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Lachenal Reeds

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I'm in the process of trading in my Lachenal New Model Crane, probably for a New Model English. The English is described as being an excellent session instrument, with loud and very bright sounding reeds. It's also described as fast. I'd describe the Crane in almost the opposite way, kind of mellow, not overly loud and not very responsive. I've also played an Edeophone English that was certainly more mellow than bright.


I'm wondering what's going on here? I know of another New Model English that is also on the loud & bright side. It seems like it's more than just random variations between different high end Lachenals. Were there two or more steels used for the reeds? Did Lachenals offer concertinas with different reeds depending on what sound you wanted? *Just an edit to add that I'm talking about steel reeded concertinas only.*


Anyone have experience with this and care to offer some ideas? How would you describe your Lachenal?

bruce boysen

Edited by BruceB
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Lachenal's steel reeds were made by hand (the brass reeds were machined), so I would suggest that the main factor in this was probably the skill of the individual reed makers. I have had plenty of experience tuning them, and can vouch that this can be extemely noticeable when comparing concertinas of the same model, made to the same specifications and restored to the same state. You will find that some examples will be bright, loud and responsive, while others will be complete "dogs" and hard to get going at all. You can tell, on the tuning bellows, how good the reeds are going to be, before they are even put back into the instrument.


However, there were also two versions of the New Model in production, the one with "ebony" ends being significantly different (maple internal woodwork, long-scale reeds) to the rosewood one (mahogany internal woodwork, standard scale reeds).


I would suggest that other important factors would be the condition of the instrument, how much it has been played, and how well it has been repaired/tuned.


Edited to add sentences 2, 3 & 4 to first paragraph.

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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I have a Lachenal ‘New Model’, extended treble, which is black (Ebony ends), has steel reeds and 56 glass buttons. I think was made about 1912. I am guessing it is a “New Model” because it has the raised ends and the company name and serial number are on brass-like inlays. Comparing it to a 1907 Wheatstone Aeola with steel reeds and metal ends, I would say that the Wheatstone is louder and maybe a little more bright than the Lachenal. It does make a difference when playing in a large session. The Lachenal has a really nice sound to it and the action is as good as the Wheatstone. They are both very fast. I don't know how loud a metal ended "New Model" would be but I would guess louder.

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Some issues in the design affecting comparative playing volumes were:


relative sizes of the reed pans


metal ended intruments are usually louder and brighter


The use (or not) of long series reeds



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  • 8 years later...

I have a very valuable amboyna Aeola and I have a medium quality Lachenal with mental buttons and steel reeds. Everyone tells me to get rid of the Lachenal, but it is what I play nearly all the time because it is mellow and sweet while the Aeola is loud and harsh. Maybe it is the baffles in the Lachenal, but I keep coming back to it. I also have a 12-sided Crabb original, which is very nice in many ways but loud and rough in the low range and too shrill in the high range. I am still looking for perfect instrument, but I don't play in sessions, and I play a variety of music, even though mostly traditional.

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...I have a medium quality Lachenal with mental buttons...


It is perhaps unfair to pick on typos (especially if you take into account the he-who-is-without-sin thing with stones and casting thereof), but I still like the idea of a mental-buttoned instrument. Maybe Professor Harold Hill would use it for his Think method of musical instruction...

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