatments which you can apply to old fragile wood - typically rotten window frames! - but I've no experience of using them for musical instrument repairs and I don't think I'd like to try. Maybe your "weak spots" aren't reducing the structural strength of the pan by much, but I'd suggest that filling them with sawdust & glue is just plastering over the cracks and isn't going to give a neat solution. Even if it does make it air-tight, it's only going to be a surface coat so won't give support through the thickness of the pan woodwork (circa 3mm?). I've used a paste of sawdust and glue myself in certain circumstances, for example to fill small gaps, surface defects, hollows and joins in non-critical locations and it can give a smooth finish, but I wouldn't expect it to substitute for a proper structural repair. For this type of woodwork repair, I mostly use ordinary (yellow) Titebond, an aliphatic resin glue, but I sometimes use Veritas "Chair Doctor" - again an aliphatic glue but less viscous for getting into narrower cracks. Alex West
  11. Well, I think I'm at the end of this stage of the repair; here's the finished result: It wasn't as straightforward as it might have been. The top hat went in very easily (I used dovetails on the lower part of the top hat) and I filled the largest of the other cracks quite simply but as I filled the smallest of the cracks with a slim piece of veneer and clamped it up, the clamp slipped and a considerable part of the action pan split. My repairs were fine, the glue being stronger than the wood, but the original action pan is very soft and fragile. After crying and swearing (a lot) I was nearly contemplating replacing the whole of the action plate with a new piece of mahogany but taking it slowly, glueing a piece at a time and taking a bit more care over clamp selection and placement paid dividends All back together now and waiting for the rest of the repairs to catch up (bellows, bushing board and normal refurbishing stuff). Alex West
  12. Thanks for your thoughts chaps; I like the idea of dovetails and I might give it a try. 2 problems with the scrollsaw approach for this particular job To be able to use a scroll saw, I'd have to remove one of the side pieces to the action box and I'm relying on that to give the base board some stability I don't have a scroll saw I'll let you know how it goes Alex West
  13. I'm about to start on some serious woodwork repair and thought I'd run my thoughts past the forum. This concertina came in a pretty shabby looking state but after disassembly the reeds seem good, the levers are OK, the bellows might be rescued so I think the instrument is worth trying to save rrather than use as a donor; the only trouble is the woodwork, of which this repair described is the most serious issue and one I haven't tackled before. I'm proposing to repair the action board by carefully routing around the existing massive cracks to get back to solid wood and fit in a new section of 3mm thick mahogany to restore stability and air-tightness to the action pan. The new section will have a step in it so that there'll be a mechanical joint but (if I get it right) there'll be no gap on either top or bottom of the board. The attached photos show The underside of the action board where the central piece of wood between the red tramlines is completely loose and very flaky The corresponding upper part of the action board The top hat section I'm proposing to let into the action board (roughly where the tramlines are) The top hat section laid over the split where I'm proposing. The narrow section of the top hat will go right through to the upper side and I'll rout the action pan halfway through so that the broad section sits in a channel A completed repair on a similar board I did earlier. This repair wasn't full depth and the board crack wasn't so compromised I've tried something similar but not so extensive on a previous repair and it seems to have been successful as the last picture shows. What do you think of my proposal? The cracks aren't neat enough to be able to sand back and fill with thin shims of veneer and the wood seems pretty unstable - the mahogany they used may just be getting old but it seems rather soft compared to modern materials. I want the repair to be going back to solid wood without taking too much away of the original board (to preserve as much as possible of the fabric and also ensure dimensional consistency. Is there a neater/better way of achieving the repair? Alex West
  14. Looks OK but the woodwork lets it down a bit, it's missing an endbolt, still got its original pads by the looks of things and who knows what it's tuned to. Not a bad price given the limited refurbishment needed but tuning 100 reeds is still not cheap! If anyone wants a similar 50 key Jeffries Bros Duet, fully restored and tuned to A=440 by Steve Dickinson, I've got one here (but it will be over £2,000) Alex West
  15. You can use Audacity to import an MP3 file as a "Project" and edit it from there. For example if you have a very large MP3 which is an entire LPs worth of music, you can use Audacity to cut it into segments ("tracks") and save them as individual MP3 files. If you have the native tapes (or cassettes or LPs), you can also record the music into Audacity by taking an audio lead from the cassette player into the microphone socket on your computer (very intuitive but there are also some simple instructionals on the internet). and then edit the resulting project file into individual "tracks" Was this what you were trying to do? Alex West
  16. Dan My son lives in Fuzhou which is about 2 hours north of Xiamen by train. There's not much happens there musically at all (which frustrates my son immensely sometimes). Having said that, there's an amazing piano and organ museum on Gulangyu, the island just offshore from Xiamen and I believe a classical piano school and Xiamen itself is an extremely attractive city. I'll ask my son is he knows of anything happening or by all means contact him yourself via www.westiseast.co.uk or www.minrivertea.com If you do go there, at least I'll have someone to play with when I go to visit! Best of luck Alex West
  17. Greg I've a wooden ended Crabb with only 26 buttons and I'm sure I've seen a Jones with 26 in the recent past so they're not confined to Jeffries. I've not found the button positioning to be too much of a problem, but you do obviously miss something in the availability of notes in both directions; and for players in the chorded style, there are some fairly critical bass notes missing. What I find you gain in a 26 key over the larger instruments is that all of the notes speak more clearly and with a more even tone. Maybe the chambers are bigger and allow the reeds to "breathe more easily"? Perhaps the new owner will tell us - either way, I wish him/her good fortune! Alex West
  18. Having seen the photographs from the vendor, my conclusion was that this instrument was more likely to be Ab/Eb in old pitch rather than A/E. Otherwise, it looks quite tidy Alex West
  19. Malcolm The fretwork ends look like the fancy Simpson model which Neil Wayne shows in his Concertina Collection - see the link here (http://www.concertinamuseum.com/CM00363.htm) but the bellows gilding looks more like a Jones Not sure if that's any help Alex West
  20. John I'm puzzled as to why you think this is just a carcase. As far as I can see from the 2 listings and copious photographs, all the components are there - not just the reeds, shoes and action but also the fretwork ends and the bellows as well. I agree, it's a restoration project (!) but the worst aspect looks to be the cracks in the action plate on both ends - and they are fixable. With fully restored 39 button Jeffries going for up to £6,000 and the recent unrestored 30 button selling for £4,420 at Bonhams, I's say that £3,150 ($5,000 at current exchange rates) plus restoration costs isn't dirt cheap, but certainly isn't over the top. I couldn't see the gouges in the reedpan you talked about - where were they? Alex West
  21. I've long maintained that there are two types of songs that are very popular even with people who don't believe in their content -- religious songs and drinking songs, -- and that there are even those who consider the latter to be a form of the former. And whaling songs and fox-hunting songs and.......... Is this just anything with a good tune? Alex West
  22. Robin I think the first tune is "Pepper in the Brandy". I don't know (and find it difficult to hear clearly) the second tune which he seems to be reading off the music stand so maybe it was composed at the workshop for the flower to the left of the screen. Maybe the Faustian Acolyte should be Faustian Aconite (but it should really be a Faustian Asphodel!)? Alex West
  23. Since this is John Kirkpatrick, I think you'll find this is a baritone anglo. I'm not sure who made it though Alex West
  24. I'm not up with EC pricing but that looks like a bargain - were you the lucky one? Alex West
  25. 4 concertinas went under the hammer today. Bonhams excelled themselves by calling all of them "English" concertinas, which whilst strictly correct (they were all made in England weren't they?) doesn't really help to describe them. With all the helpful advice they've been given over the years and the high value some of the boxes pull in, you'd have thought they would bother to do the most basic research to be able to describe them properly and find out what the keys are. On the other hand, maybe they figure that they can get high enough prices without doing the research by getting us to do the work for them! The only two which sold were the Anglos. A rather nice looking top of the range 40 key Linota from 1923 went for £3,900 including premium and VAT and a rather scruffy looking 30 bone button C Jeffries went for £4,420. The Wheatstone 46 key Maccann duet and Wheatstone EC didn't sell. They reached about £600 - £800 (I couldn't hear very well) but obviously failed to reach their estimate and reserve. With the Linota fetching that price, it makes the 1950s Wheatstones look to be very good value. And if a scruffy Jeffries fetches that much at Bonhams with all the work neeeding doing, why are some of the ebay instruments not fetching more? Alex West
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