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Alex West

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Everything posted by Alex West

  1. From the pattern of the fretwork, I think it's unlikely to be a Jeffries - or a Crabb for that matter. The fretwork looks very similar to other instruments which have been un-marked but attributed to Shakespeare. The reed screws don't look completely uniform, but quite a lot of them look like a "Shakespeare" I've seen in the past. Difficult to tell without having the instrument to hand and especially without photographs of the action Alex West
  2. Andy I'm struggling to remember where I got it. This appears to be a similar item (http://www.craftworlddirect.com/acatalog/screw-punch.html) and you can get even smaller hole bits which could be handy from here (http://store.falkiners.com/store/product/5655/Japanese-Screw-Punch/). I'm sure I didn't pay that much though Best of luck! Alex West
  3. Andy Here's a photo of the tool I use and some grommets made with it. First I punch a whole load of 4.5mm diameter blanks using a normal hole punch out of 2mm thick belt material. Then I use this device to punch a 1.6mm dia hole in the middle (if I'm lucky) in the blank. It helps to fill out an evening. You have to either be really determined to be completely self-sufficient or to mean to not to pay 12p per grommet; this is not a mechanised process! I understand that one can get a tool which simultaneously punches the blank and the centre hole but I've never seen one Alex
  4. Can't see it - do you have a link to the listing? Alex West
  5. Theo Good point - I'd forgotten that most of the butons I have are solid! Alex West
  6. Stephen It's certainly possible, and if the issue is between you being comfortable to play and not playing at all, then there are only a few reasons why you might not do it. First of course is expense (Everything in life costs etc.). Second might be if what you were proposing would be irreversible, destroy a "conservation grade" antique, render it completely unsaleable and so on (offences against practicality, morality and common sense perhaps). And finally, is what you're proposing going to make life any easier. If you stick with the same diameter but just make the tops rounded, then the buttons might still feel like needles. If you go for a larger diameter, then you've got to ream out the fretwork ends and re-bush them - even more work! I've had 2 concertinas through my hands (both English as it happens) where a previous owner had changed the original buttons. In the first case, the buttons were aesthetically offensive, but they worked and changing them (for example back to original) wasn't going to improve the quality, looks or value of the instrument. In the second case, my predecessor had thought to upgrade a cheap Lachenal tutor model by replacing origal bone buttons with metal buttons and even replacing the Lachenal action mechanism with Wim Wakker's lever and trunnion mechanism. When I rebuilt the instrument I went back to the originals as: Metal buttons would have made the whole thing heavier without inproving the playing experience; an improved action wasn't the only thing necessary to make the instrument play at a different quality level. Even if I'd gone the whole hog, I'd still have been stuck with the cheapest of Lachenal brass reeds in pretty insubstantial woodwork. So that's my experience - it's possible. As well as getting the diameter the same as your existing buttons, you should also try to get the distance between the bushing hole (ie the lever end) and the two ends of the button the same, and make sure that the locating pin part of the button is the same length and diameter as your originals. If you're not going to save your flat-top buttons and it's the corners rather than the diameter that's giving you the problem, you could try to round off the edges (stick the pin end in a small drill and gently file or sand the corners down)? Alternatively, I do have a load of metal buttons (from the replacement I didn't do) which I'll measure if you're interested Alex West
  7. Agreeing with and adding to David and Theo's comments, I'd say it's always best to make the gaps as small as possible but to fill any gaps there are, I use the sawdust (or sanding dust) mixed with Titebond as a filler. The result is slightly darker (not always), but blends in to look like a grain line on rosewood and doesn't stand out like a sore thumb even on mahogany. In a response to the original question about the worth of raised ends, they certainly look good, and they can contribute to a reduced overall weight for the concertina which could make the feel better for some. It's possible that the tone might change slightly as the distance from the fretwork to the pads would be very slightly shorter, but I wouldn't think it's as significant as the difference between wooden or metal ends (or even the difference between two ostensibly identical concertinas) I've recently restored a Jeffries with raised ends and metal hand rests which were totally shot so I had a bit of a job to make sure that the handrest-to-button height felt good, but I feel that's not a difficult adjustment (I had a different problem with a similar machine where the distance between the metal handrest to the first button row was too small - in that case, a raised handrest made it a lot easier than the original) Alex West
  8. As well as the issue of air volume and ability to generate appropriate controllable pressure in a large versus small concertina, I think there's something about the chamber space available for each reed. In Jeffries anglos of "standard" size (around 6" across the flats) a 46 or 50 button instrument will sound more constrained than a 38 or 32 button instrument. The volume will be comparable, but the sound is somewhat thinner in the larger instrument which may limit the amount of expression you can get into it. Is this because there's less air mobilised by the reed in the chamber? I'm not sure if the same is true in Wheatstones with the radial reedpans; I've never been able to compare instrments of the same size with 32, 36, 40 or more buttons. If you're getting a custom instrument built, you have the opportunity to optimise chamber size per reed and overall size of instrument to get the sound quality you're looking for I'd reckon. However, the sound outcome might be even less predictable than the price. As a moris musician, it's laudable that you're trying to maximise expression, but that's usually low down the list of priorities! Alex West
  9. And I sold a fully restored rosewood ended model recently for just over £200, which I reckon is probably at the low end. A restored 30 button Lachenal would be £1,500 at the bottom end and upwards of £2,000 at the top end I'd say. An unrestored one went for £432 recently which (taking into account restoration costs and dealers profits) would support this range Alex West
  10. Andy I'd say there were 2 extra buttons on the right and 3 on the left. The one outside the bushing board on the far left of the middle row looks like a "foreigner". The reed it operates is a standard position so the other levers may have been shuffled (but they all look the same age so Geoff could be right that it's a factory modification). The left hand thumb button is pefectly standard (but not always there) and is usually (but not always) a drone Alex West
  11. I've posted a couple of concertinas on ebay today, a 26 key wooden ended Crabb and a 20 key Lachenal with the more decorative ends. They're both in C/G and I'll give the usual donation if they sell here rather than ebay. I've also got a 38 key raised ended Shakespeare in Bb/F for sale if anyone's interested. It's in concert pitch and is a nice player Alex West
  12. Andrew Congratulations on achieving the first part of your ambition! As you say, it's an interesting machine and yet more evidence of the Jeffries family's commitment to standardisation! The fretwork is almost like a 38 key - except that a standard 38 key would have a single button below the bottom row on both the left hand and right hand sides. There's no evidence in te fretwork that this has ever had a single button on the left and the right hand fretwork looks to be set up for two buttons. The reed pans however look to be very similar to a "standard" 46 key instrument. The set-up of the reed pans doesn't look to have been modified much and mounting of additional reeds by screwing to the pan is a very standard feature. Compare yours with the attached photo of a 46 key (which is itself not quite standard). I wonder if this was put together out of components? It's quite typical to see the metal bent as you describe and nothing to worry about. You can straighten it to some extent but, having done it twice myself, I wouldn't go to the effort of re-veneering the entire box for the issues you show Alex West
  13. I just came across this quote attributed to Reg Hall in the context of music played in 1950-1960's London-Irish pubs and which I think is relevant to the topic: "Once the Irish got the job to play, someone they knew would come in, they'd look up and say hello and invite them to join in. Nobody ever played unless they were introduced. They would then be incorporated into the drinks round, they would be expected to play everything, they would be asked what they favourite tune was and everyone would play it. It was the old house culture of the West of Ireland. You'd never think of coming into a house without being introduced." A number of sessions are exactly like a house - you shouldn't come in without being invited and you should be expected to mind your manners. If that means being expected to know the tunes without music, then those are the rules of the house! Reg continues: "That was how it was until the mid-Seventies, when someone would come in and start tuning up a bouzouki, who's never said 'may I?', who's never said 'hello' or 'would you like a drink?' It was the end of an era." That seems to be typical of some modern sessions that some people are expecting; where you can turn up with music books, half-learned tunes and a rudimentary idea of the style, tempo and tradition of the music being played, dip in and out as you find a tune (or even a passage of a tune!) that you can play moderately well. And from my experience, leave the pub at the end of the evening without spoken to or having learned the names of any of the fellow companions. They can both be called sessions, but they are different. Depending on what you want to get out of them, both have some validity I guess Alex West
  14. Doodle I've had handstraps from Colin Dipper, Steve Dickinson, David Leese (now Mark Adey) and I've made some myself (including for a 50 key Ab/Eb Jeffries - big heavy reeds!). They've all been fine but I think you can expect some stretch on any leather. I'd say you don't need them to be too thick as they can then be hard and inflexible. In terms of personal preference, I like the shape of Steve Dickinsons Duet/Anglo cut away back style and the material is certainly strong enough for a big anglo. Mark Adey's nubuck ones are also nice and comfortable. Colin's are the closest to Jeffries original shape if that suits your hands and they're very well made Alex West
  15. There's also a terrific CD by Niamh Ní Charra, Ibon Koteron and Gavin Ralston called "Ó Euskadi go hÉirinn - The Basque Irish Connection" - see the August 2011 press release on Niamh's site (http://www.niamhnicharra.com/) which is self explanatory Alex West
  16. Brian Or you could take a look at Chris Allert's Kensington for sale on the Buy and Sell forum. I know Washington State isn't close to Chicago but at least it's on the same continent! Has anyone got any experience of a Thomas (http://www.thomasconcertinas.com)? They look nicely made on his site Alex West
  17. Andy, From experience - some bitter but some pleasant as well - you may find that the lower end instruments are much more challenging to repair or restore than one of the "better" names. The quality of materials used in the lower end instruments can result in a real struggle to achieve a halfway decent end result. It's probably also common that in your restoration, you've spent more time on the instrument than the original maker spent in its initial construction! Alex West
  18. It looks to me as though your moniker is a***0, Andy. £2,500 was never going to be enough. If you reckon that a fully restored 32 bone-button C/G C Jeffries is worth somewhere between £5,000 and £6,000 (if you have the contacts to get that kind of price), then deduct the price of a new set of bellows, retuning, finding or making a couple of new end bolts, cleaning up the woodwork, sorting any issues with the action, renewing valves, pads, bushing etc and allow a bit of profit, then Chris looks to have paid about the right price. Someone who didn't need a profit and could get some of the work done properly but non-professionally could have paid more and gotten a good concertina for less than the "market" price. But I'm sure a fair number of people would have been concerned by the obvious defects and worried that there's more trouble ahead when you look closely at the action and the reeds. Maybe he got a little bit of a bargain - but he's also taking the risk it won't be a top drawer instrument even when all the work is done! I'm quite sure Chris knows his market Alex West
  19. It looks very likely that Chris Algar was the winner. Very nice lookng instrument! Alex West
  20. OK, it may not be jazz as MrWannaplayjazz knows it, but our own Mr Roger Digby does credit to Fats Waller and Rodgers & Hart in jazz style on an anglo concertina on Anglo International (Ain't Misbehavin and The Lady Is A Tramp). Goes to show that anything is possible if you have the talent and the application! Alex West
  21. Steve Can't you get rosewood from a guitar luthier? It won't be from the same timber sources as originally used by Lachenal/Jeffries so may not give a good match for repairs, but a guitar back can be used for new fretwork I would have thought Alex West
  22. Frank I think the product you mean is Chair Doctor, made by Veritas. As far as I remember, it's an aliphatic resin glue (like Titebond original) but it's a low viscosity glue so it gets into even quite small cracks. The syringe type applicators they supply it with are useful for getting the glue in minute quantities just where you need it. I've used it successfully for stabilising ebonised fretwork which tends to de-laminate over time. Your cracks don't seem so big Malcolm so I'd be tempted just to reinforce them as Frank suggests and use either Chair Doctor or even ordinary Titebond without trying to fill them with a wood shim. If you wanted to make them disappear, you can mix glue with wood dust (taken from a hidden part elsewhere on the fretwork) and fill the surface of the cracks, then sand them back with very fine paper or wire wool. I'd suggest that your cracks don't need this kind of treatment Alex West
  23. Well somebody got some bargains! The hammer prices were: 39 key Jeffries - £3,000 20 key Lachenal - didn't seem to sell Crabb 'Jeffries' Duet £400 C Jeffries Duet - £1500 Giving full costs to the buyers of £3,576, £0, £477 and £1,788 respectively Relatively cheap for a Jeffries anglo, astonshingly cheap for the Crabb and close to top whack for the Jeffries duet? Alex West
  24. I got some black bushing felt from Steve Dickinson when I was looking for some. I think he only had one thickness but he'd be worth trying. Other than that, you could try the various organ repair/piano repair/accordion repair vendors and sites Alex West
  25. Jim The reply I got from Staceys was that the 38 key Jeffries had a stuck button and needed work so it was impossible to tell whether it was unisonoric or not or which keys it was in Alex West
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