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Alex West

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Everything posted by Alex West

  1. Nils Funnily enough, that's exactly what I'm doing. I've got a 20 button Lachenal out on loan at the moment, plus I'm discussing loaning another instrument out and I'm fixing up a couple of English concertinas for a similar purpose. I'm based in Aberdeen, but as I said in an earlier post, I am frequently down in West Kilbride so a loan is possible Alex
  2. I've reported it. It's actually a Jefries Bros Ab/Eb now in concert pitch and fully re-furbished. The bellows were very stiff when I got it (and I suspect not original) and I haven't played it much since the re-tune - I'm just waiting for some small parts from Steve Dickinson before re-assembling it and starting to work it again Alex
  3. Paul This is a definite scam. This concertina is sitting on my shelf! (and I believe is the one you were scammed on shortly after I bought it?) Alex
  4. Well things are looking up on the West Coast! Welcome Roy! I'm working in Aberdeen during the week but travelling down to West Kilbride most weekends - My house is there but a lot of weekends are spent trying to sail. As far as I know, there are no regular sessions, and Jim Kane (who also frequents the forum from time to time) who lives in Greenock has to go into Glasgow for a mostly Irish sssion once a week. Best not post e-mail addresses within the posts - too much risk of spamming, but send me a pm and we'll try to find a friendly pub somewhere between Troon & West Kilbride to start our own sessions in! And I promise to try to get across to ACE myself this year! Alex
  5. Well, the bellows are actually pretty good. Well made, nice leather (if cosmetically challenged), flexible and airtight. The rest of the instrument (so far) is a mixture. The reason the thing wouldn't play is because all of the pads were stuck to the action - quite a hard leather - the key bushings were leather rather than felt, and the holes in the fretboard were too small for the buttons so the whole thing had jammed up. The pads are interesting - a plywood, felt, leather composite, stuck to the end of the levers with bathroom sealant - quite flexible in its own way but not a fast action by any means. The reeds don't look too bad so far, but I won't be able to tell until I've got the action straightened out. The reed pans were also stuck to the leather on the inside of the bellows; they weren't glued, but maybe some natural oils from the leather had given that effect. I may try to make some new ends - I don't suppose you have a contemporaneous Rock Chidley I could use as a template do you? Alex
  6. But the bellows are the best part! (I hope that doesn't prove prophetic) I've been assured that it has worked within recent memory - if it needs a complete set of new reeds, it'll remain as a conversation piece - Hmmm. Alex
  7. I cannot tell a lie - it was me! I couldn't resist it - and the challenge of getting it to work. I'm with Dirge that it's so awful, it's good. I'll let you all know how it turns out Alex
  8. A 30 bone buttoned Jeffries indeed - I don't recognise the player. The music is from Sharon Shannon's Diamond Mountain Sessions CD - no anglo on that so a bit of video licence Alex
  9. Frank The glare of the flash probably exaggerates the cleanliness, but a lot of the dust/dirt was quite superficial. I used a scalpel as a scraper to get through the majority of the muck and glass fibre pens to "polish" the surface which gives quite a smooth finish. Glass fibre pens now come in a variety of diameters and the widest one (8mm) is great for cleaning up large areas whilst the narrower ones are OK for detailed work. I'd advise wearing gloves and even masks though; the debris from the pens is fairly nasty. Time is probably the most precious ingredient. I certainly wouldn't advise rushing the job It looks a whole lot better afterwards though and makes the action re-build so much tidier - I also found that the pads sealed afterwards with very little adjustment and second fixing Alex
  10. Garry Someone's obviously doen a fair bit of repair work on this instrument over the years as some of the original brass wire levers have been replaced by rectangular section levers. That looks like quite a professional job, unlike the later repairs which are - amateur. The levers which have been replaced don't immediately seem like the ones which would have received the most wear, but maybe there was a good reason. You've also got a fair mixture of springs there, including 2 springs on one lever and only one spring on the air lever (where there are normally 2) You've already got a ton of recommendations which I won't argue with and the North American ones are probably easiest for you but I will put a recommendation for Steve Dickinson in the UK. Of course, he makes new Wheatstones and repairs old ones, but he also respotres Jeffries (and presumably other makes) and has done a superb job on the instruments he's repaired for me, including a Jeffries Duet and a coupe of 30 button Jeffries. He fully understands the difference between the different makes and respects their different characters and is a wonderful craftsman. To give you some hope, here's a before and after of the left hand of a C Jeffries box which I just finished restoring which had much of the same problems as yours - including excessive screw tightening leading to bent fretwork and veneer which needed completely replacing. Best of luck Alex West
  11. Dirge I've a mixture of straight cut and cut-aways - albeit on anglos. They're all adjusted slightly differently, but on balance, I'd say I prefer the cu-aways (Steve Dickinson's manufacture). I don't seem to have the same problem of uneven tension and early tearing, but I have noticed that on the "conventional" Jeffries handrails, the tightness of the brass strap loop can make quite a differnece to the feel - and also the wear on the strap. I suspect it's down to personal hand bone/joint dimensions and playing style. I used to have a very simple strap 14mm wide throughout it's length (the standard on early Lachenals) but I found that didn't give me enough support but the previous owner obviously got on well with it Alex
  12. Jim Where are you? If you're anywhere near Aberdeen, I could take a look and help identify the repairs needed. I'm an anglo player so may not be fully up-to-date on English values, but I could give you a start Alex
  13. Back on thread Robin, I'm comparing with a 50 key Jeffries Duet, so not strictly fair, but the key layout on mine isn't particularly curved and looks about the same as the Wheatstone pictures; I'd say Stephen's opinion could be correct. Maybe the new owner will be able to figure it out? Alex
  14. As I see it, on a G/D the middle row must be G and the inner row must be D - otherwise, as you put it, Lisa, the fingerings wouldn't transfer. Also, the D row must be pitched higher than the G row, so the G row of a G/D must be an octave lower than the G row of a C/G (otherwise the D row would be awfully squeaky). So am I right in assuming that the notes on each button of a G/D are a fourth lower than the notes on the corresponding button of a C/G? Meaning that I could transfer my practised arrangements from the C/G to the D/G and they'd sound the same, only a fourth deeper? Cheers, John John You're absolutely correct - the standard G/D arrangement is a fourth below C/G so your arrangements will be exactly the same. If you find a Bb/F, then it's a semitone below a C/G and an Ab/Eb instrument will be a semitone above a G/D, so in some ways you can regard them as transposing instruments. There are exceptions. I've got such an exceptional G/D concertina where the G row is an octave higher (ie the same as the G row of a C/G) which means that it doesn't transpose - but it does give some other possibilities which are still interesting enough for me to hang on to it Alex
  15. Unfortunately, I haven't got the source material with me, but I think if one takes a purist stance (which I hope we don't - see later), there's not much evidence for bands in traditional music at all before the 1930s, and by extension, the use of basses, string or brass as part of the folk "orchestra" is probably a modern phenomenon. In Scottish music (thinking Jimmy Shand here, but also going back to Bob Smith from the Topic records of the "Ideal Band") and in Irish music as represented by the Tulla or Kilfenora Ceili bands, the string bass and other instruments are certainly there, but how traditional are they? Sean O'Riada and Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin both used full orchestras to bring a new interpretation to traditional music - the music is traditional and at least the violins were traditional instruments but the interpretations are clearly not. Does it detract from the music? No, but they are for different purposes. Brass bands certainly played traditional music, and Hardy and others cite church bands as playing for country dancing - if a serpent and a clarinet can be used in such a traditional band, then why not a tuba or a string bass or a saxophone? The saxophone and the concertina weren't invented until the mid 19th century - does this make them inferior as traditional instruments? Why is one regarded as traditional and the other not? Traditional musicians in the 19th century and before probably had limited acess to a wide range of instruments. If they had access to and could afford the saxophone, they probably would have played it. My personal view as a tuba player of many years sitting is that as long as the noise one makes is complementary to the tune and its purpose (to encourage the dancers or to stir the emotions in an air) then it's valid. I think it's the style of playing and the approach to the music which determines whether one views it as traditional or not. If you compare Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli and Ali Bain - all play fiddle and have played in each others' idiom (maybe not Grappelli and Bain). It's fairly easy to determine which one is classically trained, which one plays jazz and which one traditional music by the control, the swing and the emphasis; the fiddle is still a traditional instrument. I hope this doesn't lead us to a debate as to when traditional music ended - that we decide there's a cut-off point somewhere in 1880 something which dictates that only those tunes, instruments and styles before that can be traditional. For me, tradition has to be living and therefore evolving. The electric guitar is a traditional instrument in the right hands! Alex West
  16. In partial but inconclusive answer to Jim's question, the fretwork looks quite similar to my 38 key Bb/F Anglo; ie raised end, Jeffries pattern but crudely executed and with no space for the makers "oval". The construction on mine has been attributed to Shakespeare, based on a Crabb pattern, but I'm not convinced about the fretwork - what I've seen of Shakespeare fretwork has been quite intricate, neater, more decorative and less Jeffries-like. For what it's worth, the reeds on mine aren't very powerful and the bellows are quite floppy. My conclusion would therefore be - unknown maker. My guess would be - an outworker from Crabb who had access to the patterns but who wasn't fully skilled and didn't meet the "normal" quality control Alex West
  17. There's a scam on gumtree at the moment. The vendor has a Bb/F 30 key bone button C Jeffries for £2,500 in London. When I enquired, the vendor responded with a gmail address as a female and included 3 failry generic pictures, despite my questions about reed status, instrument history etc. She also responded that she was based in Kirkwall, Orkney and wanted a direct bank transfer of money. As the e-mail correspondence moved on, it transpired that the vendor had a throat problem, so couldn't speak to me (and hence play the instrument to me down the phone). The vendor most helpfully didn't insist on all the money up-front but was prepared to accept 50% on delivery. However, when it came to bank details, the vendor turned out to be male, with a non-Orkney type name, the bank was in Leicestershire and the address given turned out to be a fish and chip shop (and when I rang them, they'd never heard of the vendor). Surprisingly, when I said I needed a bit more confidence and wasn't prepared to lay any money out up-front and was even prepared to take a ferry trip up to Kirkwall to do the deal in person (an overnight trip for me) the vendor declared that if his word wasn't good enough, then he couldn't do business with me! An interesting episode but a warning that sharks are everywhere. Maybe someone out there will recognise the photographs?
  18. Congratulations to bargemans - you beat me to it! I have a 1921 C/G Linota which only has the instrument number stamped in the same place as described by Peter and Greg. If you find the serial number in the place as described, I'd be interested to know what it tells us about the instrument as compared with the ledger entry (which doesn't typically say anything about the key of the instrument). Alex West
  19. Steve I brought a Lachenal into the UK from the US last year so can quote figures. The instrument cost me £296 - the eBay seller's price. The instrument was over 100 years old so duty was zero and VAT was 5% - £14.8. ParcelForce charged £8 for handling it, presenting it to Customs, paying the duty and VAT on my behalf and then collecting the money from me. The seller originally put the full paid value of teh box on the package without stating it's antique status (over 100 years) so I was then charged £9.28 Duty (this is a funny percentage though -don't understand) and VAT on price plus duty at 17.5% - £52.39. A letter to HMRC explaining the dating of the box and quoting the number and the ledgers resulted in a refund of £46.87 - no further verification asked for. Not sure how it would work for a "collectable with historical significance" - maybe as simple as the vendor stating that on the documentation and a "friendly" customs man agreeing that? Alex
  20. Michael You could do worse than come up to Aberdeen for the Button Box & Moothies Freed Reed Convention on the October 26th - 28th weekend (come on, it's not that far really). As reported elsewhere, we've got Mary MacNamara, Vic Gammon, Simon Thoumire, Robert Harbron, Stuart Eydmann and Frances Wilkins from the concertina world (as well as local players and guests and a whole bunch of other non-piano accordion free reed players/instruments. Alex West (Somewhere in Aberdeen)
  21. It's here Wheatstone Duette Sadly the only concertina in a recent Sotheby's listing Alex
  22. I've taken this photograph of a Jeffries Bros Aflat/Eflat raised end 30 key old pitch which has the number 7.23 stamped next to the RH metal hand rest. Actually, I thought it was 7.2 until I took the hand rest off and found the full number. The instrument went out to Australia in the 1920s and I was told that the original owner had it from new as a baby - not sure if I believe that. Chris Timson has told me that one of his previous instruments had a No 2.23 in a similar place but the instrument key and style were quite different, however since that instrument came from a Liverpool concertina band, maybe this one has a similar background Does anybody else have other clues or corroborating evidence to indicate whether this stamping indicates that teh instrument was part of a set - possibly from a concertina band? I wonder if we could trace the whole set! Alex
  23. I'd be pretty certain it's one of Colin's labels. I've got one in my Dipper G/D, made in 1976 and one in a Jeffries which was cared for by Colin around 1977. As further "evidence", here's one of the other labels in one of them Alex
  24. $4551 doesn't seem a particularly high bid for a 30 key Jeffries - certainly not enough to "prevent" a defraud (how do you do that? if you place a bid, that's a contract to buy - don't you have to offer something stupidly high?). I communicated with the seller and the prospect of paying through an escrow account did ease my concerns a little, whilst I wasn't completely relaxed which is why I didn't go for a winning bid. He had a plausible story, but gave no extra information about the instrument which had me worried. I've not used an escrow service but I thought that it was up to the buyer to select the escrow provider - this should ease concerns over shady escrow services? Just possibly, it may be genuine and someone's got a bargain - albeit one which still needs work
  25. Chris Perhaps you already know of Graeme Smith and his research into Australian music (and the Irish conections) Graeme is easily Googelable or alternatively, I've got his e-mail address somewhere. Graeme plays a 2 row melodeon and was one of the founder members of Flowers & Frolics - he probably also knows where to find the members of the Bushwackers band (assuming they're lost). This connection may not be to the true bush music, but it might help you on the way Alex
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