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Posts posted by Johanna

  1. Hi Sam, welcome to the "world of the concertina" (I love that)...


    For playing chords, your first priority should be getting an instrument that's perfectly in tune, at least with itself. A Jackie (or Jack, the baritone version) will do the job. A vintage Lachenal (or Wheatstone or whatever) that hasn't been recently tuned, probably won't.


    Not every vintage concertina (even if it is in tune) makes chords sound equally good. Others can tell you more than I can about specific things to look for, but my advice would be, if you have your eye on a particular instrument, there's no substitute for listening to what it actually sounds like, or even trying it out yourself. (You can play simple chords on an EC even if you don't know what you're doing - any three buttons from the middle two rows that make a small triangle will play a close-position chord.)

  2. Since people are still looking at this thread, I'll note a few things:


    1. The concertina is still officially for sale, until I say it's not. However, as long as nobody's buying it, I may use it as a testing ground for my concertina-tinkering technique. I will of course disclose everything to any prospective buyers.


    2. What I've done so far: Replace all the valves, replace one pad that was a bit mangled (the others all seem fine), patch a few small holes in the bellows (bellows are now airtight), replace the bellows frame gaskets, and replace one endbolt (because I broke it - oops).


    3. I've had the concertina since September 2011. I don't know its history prior to that. I bought it off eBay.


    4. The tune I'm playing in the sound sample is (more or less) "The Fork Stuck under the Door" by John Kirkpatrick, from his album "Dance of the Demon Daffodils." I've posted the dots here. It should also be in Kirkpatrick's tune book, "Jump at the Sun."

  3. If you're only missing a note or two here and there - maybe because they're notes that aren't normally part of the key you're playing in - there are ways of faking those. Try substituting a different note from the same chord, or a note that's one note higher or lower. Sometimes it also works to just skip the note you're missing. I play English, not Anglo, but my first box was an 18-button Stagi miniature, which also has a lot of note limitations, and I've done all of those things.


    Or play the tune in a different key, or play a different tune, or get a new concertina with more buttons. I've done all of those too.

  4. As for the numb fingertips: What you're describing sounds similar to the beginnings of guitar calluses. (Do you play a fretted instrument, and if so, is it like that?) If that's what it is, then it's probably nothing to be alarmed about, but no, it's not a normal side-effect of playing the concertina, at least not to the extent you're describing.

  5. It sounds like you need to tighten your thumbstraps. They should be snug enough that your thumbs can bear most of the weight of the instrument. Your little fingers should not be bearing all of it (or, ideally, any of it).


    Make new holes in the thumbstraps if you have to. If that doesn't help, you can stick something (like a pencil or a roll of soft cloth) through the thumbstrap loops to take up part of the space.

  6. Hi Greg,


    Yes, of course I remember the part about the bellows being Lachenal. I'd just gotten used to thinking of the concertina as "the Wheatstone" (because, as you say, it effectively is). And then I was a bit startled to see a loose end bolt nut where I wasn't expecting to see any end bolt nut at all.


    My sincere apologies to the late Mr. Wheatstone (a fellow physicist, after all) for inadvertently implying that he had anything to do with this.

  7. I gather that the normal way end bolt nuts fit into the bellows frame is the way it's depicted on page 34 of the concertina maintenance manual: attached with two wood screws into an indentation in the top rim of the bellow frame.


    My Wheatstone (the one I got from Greg J.) isn't like that. From where the chamois is coming up in a couple of places, I can see that the nuts are inserted into windows cut into the side of the bellows frame. One of the nuts I can see has come loose, and is sort of wobbling around.


    What's going on here? What's supposed to be going on here? Are the nuts in this configuration meant to be glued in place, or held in place by friction, or what? Should I do anything about the one that's come loose?

  8. On the description page, it says that only 2 instruments will be made each year. So how many of them can he have made so far? Maybe just that one?


    I'd love to see a review/hear how it sounds too (ha, as if I'll ever be able to afford one or do it justice). But I'm not surprised that not many people would have had their hands on one at this point.

  9. To prevent mixing up the end bolts, a scrap of wood with holes drilled and numbered is useful. I use one marked with rows Left and Right just to be even more careful. It might be overkill but I extended the row of holes to accommodate the sundry screws from thumbstraps etc. so that every screw and bolt goes back in its original home.


    Plus, because I'm a boater, I use 6mm green color code dots (Avery) on larger components from the right side, red ones for components from the left (placed in spots where the tiny bit of residue won't matter). This also might be overkill, but I find it helpful.


    If you get really stuck Concertina Connection offer new bolt/plate combinations - the threads are different and the heads a bit more squared off.

    I had a system for telling the bolts apart. But then I knocked it over. D'oh.


    Thanks for the note about Concertina Connection. I had asked at the Button Box, but they said they didn't know if they had any nuts/plates/inserts.

  10. Snug is good. Tight is alright. Torqued down gets a frown.


    Let us know where the endbolt sheared off and we will advise.




    It sheared off just at the tip, where it enters the rectangular nut under the chamois. I've removed the nut from the end frame, but I've had no luck in getting the tip of the bolt out of the nut. (I tried to take a picture, but my camera's no good at focusing that small.)


    Now that I think back, it's possible (dare I say it?) that I may have mixed up two of the end bolts. Could that have caused this? (I didn't think I was tightening the bolt any more than I usually do.) If so, is there anything I can do to guard against the other one breaking too?

  11. Sounds like you used common sense and did just fine.


    Apparently, I don't have nearly as much common sense as you give me credit for - I was just closing up the other end of the Lachenal after replacing its gasket, and I managed to snap an end bolt through overzealous tightening. So now I have to find my way out of this mess. But for right now, I'm going to sleep.

  12. So I finally worked up the courage to have a go at this. I think it worked well. But now I have a few more questions:


    - How do I keep the edge of the chamois from showing out the edge between the action box and the bellows frame? If I were replacing the leather on the bellows frame, I could cover it with that, but what if I'm not?


    - What is the best way to make the holes for the end bolts to go through? What I did was (after the chamois was already glued in place) pierce small holes where the bolts should go, then enlarge them by working the bolts through them. Should I have done something else?

  13. It's interesting that you cling to your Stagi because of its tone. My group plays a few nice, classically arranged Carolan pieces on violin, concertina, guitar and bowed double bass. I usually carry the melody with my Stagi Anglo. When I had got my Lachenal Crane and worked up the Carolan melodies on it, I took it along to practice, intending to improve the sound of the ensemble. But my mates immediately ordered me to revert to the Stagi, because it blended better with the other instruments!


    That is interesting - with my group (6-part vocal harmony plus guitars, banjo, mandolin or ukulele, bass, and concertina) I've just recently switched from my Stagi (18-button mini English) to my Wheatstone, and I've gotten comments from a couple of people saying they prefer the Stagi. So far I've been ignoring them, figuring they just need to get used to the Wheatstone, but maybe I should pay attention to them after all?

  14. So how strange is it that I play (English) with the left end on my right knee? When I first started playing, I had an injury that meant I couldn't bend my left wrist, and that was the only configuration that worked. I've been fully recovered for a while now, but it still feels more comfortable that way than any other.

  15. Now that my Jowaisas-restored Wheatstone is getting all of my attention, I thought I'd see if I can get my Lachenal into the hands of somebody who will appreciate it.


    It's a standard wooden-end, brass-reed, 1920-ish (#53790) tutor English concertina. Obviously not the highest-quality instrument in the world, but it's in good condition as far as they go. The pads, valves, reeds, action, and (5-fold) bellows are all functional.


    It's tuned to A=435, about 20 cents flat of A=440. It's mostly in tune with itself - there are perhaps half a dozen reeds that are noticeably out. If you can avoid those notes and aren't playing with other instruments, it's playable as is.


    It comes in its original hexagonal wooden box, which has a handle and a key.

  16. I think that the construction of the Elise is similar to that of the Jackie and Jack, which have been around for longer. (The Rochelle has different bellows, I believe.) For what it's worth, I haven't noticed any changes in my Jack in the 9-10 months I've had it. I bought it used from the Button Box, and I don't know what its history was before that.


    As for the Elise missing important notes, one limitation you should be prepared for is if you want to play tunes in the melodic minor (in which the sharped and unsharped versions of the 6th and 7th notes both appear). D minor is the only key where the Elise gives you the complete melodic minor scale.

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