JimLucas Posted April 11, 2010 Share Posted April 11, 2010 (edited) I haven't yet gathered whether the reeds themselves are substantially more expensive, or if there's some other factor involved in making a concertina with concertina reeds that makes the instruments more expensive. No one is mass producing "real" concertina reeds, and at present there doesn't seem to be enough of a demand for them to support mass production. That has a substantial impact on cost. To try to put this into perspective, imagine what it would cost to build a guitar if all the wood you used -- even for inlay -- was available only in 4" (10 cm) thick planks and you had to cut it to thickness in your own shop. Plywood of the right thickness (a metaphor for "accordion" reeds?) might be available, but it's not quite the same thing. If there were maybe 20 makers of "traditional" guitars in the entire world, each doing the same in their shop, one might imagine that a separate supply business could be profitable, but it wouldn't be a sure bet. At least in the matter of concertina reeds, it hasn't happened. Besides, each maker prefers their own slight variations in detail. As for the name "concertina reeds", as distinct from "accordion reeds", it's somewhat inaccurate, except that a substantial community of people has tacitly agreed to the meaning as used in these forums. Strictly speaking, what we call "concertina reeds", or "real concertina reeds", or "traditional concertina reeds" are reeds constructed according to the design developed by Wheatstone, Lachenal, and other 19th-century English concertina makers. German and other continental European makers use and always have used reeds of the same construction that is currently identified with accordions, even if the only instruments they make/made are concertinas. The difference in internal (and to some extent external) construction between English-engineered and German-engineered designs extends to more than the reeds. And most members of the Concertina.net community are oriented toward concertinas descended from the English lineage, even if some of the modern ones (the "hybrids") use the mass-produced "accordion" type of reeds. So we talk about "our" kind of concertina as "real" or "traditional" or "the concertina", even though the design is not even 3% older in tradition than the German design, and neither form was originally called "concertina". (Actually, the "German" design for reeds and internal mechanism is older, having been used in instruments before the first concertina.) Edited to add: As for other sources of expense related to "concertina" reeds, they are mounted differently, with a fairly precise slot, tapered along the length and beveled in cross-section, cut into the "reed pan" board for each individual reed frame, and then an elongated hole cut through the board within each slot. That hole also needs to be fairly precise, for not only does it allow air to pass through, but a strongly vibrating reed will extend into the hole, and it must not touch the sides. Now that I think about it, I suspect that the dimensions of the hole relative to a reed should also affect the reed's response. I believe these cuts require more labor than mounting "accordion" reeds, and probably additional tools, as well. Edited April 11, 2010 by JimLucas Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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