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Dave Prebble

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Everything posted by Dave Prebble

  1. Hi Goran, For a change to be successful and accepted it must address a need and provide clear improvements which meet that need, thus providing advantage for the person who will be expected to adopt it. That every concertina player is likely to have some individual issues or problems, be it with the particular design of their instrument, the hand of finger size nature has given them or with muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or skin sensitivity disorders is a perfectly reasonable assumption. That we are all afflicted or affected by the same common set of problems is I think clearly unreasonable. Again, you are to be commended for your work towards addressing particular needs and for making the results of your findings available to all. What you seem unable to accept is that the large majority of players do not share your difficulty in holding the instrument nor do they find 5mm buttons to be non-functional ‘instruments of torture’. Your ideas and proposals are formulated from, and tailored by, your own individual experiences, perceptions and problems. Your solutions have hopefully made a big difference to you playing and personal comfort and will likely benefit those others who share similar difficulties. I have my own set of quite different issues and preferences. I have large hands and fingers but comparatively short little fingers. I have no problems holding the concertina and my favourite instrument is a Bb/F Jeffries fitted with original 3mm (1/8”) buttons which I find that I prefer over their 5 and 6mm cousins. To compensate in part for the little finger problem the palm rests are very slightly angled and I can play for hours and experience no discomfort from the buttons. Given your difficulties with 5mm buttons, playing this concertina might well give you great problems in accurate note location and clearly have you writhing in agony! As I said, we are all different and the above suits my particular needs admirably. I wonder if I am correct in assuming that you have converted your collection of Aeolas and Edeophones and the like to 10 or 12mm buttons, with restrictions to the range and altered spacings and layouts. If not, I don’t think that you are in any position to suggest to me that I thus convert my Jeffries instruments in order to try out solutions to your problems. Given that we are all different, (that surely must be beyond dispute), unless every concertina is tailor-made to the individual’s anatomy and preferences, then some compromises must be accepted. It is very much like the difference between a bespoke tailor-made suit and one mass produced to a ‘standard’ pattern and sold ‘off the peg’. The experiences of players and makers alike over many, many years have resulted in a range of quite reasonable ‘one size fits nearly all’ compromises. This can be improved on for the individual by buying ‘off the peg’ and having minor alterations done to improve the fit. The unfortunate minority who, in some way, fall beyond the common parameters must either accept a less than optimum fit, pretty major alterations to the instrument or be prepared to pay for bespoke hand made goods. Where concertinas are concerned I fall into the first group and where clothes are concerned, having a ‘non-standard’ 54” chest, decidedly within the latter category. A far more important concern for many folk on this forum is the shortage of reasonable quality starter particularly intermediate grade instruments. There are folk out there trying their best to address this issue be it by outsourcing parts and labour, the use of modern ‘alternative’ materials and production methods or by innovative changes in design, they deserve and have my greatest respect. I am not against change if it fulfils a useful purpose and is effective. As Paul Groff pointed out : <A forum such as this has limited persuasive power. Words will rarely convince a serious musician that some design change in a musical instrument has value.> Again, if you truly believe that that your ideas are of universal benefit to all , then I suggest that it is today’s makers and tomorrow’s designers that you will have to convince if your proposals are ever to be truly tested in the field. Unless such initial development were to be made to order or otherwise underwritten by someone, makers would, I suspect, require an awful lot of convincing before embarking on a project for which, as Clive points out, they might never see a return. That, my friend is your dilemma not ours. That your problems are not shared by many others on this forum would appear to be well supported by the fact that of 3885 forum posts in total, the Ergonomics Forum has attracted 25 replies to 6 postings, three of which were started by yourself. I hope I have made my viewpoint clear to all and reckon that's about all I wish to contribute to this issue. I must now take the only means available to me of ending my involvement in this thread that is to leave the field clear for you Goran to have the last and un-contested word. Regards Dave Oh no I don’t. I’m back ! As a post Script and of no direct relevance to the above argument :- I kept a small flock of sheep until the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. This is not to be confused with Foot In Mouth disease, a different ailment endemic in this forum and to which I have occasionally succumbed. I used to shear by hand using traditional bow sprung shears which gave the sheep an efficient if, in my unpractised hands, somewhat rough and ready, ‘haircut’. On one occasion I had I had to dag (shear round the tail end) of several sheep to control an outbreak of ‘Fly Strike’ (believe me you really, really don’t want to know!) With no shears available, I resorted to an emergency alternative and used heavy upholstery scissors. The resultant nerve damage in my thumb caused a complete loss of feeling from the root to the tip for very nearly six months. So if that old ‘Shears/Scissors’ analogy is dragged out yet again I shall not be held responsible for my actions….. pps. Surely everyone (except perhaps you Goran??) could see with their own eyes that the moon was round? I confess to having had some difficulty accepting that the Astronauts saw Earth as a Circle and not a Hexagon…….. But I’m over it now….I think……? Dave
  2. Goran.... not to worry! You have done no lasting harm to my 'English sense of humour' I can still derive some mild amusement from your total inability to realise that, after the production of some hundreds of thousands of concertinas and a hundred and seventy years of their enjoyment by players ranging from the musically un-gifted up to the unbelievably proficient, the instrument is not in fact some absurd unplayable ergonomic joke perpetrated on millions of gullible folk by CW and all those who followed him. If you really want a new ergonomically designed instrument, go ahead with your designs and development and convince a manufacturer of its merits. If encouraged by his response and any marketing trials, go into production and make your fortune. Though a self confessed sceptic, I give you my word that I would give such an instrument an extensive and fair trial and an absolutely honest review. Until then I for one would be much obliged if, despite your obviously genuine beliefs, you would desist from implying that every concertina in existence is, in one way or another, second rate to some 'instrument' that exists, up till now, only in your mind. In the faint hope of hearing something new, I shall endeavour for as long as I can, to 'stiffen my upper lip' and continue to read your postings, though increasingly it appears that some folk find are finding it hard sustaining such high levels of dedication. Goran - 'If there is a better world find it' Dave - Be my guest Goran, and please, do hurry up old chap! Dave
  3. Hi Folks, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', or should that be 'If it ain't broke, fix it till it is ' Yer pays your money - Yer takes your choice ! Regards Dave
  4. Hi Tom, Thank you indeed for pointing out my error. It stuck out like a lighthouse on a dark night the second I read your post. All temperatures should have read Deg F (not C) It is 30 years since I covered this stuff at college and I am afraid I shall never be fully comfortable around metrication and Centigrade! Having read your notes I shall do a little follow up reading about thin film oxides. I have been meaning to find out a little more about coloured aluminium surface treatments for a possible future project so this may tie in nicely. Regards and thanks again Dave
  5. Hi Robin, Would it be possible to expand on your post by supplying the missing link in the equation - Namely the respective button force ('Springing' if you like) for each instrument? In my experience, the later Wheatstone concertinas often have significantly heavier springing than the earlier boxes. It may be that in your case, in addition to the concentration of finger effort on a domed button, the concertina may have stronger springs than are actually required for all normal playing purposes. It could be that a slight change in spring strength would do much to reduce any comfort problems Anyway, after 2 hours playing, surely it's time for a cup of tea! Button shape is a matter of personal taste. I prefer slightly domed tops or et the very least, radiused corner edges rather than completely flat and my least favourite option would be rounded though quite a few of my buttons now approximate to this shape due to the wear and tear from over a century of playing. Regards Dave
  6. Hi Alfred and David, Nice to see you folks registered with proper names. Not a lot of use really knowing that Wheatstone English No 2815* belongs to ‘Splodge’ and Lachenal Anglo No. 1285*6 belongs to 'stagimasher' ! Seriously though, just a quick plea to those who registered 'screen names' in error/panic when the forum changed over and have yet to amend their details - name, rough location and interests etc please take a minute to review your entries in ‘ My Controls’. I, (and & I’m sure quite a few others) feel much more at ease speaking to ‘real names’ or am I just becoming a reactionary ‘old f*rt’ Sorry fellas, I digress. Having had some serious problems with hijackers and hackers recently, my confidence in computer security had taken somewhat of a knock. I don’t think I would be first in line to add details of my instruments onto a remote server, conveniently stacked up with those of hundreds of other folk's instruments and details. As David rightly says is really the responsibility of each of us to ensure that we record sufficient details, valuation certificates, receipts and clear photos of our instruments for both identification and insurance purposes and keep these records in a safe place for use in the event of emergencies. Mine are lodged in a separate signed , dated and sealed envelope along with other personal papers at the Bank. Where a site like this comes into it’s own is if the owner considers it best to publish the details of missing or stolen instruments. Something C.Net has always been happy to do whenever asked. A better form of 'attack' may well be to post this identification information off to all the dealers and repairers the instant the instrument goes missing. Regards Dave Sorry Ken, I didn't see your post when I wrote above..dave
  7. Too true Jim, and one of them has his finger on the button in the White House!! Dave
  8. Hi Jim, Vague recollections of the thread you mentioned. Didn't one such concertina come up on ebay a couple of years ago? Jim <......with the buttons that would normally be under her sprained finger moved to other locations? > That's a really helpful idea Jim. I've heard there is a temporary shortage shortage of Bb s in Anchorage and E s in Boston......Perhaps she could help ? Regards Dave
  9. I dunno about this younger generation. Soft, if you ask me! Hi Rhomylly, I once spent 6 weeks playing one handed with the other end strapped to my leg! (What?.....my concertina, of course ! ) Where's your fighting spirit.....You have got two hands havn't you ?? I have to admit you would need to exercise more than a little imagination 'filling in' the missing notes in your mind if you happen to play the English Concertina. Get well soon Regards Dave
  10. Hi Dave Steady on old boy !! This forum wouldn't dare print the way I pronounce Stagi !! I'd be drummed out! Regards Dave
  11. Hi Jim, Likewise, I can't remember where I came across it either......must be some sort of brain / age embrittlement process affecting our temper I must admit that it seemed perhaps a little unlikely to me as I would have thought that the lower the temperature reached, the less the likelihood or even possibility of any phase changes in the material taking place. I did wonder, however, if it could be in some way a product of the contraction and subsequent expansion in the metal as it went through significant changes in temperature. I added this snippet to my post as a point of interest others might care to follow up just for the fun of it. Certainly can't think of any makers who have cryogenic facilities tucked away in the back room! It did occur to me after making my last posting that I ought to have added that there are wide variations in the composition of the many types of 'carbon steel' available today each formulated to give properties suited to specialist applications, including I have little doubt, corrosion resistance. Each of these steel grades will have it's own special hardening and tempering regime to produce a range of different hardness/stiffness/brittleness properties. Due to this range in types of steel, though the principles I set out will apply in general, direct comparison between temper colours of reeds should only be considered as a 'rule of thumb' guide. Laboratory hardness testing would be the only way to truly assess the properties present in particular reeds Regard Dave Sorry Jim, I forgot Rockwool is simply glass fibre wool similar to that used in loft insulation. Since fibre sizes are in the same order as those found in asbestos, do wear a dust mask and gloves and treat with some respect Dave
  12. Hi Paul, I think you have the right idea now regarding the temper colours left on reeds by different makers. My suggestion regarding chemical blueing was as a possible means of increasing the corrosion resistance of the upper face of the reed where the original oxide film left by tempering has been removed by filing leaving areas more vulnerable to rust attack Not everyone's cup of tea I am sure but just in case anyone out there is curious to understand a little more about reed steel, I have added below a, hopefully correct ;-) and understandable explanation of how hardening and tempering works. The hardening and tempering process for carbon steel (from which spring/reed steel is made) is really a method by which the crystalline structure of the steel is altered and managed in order to strike a balance between hardness and brittleness suitable for the use to which the steel will be put.. When steel is heated to cherry red colour (approx 1500deg C), the crystalline structure alters to form Austenite If, however, it is cooled suddenly by quenching in a bath of oil, a new crystal structure, martensite, is formed. This crystal form is characterized by an angular needle like structure with a very high hardness. While martensitic steel is extremely hard, it is also extremely brittle and will break or chip with the slightest shock. Furthermore, internal stresses remain in the material from the sudden high temperature quenching and these will also tend to lead to fatigue failure. Tempering relieves these stresses and causes a partial decomposition of the martensite into other crystalline forms called ferrite & cementite. The amount of this partial phase change is controlled by the tempering temperature. The tempered steel is not as hard as pure martensite, but is much tougher. So to produce material suitable for reeds the steel is first heated to cherry red and is then cooled very quickly in an oil bath. This gives a very hard but brittle material. In this state it would be almost impossible to file with normal tools and would have a very short life due to it’s brittleness. The material is then heated slowly up to a tempering temperature somewhere between 450 and 600 deg C. As the steel is heated some of the martensite changes to ferrite and cementite and the hardness decreases but the material gets tougher. At any given temperature in this process, the particular crystalline nature and its degree of toughness/hardness, can be permanently fixed in place by rapid cooling in a quenching bath. As the temperature rises, the surface of the steel undergoes some spectacular temperature specific colour changes. These are due to the formation of different complex oxides of iron which fortuitously are different in colour. Starting at around 400 deg a straw colour appears which changes through light and dark brown, browny purple, light and dark purple and eventually at around 575 – 600 deg the familiar ‘blueing’ often seen on the underside of reeds. In order to allow proper heat distribution and the dissipation of internal stresses, the material is held at the required temperature for a period of hours before being quenched to ‘lock’ the required crystalline structure in place It follows that at this higher temperature, more of the Martensite is converted and the blue reed material is significantly softer than straw colour material. It will also be significantly softer and easier to work. This would also tally with Paul’s comment that early Crabb and Jeffries reeds have a straw like colour….. they are notoriously hard and hence difficult to file. What the exact relationships are between brittleness, hardness and ‘springiness’ or indeed how these might relate to the sound produced by a reed I cannot say. Hardening and softening of brass can also be carried out by heat treatment. I am somewhat less sure of the details of the processes but, for what it is worth, here goes…. When brass is heated to a particular yellowy/orange colour (best viewed in semi darkness) and then allowed to cool slowly, the brass will harden significantly. ( the exact opposite to steel you may note) If the brass is heated to this temperature but is cooled rapidly, it will anneal or ‘soften’ the material. The process is repeatedly used during the process of making brass instruments and the like since, as brass is hammered, it becomes harder and, you’ve guessed it, more brittle. If work were not stopped periodically to anneal the brass by heat treatment, the brass would split under the hammer. I have also heard that, sometimes, completed instruments ( Not Concertinas !!! ) are also cryogenically treated at very low temperatures to relieve and distribute the internal material stresses built up in the forming processes. This is said to give a much rounder and fuller tone to the instrument. How this works I have no idea. If you wish to try hardening reed sized pieces of brass remember their surface area is high in comparison to their mass and they will tend to cool rapidly…. The exact opposite to what you want to achieve. One tip is to preheat a block of steel to a similar temperature, place the heated reed on the block and cover it with some form of heatproof insulation. Rockwool mat or similar) This should allow for the desired slow cooling. If you have made it to the bottom of this post and not dozed off, I am both flattered and impressed. Regards Dave
  13. Hi Jim, In reply to yours, I had a listen this afternoon to one of my old tapes and Tommy Williams favoured :- ' LA sh' n'l '. In view of his pretty strong accent I suspect that most Americans might struggle to understand a lot of what, a probably toothless, Tommy actually says on the tape! For those interested, the tape is called 'Springtime in Battersea' and has some of his superb duet playing interlaced with anecdotes and recollections from when Tommy was a concertina tuner/maker and repairer for Lachenal and others. Perhaps someone could tell us if this is currently available on cd anywhere? My tape must be well over 20 years old and is getting decidedly tatty. In my experience, in the UK at least, the above pronounciation shares roughly equal popularity with Latch-e-n'l, the concertinas themselves also being fondly referred to as 'Latchboxes' Regards Dave
  14. Hi to all, My main objective in starting this thread was to explore simple methods of achieving consistent results when re-springing an action. I fully accept Goran’s point of view that actual readings in standard units such as grams or ounces are essential to meaningful discussion should, as has happened, the argument progress beyond the original parameters. I don’t propose to discuss actual forces in grams until Richard has been able to check his instrument calibration. In order that we are all 'singing off the same hymn sheet' in future discussion, my definition of ‘touch weight’ would be as follows: ‘That static weight, (shall we say in grams?) which, when placed on the tip of a vertical button, is just sufficient to cause that button to move and thus operate the lever and start to lift the pad. I’m happy to accept Dave E’s definition and thus disregard any minor differences between static and dynamic coefficients of friction. Busy now……more to follow Regards Dave
  15. Hi, You will have noticed I am sure that on steel reeds the underside of the reed very often retains its original blueing and shows markedly less evidence of rust than the top of the reed. This blue colour is a thin coating of a particular type of ferrous oxide which is chemically fairly stable and occurs as a result of the steel tempering process. This oxide does much to protect the surface and preclude the formation of an altogether more invasive form of oxide we know as rust. This oxide coating principle is put to good use in the bluing of gun barrels scientific and engineering instruments and the like. The top of the reed generally has most if not all of the original coating removed when the reed is filed to shape and in subsequent tuning activities and is thus more vulnerable to rust attack. There are 'paint on' chemical compounds available, known not surprisingly as 'Blueing Compound', that can be bought from Clockmakers or restoration materials suppliers. I have use this material to excellent effect on the restoration of antiques but as yet have never got round to experimenting on reed tongues though I feel sure that there is every likelihood of significantly increasing the corrosion resistance of reeds in situ. Maybe one of you out there has already tried this or could be tempted to a little experimentation on some old reeds??. I am reasonably sure that the process could be carried out on the tops of the reeds after final tuning but reed bottoms may prove a little more difficult. The thickness of the coating would be measured in microns and thus not materially affect the mass distribution along the reed. If you do try this, read the safety precautions most carefully and adhere closely to the simple but essential safety precautions advised. These compounds generally contain complex cyanide salts and must be treated with due respect. Blue the steel..... Not yourself!!! Regards Dave
  16. Hi Dave, Plenty of nickel silver in various ornaments, trays come to mind; or lurking in your cutlery drawer (EPNS Electro Plated Nickel Silver) if you can acid strip the plate then roll it and cut it. Do a full canteen of cutlery and hog the market !! Regards Dave
  17. Hi, I'm getting confused here. Which combination of instruments do you have to play to get to be an 'AngloCon' Bishop these days ?? Dave
  18. Hi Again, thinking back to an old video clip of me, well in the spirit, and playing in a very lively session the description 'Anglo Wrangler' springs to mind..... Dave
  19. Hi Goran, <Goran...but if you want really even 'action' I definitely wish to *measure* it...not least in order to make it possible to reproduce the results.> Reply: I too wish to measure it accurately but only need arbitrary units for comparison purposes thus I only require a simple divided scale. For my practical purpose there is no particular advantage in making a scale calibrated in grams or ounces. I fully agree with your comments regarding even button travel and button height. You are quite right regarding the ‘touch’ demands of piano players. I also restore and rebuild pianos and confirm that when setting up a key bed, the key height, level and travel are adjusted in increments of a few thousandths of an inch using paper shim washers. Similarly, the touch weight is also adjusted very accurately. Quite often, the only thing required to turn a seemingly mediocre piano into an excellent instrument is the application of proper care and attention in accurately regulating the action. It is a pity that the same attention to detail is not always exercised by some of those setting up concertinas. Regards Dave
  20. Hi Fellas, Thanks for your replies. I had considered both methods as possibilities before posting but having now read the replies I do feel more inclined more towards Richard’s ‘Spring Pencil’ method. It just seems to me that it would be far easier and more convenient to use. I certainly hadn’t considered making a ‘Double Ended’ using the spring in tension with a hook. This is a great idea and could be easily used to assess the actual down force exerted at the pad. (Richard ? Do you use a separate spring for each function??) Whenever I see American tool catalogues (catalogs I guess to most of you over the pond ;-} ), I tend to go green with envy both at the range of stuff available to you Guys and the low prices! Is there some off the shelf ‘ ready made’ tool over there that would do the job or is it a case of making one up? For my purposes I am not too bothered about having a scale calibrated in grams or ounces. It would be enough for me if it is simple, reasonably accurate and capable of comparing pressures thus ensuring reasonably consistent results across all buttons. I must say some of the figures quoted above surprised me a bit. The 200g for a Hohner single row seemed high. I used to play one of the old single row 4 stop models and well remember the very heavy springing. Not a problem for me on that instrument as it seemed to suit the rhythmical English Dance music I was playing and I am sure that the high spring pressure (along with, of course, the resultant snickety snackety ‘pad slap’ accompanyment ) contributed a lot towards the distinctive sound signature of these instruments. I suspect that one reason for the high spring pressure was that the simple ‘button to pad’ action had a very low mechanical advantage compared say to accordion keys but yet each pad still had to resist bellows pressure from a 4 voice reedbank. A couple of seconds shutting my eyes and pressing down with a fingertip on a set of kitchen scales did much to convince me that Goran’s 200g figure is probably about right. (Most unscientific I know Goran, but this time I speak for you J ) That led me to think about the seemingly very low figure Richard quotes of a couple of grams. My kitchen scales are no good at all for measurements in that lower magnitude and I have not yet got a calibrated ‘pencil spring balance’ to measure it with…….There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza… Whether or not Richard’s device is calibrated exactly in grams matters not a jot in practice. The point is that he is using it to provide a range of reproducible and consistent button touch results to suit client tastes and needs. I have never played one of Richard’s concertinas so therefore have no ‘feel’ (no pun intended) for just how light his springing is. It would be interesting to test button pressure by placing a succession of small washers or coins on a (range of) single button(s) till the spring force is overcome and then weighing them to give a result. It is at the same time surprising how much force a finger can apply with seemingly very low ‘effort’ and also how easily that same finger can carry out very delicate and accurate tasks. Though I am sure we are all capable of 'coping' with instruments with a wide range of spring pressures, as I said right in the beginning, button ‘touch’ is a very much a matter of individual preference and it is up to each of us to find out what suits them best
  21. Eh Up Al, I have played that concertina myself (a Crabb) and it is as light as a feather compared to my 38k Jeffries. Now, if only I could play it like John ............... Cheers Dave
  22. Hi, I concur with those above when they suggest that the reed quality and fit is far more significant than the frame raw material. I have been lucky enough to play some superb quality top end concertinas made with aluminium frames. I could perceive no real differences in tone or response but Oh! the saving in weight !!!! A real Godsend for Morris musicians who generally have to play standing. Leaving aside the tone and response question, there could be two potentially quite serious impacts should you go down the route of swapping reed frames. Should you attempt the task yourself the likely result is a nervous breakdown and if you commission the work from someone else, bankruptcy may well loom on your horizon!! Regards Dave
  23. Hi Sharron, Thanks for the tip off about this site. The fiddle playing this week is awesome!! My problem is that I have a 56k modem link and the whole thing breaks up & grinds to a halt for a few seconds every few minutes! It just can't keep up. Does anyone know of any sort of 'buffering software' which will even out my 'peaks and troughs' so I can listen without the glitches? Now Safely on my Favourite Sites list ...Thanks Dave
  24. Hi All, The spring pressure or 'touch' of an instrument is very much a personal choice and can vary from very light right through to pressures more at home in the physiotherapy department of the local Orthopedic Hospital! Many concertinas have a marked touch pressure variation between different buttons, some being light and others heavy. The ideal for me is to have a light and consistent touch and even button travel across all buttons and a box properly set up is a joy to play. There are a lot of variables that determine touch pressure including, but by no means limited to, Spring alignment and position on the lever as well as variations, even between different springs of the same batch, due to variation in coil diameter, arm length, spring 'open angle' and the like. Some Makers/Repairers seem to be so much better than others at achieving even and consistent results and I freely admit that, as carefully as I try to gauge and compare pressure when re-springing instruments, variations do creep in that only really become apparent when reassembled and played. I do get there in the end but often only through exercising much patience. Given that this a task I don't carry out every day I am unlikely to improve my skill and judgement very much by task repetition so it follows that I have a need for some kind of simple to make and easy to use comparator / measurement device to accurately assess pressures as the job progresses. If I am to believe the claims of some folk that they set each button to exactly x grams or ounces, it follows that they are using some such device to achieve and measure their results. I can envisage some possible solutions, but being a great believer of not 're-inventing the wheel' I would very much like to hear from anyone who has a favourite 'tried and tested' method of achieving consistent 'touch'. Regards Dave
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