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  1. At least for those of us in The States the first real blast of cold winter air is upon us. I want to remind all concertina owners and concertina lovers that concertinas do best with a relative humidity between 50 and 70%. When it gets cold and the heat comes on humidity can drop very quickly in a house and the concertina's environment. When we play our instruments the bellows are blowing air across the wood parts. If that air from the outside is dryer than the wood of the concertina we are, in effect, doing practically the same as kiln drying!! While the metaphor is extreme you really want to do all that is practical to keep the humidity around your instrument at a reasonable level and from changing too quickly. It is usually the first couple of months of winter when I begin getting calls that concertinas are acting up. The symptoms are often indistinct, weak or rattling notes or notes that are bleeding into one another. In the worst cases there can be considerable and sudden volume loss and notes that continue to sound. The causes can be shrinking wood inside the instrument that allows reed shoes to come loose in their slots; reed pans and bellows frames that shrink and compromise the bellows chamois seal; corner blocks supporting a reed pan that come loose; a button board that dries out enough or so fast it cracks! I don't want to unnecessarily scare you. Concertinas are fairly hardy little beasts that adjust to their environment over time. It is the sudden changes that affect them most dramatically. The onset of winter coupled with central heating and subsequent quick drops in humidity can be one such dramatic event. So here is a reminder to do what you can to make the change to winter and a lower humidity as gradual and less extreme for your concertina (and other instruments). Greg
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