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Pistachio Dreamer

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Posts posted by Pistachio Dreamer

  1. Hi Yohan,


    It might be something lost in translation, but I suspect you will not be able to make this "as new again". But hopefully playable and enjoyable for some small hands.


    First the reeds. Identify the problem reeds by taking the plates off (make sure you are aware of the order they go back, and mark up both the plate and the instrument in pencil if required). Press the button that has the problem note, looking at the reed side and see which pad lifts. Find the corresponding reeds on the plate. The "push" (exhale) reed is on the outside of the plate, the "pull" (inhale) reed is within the chamber.  Look at them closely to see if anything is blocking the movement of the reeds. Gently press them with a wooden tooth pick into the slot by a small amount into the slot to see if they move freely. A small bit of dust or dirt is enough to prevent this. Look to see if the little valve is not in the way.


    If the reed snags on the sides of the slot this is another common problem. Get some very thin metal shim and use this between the reed and the slot with the reed depressed, in order to push it ever so slightly to one side or the other. If that's fine, make sure the reed is not too high above or too low in its slot. Compare with other working ones. Gently push the reed with the toothpick to set a new angle, be careful as it doesn't take much with this metal!


    Again using your trusty toothpick, you can try and straighten the valves by holding the attached end and running the toothpick underneath the valve with some pressure on top, which helps to bend them back to lie flat. This will help with volume and response.


    Secondly the bellows. As this isn't a very valuable instrument, some form of tape or even sticking plaster is okay to use to try and cover the holes, easiest to add on the external side. For a neater repair, small patches of thin leather can be applied on the inside, though getting to it may cause more damage if the material is brittle and you have to stretch the bellows out to do so. Alternatively, a whole new diamond shaped corner piece can be fitted from thin leather.


    Good luck with fixing this up, and I hope your kid enjoys playing it!



  2. Having learnt on a Stagi myself I can vouch for their suitability as a beginner instrument. I managed to pick up a second hand 30k for about £250 on ebay at the time, and it really did play very well, much better than the reports I get of other similarly priced new boxes, though I haven't tried a good many of them. I've tried concertina connection's accordion reed instruments in the past too, though not the Rochelle, but I was impressed by the quality.


    As for range, I would say a 20K is a very good start for a complete beginner. I started on a German 20K before graduating to 30, and it does help to get your head around the layout before adding the more confusing row of accidentals. Also, I doubt there are many shanties that you can't play entirely on a 2-row, even if you have to transpose the key.


    I ship my own tutor model anywhere in the world, though it probably adds around £70 in shipping and taxes. I'm finding adding a few additional buttons to the 20K to give a bit more flexibility is proving popular, e.g. a 22-26K range.


    I will check your feed on Reddit out, it sounds good and nice to see there is an increase in interest. I can also definitely recommend this 1979 recording: "on deck and below" by Tom Sullivan, it has lots of shanties, tunes and songs on a variety of instruments, all recorded on board a working ship. Mr Sullivan himself plays a Bastari (i.e. Stagi) on the recording, which were popular on the boats as they were less valuable than English made concertinas. Certainly sounds good to my ears!




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  3. 6 hours ago, Dana Johnson said:

    Chris mentions stainless on stainless as being prone to galling, but as always the alloy counts.  300 series stainless should not be used together with itself or others of the same series.  The nickel content is the culprit and on a molecular level will jump from one surface to the other.  You can use 300 series in combination with 400 series ( chromium only )without galling.  
       On a different note, I believe some Wheatstones were made with the best quality reeds advertised as having purposely rounded edges.

      Reed steel should be hard enough already.  I find the blue 1095 shim steel at the low end of acceptable, though it sounds just fine.  The UHB20C alloy I use ( also used for compressor valves as well as the accordion industry) is harder and retains its set much better, and shears much more cleanly than 1095, which tends to shift sides of the shear line along the cut leaving a sort of battlement shaped surface that needs to be filed smooth.

       I don’t think there is much of a fatigue problem with well made reeds without stress risers.  Shearing can cause micro cracking that may not be noticed or removed by edge filing, and these can be failure points that show up some time later.  
       Stainless alloys for compressor valves probably would do just fine as is.  I expect the tumbling operation is to effectively polish out the tiny edge defects left from punching out the valves, rather than to alter the basic properties.  Tensile strength goes up as imperfections in the crystal structure goes down.  
        Oh yes, the reed exercising is for stress relief and is as Chris says is best done in a room with a good door.  I leave the room and let it run for a few hours/side.


    Good to hear from you Dana, thanks for your reply, and others in the forum too. This is the stainless grade I'm currently experimenting with: https://www.materials.sandvik/en-gb/materials-center/material-datasheets/strip-steel/sandvik-7c27mo2-flapper-valve-steel/ It really does shear very smoothly and straight, once I figured out to leave the reed strip on the LH (static) side of the shear! 


    I think there is an equivalent from Voestalpine, including a new one called "flap-x" that looks to be harder-stronger-faster-better, but perhaps not necessarily so for concertina reeds. When I did my initial research the sandvik looked similar in properties to UHB20c, i.e. a bit better on hardness, tensile strength than 1095, which as you say I've also found doesn't hold its set as well.


    The shoes are 3d printed in 316L, which I understand is pretty good for "marine" applications, however interested in what you and others say about galling. I chose 304 for the clamp fixings as I found a source that said the corrosion would be minimised by mixing of alloys. I have no idea though how the 316L will react with the reed steel over time though.


    The nice thing about the 3d printed design of the shoes is that I can experiment with a variety of materials. The design of the shoe doesn't require tapping for bolts so I can try out new tech and materials such as technical ceramics.


    As for rounding of the reeds, I'm most likely to end up with a few with rounded edges as I definitely need to work on my filing technique, so it's a comfort to hear from you and others that it may not be so critical to the overall performance. In my experience to date I'm finding that the profiling and clearances have the greatest effect on the reed performance of course, with other improvements perhaps only giving marginal gains, not to mention allowing various manufacturers to claim a benefit for commercial reasons!

  4. 11 minutes ago, alex_holden said:

    It will be interesting to see how the experiment turns out. Are you thinking of putting all 60 (or whatever) reeds into one of those small rock tumbling machines with some abrasive media for a couple of hours, then sort them into order again after you take them out?


    I haven't tried building a reed breaking-in machine myself. There are a few practical issues to solve, not least making it soundproof enough to avoid getting an ASBO from the neighbours!


    Indeed! If there was a way to vibrate the reed outside of the shoe, then it would be virtually noiseless.


    I was thinking of starting with using shot only, with some detergent perhaps, but not abrasive paste or finer grain material. Really relying on multiple impacts on the metal to promote hardness, rather than it being a poishing operation per se, which I'd do more efficiently with micromesh files. Sorting them out again afterwards sounds a nightmare, unless I can scratch a number on the spare length at the base.


    Those tumblers seem a lot of money for what they are, I might set about making my own.

  5. 3 hours ago, alex_holden said:

    I'm not sure about the tumbling question, but I believe there are harmonicas with stainless steel reeds. Not sure how common they are though. It's probably worth a try if you're building a special 'marine grade' concertina.


    I find that shearing the reed steel leaves fairly rough edges, so I shear them over-width and file the edges smooth, which I imagine removes any stress points where a crack could potentially start. Perhaps the tumbling recommendation is intended as a less labour intensive way to do the same thing.


    At what stage would you tumble them? Right after shearing? After filing the edges to fit them to the frame? After profiling? After final tuning?

    Hi Alex,


    I was thinking to profile, set and tune the reed to within 20 cents say, then take it out and tumble it before resetting and fine tuning. I was imagining any operation would probably affect the tuning, so there would need to be some fine tuning afterwards. However, if I did end up with round edges I guess I could do some tumbling earlier in the process on an overwidth reed, then file back to a clean edge.


    Are there any other things concertina makers employ to make there instruments sound more played in to begin with? For example, a device that sounded a reed at a steady (or even programmed to be varying) pressure constantly for several hours might be beneficial (as long as it was in a sound proof enclosure or far from habitation!)

  6. 14 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

    As with many things Ithink it's a case of learning from the "old ways", but not being afraid of trying something new. How else is progress to be made? I just just checked the net and stainless steel was only invented in 1913, so for early concertinas from the great makers it wouldn't even have been an option.


    As for the tumbling, it depends how much rounding occurs, but if it is a gentle "Shot peening" and polishing process then I'd have thought it would produce very durable reeds, as long as you dont then scratch the root too much in the tuning.


    More power to your elbow for trying these things out - something I'd like to tinker with once I am retired.


    Has anyone tried laser cut stainless steel reed shoes?


    Thanks Clive, I'm definitely for experimenting. I'm actually using 3d printed stainless steel shoes for these, which is working out very economically at the moment, around £5 per reed.

  7. 26 minutes ago, Jake Middleton-Metcalfe said:

    I would advise against tumbling, you want very precise non rounded edges on reed tongues, especially on the underneath. I would not recommend stainless either, its best to just use blue tempered spring steel, it works really well


    Thanks Jake, I did appreciate that a sharp edge underneath was critical.


    One thing blue tempered spring steel isn't good for is not rusting - my initial line of enquiry was trying to make a high quality instrument more resistant to a marine environment. I'm interested in why stainless is not recommended, does it have other disadvantages or is it just not as good in terms of sound quality? I'm getting what I'd describe as a very pure tone in experiments, with a very good response at low pressures, but maybe not the harmonic depth of some non-stainless reeds. However, I also have a very non-standard shoe design, and have a lot to learn on profiling, so many factors at play.


    I will no doubt post some updates as I go.

  8. HI All,


    I'm experimenting with making reeds from stainless steel, the kind that is normally used in compressor valves. I know a few others have tried this and there have been some previous topics. The data sheet for a particular alloy I have brought has this advice:


    "A good tumbling operation giving a round, smooth edge is necessary in order to minimize stress concentrations. Tumbling also increases the residual compressive surface stresses which gives a significant further improvement in fatigue properties."


    In terms of concertina reeds, does anyone have any experience of tumbling the reeds post working? The increase in fatigue performance sounds welcome, if not really necessary, but I'm wondering if it has any effect on the sound, i.e. acceleration of the normal work hardening by playing = mellower initial sound. Also, rounded edges sound to me like bad news for a reed, but that depends on what sort of radius you could expect to be left with, as I doubt it will knock a lot of material off, especially if the shot  is of a softer metal.


    What are your thoughts - is it worth the investigation?



  9. Hi Notemaker,


    I love the idea that instruments are somehow living and breathing, with their own characters, especially apt for concertinas. My Crabb that I have just sold was from the late 40s, and it also had what I would describe as a sweet musty scent, which I put down to the old leather on the bellows. I can't remember it being strong enough to fill the room though, or if it improved depending on how well I played! I wonder if this is a function of the type of leather they were using in the post-war period, as the older Lachenals I have owned certainly don't smell as nice!



  10. 21 minutes ago, wunks said:

    There's something magical about the cello and concertina together.  I'm mostly a folksy/dance musician but I had occasion recently to demonstrate my meager duet skills for a top notch professional cellist who happens to be my neighbor.  She was enthralled by the sound and insisted we play and compose together.  I have no classical training but she has me learning the Sarabande from Bach's fourth cello suite in Eminor, what a blast!  Aside from the tone an advantage of the concertina for a player like me is the solid intonation.  You can hit a wrong note but it's hard to hit the right note badly....😊

    I agree with that. I'm sure you and your neighbour make a wonderful duo. I think classical/folk musicians have a lot to offer each other. That is also my favourite Bach suite, if it's the one in Eb major that you meant?! I think your neighbour might have transposed it to a more concertina friendly key perhaps? I would love to hear it on the concertina.

  11. 13 minutes ago, Rod Pearce said:


    The reeds are are in reasonable condition, surprisingly!


    Yes, there is a small amount of rust on most of them, and some of  the inner reeds have verdigris on the frames, but I;m sure they will be OK.


    Glad to hear it. Usually that means the pads/bellows/gaskets have been intact for long enough to protect them, as then the air within the instrument is sealed off to the outside. Good luck with your restoration, you certainly have your work cut out!

  12. Amongst the various things I dabble with (concertina making etc.) I also compose a little when I have the inspiration to. I've long been interested in adding to the concertina repertoire and think it could hold its own in an orchestral setting, and I know there are some concerti written already. With that in mind about 6 years ago I started sketching for a concertina concerto, and now have a first movement of sorts. If you are interested you can hear it in robot orchestra form here: https://pistachiodreamer.bandcamp.com/ The concertina sound is provided by the midi harmonica patch, which is probably the closest equivalent but I am aware it is a pale comparison to the concertina!


    It started with the opening power chords, which sit really well under the C/G anglo fingering. I definitely can't play it all yet, it gets pretty virtuosic towards the end, but is feasible in principal. I belong to a local amateur orchestra, as a cellist, so might try and give it a go in the future. Hopefully by the time I learn it we'll be rehearsing again.


    I'm well aware this won't be everyone's cup of tea, I'd describe my style as classical/post minimalist. I sometimes use folk elements, but there's not any folk influence to speak of in this particular piece. I'm interested in writing for different instruments for different movements, e.g. I might write the second movement for a G/D.


    I would be interested in any feedback, however critical, and your thoughts on the concertina in an orchestral setting.



  13. When I first started messing around with concertinas I bought a few of these, and for my first scratch built instruments I cut the reeds from the combined reed plates to mount individually as per a modern hybrid. The reeds are so small I managed to get a 30k in the same size box as the 20k you've spotted there. You can then build a traditional action around it and nice bellows. Possibly a waste of time but it got me started anyway!

  14. There were a lot of these cheap imitations made, though I've not seen the slightly smaller size. It makes sense given the reeds on shared plates don't take up a lot of space. Four end screws and the button angle and material are the giveaways, along with the leather tooling in this case too. This will definitely be prettier on the outside. Since the insides are somewhat important for the function as an instrument, in my opinion it's overpriced, and it's likely to be in a strange key and not at concert pitch. You may be able to get a restored 20k Lachenal with brass reeds for a similar sum, which would sound and play a whole lot better, but it is cute and collectable nonetheless.

  15. Hi All,


    I'm thinking of selling a 1940s Crabb, 30K anglo, metal ends. Currently it has all black leather bellows, no tooling. Two questions, does anyone have thoughts on whether vintage instruments sell better with the bling factor of bellows papers, and if so what would be an appropriate style for a Crabb?


    I'm minded to sell as is, though I have had an experience where I have sold a restored instrument on ebay, only for the buyer to add papers and sell it for considerably more (than it was worth, in my opinion!).




  16. I don't think you will really know for sure until you try it. Two ideas for a less expensive prototype so you could try it before committing to an expensive traditional reed re-build:


    1. Convert a duet, the lachenals aren't too pricey for the number of reeds they contain. I'm aware this was done quite frequently with particularly Jeffries duets to anglos, so whilst I've not tried myself to appreciate the possibilities, I would have thought the same principals should apply here. It might be an octave up of course.


    2. Cobble together an accordion reeded version out of cannibalised parts. Who on earth keeps old bits of concertinas lying around? Answer, a large percentage of people on this forum, if we're being honest.


    For both options there might be ways to allow for further tinkering and reed swapping before settling on a favourite. The chart reminds me of as simple anglo I made for a gentlemen who didn't like the way the notes at the extreme ends of the instruments didn't follow on logically from the pattern in the middle, so his had the scale pattern simply continuing more like a melodeon, and I recall the resulting chords along the rows were rather interesting sounding, which wasn't a problem for single line tune playing of course.


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  17. Gosh, my ears have been burning! Thanks to Sunbeamer's post I was given the impetus to log back in, I've been very neglectful.


    Couple of points in reply to the interest shown above 1. I've got a two year waiting list due to slow turnaround rather than anything else, as making concertinas isn't my full time job, however I do have a couple of commissions in the pipeline at the moment. 2. I haven't made over a hundred concertinas, I'm just going to end up having a cryptic numbering system a la Jeffries (well, I won't be emulating the sound anytime soon). I've actually made 6 for other people, other than my own experiments, all hybrids. I'm hoping to develop a new "hybrid reed",  a discussion I may start elsewhere in the forum.


    Plus I've settled on "Flying Duck Concertinas" as a name, as I don't only do Vegan instruments. I live near ponds.


    Thanks for adding me, and thanks to Sunbeamer for showing off his new concertina, it was a pleasure to make. I should mention that the bellows are by the extremely talented Peter O'Connor.




    website: www.flyingduckconcertinas.co.uk 

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