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Alex West

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  1. Here's my piece of high-tech eqipment. It's a flat bar with a slot sawed/filed in it to suit the diameter (or depth) of an action lever. The picture shows it fitted round a Lachenal lever in a location to bend up or down and hence raise or lower the pad. The slot in the end can be used to bend the lever left or right to centre the lever over the pad hole. There's another slot on the other end which is a bit narrower. I aim for a button travel of around 3.0 - 3.5mm so I measure the button height, add on 3.0mm and bend the lever with the new pad on the end to se tthe height, then repeat for all other buttons and try to get them all at the same height above the fretwork. Any less and there isn't enough air getting to the reeds, any more and it'll slow the fingers down. All of this is in Dave Elliott's excellent Concertina Maintenance Manual (page 19 with a diagram of the tool and the procedure) and corroborated by discussions with well known makers/repairers. My preference is to have the button close to the fretwork when it's pressed as this is more comfortable and gives a bit more "feel". This isn't always possible, depending on the button dimensions, number of washers under the button, position of the lever pivot between the pad and the button and so on but this is for me what sets the total height above the action plate Alex West
  2. I have this sort of problem regularly when rebuilding bellows and reseating reed pans on old concertinas (sometimes due to warping that I don't want to simply sand away). Look for leaks in any of the gasketted areas where these adjacent chambers connect - around the sides, on top of the chamber walls etc. It doesn't need much of a gap to create this kind of ghosting. Also check the closest reed pan support. Maybe that's slipped a little and has created an air-path? Alex West
  3. Congratulations to you for making the effort to go back to basics. However, I must put in a positive comment about Mark and Concertina Spares. He has been slow in fulfilling some orders due to his health issues - which he's been honest about - but the items I've ordered from him both before and after Christmas have all been sent with a minimum of chasing and met my requirements perfectly. I too make a lot of my own repair and maintenance spares but if you need a good match of a reed, button, lever or whatever for an historic instrument, Mark is one of the first places I'd try and his prices are extremely reasonable. I'd also go to Steve Dickinson if I needed a match for a Wheatstone part (Not sure why he wouldn't have a matching bolt as he does make his own) or if I needed something of superior quality (for example a new reed to match and blend with existing ones) to what might be available from Mark's historic spares. Alex West
  4. Thanks for all the responses. Don, the flatness I'm talking about is on the underside of the reed frame whereas the embossing (if one were to do it) would be on the top of the frame, next to the reed. I don't think there's any issue of out of level on the top surface And thanks for you response Dana. I can see how the reed clamp screws would cause the frame to bend across the rwidth of the frame but I'm struggling to see how they would cause the frame to bend along its long dimension. I can visualise that if the slot was punched out, then reamed to create the vent angle, the forces which cause the metal to flow could easily bend the frame (in all sorts of directions!). Still, it's interesting that at least some of the higher quality makers flatten the underside - although from my trials so far, it hasn't fixed the sensation of redundant air rushing through the reed/frame/chamber. I think the reeds fit reasonably well so maybe there's something else happening in my particualr example - it only seems to happen on one or two reeds Alex West
  5. Thanks all for your comments. These particular reeds are off a basic 20 key instrument so it could well be that they haven't had any "after-pressing" attention. I wouldn't have thought I'd need to shim the slots - I'm not touching the sides so the angles of the "wedge" remain the same although the reeds might sit very slightly lower in the slot. These reeds are going into the "spares" box so if I use them in anger, I may have to modify the slot anyway. I'll check the clearances on the particular reed that seems to be passing air, Theo. That's a good observation Alex West
  6. I've been cleaning up some rusted reeds and reed frames and decided to use a file rather than glass fibre pencil to clean up the underside of the frames and remove the rust spots from the clamp screws. I noticed that the frames don't appear to be flat, with a significant dishing towards the root of the reed (on the attached photo where the reed hasn't been cleaned by teh file) . I've noticed in rebuilding that some notes appear to pass a lot of air and am now wondering if this might be the reason - air passing underneath the frame rather than through the reed - and also wonder whether anyone else has seen this? This is a Lachenal reed - I've noticed that Lachenal reed frames tend to be slightly thinner than others but I haven't looked at other makers' reeds flatness to see if the result is the same Alex West
  7. Slight thread drift, but here's one I built myself mostly during the pandemic. This started as a beaten up 39 key duet and is now repurposed as a Jeffries pattern GD anglo. I kept the bulk of the woodwork (but with some extensive repair even to that) and had to make 13 new reeds using existing reed frames or frames from stock but most of what you can see (bellows, fretwork, handrests and straps) is completely new. Still got the fine tuning to do but it's showing some promise! Alex West
  8. It's probably worthy of a different thread but I think John Rodd and John Watcham shared the concertina duties on Son of Morris On and other LPs around that time. John Rodd and Will Duke were both playing concertina in the first iteration of the Albion Dance Band. I played (tuba) with John Rodd in the local band he had in Kingston after leaving the Albion fold and met up with him again when he returned from Canada. I last saw him when he was living in Chiswick in 2006 when I bought his last concertina - a nice CG Jeffries which I still have - but like you Alan, I've lost touch with him since then Alex West
  9. I watched a programme to day about the making of a Bentley Continental GT. They have over £500,000 of veneer in their stock for the dashboards, including some lovely walnut burr. But because they only use the best sections of this stock, there looked to be some handy concertina sized pieces which were left over. I wondered what they did with them and was about to call and offer to take them off their hands but Colin obviously beat me to it! Alex West
  10. You can also find a fairly comprehensive set of chords for the left hand by Barry Metzler in the old magazine "Concertina & Squeezebox" Numbers 14 & 15. You'll need to do a bit of work as the chords are organised for a C/G concertina and your layout may vary - but the work required may help you get around the keyboard and also understand the theory required as well. Let me know if you can't find a copy on line Alex West
  11. I'm signed up as well - just got to find somewhere to stay and hope that the virus lets us go Alex West
  12. Just for badness, I thought I'd let you know that the Lachenal Duet I'm working on at the moment seems to have brass pins! I'm pretty sure that there would be no particular reason why they would have used steel or brass - much like us all, they just used what was convenient (although the brass pins obviously won't rust). And as an aside, the chamber walls are nominally between 1.5 and 1.75mm thick but there are quite a few where the wall has been thinned down - almost to a vanishing point - in order to slide the reeds shoes and clamp screws in. There's usually quite a sound difference between concertinas with a lot of reeds crammed in and those with fewer reeds and more space in the chambers/less wood butchery; I'd always thought that was related to chamber size rather than wall material and thickness but I guess it could be a combination of things Alex West
  13. Adrian I've not seen this on any concertina other than a Jeffries. On my Jeffries Duet, two of the inboard reed locations on the right hand side show no scalloping and none of the perimeter locations (both sides) are scalloped so mine is unlike Gary's. On One of the 39 button Jeffries, the scalloping is with the reed longitude and is fairly crude, on the other, it's at 90 degrees. The 45 key and 50 key anglos and the Jeffries Duet are similarly neat, but inconsistent as to which reeds - both locations and right or left - are scalloped or not. I've looked over Geoff Crabb's paper on suggested explanations - he offers 4 - and they all sound credible but because of the inconsistent nature of the location, orientation and execution, I find it hard to see that there's one logical reason - either for mechanical or acoustic purposes There's got to be a PhD thesis in there somewhere! Alex West
  14. David Here's my review that I did in 2013: "I’ve taken a look at a number of concertinas from different makers including Shakespeare, Crabb, Dipper, Jeffries, Shakespeare and Wheatstone. The sample is small and may not be completely representative; I have no pictures of large Crabbs for example. Only the Jeffries has the scalloping to the woodwork around the underside of the pad-hole and this can occur on the left or right hand and in reed positions around the action including the perimeter reeds as well as the “inner” reeds. The scalloping is in locations where the reed is surface mounted screwed in position as well as in a dovetail-routed slot) and is in locations where the pad is on directly on the face woodwork as well as on top of the action board (where the pad-hole “chamber” is deeper. "This makes it appear as thought the scalloping is somewhat random rather than as part of a well thought out scheme to improve the acoustics. My first thought was that the scallops were to channel the airflow from the pad location to the optimal place on the reed, but the geometry doesn’t support this hypothesis. "In size order, here are the instruments I've seen with scallops 30 key C Jeffries in C/G - scallop to right hand top row little finger - one of the smallest reeds 30 key C Jeffries in F/C - scallop to left hand middle row little finger - lowest "F" 39 key C Jeffries in Bb/F - scallop to left hand thumb drone 39 key C Jeffries in C/G (may have been converted from a Bb/F) - scallops to right hand, 5 locations around the perimeter and inner 39 key C Jeffries in C/G - scallops to left and right hand locations (not the same as the concertina above so no consistency) 45 key C Jeffries in G/D - scallops to left and right hand 50 key C Jeffries in Ab/Eb - scallops to left hand inner and perimeter reeds 50 key Jeffries Bros Duet - scallops to left and right hand inner reeds" So in conclusion, it's not just the larger instruments, it's not just the lowest or the highest reeds and it's not just the surface mounted reeds. The "scalloping" is mostly running vertically, but sometimes is directed towards the root of the reed and sometimes towards the tip and in one concertina the scallop runs at 90 or even 45 degrees to the reed's long axis Alex West
  15. Gary Just thought you might like to know that the Wheatstone built 1925 Jeffries Duet system No 30740 with 68 buttons (plus 1 air) is at auction tomorrow - 13th March - at Gardiner Houlgate. It was up for auction last November as well but didn't sell so here's a second chance for someone! Alex West
  16. Jeffries also made 26 key, 28 key and 50 key anglos as well as the 38 and 44 (or 39 and 46 depending on how you count). There are a few of these which were definitely never duets - I know because I have a couple - so there's no reason to suspect that Mike's is anything but an anglo. I'm sure Theo would know. I have a suspicion (and only that - no evidence) that although they have the C Jeffries stamp, these larger instruments may have been the product of the sons Alex West
  17. TMSA (Traditional Music Scotland Association) run a 1 day canal boat trip session on a part of the Forth & Clyde Canal in July. I've never been but I've been told it's a fun day. It's a small boat tghough and usually oversubscribed. There are other people who run music and sail events but they're a bit more in open water so maybe not for the faint-hearted (and weak stomached!). A couple of years ago, we came across a bus tour of American musician tourists who were hosted by local musicians and turned up at normal sessions (we saw them in Plockton). They seemed a good bunch and the tour was well organised so that might be an option (if only I knew where they were based) Alex West
  18. Richard I've had a similar experience with a Koot Brits G/D. Some of the workmanship is very good, but the reeds seem very patchy and it's not good to play. It's not just that they use a lot of air; the whole thing seems to have a lot of resistance so it's sluggish and physically hard work. I have some plans for it which may improve things but I suspect I'll have to replace a few reeds as well Alex West
  19. I spoke with Mark just after the New Year about an order I'd placed a while ago. He was back in action and delivered it promptly so he's recovering although you might have to be patient
  20. Square cut valves are quite common. All of the vintage Jeffries, a George Jones and a pre 1900 Crabb I've received in unrestored condition had square cut valves. Lachenal and Wheatsone seemed to have rounded valves from early on - although the photos from the Concertina Museum show square cut valves on very early instruments Alex West
  21. Wallace is extremely good and would be a good choice. If you're anywhere near West Kilbride, I could help get you started as well Alex West
  22. I use a glass fibre pen to clean off dirt and light surface rust. If the rust is too significant to clean off with a pen like this, then it's likely that the reed has been fatally compromised Whether it changes the tuning or not isn't really relevant to me as I'm usually going to be completerly retuning the instrument anyway - however, I don't think it removes a significant amount of good metal (and even if it does, it's uniformly distributed over the reed). In my experience, most of the rust seems to accumulate towards the middle of the reed so this is away from the primary tuning locations Alex West
  23. I agree with Jodie - when I was in Montreal for a spell, I found I could play along in the sessions quite easily (OK - within my level of competence at least!) with my GD concertina. Doesn't have to be a Jeffries or Jeffries layout though Alex West
  24. From the vintage and the playing, this might be Alf Edwards? Alex West
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