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Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

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Posts posted by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

  1. I agree that with wax it would not be a problem in a concertina. I wanted to avoid wax on this project, I don't feel it is as suitable a solution in a concertina as it is in a melodeon or accordion.


    Morse concertinas have the problem that you cant remove a reed without taking it out of its wax. Perhaps this would not be a problem in my project if I simply made my concertina with a removable reed pan and waxed in the reeds and tuned the reeds with a scratcher while they are mounted in the reed pan which is disconnected from the instrument. In this way I would not have to remove the reeds from their pan to tune or tend to them. I didnt think of this before as last time I removed each reed and used a small single cut file to tune them.


    What do you think of this new approach?

  2. I have an issue to report about harmonikas.cz - basically I ordered a set of their a-mano pro reeds and about half of the reeds are unusable for flat mounting in a squeeze box of any sort.


    There are two problems. The first is that the corners of the reed plates are rounded off in two dimentions - so the sides of the reed plates have rounded edges but also the top of the surface towards the corners rounds off as well, this makes it very diffucult to have a good airtight seal. (see image) The 2nd problem is that the part of the reed itself where it is riveted onto the plate extends all the way to the bottom edge on some reeds but not others! Again making those reeds very very difficult to flat mount.


    I think their frame punching dies must be knackered or something. Either way I am asking for a refund or replacement :( 20326614066_a4a2dba8d2_b.jpg

  3. Gary, maybe I could come up with that. Henrik suggested a removable attachment that could non-invasively attach to any concertina, which might be interesting That said The hand rests of any anglo I have seen are never glued on, normally being attached with screws or bolts. It is easy to make a new one or if you are not into woodwork any maker/repairer could make you something fitted to you, a bit of a higher or lower bar if need be. It is one of the tricky things as it is pretty hard to have a one size fits all. One of the things I particularly like is how dipper concertinas have this hand rest which is not flat on the top but fits the profile of your palm.


    When I ordered my anglo from ap james I was learning on a mates lachenal and I used some double sided tape to put thicknesses of hard card on the hand rests of that until the height felt comfortable and asked Ap james to make the rest to that exact height, which worked pretty well.

  4. It is an unconventional thing for sure, I kind of told myself to forget a lot of what I think of as a concertina and just think "how can I make this work". Some things I tried worked well and others less so. I am not sure it is really realistic to try to market such a thing as this instrument, but from the things learned in the process of making it I feel there are some ideas that could be applied to concertinas as an option. Say for example offering the option of an air lever or the option of wider buttons, which I am sure many makers already offer such stuff if someone was to ask.


    I really want to get into making concertinas, I have just graduated and am getting into work as a model maker now. I want to make more prototypes until I have something really good and then offer it for sale. I am not sure if I will ever make the jump to this being my job or not, I guess the ultimate decider of that is if it can work financially. Making this stuff may or may not remain a hobby. Time will tell.


    I will record some tunes asap, I just have an awful microphone on my laptop and am at my university address still. My dad has a good mic, I will borrow that.

  5. Hello people


    For the last few years I have been saying lots of "oh but what if concertinas were made like this and that" so in the end I made a prototype to test some ideas. This was made in my final year of my degree in model making and prototyping, it took about 4 months of learning, designing, working out and ect. It is the first working prototype I have made of anything, mostly in the past I focussed on static models which I guess is why it took so long to make this, lots of learning about moving parts.


    first up here are the pictures: http://www.middletonmodels.com/product/


    The basic plan of the project was to make a G/D anglo concertina that overcame some of the things I didn't personally get on with on the original design. These are: it is harder to play it standing up than sitting down, I always found the buttons a bit small, I thought an air lever was more logical than an air button and finally I found many concertinas to have very small hand rests (not much height) which never really appealed so much to myself. So I made a design which tries to address all of these things I was not happy with. Make what you will of that, it is personal opinion and I am not saying what I have made is better necessarily for everyone, it just suited me. Others may play this thing and prefer a more classic anglo.


    So to make it easier to play standing up I carved these wooden hand rests that fit the hand very anatomically, and I made the hand strap have an elastic element which gives better hand retention while also being quite flexible. The straps are in a Y shape, the thumb goes through the top of the Y. I also tried to make the weight evenly distributed either side of the hand rests, I found this easiest with a rectangular shape, basically the heaviest reeds are mounted the other side of the had rests than the buttons to try and equalise the weight like a pair of scales. I also tried to reduce the overall weight by making the ends out of carbon fibre which is probably what took the longest to learn to make. Other than that I just made the buttons 8mm diameter instead of the more common 5 or 6mm diameter and added an air lever.


    Did it work? Some things went better than others. Basically I really like the buttons, anatomical hand rests and air lever. The thing I am not that happy with is playing it standing up. It is marginally easier but not completely easy. This may be due to my action which is a bit over engineered (lots of 1.5mm brass) making it heavier than intended. That aside the sound is good. The ends don't have much holes in them and the carbon is quite dampening, it sounds like a single voice melodeon or accordion, more so than other hybrid instruments which I think are closer to the sound of a classic concertina reed.


    Conclusion: to make an anglo easier to play standing up I would probably just give it a hard case that was a bit taller than normal so you can put your foot on that and rest the instrument on your leg rather than bothering with carbon fibre and Y shaped hand straps. So next I started making a more traditional 6 sided wooden instrument, this is unfinished but will be based on a lachenal anglo wreck I found in a junk shop in most respects (slightly higher had rests) The point of this prototype is to learn to do more basic stuff better, like making a better action and bellows my leatherwork is slightly messy in a couple of areas and the action is a bit clunky here and there. When this is done I imagine a third prototype where I will try to combine some elements of the first two prototypes in whatever way I conclude is best from the experience of making the first 2. (it will probably be a 6 sided instrument with an air lever, slightly wider buttons, slightly higher hand rests and a nice tall box to carry it in! The journey continues!



  6. A good thing to do to help you decide if you want a hybrid or an old lachenal might be to visit the guy who is selling a norman hybrid anglo, on the buy and sell thread.






    I would say that his price is a pretty good deal, I have played these norman concertinas and found them good, I am sure if you asked the guy would not mind you coming over and trying it. The only thing is he is in birmingham and you are in london but I would say if you are spending this much it is worth the journey

  7. I was sent half a dozen of these reeds for evaluation by a person wondering if they should use them.


    They were vaguely concertina shaped. There was a dovetail in the plan view but the frame would need to be finished with a bevel in order to clip into a traditional style pan.


    It looks like I got it a bit wrong then, I did not notice the dovetail. I guess the picture I was given was a bit blurry. When you say they have a dovetail but would need a bevel added, how do you mean, are the outside sides of the frame not at an angle all the way round?

  8. hmm. Depends what machine they have, though if they are making accordion reeds maybe its a basic one. Surely its worth someone with the knowledge interacting with those guys to see if they can/are willing to change things a bit?


    Sorry matt, thread drift haha

  9. Dana, I was myself wondering who actually uses these reeds. I guess some people have to or why would harmonikas make them. I wonder who has used them. I guess its a question of cost, if it was still cost effective to buy these ones and modify them yourself rather than making your own from scratch then its a viable proposition, so long as the quality is good.


    What would be amazing is if this factory was prepared to take some tips from someone such as yourself who is experienced with concertina reeds and improved their product so people would not have to modify them post purchase. These concertina reeds are apparently identical to the reeds used in their "Dix" range, and the sound plates of that range are made by electro-erosion tech. I am not really familiar with the electro erosion process so am not sure how easy it would be to alter the manufacturing process to give the desired venting on the inside and angles on the outside. If it did not require any significant re-tooling maybe they might consider changing the reeds if there was a recognised demand.

  10. The object of going for individually-plated reeds is to permit greater flexibility swapping around accidentals or trying out layouts, rather than to get the 'concertina' sound over the 'accordion' sound.

    Ah I understand now. Interesting idea, though you might have to be careful in how the reed pan/reed block will be made, as different notes will have some variation in size - it might mean that some notes cant be exchanged as it might not fit in a chamber that another reed would. However some movability is possible surely, might have to be very careful though

    When you say their concertina reeds "look pretty bad" and "miss several features" do you mean in comparison to their accordion reeds or in comparison to actual concertina reeds? As long as they're no worse than accordion reeds, that suits me. The oval plates are a bit of a put-off, actually.

    Here is the image they sent me:


    Perhaps my initial reaction to these was too harsh. The thing about these reeds is they are an odd half way step between concertina reeds and accordion ones. They could not be put in a classic concertina style red pan due to the vertical sides to the reed frames but perhaps you could flat mount them like hybrid concertinas are made. I guess its all possible, it would just be different to how things are normally done, though don't let that put you off :) I am sure these are great reeds, they are actually the same as the reeds from their "dix" range (apart from the plates) which a guy on this forum is currently using in another project, he found the reeds to be of a good quality. the frames might be difficult to work with though.

    Those harmonium reeds look interesting, although I wonder how they would respond to the wind characteristics of a concertina bellow. I'm sitting here staring at the pictures trying to work out if they're massive or not. The screw-holes would be handy mind you, as I was going to fix them down like that anyhow.

    Hmm I actually don't know. Might have to ask them it may be that the harmonium works at a completely different pressure than a concertina. If they were the same as an accordion reed in all other characteristics than how they are mounted then they would probably be easier to use than the concertina reed, best ask them though.




  11. I will post a thread about that instrument soon, I am just finishing the er... finish :) I am actually living in bournemouth atm unfortunately.


    I got their "a mano- professional" reeds. Just high quality conventional accordion reeds really. They actually have not arrived yet, it will be a couple of weeks (they said 4-6 weeks).


    They offer reeds on single plates in two forms from what I have learned, you can get a harmonium reed like this: http://www.harmonikas.cz/en/harmonium-1#obsah

    or a "concertina reed" which is just an accordion reed with the plate changed to an oval shape. Their concertina reeds look pretty bad. They are missing several features, for a start there is a rivet sticking out of the bottom and then the sides of the reed frame (on the outside) are parallel so would not fit into a dovetailed reed pan without significant changes.


    I would recommend that if you want to make something quite unusual, maybe you could try the harmonium reeds, they look very similar to some concertina reeds I have seen, they just fit into the pan differently (with two screws). I think that would be a very interesting experiment, perhaps even being indistinguishable from conventional concertina reeds in performance when mounted in the right way. Though perhaps someone who knows more about this would like to comment?

  12. hey man I recently got some reeds from harmonikas.cz. I experienced the same thing, they seem to forget to reply to your email. you have to keep sending reminder emails such as "did you get my last email" or whatever. I had to do that a couple of times throughout the buying process ;) but got there in the end. Their prices are pretty good

  13. I also am a fan of Macintosh's unique take on art nouveau. I would really recommend a tour of the Glasgow school of art as the interior was amazing. Unfortunately the interior was practically all burnt down last year :( Something about a projector being left on in the basement.


    On the upside, I would recommend the Glasgow riverside museum - a great transport museum with an excellent collection of bicycles cars, ship models and the like, If such things interest you.

  14. (1) Do most players of English country dance tunes prefer the G/D to the C/G?


    (2) Will a Marcus Anglo be significantly louder than my Crane? It's not that I want to drown other people out, just that I want to be able to hear myself in a session. If it's not going to be appreciably louder I will dust off my melodeon instead.



    1: I have played concertina for morris quite a bit and would say that a C/G will carry a bit more than a G/D though players of ECD tunes would favour a G/D due to the fact most of the material is commonly played in these keys. I had a c/g which I played for morris for a while but just got frustrated as it only really worked when I was the only musician (rarely) because playing in C gives the best range of chords, so I would end up playing on the G row but not sounding quite as good. I would recommend a G/D though if you were playing to a huge crowd - say a ceilidh spot at a festival it might sound a bit quiet whereas say a melodeon would be fine. For the average pub morris tour the volume of a marcus G/D would not be a problem (though quieter than the average hohner). The biggest problem I would say is playing while standing, it does take some practice (or put your case on the floor and rest the tina on your knee, way easier)


    2: A marcus is a great instrument though I would say that I am not too sure the volume of a typical crane - all I can compare it to is my melodeon, although my melodeon uses the same reeds as the marcus (voci armoniche) The marcus concertinas I have played are not as loud. As I said above - might prove a problem if you are playing in a big open space with the crowd far away but not so much in a pub car park or town centre.


    Finally there is a good marcus concertina G/D on ebay at the moment at a good deal, if I was buying my first G/D tina now I would buy it. They are great.

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