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Everything posted by PhilEdwards

  1. One of my concertinas* has a box with a groove in the lining for the thumb screw. Insert it the right way round and you're laughing. Insert it any of the other five ways and it can take quite some time getting it out again - not so much "tip and pour out" as "hold upside down and shake". *One of the two, to be precise! I've got an EC** and a Maccann Duet, only one of which I can play. Yet. **With a wobbly pad/sticky key problem, as featured elsethread.
  2. Well, the last time I opened it up I could see the offending pad sitting at a slight angle on the hole & consequently not quite covering it. Other pads don't seem to have that amount of play on the arm, so I'm assuming that renewing the glue to the point where the pad doesn't swivel around independently will do the trick. (Horley, eh? I'm from Coulsdon originally. To rhyme with Polesden (don't know if anyone says it that way any more).)
  3. It's getting worse - it's just stuck in the middle of a tune, which it's never done before. Drat. Any thoughts on replacement pad glue?
  4. ...and this turns out to have been the problem. I got the sticky key problem again this evening, but this time I managed to take it apart while it was still doing it. Because the pad was loose on the arm, it was coming down at an angle and not sitting in the hole properly. (The fraction of an inch higher that the pad was sitting, as a result of being on an angle, also pulled the key down.) Each pad is attached to the respective arm (sorry for the non-specialist vocabulary) by a drop of clear (if brownish) glue which has set hard in a resinous blob. In the case of this pad (and possibly a couple of others), this is going to need to be renewed. What kind of glue would people recommend?
  5. Geoff, you're a star - the bellows-wiggling technique worked a treat. Still curious about how to slide paper in under the reed, if anyone feels like enlightening me on that one for future reference!
  6. I've had the thing apart but couldn't see how I'd go about getting anything in under the reed - the topside of the reed is at the bottom of a little narrow wooden trench & the underside is only accessible from inside the bellows. Bit baffled at the moment.
  7. I quite probably will, but I'm hoping that I can get my box up and running again first. (The serial # appears to be 32512, incidentally, although the 3 is hard to make out - it could just as easily be an 8, but I gather that's unlikely.)
  8. You migh have attracted a piece of dust now settling between reed and slot - you'd just have to remove the end, identify the reed, put a thin piece of paper underneath the whole reed (not into the slot) and remove it. That should have done it then... Remove the reed? Could you go into that in a bit more detail? I'm not clear how the dust blocks the pull note, or how what you described gets rid of the dust. (Bear in mind you're talking to somebody who had never even seen the pads until this afternoon.)
  9. Postscript: I've put it back together and the LH G doesn't seem to be sticking. A slightly mystified Hooray. However, I've now got a dead key - the LH D, just next to the suspect G, is sounding on the push but not the pull. What have I done?
  10. The pad was loose, to the extent that it turned 360 degrees around the arm; it didn't seem to be moving side to side, though. Once I'd got the top off and paid close attention to individual keys, there was definite resistance when I pressed down the G and a couple of other keys; I couldn't make out what was causing it, though. The G and C keys seemed very close together and I wondered if the G was catching on the C; not sure if this would be possible with the lid on, though. Long and the short of it, I couldn't reproduce it, I couldn't see anything obvious that would have been causing it, and it hasn't recurred since I put the lid back on. Gremlins?
  11. Sounds hopeful, but how would I get at the pad? Last time I took the end off I seemed to be looking at a closed (glued?) plywood box.
  12. I've got a sticking-key problem on my 1890s Lachenal EC (last checked over when I bought it a couple of years ago). I've been working up a basic song accompaniment consisting mainly of chord triads (with a bit of cross-fingering); the way the chords have fallen, I've ended up holding the lower LH G down for all but a few bars, almost to the point of having a G drone. The trouble is, by the time I get to the end of the song I have got a G drone - the button stays half-down and the pad stays half-up, and the G sounds with every bellows move. Some dedicated wiggling loosens it, and it behaves properly until the next time I hold it down for several bars - whereupon it seizes up again. What kind of a problem do you think I've got, and what are my chances of fixing it myself?
  13. I'm thinking I probably will take a punt on a £400 39-key box - I was reassured by Robert Gaskins' Maccann chord charts, which appear to show that you can get all 24 major and minor triads out of the 19-key LH (in one form or another). When it comes to tune playing I reckon I can always just use LH buttons for the lower notes - it's not as if I haven't been using the left hand playing English. And although I'm likely to get frustrated with the 39-key box, by that time I'll have played it enough to have an idea what I want to trade up to. Does that make sense or am I just trying to talk myself into buying a new toy?
  14. I took up the EC 18 months ago and feel like I'm starting to get on top of it - at least, things are starting to get more interesting. (Tunes are coming easier, and in song accompaniments I'm making more use of four-note chords and cross-fingering, e.g. for sus2/sus4 chords.) What should ping my eBay radar at this point but a Maccann Duet, which Chris Algar was offering for £400. That one's gone now, but when I checked with Chris it turned out he had another similar instrument which he'd be willing to part with for the same money. This struck me as a *very* reasonable price, & immediately got me hankering after a Duet. (You can do some great song accompaniments on a Maccann Duet - it's what Jon Boden uses, to name but one.) There's a catch, though, which is that we're talking about a 39-key Maccann Duet: an octave and a fifth on the RH, from G above middle C up to C'' - which is too narrow for some of the tunes I play and in the wrong place for most of the others. It would probably be OK for song accompaniment, on the other hand, and it would be an affordable way to learn the Maccann system. Or would I be better off saving my pennies for something with two usable octaves on the RH? Anyone (a) gone from English to Duet {b} played a 39-key Duet or {c} neither of the above, but feel like chiming in anyway?
  15. It's a source of eternal regret to me that I never saw Peter Bellamy, although I'm old enough to have seen him in the 80s if not earlier; sadly I wasn't even aware of him until a few years ago. People who knew him fill me with fannish awe! I'm not dead set on reproducing the particular sound of his accompaniment, which clearly owes a lot to what happens on an Anglo when you reverse the bellows. What I want to achieve is a fairly basic EC accompaniment to "Death is not the End"; if it sounds a bit like Bellamy's, so much the better. Chordally the song is very simple - the verses are basically several bars of I followed by several bars of V - so it needs a bit of livening up. I've tried breaking up the main chords with passing chords, but it still sounds pretty dismal - so I was wondering how you'd go about doing what Bellamy seems to have done, essentially playing a melody line in dyads & triads. Or, I suppose, if you'd do it that way (on an EC).
  16. I'd be grateful if an Anglo player, in particular, would take a listen to and give me their opinion on what Bellamy was playing. It's a simple song with three or maybe four chords; if you played a chordal accompaniment as written you'd end up with something very drone-y and sluggish, and quite unlike this performance. On the other hand, there are chords involved - although the accompaniment follows the melody quite closely, it sounds as if he's playing dyads or triads more or less throughout. I'm just at a loss to work out what the chords were, or how to produce a similar effect (I play an English, just to complicate things). Is it just a case of playing the melody line with added thirds? Any thoughts?
  17. Just for info, my EC was bought from a trusted friend (and Anglo player) who had kept it unplayed for several years, & had it overhauled by a local maker before selling it on to me. I think 'lucky find' covers it. Looking at a decent box as an investment... something that's going to hold its value, if not outstrip the rate of inflation... hmm. Leave that one with me! I'll experiment with my thumbs(!) when I'm playing tonight. I do sometimes wish there was just a right way to hold the thing (my first instrument was the flute, and How To Hold It is the first thing you learn). But I guess everyone's hands are different. After I'd seen the "first knuckle" recommendation and tightened the straps as far as they go, one longtime ECist told me he deliberately keeps the straps loose. And he plays standing up. I can't imagine how he steadies the box - I can only imagine he's got very well-developed little fingers.
  18. I don't think my finances could stand it! I paid £500 for this one and that took some saving-up. ECs are many things, but 'cheap' isn't one of them. (But I haven't regretted that £500 for a second.)
  19. Thanks, all. I think it's probably just a side-effect of recent rapid development of the muscles (from multiple repetitions of Speed the Plough and Jack Lintell's), plus cramp from awkward angles. I'm going to check it out with my doctor; on the concertina front I'm going to do something with those thumb loops, & I'm going to listen more closely to my hands when they start complaining. Randy - could I just ask if that tip's based on experience? This has happened twice now (second night was milder but very persistent), and both nights I was stone-cold sober. Not that that's especially unusual!
  20. I acquired a Lachenal tutor EC about nine months ago, never having played anything like it before. I've been playing it for half an hour or so most days, mostly tunes with some song-accompaniment. My original plan when buying it was to use it mainly for song accompaniment, but I've got more and more into playing tunes on it; just recently, i.e. within the last couple of weeks, I've started playing a few tunes at speed, which in turn has led into practising more fiddly tunes like Speed The Plough. I find the EC quite awkward to hold, especially the finger-troughs. I think I could support the whole thing with thumb-straps and one knee and not bother with them, but the thumb-straps aren't quite tight enough & I can't see any way to tighten them further. Oh, and I'm 52; I've always had jobs which make heavy use of a keyboard, and have always suffered from stiff hands - nothing drastic, just that where somebody else might say "I'm worn out and my head/back/neck hurts" I'm more likely to say "I'm worn out and my hands are really stiff". So that's the background to my tale of woe. The tale itself happened last night as I was lying in bed. I could feel various muscles jumping as my body relaxed; that often happens, and I didn't pay it any mind. Then a muscle started jumping in my left hand. The 'jumping' got stronger, till it was more like something was trying to twist my hand round and form a grip. A couple of fingers even moved a little (a quarter of an inch at most). Then it happened again. Then it died down... and then it started again. I could stop it happening by taking control of my hands, but as soon as I relaxed them (as you do when you're trying to sleep) back it came. It must have been half an hour before it stopped completely, and by then I was too freaked out to sleep. I told my wife about it this morning; she looked at me and said "Concertina". What do people here think? And if it is fiddly-keywork-related muscle-cramp, what's the solution?
  21. Indeed, Wikipedia (no less!) says that the flutina has a concertina-like sound. As for what you get if you put a piano keyboard on a flutina, that would be a harmoniflute, as played by folkie harmoniumist John Kelly. Interesting stuff!
  22. Actually I'm more comfortable with the piano keyboard than I am with the EC, let alone the Maccann layout. But it's an interesting idea. Maybe later!
  23. My new(-to-me) Lachenal EC is a thing of great beauty, notably in its timbre. I've been doing a bit of home recording over the past year, and I quite often use drones; initially I played them on an old toy reed organ, before moving up to a melodica. The other day I tried putting together a drone track based on a I-V two-finger concertina chord, and the results were extraordinary (if you like drones). The richness of the sound knocked me out - it could almost be a cello. The contrast with the relatively flat and uniform - and buzzy - sound of the melodica is chalk and cheese. But this got me thinking: if, some time in the future - quite a long time in the future, my wife is only just getting used to the concertina... If, some time in the future, I wanted to play an instrument with a piano-type keyboard - perhaps so as to play piano or pieces - but I didn't want to lose the richness of the concertina's tone, what options would I have? Are there any accordions that sound that good?
  24. I haven't tried to play the guitar for many years, but yes, it is a similar kind of finger-soreness. Thanks for the thumb strap suggestion. I've tightened them, and I think that is going to give me the extra bit of control that will enable me to have a lighter touch on the keys. I certainly notice the difference in terms of weight on my little fingers - the 'finger-rest' actually feels a bit like a rest.
  25. Background: I've never played the concertina but have decided that I want to learn, the EC specifically - and that I want to learn badly enough to buy an instrument to learn on. A friend has sold me a refurbished Lachenal tutor, which is a thing of great beauty. Now read on... When I first got my concertina I couldn't put it down. Whether I was picking out tunes, playing (slowly) from the dots or working out chords, I had to play it every day. Then, last Sunday, I spent some time practising a chord sequence to sing over; I'm not yet up to doing it live, but I did manage to record five minutes of a simple chord sequence which I could then record myself singing over. (You can hear the result here.) This took a lot of practice and a fair bit of trial and error; it was probably about an hour's playing all told. Afterwards the tips of my forefingers were suffering - really suffering; the tip of my right forefinger was more or less numb for 24 hours, then painful when it came back to life. Five days later it's still tender. Is this a normal side-effect of repeatedly holding down hard, narrow keys, or can I avoid it happening - and if so, how? It's been suggested that I may be pressing the keys down too hard, which opens another can of worms - I think I may be pressing down hard as a way of bracing the instrument, which would otherwise feel dangerously uncontrolled. I play with the lefthand end sitting on my knee. The thumb straps are loose, and I don't feel I can rely on them to stop it escaping - and my little fingers aren't strong enough to take the weight. Any thoughts?
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