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Posts posted by Steve_freereeder

  1. Very interesting.....


    Thanks to your links, I found the keyboard layout for the Axis 64 Harmonic Table (HT) here:




    It didn't take me long to realise that it was very much like the keyboard layout of an English concertina - well, several English concertinas laid side by side.

    Essentially, there are columns of buttons ascending in intervals of 5ths, just like the EC. The main differences are (i) the columns normally played by the index and middle fingers on the EC are reversed on the HT and (ii) the accidentals are shared by adjacent 'white note' columns.


    Am I the only person to have noticed this? I can't see anyone else remarking on this in earlier posts in this thread.


    I'm not sure quite what this goes to show. Maybe it demonstrates once again the underlying logic of the EC layout and its potential (like the continental button accordion) for playing in many, if not all, keys just using the same fingering pattern. Various chord shapes in different keys will also be the same.


    As in my opening phrase - very interesting. I am (almost) tempted to get one.

  2. So now I must ask, "WHY", Why are there 2 different ways to express the same note?

    Here's what I hope will be another simple explanation:

    1. On a piano keyboard, the black notes can all have two names, depending on which scale one is playing in.


    C# = Db

    D# = Eb

    F# = Gb

    G# = Ab

    A# = Bb


    2. A major scale consists of the note letter names always ascending in alphabetical order, with no duplicate note letter names occurring consecutively.


    3. Only the first 7 letters of the alphabet are used. After the letter name G, one returns to A.


    4. Hence a scale of C major has the notes C D E F G A B C (no sharps or flats needed)


    5. To play a major scale starting on any note other than C, some sharps or flats will be needed in order to preserve the correct spacing between adjacent notes.


    6. Hence a scale of G major has the notes G A B C D E F# G, and a scale of F major has the notes F G A Bb C D E F. Note how Rule 2 applies in both these cases: the letter names ascend in alphabetical order with no consecutive duplicate letters.


    7. Now consider these two scales as examples:

    The major scale of Eb has the following notes Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb. Rules 2 applies.

    The major scale of A has the following notes A B C# D E F# G# A. Rule 2 applies.

    BUT - on the piano keyboard Ab and G# are played by the same black key.


    8. Hence it would be incorrect to write the major scale of Eb as follows: Eb F G G# Bb C D Eb. Rule 2 is violated (two adjacent G letter names)

    and similarly incorrect to write the scale of A major as A B C# D E F# Ab A. Rule 2 is violated (two adjacent A letter names)


    9. So we need to use the correct letter name for the sharps and flats in a scale, depending on the context of which scale we are playing, and therefore every black note will have two names. We need to take care to use the correct one.


    Hope this helps and does not confuse too much.

  3. So what is the standard layout? Is the top chart correct for the Wheatstone on all the buttons?

    Your top chart is exactly the layout of my 30-key Wheatstone, and I think can be safely thought of as the 'standard' Wheatstone layout.

    Hope you enjoy your concertina when it comes.

  4. They will probably advice you to play bass/chord shorter, almost stacatto, or at least not as long as melody notes.

    A sound clip will help and I suspect your bass/chords sound as long as your melody. But then again, perhaps your ear is more advanced and what your perceive as bad will sound stupendous to some.

    I agree about playing the bass/chords shorter; as a general rule try to keep the accompaniment light, except where you need it to be powerful for effect's sake.


    However, I always think that the spatial sound volume envelope from a concertina is extraordinarily complex. And different concertinas will sound different too. Therefore what you as the player hears is different from what an audience hears a few feet away, and in fact the melody may well be coming through just fine. You can test this by asking someone to listen to you playing (choose someone whom you trust to be competent at listening to music with a critical ear so they are aware of your concerns and don't just end up saying 'sounds alright to me'). Back this up if possible by making a recording of your playing with the microphone placed a similar distance away in front of you, and see what it sounds like to you.

  5. Looking at the label on the photo (I had to enlarge it to read it), the description in usual Hobgoblin Concertina Speak is:

    BB RE 5F SR CP

    which translates as: bone buttons, rosewood ends, 5-fold bellows, steel reeds, concert pitch.


    So if the labelling is correct, it has steel and not brass reeds. Mind you, I also think the label says '68-key' when of course it should read '48-key'. It's not entirely clear, but if the number of keys is stated incorrectly, it's possible the reed material is also incorrectly described.


    I also don't like the look of the extra holes that someone has drilled in the fretwork ends. It looks as if it has been done in an attempt to increase the volume (which again suggests it might have quieter brass reeds).


    Worth going for a look and try it out, but be cautious. See if you can get them to open it up so you can see the state of the innards and verify whether the reeds are brass or steel.

  6. I'm in the UK and have just got hold of a 30 key Lachenal Anglo. However, it came in the sort of case we used to keep single vinyl records - not very kind to the instrument.


    - Apart from shops like Hobgoblin (who seem to be perpetually out-of-stock), I can't see a place to get a decent case.

    - Also I can't tell if (when I look at one on the net) the case actually IS decent.


    Anyone with any ideas?



    The Hobgoblin 'standard' size concertina case:


    They are quite well made and should be OK for your Lachenal.

    It's worth contacting Hobgoblin by phone, as they may well have one on display which they can send you.


    Also, last time I enquired a few weeks ago, The Music Room in Clecky had a couple of similar hard cases available ('in the stock-room upstairs') which are not shown on their website. It's worth giving them a call.


  7. Hello, I hope this is the right place for this question (been debating where to put it)

    I've been the proud owner of a new Jackie for 3 days now, bought after much reading the advice on here. I'm enjoying my first steps but for one problem.

    I think the thumb strap is far too loose. The tutor book says you can tighten it but how?

    There is a round 'screw' holding the strap in position, ones to tight to budge without pliers (have't tried) the other can be unscrewed but doesn't come all the way out so you can't take the strap off to make another hole. The only thing I can think to do is to slit the leather, slide it along and then retighen the screw.


    At the moment I'm taking up the slack with a bit of folded felt but that keeps needing adjusting and is obviously not a permanent solution.

    Any experts able to help?

    The screws should come all the way out; otherwise the thumbstraps could not have been attached in the first place.

    The screws are probably just a very stiff fit and you are probably being over-cautious with the amount of force you are applying. If you use pliers to grip the knurled screwhead, protect the screw and the concertina body with a small piece of chamois leather - use the pliers over the leather.


    Alternatively, if you are still dubious and not confident, and you are within reach of the shop where you bought it, take back and let them loosen and adjust the screws for you.

  8. I'd be hesitant to put my instrument in any case that uses foam. Foam will crumble with time and give off dust and small foam fuzz that has a very good chance of getting into reeds and causing all sorts of problems. Concertina cases should be blocked instead.

    I've made a few cases over the years for both melodeons and concertinas.

    My standard method of lining the case is to glue a thin (10 mm) sheet of upholstery foam to a thin card panel, then cover (glue) the foam side with plush fabric, overlapping the fabric for a few millimetres on to the rear card side. The foam is then completely encased by card and fabric. The whole sandwich is then glued into place on the inside of the wooden case. Each interior face of the case is lined with a separate sandwich panel as described.


    My oldest case made in this way must be 25 years old and I have never once had any problems with dust in the reeds caused by foam/fabric degradation.


    I have just completed a blocked case for a 30-key anglo and on this occasion I lined the case and the wooden blocking pieces with a sandwich of polyester wadding and plush fabric. The polyester wadding I bought on a local market haberdashery stall; it's about 10 mm thick but squashes down to 1 or 2 mm. I'm told it's normally used for making the lining of padded bras. I bought over a square metre of the stuff, so I've got an quite a lot left over if anyone is into making their own lingerie.

  9. When I was a lad in the 50s and was on a scouts climbing trip, I went to the working graphite mine in Borrowdale near Keswick in the Lake District because I admired and used their pencils for sketching. . The old boy, who showed me round explained that it was a 'slape' (slipperyy ) kind of carbon.. Since then I have used it for many lubricating jobs where you don't want an oxidation or other atmospheric conversion to a sticky goo. I often use a recently scraped pencil to ease a joint or button on the conc. I'd welcome an explanation of how that form of carbon is a good lubricant.


    The lubrication properties of graphite are thought to be due to its molecular structure. In graphite the carbon atoms are linked together in flat hexagons to form an open lattice sheet structure. Successive sheets are stacked next to each other like a pack of cards. In normal conditions it is thought that water molecules and air are adsorbed on to the graphite lattice between each sheet, and this helps the sheets slide very easily over each other and hence gives graphite its lubricating properties.


    Quite a good account of graphite here:


  10. I was just wondering if there was any evidence of Concertina Reeds actually being so affected by extreme heat or humidity in for example a hot, steamy pub session environment, to the extent where their tuning would be altered?


    Or is this impossible with both steel & brass Reed instruments, or .............................




    It is not normal for reeds to go significantly out of tune over the course of a few hours in the conditions you have mentioned. But there are a few exceptions which come to mind.

    1. Very rarely, reeds may sometimes fail from metal fatigue. If this is happening, a micro-fracture will initiate somewhere on the reed tongue and can propagate relatively quickly (perhaps over a few hours or less). During this time the reed will go significantly flat until it finally breaks in two and stops sounding altogether. It is a rare condition anyway and the probability of this happening simultaneously to many reeds at once must be vanishingly low.


    2. More likely to happen is that in the conditions you have mentioned, there is a possibility of some of the reed frames to become loose in their dovetail slots as a result of minute changes in dimensions of the wooden slot. The effect of this is often to make the affected reeds sound flat. The remedy is to allow the concertina to reach normal, stable conditions of temperature and humidity and after a few hours, open it up and check that the reed frames are pushed fully into their dovetail slots and will stay there and not become loose again. If they are permanently loose, you will have to insert a thin paper shim between the reed frame and the dovetail slot, only be sure the shim is only present at the ends of the reed frame. If the shim runs the whole length of the slot, it is likely to distort the reed frame so that the reed tongue fouls the edge of the reed frame, stopping it from sounding or again altering the pitch.


    3. In a very humid environment, I can foresee problems with condensation occurring on the reeds, reed frames or leather valves. Any of these could cause immediate pitch alterations as the relative masses of the reed tongues, the gap between tongue and reed frame and the action of the valve may change. Additionally the excessive moisture could initiate rust or other corrosion in the longer term. So - avoid excessive humidity as far as possible.


    Just my ideas. Others may shed more light on this.

  11. regarding this mistaken reference to riveted action: [the riveted action smooth and positive]---


    marcus concertinas do not have riveted action. they have post/lever action.

    Yes - I think you are right, I must be remembering wrongly, sorry.

    There is a set of photos of the inside of a Marcus anglo here:



    the mechanism is superior to stagis, but it is not a fast action. i have a marcus deluxe, and find it to be beautifully crafted cosmetically with super-nice bellows. i also like the tone. but if you are looking to play traditional irish dance music, as opposed to, say, song accompaniment, it is slow enough that it will hold your playing back if your playing gets to a point where it needs to build to dance speed. my playing actually outgrew the button action on this instrument dismayingly quickly. i have been meaning to sell mine for ages, but have kept putting it off because as an art object, it is really, really nice. i actually have been wondering about the cost of having the action converted....

    Interesting to read your point of view, but this just wasn't my experience. I certainly did not find the action slow at all. I bought my Marcus from the Music Room in Clecky and the fast smooth action (compared with other instruments they had) was one of the selling points for me. The only reason that I sold my Marcus was that unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to buy a nearly-new Wakker anglo at a reduced price - and I really did like its lightness and superior sound of the 'proper' concertina reeds.


    mine has jeffries fingering, and inexplicably and infuriatingly, a note i can't do without, the high push "a" on the far right in the top right-hand row is not the usual high "a," but a super-ooper high, squeaky "a" an octave higher, and is completely unusuable. i am clueless as to what anyone could possibly want this note for. i did not discover this until my playing had progressed enough for me to go there, and it is simply infuriating.

    My Marcus had the standard Wheatstone-Lachenal layout (my choice), hence the problems you encountered simply weren't there for me.

  12. errrk! <buzzer>

    Ok 'humph' who one that one?

    Very good m'Lady, here are the final scores:


    The Story So Far.....


    Charles was not fond but stupidly squeezed his concertina (bonus point to Hereward) which exploded twice thereby causing wind in Chicago which unfortunately exacerbated the fire falling uncontrollably through unknown incumbent drainpipes that inadvertently scraped duets severely from concertina (bonus point to miikae) thereby rendering everything strangely awkward to compare antidisestablishmentarianism with reluctant comprehension resulting in concertina (bonus point to miikae) syndrome which Wheatstone discussed passionately regardless yet aware that a bridge between England and Wales effectively squeezed sheep through paper pillars decorated submarinally arising columns bringing concertina (bonus point to fidjit) consciousness into serenading audiences whilst concertina (bonus point to miikae) exponents improvise concertina (bonus point to SteveS) music (comma) on concertina net resulted (bonus point to Dick Miles but then -5 points for posting 6 words in succession, three of which were duplicated) therefore in enthusiastic concertina playing (bonus point to Dick Miles but he loses it again for posting 2 words in succession) techniques traditionally emanating from concertina nitwits (bonus point to David Levine but -2 points for posing three words in succession) like anyone skilled in concertina (bonus point to fidjit) repairs whilst faffing concertina (bonus point to David Levine) consommé crustacean........


    FX: Humph’s buzzer sounds.



    The final scores

    Miikae 3

    Fidjit 2

    Hereward 1

    SteveS 1

    David Levine 0

    Dick Miles -5


    Yellow Card shown to Chris Timson for playing a late comma.


    So - I declare Miikae the Winner!


    BTW someone asked….

    'Why wasn't the lovely Samantha there to keep the score?’


    Unfortunately, Samantha was not able to be here. She's told me that she wants to learn to play either the concertina or the harmonica, but can't decide which. So she has arranged to meet a musical gentleman friend, who’s kindly allowed her to try out squeezing, sucking and blowing on his instrument.....

  13. Hello again,


    I am starting to think about what type of concertina to move on to next. I have had a good look at the list of current makers on this forum. I am limited by price so will need to buy a hybrid model. Even within that range I am probably looking at being able to save up to £1,500.


    As such, I have been considering the standard 30 button anglo made by Marcus Music.


    I have searched the forum for information on this make but have returned only a few mentions. I am not sure if it is good form to ask for specifics about a particular make but ask I shall anyway. Has anybody got any experience of this model?

    Yes - I played a Marcus standard 30-key anglo for about three years before moving on to a traditionally-reeded instrument.

    I would have no hesitation in recommending the Marcus as being up there with the best of the hybrids. It was well made - the riveted action smooth and positive, bellows supple and quiet, the metal ends looked good. The reeds, although Antonelli accordion reeds, seemed to me to have a sound closest to a traditional-reeded instrument than all the other hybrids I tried. The response of the reeds was excellent, easy to speak and capable of playing softly, but with a good strong volume when required. Overall, excellent value for money. One of the best. If you decide to buy one, remember to decide which keyboard layout you want (Wheatstone-Lachenal or Jeffries) and specify it when ordering.

    See here http://www.marcusmusic.co.uk/concertinas.html (scroll down about 2/3rds of the page to find the layout link)


    Hope this helps. No doubt others have their own opinions.

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