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Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

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Posts posted by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

  1. Probably the best thing is to have one made for you at C.Wheatstone and Co - they are only in Stowmarket, a short drive from Ipswich. The cases made there are excellent, they are hard cases though. I would really caution anyone to not use soft cases for concertinas, its just asking for trouble, ask any concertina maker how many bashed in or bent in ends they have had to repair due to soft cases. 



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  2. Aha. With metal ends sometimes the problem relates to electroplating which is partially worn. The ends being either brass or nickel silver with usually a nickel plating to prevent tarnishing. After a lifetime of playing some wear is inevitable. There are a couple of ways to solve it you can have it stripped in an acid which attacks nickel which is probably ok for brass but risky on nickel silver or you can polish it and get it copper plated then nickel plated over the flawed original plating. I have had done the copper approach twice, once it went well and once it went badly. The main problem is concertina makers don't usually have their own electroplating equipment and you end up having to give the parts to someone else. That is where everything is very likely to go wrong. Thus in the end usually during repair the ends just get a not too aggressive polish as it's less risky.


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  3. I believe Andrew Norman makes 40 button Anglo concertinas with accordion reeds, the instruments are 7" across the flats, his work is well made and the instruments play well. You can read about his work here: http://www.acnorman.co.uk/ 


    Andrew has explored the possibilities of making concertinas with accordion reeds rather a lot from what I can see, probably more than anyone.

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  4. Interesting design, can I ask: Is that instrument a bit bigger than 6 and 1/4"? Looks a bit bigger (not a bad thing for a 40b in my opinion) 


    Im just curious as I lately played a 40b Wheatstone that was 6 and 1/2" - the extra space was used to put in longer scale reeds, it played really, really well. As in, honestly I think it was the best old concertina I have played. 

  5. I have personally not had to deal with this issue ever, all of the 38 key Jeffries instruments I ever worked on had the inboard reed frames screwed down, does anyone have any pictures of this different not easily removable setup? Sounds like one to be wary of. 


    Also Clive I did after a few years actually make a "reed pulling tool" to make taking reeds out for tuning - someone told me Geoff Crabb had one and I thought "well that sounds quite useful actually", easier on the finger tips!

  6. On 9/18/2022 at 4:28 PM, wes williams said:

    If we go back to late 1920s/early 1930s, Lachenal were suggesting that it would take around 5 - 6 weeks to produce and despatch Edeophone and New Model concertinas, as they were not stocked but built to order. See bottom of page 2 of this price list.


    That is pretty interesting. I would say 5-6 weeks to make an Edeophone is very fast really, given the complexity of those instruments and how many hand made reeds they have. Its hard to say how many man hours that would be though - I would guess that the instrument would have been worked on by more than one person at once, making different parts. From what I have learned Lachenal and Wheatstone practiced very good division of labour and ran a rather efficient production line.

  7. I think you are quite correct in saying that the 20b was very rarely or almost never made to a top standard. No one ever particularly said this to me but I haven't seen a 20b that was made to the full extent of the makers abilities, I am talking about historic makers here.


    There is nothing to say someone could not approach a professional maker today and ask for a very well made 20b but it would be an unusual request as it would probably cost almost as much as asking someone to make a 30b. A bit less of course but probably not 1/3rd less as might be implied by the number of buttons. In for a penny, in for a pound as they say.



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  8. That is pretty unusual. If the reeds are stamped with the same notes as they are sounding then as far as we know that is original. Its likely someone would ask for something like that, no one has ever asked me to make a 38 button instrument that was the same as any other 38 key I made, such idiosyncrasies must have existed in the past too I would guess.


    Jeffries and Wheatstone had slightly different ideas about where to put the extra buttons though with Wheatstone tending to add them at the end of each row and Jeffries tending to add them to the end of two of the rows and then putting one down below the usual three rows - I am guessing the accidental row is usual Wheatstone accidentals and the extra buttons are something approximating Wheatstone but not necessarily in the same place? 


    I hope it is good fun to play! Best wishes


  9. 14 hours ago, lucayala said:

    yes, awfully secretive. and full of selfishness

    unlike the other members of the family, such as the concertina and the accordion, the main production of bandoneons stopped during World War 2, so 99% of the instruments that circulate are 80, 90 years old instruments. there are a few people producing bandoneons right now, but at a very low pace and at incredible high prices. and Argentina is a country with constant economics problems. so we are the country that adopted the bandoneon and where people can't afford it. it's sad. there is no entry level bandoneons. the options are a new one, in the range of $4500-8000, or an old one, in the range of $1500-4000. that's impossible for most people here. I'm trying to make this 3d printing project to cover this problem. I don't know if it will be possible, but I will try. the 3d design is almost done. it was the easy part. the hardest part is this, the tongues. and I only found indifference or even attacks against my project from the bandoneon experts here. and many kind and helpful answers here. so thank you all for this


    Gosh that is a tough situation. In the UK concertina production only just survived the 2nd world war, but a couple of small businesses managed to continue.. It sounds like a sort of similar situation but a bit harder for you guys in Argentina if the production completely stopped in WW2. It can be hard to revive an industry or industrial processes but not impossible.

  10. Sorry to hear no one in the bandoneon world is being very helpful to you. Is the bandoneon industry rather secretive? 


    I would also recommend C1095 in hardness condition rockwell 48-51. Then you need lots of files. Some sort of shearing tool is needed to get it into strips, that is a tricky part you might have to improvise your own as the usual lever type mounted to a bench is not suitable, other commercially available options might work.. Other simpler ways of cutting it into strips include scoring a line on the steel, clamping it in a vice and then hitting the bit hanging out of the vice very hard with a big piece of metal. (that process involves the least investment of tools anyway) 


    Best of luck with your project, its a hard thing to do but with good dedication all things are possible.




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  11. As can be taken from the above replies - making reeds is very  involved. Its really going to be very hard or almost impossible if you don't at least have a set of reeds which you like that you could try to copy. What I did is study historical reeds which I liked before taking steps to learn from experienced reed makers and begin to do a lot of experiments.


    I would recommend buying some reeds if there is anything available which would be usable for your project, making your own reeds is only a choice you take if what you want is not available to buy at all, which is what many concertina makers have to do. Hopefully you can find something you can buy which will work for your needs. 


    Probably a helpful way to think of it is "free reed instrument making is a discipline and reed making is another discipline which you would only learn if you felt you have to"


    But if making reeds is really in your heart and you feel you really want to do it ... Do it. Enthusiasm for a topic of experimentation is a good thing.



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  12. 8 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:


    just curious as to what has changed with the nickel Silver formulation over the years? My 1890s (ish) Jeffries/Crabb has nickel silver ends and has vever shown any discolouration. Can you still get "Old Style" NS?`


    Hello Clive


    Its quite a tricky thing for makers. Basically the nickel silver you can get nowadays is of quite a different composition to what was available in the past. The only stuff I could find in the correct thickness and hardness was 12% nickel content. You can get 18% nickel silver but I have never found anywhere which will supply it to the correct thickness of sheet. The long and short of it is that the higher the nickel content the less it tarnishes, really you want something with about 30% Nickel, the rest being mostly copper and a bit of zinc, I think that is what Jeffries used, or something similar to that. You cant really get it now so you have to electroplate really. 


    The proper modern equivalent would probably be "cupro nickel" which is 30% nickel and 70% copper - its what a British 50p is made of. Again you cant find this in the right thickness for concertina ends which is normally anything from 0.71mm thick to 0.91 thick depending on the design. If anyone ever found some of that I would want to know about it! 


    See you at a session some day I hope, you are only one country over from me in Northamptonshire.

  13. Best thing is to get in touch with the maker, the problem might actually be caused by your skin, some peoples skin seems to have more of an effect on nickel than others. I have always found that nickel silver in its modern form needs bright nickel plating to stay looking good. Or you can go for chrome but that doesen't always look as good and the process is a bit more fraught with error - the upside with chrome being that it is supposedly very durable though. 


    Best talk to the maker and ask what he recommends, and probably any modification best employ him to do it rather than a third party. 

  14. 8 hours ago, Robin Harrison said:

        Yep.....I was lucky enough years ago to buy one of the great Jeffries (G/D) anglos from John Rodd, member of the Albion Country Dance band ( the concertina was on record, I think )

            He was an astonishingly good anglo layer BUT.....he was then playing guitar as well and had Colin D. put on buttons that were very long so he could play it with his long guitar-picking fingernails.

            I found it difficult to manage so Colin re buttoned it for me..........



    I didn't think about that. The subtle difficulties of the multi instrumentalist I suppose.


  15. I suppose thing thing is you would have to remember to trim your finger nails regularly, I remember playing an instrument where the buttons stop flush with the end and I had not, the thing is then is that your finger nails touch the end before the button is all the way down resulting in a bit of an un ... "definite" end to the button stroke and possibly the pad doesn't lift all the way in such a case if you haven't pushed the button all the way down in such a case. Trimming nails is generally a good thing to do regularly anyway though.😆


    The especial thing to beware of with not pressing the button down all the way is that the amount to which the pad lifts affects the tuning, the note sounds at a slightly different pitch. One of the main reasons concertinas go "out of tune" is actually because the pads have compressed or sunken down over years and the overall lift is greater which affects the tuning a little. 


    Not really a problem if you have trimmed your nails though.


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  16. 12 hours ago, Chris Ghent said:

     Jake, I think I read in a description of Lachenal’s factory, no idea where I saw it or in which period, that they had a row of 17 fly presses.  This was part of a reference to a person who had worked for them for a long time as a fly press operator.  He would have had one big arm!

    17, that is interesting. I did a study of lachenal reed designs a few years ago - the set I studied had 17 sizes.

  17. I saw a print of this photo some time ago - Geoff Crabb had it. 


    I did not look at it that closely though. I don't think all of that equipment was present by the time Steve Dickinson took over the business, or maybe he got rid of some of it due to duplicate items intended for multiple workers, there seem to be at least two table saws and.... 5 fly presses, gosh that would be like being in heaven, no need to keep changing tools so much.


    Interestingly the metal trays in the foreground on the left I think he still uses! It looks exactly like the one which slides under his press to catch the parts as they are pressed out.


    Also I count 9 workers, and that really is the big deal here - I don't know of a modern concertina making business which would employ that many staff, that really is something we have lost.

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  18. On 2/2/2022 at 4:22 PM, Wally Carroll said:

    I've made two metal ended instruments and over three hundred wood ended instruments and haven't noticed much difference between the two.  What I do notice a difference in is the amount and size of openings in the fretwork.  



    Thank you for your observation, this was what I suspected from the two instruments I was recently comparing - instruments I made. Its good to hear it from someone else too.


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