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Geoff Wooff

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About Geoff Wooff

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    Heavyweight Boxer
  • Birthday 04/24/1950

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    playing music on English concertina, uilleann pipes and hurdy gurdy (among others). Making instruments, keeping healthy in my old age, chatting with friends. Now learning to play MacCann Duet.Latest project is Learning the Hayden Duet.
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  1. Indeed Wolf! I forgot to mention reed quality when suggesting the improvements happening during the early 1890's. Only the best reed makers were used on the more expensive instruments. Harry Boyd is purported to have specified that only the finest craftsmen should work on the concertinas he ordered, which suggests there was some variation in output quality. I have noticed that some concertinas have parallel sided reeds and in others the reed tongues are tapered. Obviously there was quite an amount of development work going on and "all the latest improvements" appears in the Lachenal price lists. All these small changes can make a huge difference; my 1898 Type 22 with its shallow flat reed pans and parallel sided reeds sounds very different to a Model 22 from post 1910.
  2. Pallets are not made of wood , I mean the holes in the pallet board. Usually the action materials are Brass and certainly the pivots are of a decent quality on the New Models, some even have riveted action !
  3. Tiposx, now there is a topic to engage a technical expert and a concertina historian... of which I am neither but I'll try to put down some thoughts from the few New Models I have examined. In a comparison with the usual 'victorian' concertina as produced by most of the makers during the 19th century the New Model, which appears in Lachenal's Price list of ( assumed) 1890: The first thing to note is the refined Reedpan design ( at least in those I have examined) which is of the 'canted' or tapered type. This means that the wall heights of the reed chambers are lower towards the high notes and increase in elevation as the note pitches decend. The idea of this is to get all the notes to speak at a similar loudness at a set air pressure. The other change was to add cross walls in the reed chambers to decrease the air volume which in turn allows increased air pressure which also builds more quickly . These cross wall were sometimes added by owners of the older concertina design to increase the volume output. A block of cork jammbed between the chamber walls just past the ends of the reeds will speed up the speaking and increase efficiency of notes. So, with these two devices more and better balanced volume can be obtained . On the Victorian model the pallet hole sizes are usually the same throughout the range of the instrument but in the New Model these vent holes have been adjusted , graded in size , again with the intention of improving efficiency. I'm sure much attention was also paid to the action box. Perhaps the lever pivot points were shifted a little to improve the pallet lift. Certainly the 'raised ends' do bring the open part of the grills closer to the vent holes... perhaps that adds a more direct tone quality to these instruments. That these New Models were introduced as early as 1890 appears fact but I wonder how much further development took place. For me the metal ended versions are too strident but the Rosewood or Ebony ended types have a very lovely tone, perhaps imparted by their Mahogany pallet boards. Other things to note; the New Model's bellows are sometimes criticized for having short depth folds but they are usually of such fine quality that 100+ years on they are still able to function well. The general build quality of the New Model is also remarkable.
  4. The Lachenal New Model was perhaps the forerunner of the 'modern' concertina, a re-design of the standard Victorian instrument, it was a real step up in tone and dynamics . Its qualities must have caused a stir in the development department at Wheatstone & Co and led to the introduction of the model 22 and the Aeola . The New Model appears to have been made from the 1890's until the demise of the company. The closure of Lachenal & Co. , due to the economic circumstances of the period also heralded cost cutting measures at Wheatstone's. It is probable that market rivalry between the two factories led to some of the finest instruments being produced , but with the competition gone the bean counters had their way and later Wheatstone concertinas suffered the fate of being made down to a price. A very short and probably 'date' inaccurate history.
  5. A good wooden ended New Model makes a great companion to a 22. I made a double case that acts as a chair when stood on end, the spare compartment has had several occupants over the years but my favorite was a 48 rosewood New Model, great for those occasions when the 22 is just a little too much. The previous owner of that New Model wanted it back and now my double case has an unbalanced feel whilst I look for a suitable replacement..... perhaps an Aeola ?
  6. Well Neil, that is just fantastic! Even though it is something the more experienced players might take for granted, it is still magic when one can pass a melody onto another and end up playing it together. A joyous moment.
  7. Stephen, to my ear the chords David is using sound like those folk guitarists might choose to accompany their singing, so searching for song books with chords noted along with the melody and words of songs, rather like "Fake Books", would be a good starting place. Ok those types of scores tend to note the chords like this ; G, D7, C. These are the the chords of what is known as ' the three chord trick' for tunes in the key of G major. With these one can make a simple accompaniment to a G major tune or song. The notes of these chords are G , B and D = G chord. D, F#, A and C= D7 chord. C, E, and G = C chord. If you want the Minor versions of chords just flaten the major thirds i.e. G, Bb, D = G minor etc. This is a very simplified explanation and one does not need to use all these note or in the same order, or octave, to create the desired harmonies. Of course ,you do not need to sing to play like this. You could add a chordal backing to someone else's singing or, as I tend to do, play a tune and add chordal harmonies . Start with a simple tune that you know well, a Christmas carol or nursery rhyme perhaps. When playing a melody note add another note that appears in the same chord and see if you like it or wish to choose another note for your harmony. Playing it by ear you might learn just as quickly as from a book. Somewhere on the Internet you will find chord charts giving the individual notes for all keys. Is this is the sort of thing you want to know ?
  8. Geoff,  I actually had the surgery about three years ago and it is much better 

    but it was to the point that that joint was bone on bone. I am a anesthetist and in my day we didn’t wife spread use have

    anesthesia ventilators So we sat there squeezed in a bag for hours breathing for the patient I’m sure that had an impact on the joint over the  years.   I have also had jobs that require lots of typing so thank you for your suggestion regarding the pads I’ll get in touch with button box to see what they might have

    1. Geoff Wooff

      Geoff Wooff

      Ah  yes  Stephen,  lots of  wear and tear.  I  am  thankful my  hands still have some  flexibility  as I  have also  worked them  hard  and  continue to do so  ..;though 70  years old and still hand making musical  instruments  with no plans to  retire.  I  do  play  my concertinas  for  half an hour  every morning  , just to  keep  my fingers  supple.

      I  suggest  playing sitting down and rest  an end of your concertina  on each  thigh, use the  wrist  straps  too.

    2. StephenTx


      Hi Geoff yep I have you beat on age, I’m 74 and still Working full-time and like you with no immediate plans to retire. I work for the national accrediting agency for hospitals and I’m very fortunate in that I am able to work from home.Working full-time and like you with no immediate plans to retire. I work for the national accrediting agency for hospitals and I’m very fortunate in that I am able to work from home. Here’s to


    3. Geoff Wooff

      Geoff Wooff

      Well, good for you  Stephen....  far too many  young retired people  enjoying  a  fat  pension  in France.  Makes  me  spit!  My  neighbour  retired  at  60  after  40  years of  emptying cash  from parking meters, some people have it  soft.  

      I work  far more slowly  than I  used to  but  I am lucky to  be able to  charge  far  more  for  the finished product  than I  used to.  


      Picture of my wife and I  playing  with  Gerald O'Loughlin   at  a  bar  just  behind the Cliffs of Moher  about 30 years ago...  photo  by  Peter Laban.

      St.Bridget's Well.jpg

  9. Hi Stephen, that surgery sounds drastic . What did you do to cause so much damage? Something else that I have found helpful is the really well padded thumbstraps that a prevous owner had fitted to my current 48 Treble. I think these thicker/softer straps were made by Wim Wakker. I wore them out in 8 years of playing but took them to pieces and copied them... the feel is luxurious. Take it easy on that thumb !!
  10. If you play whilst standing then I would definitely recommend wrist straps, even on a small Treble EC, they will take a lot of the strain off thumbs and little fingers. Even when playing seated the wrist straps will help. Regarding a neck strap ; this suggests supporting the weight of the instrument whilst standing,. Have you tried Randy Stein's suggestion to play with the keyboard perpendicular to the ground ?
  11. And now that company is selling a second Dickenson-Wheatstone Aeola!! Metal ended 56, it looks similar but, they say, slightly smaller .
  12. Has anyone obtained information from Steve Dickenson to confirm details on this instrument ?
  13. This photo demonstrates the wrist strap position on my Baritone Treble Aeola, using the original anchor points. My homemade straps are not as wide, or as stiff, as Wheatstone originals but strong enough allow the 'pull ' effort to be transferred from the thumbs to the arms. Incidentally , the picture was taken to demonstrate the pressing of buttons four octave appart using adjacent fingers, not that it shows how far my ring finger is tucked under my palm.
  14. I don't know which parts might have been recycled into new instruments by Wheatstone's after they had bought all the stock from Lachenal & Co., but perhaps it is more likely that some of the work may have been undertaken by ex Lachenal employees. Materials, of course, would have been in very short supply during the War. and it is likely those few concertinas that were made ( the ledgers show only about 40 instruments for 1942) could have been produced from pre war stock. What it will have is metal capped plastic buttons and hook action but not the Lachenal type. Perhaps aluminium reed shoes, but more likely prewar brass shoes. as I'm sure any available aluminium would be going to aircraft production. So, although build quality and materials were usually not up to 1920's standards by this stage , Wheatstone's were still making a decent instrument if not quite with the finesse of their finest creations. Allow for a full service and the unknown effects on the wooden parts caused by any climatic extremes in your part of the world then factor in a percentage value for these late models, perhaps 60- 70% of the Top Period Value . ( Check professional values with The Button Box or Barleycorn Concertinas) .
  15. Stephen, for photos you could hardly do better than look at the very recent topic in the general discussions forum called " Unrestored 1942 Treble Aeola, worth There the photos of the wrist straps are very clear. I have a picture of how my own , hand made straps fit closely across my wrists... I'll try to up load it later.
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