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Pistachio Dreamer

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Posts posted by Pistachio Dreamer

  1. Hi Robert, interesting idea. I think it would depend on how many chords you were expecting to be able to play, so would need a more detailed brief to make any call on cost or feasibility. If it is bespoke, there's a lot of design and testing to be done, so that needs to be considered and factored in.


    You would probably want it to be a unisonoric instrument (sounds the same note/chord on push and pull), but you still could use an existing anglo concertina with accordion style double reed chambers as a basis, and replace these with bespoke blocks with the two notes you want under each button. Perhaps I and V together on the LH, the third and upper octave on the RH. With a 20K donor instrument you could cover at least 10 keys in this way, as long as the greater number of bass reeds could be accommodated.


    I'd be interested to hear what others think, and whether similar instruments already exist. When I first read your comment I immediately thought of shruti boxes, but they are probably just as hard or harder to lug about as a guitar!





  2. Hi,


    It sounds like you have an instrument that does not hold air well. There needs to be enough pressure through the reeds for efficient playing. If there are leaks, this reduces the amount that gets to the reeds. There are a few main culprits, including holes in the bellows, leaking pads that cover the holes, failed gaskets and misalignments of the various parts of the instrument. Sometimes the reeds and reed valves can be a problem too.


    If it's worse when you're compressing the bellows than when opening them, this might indicate a pad issue or lack of spring tension in the levers. If the bellows look good, the next check is to unscrew the ends, if you're confident doing this, and take a good look inside for any issues.


    May I ask for more information on the instrument, what is the type and who made your concertina, and what sort of general condition is it in? This will help us determine the cause and suggest whether there's anything you can do yourself, or if it's best looked at by someone else.


    Best wishes,


  3. 8 hours ago, Steve Schulteis said:


    I've wondered this very thing, although for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that you could get ready-made plywood this thin until your post (I had been thinking about laminating veneers and controlling thickness with a drum sander).

    Yes, it's very easy to find in model making shops

    • Like 1
  4. I've just made a set using very thin plywood, I think I used 0.8mm. Worked very well, and for the strength didn't bulk up the folds as much as card does. Any reason why this isn't used more often, other than tradition and increased difficulty in shaping? I use the "Tedrow" method, as they are cut together as a strip on the bandsaw it really made no odds, actually was cleaner to cut than card.

    • Like 1
  5. Interesting discussion, thanks Alex for alerting me. When I started making bellows sans leather I didn't spend long experimenting with leathercloth - I didn't like it's look and feel on the bellows. I make my own fabric by layering up a cellulose/latex cleaning cloth material with fabric interfacing, with an acrylic fabric medium coating and dubbin providing the finish and greater air-tightness. They are very supple, look great, and easy to maintain with further coats of paint/dubbin. They aren't quite as airtight as leather, which is something I am trying to improve.


    The other material I have been experimenting with is Kraft-tex paper "leather". This is way too thick, stiff and non-compliant to make bellows in the traditional way, however I've developed a method of making these in tube form that works pretty well, and has the advantage of being much faster to build. The material itself seems incredibly hard wearing, and whilst not quite as supple as leather does seem to break in well over time. I've also been able to assemble these purely using pva, whilst making bellows traditionally with synthetic materials often requires a synthetic adhesive, I've found, particularly to get the gussets to behave.


    I haven't had any reports of bellows failures yet, though my first instrument made in this way is not even 10 years old by now, and in that time my methods have improved somewhat.

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  6. Hi Mike,


    I've found www.georgeibbotsonsteels.co.uk helpful in the past, but anywhere you look you will be subject to a minimum order quantity. With the aforementioned it wasn't so bad at the time - 1kg, which for the 0.53mm was a sheet approx 1m by 30cm - but too much perhaps for your purposes.


    If you only need to do 6 or so reeds my advice would be simply to do more filing of the 0.53 stock. Down to 0.2mm (I assume you meant?) is not too difficult given the small area involved. If you were making multiple sets it might be handy to have some thinner stock, but for a few one-off mends it's certainly possible. I actually owned a Crabb in standard C/G that used an approx 0.5mm stock for every reed.


    Hope that's of use,





  7. On 4/16/2021 at 3:33 AM, dabbler said:

    Interesting.  Seems like this would make it possible to pull the bellows into a straight cylinder, or a dodecagonal prism more precisely.  Would this not cause stability problems?

    I have found it results in a greater range, without the natural stopping point you get with bellows made with individual gussets, which is no bad thing in a way as it helps with the range. However, I use a really thick card-like material called kraftex, which is relatively stiff and is actually quite hard to pull all the way back out into a cylinder, though seems supple enough in the playable range once you have compressed the bellows.


    If they are using relatively thin leather or leather type material, I suspect it would be easier to draw the bellows out into a complete cylinder as you suggest, unless they have some further mechanism to prevent this. In the extreme case, you could find that when you return the bellows the cards could conceivably pop out rather than in, which would certainly make playing interesting! Looking at the videos it doesn't look like this would be an issue, maybe in the way they have tucked the additional gusset material to the back of the cards, which does look a good deal neater than my attempts.


    I initially experimented with an armature within each top run to help the bellows keep their shape. After a while I realised these weren't necessary and use them just to keep everything regular during construction, then remove them afterwards. I wonder if there is something similar here, or if there is a jig to use to make sure each run is lined up with the previous.

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  8. Hi Dennis,


    Sounds like an interesting project. Let's qualify this is for the "Wheatstone" layout in particular just in case there are differences at the upper end. This is the more common and what your students will likely be encountering. I think you are missing A6 and B6 on your C/G range? Here's G/D:




    I've seen concertina music in both bass and treble clefs, for sure. I don't think there is an accepted standard, it will be more to do with what sort of music you are notating. A Duet would do well to have a score with bass and treble to represent chords and melody, for example. A simple Irish tune can be easily notated in treble and transposed if playing on a bass instrument. There might have been some accepted ways of notating concertina music in the 19th century with the English concertina, as much was written for it in a classical setting, others here will no doubt know more or point you towards resources.


    Good luck with the app, certainly interested in the outcome and post again if you need further advice.




  9. On 4/12/2021 at 6:15 PM, Don Taylor said:

    You can ask Youtube to translate the sub-titles.

    Pausing at 2:35 - it look like they are constructing the bellows in a somewhat similar way to how I am currently for my less expensive builds - with cards applied to the fabric, no separate gussets. However they are dividing this into individual strips of pairs, rather than the whole sheet. This does have some advantages, so very interesting to see. The twist to change key is intriguing, must be trade offs with airtightness but a great idea nonetheless.

  10. On 3/24/2021 at 12:28 PM, Clive Thorne said:

    Very much depends on the laser and the delivery system. It can be problem for internal corners (eg on the frame_, but for straight lines and external corners it doesn't really how big it is because, as long as you know what it is, the CNC can compensate for it.


    Usually yes, however in this case we were talking about the reed being cut as a tongue in a sheet of material that then remains and acts as the reed frame. A bit like the principle of a wooden tongue/slit drum.

  11. On 3/25/2021 at 10:14 AM, Peter Laban said:

    Not quite a sheng but related enough to give an airing here: the Khaen. There is a guy from Cork who plays Irish music on one, to great effect. He used to come to town and play out in the street, attarcting great interest from the old traditional musicianers.






    I remember seeing this years ago, thanks for the reminder! I wonder if he's still playing?

  12. 5 hours ago, JohnPeter said:

    Hi Paul, thanks for the reply.  I thought it might be from that region. I have a German button accordion that has a similar feel in terms of construction.

    I wish I could claim that I had installed those buttons 🙂  

    I think it has been worked on before though so it might have been last time round. It had quite a bit of use in its lifetime. It was played a lot!

    The way the reed plates are fitted is interesting. They are sealed with light string and heavier turn pins.  The accordion has thinner pins and it waxed so I did wonder if this indicated an earlier design.

    The German multireed plates tend to be fixed in this way, rather than with accordion reed wax, borrowed form bandoneon/chemnitzer construction of the same era. Looks in good nick, and small brass reeds aren't meant to last a long time so it's done well. I like the sound of them, much softer and quieter than accordion reeds.

  13. 6 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

    Interesting.  In the video, he talks about the reeds being made by hand by cutting from metal from very old Chinese gongs.


    I wonder if it would be possible to make a usable flat reed like this using spring steel and a laser cutter.  

    A laser would still have too much kerf for the slot clearance I think, in fact most ways you can machine metal would result in a kerf too big for good reed response, though someone might correct me here. With the sheng, the material is so thin I think they were simply cut with a sharp knife. They are tuned by a blob of wax on the tip. I don't think the reed profiling matters as much for the resultant sound, which is more like what you get with the vibrating column of air in an organ pipe than a concertina or accordion type instrument.

  14. It's a fascinating instrument, I've got one lurking somewhere. The most interesting distinction for me is the fact you have one reed which vibrates with both directions of air flow, rather than accordion/concertina reeds that are always in pairs. For this to work, the reed needs to be dead level in the slot. What I find over time is that the reeds of the sheng bend up or down and need to be reset. As they bend it causes them to be "voiced" like a normal concertina reed and therefore sound even when the hole in the pipe is open.


    The main struggle with playing them is the completely idiosyncratic layout of notes, here's a chart I made for mine. I read somewhere that if I bought another one it would likely have a completely different layout.


  15. On 3/16/2021 at 8:57 AM, Chris Ghent said:

    Yes, one of the RHS d#s in the Jeffries layout.  

    My point about the drone was not that it could be converted to extra reversals but that the space it occupies on the reedpan (which I don’t really have a grip on as I have had little to do with hybrids) could be used instead to supply one more of the usual accidental row buttons. 

    Ah I see what you mean. For these instruments it's not so much the space on the reed pan that's an issue, but the routing of the action, and the fact I can't put a button in the inner Bb/Ab (LH) and C#/D# (RH) positions - it's too close to the sides. I am however redesigning this from scratch to overcome this problem, so watch the space.

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  16. 7 minutes ago, Chris Ghent said:

    I put an E in the same place on my own concertina a few years back but never did convert to using it. You couldn’t pull from D to E because it was the same finger but apart from that worked OK. 


    I have found putting non-reversed notes (typically E/F and A#/G#)  from the left onto extra buttons on the RHS works well. Typically when your left hand is busy your right is not. And there is more real estate available on the right.  Every instrument I have made has had the low F# reversed on the second button RHS accidental row instead of one of the d#s, a Dipper mod.  Speaking of real estate, could you achieve another accidental note if you dropped the LHS drone?

    Thanks Chris, I see what you mean about having more on the RHS, it's the EC cross hand principal speeding you up. When you say "one of d#s" are you referring to the jeffries layout in particular for this?


    I could certainly make the drone key accidentals instead, like a reversed E/F, good thought.

  17. Thanks for your comments Chris, really useful to have your point of view as a teacher. Here's another idea for a layout based on keeping the reversed A/G. If Bb's are not essential, perhaps neither are Eb/D#s be also (ok apart from minor 6th in A minor maybe) so how about the elusive E on the pull on the left hand side instead, I wonder if this has ever been done?


    The right hand side is 2/3s of a Jeffries layout at least, and I think going from this to a full 30 button wouldn't be as much of a jump as the previous layout. You very rightly point out that you want a tutor model to translate well to the full 30k when the student upgrades. Whilst I'm sure a player of a 20K upgrading to 30k also would relearn a good number of tunes to take advantage of the further possibilities, perhaps messing with the accidental row is a bridge too far!


  18. 17 hours ago, Chris Ghent said:

    Totally personal but I’d hate not to have the A/G reversal on the left end accidental row.  A lot depends on the canon you are making the instrument for. A learner Irish player would be better off for future playing with the A/G than the Bflat/Aflat.

    Thanks for your insights, I was aware of the compromise with picking the more useful notes from two buttons for one. Personally I'd miss the a on the push more than the g on the pull, and would miss having Bb for g minor, but really interesting to hear a different opinion. I'd agree that Ab is dispensable. 

  19. Hi All,


    As some are aware I've been busy producing an entry-level instrument (CSO) for the last 6 months, aided by a plucky £300 laser cutter and a very expedient bellows design. I'm finding the expanded 20K ranges are popular, and have come up with a simplified accidental row for the 26K. This was due to the limitations of the design; I wasn't able to place a button at the standard Bflat/Aflat position of the 30K.


    I've made a short video here running through the notes: 



    I find the layout to be quite "natural", in that coming from a 30K instrument I don't find it too difficult to adapt to the positions where altered. However, I should caveat that as I do regularly switch between Wheatstone/Jeffries layouts and happily play wrong notes. I also like the fact it is very regular in the way the standard accidental row is only almost. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the layout, and if there are previous incarnations of which I should be aware.



    26+drone layout.pdf

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