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Question about the role of a concertina's holes


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I was wondering about precisely what role(s) the 'holes' (I don't know if that is the technical term) on either end of the concertina play - if they have any substantial impact on the sound a concertina produces and if so what - or are they purely for embellishment. As I was thinking, what if one was to modify their concertina adding holes to change the sound and so forth? - Or if the holes have no impact on the sound, if you could just add extra holes in desired shapes to make your concertina more elaborate and unique.

 

boeregroete

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The material used for the ends clearly has an effct on the sound quality and volume.

 

The combined area of the holes must also have an effect on quality and volume. To test this idea, block some or all of all the holes up and see what happens. ;-)

 

As for the shape, I would guess that any set of shapes that more or less equally distributes the holes will do.

 

Note that better players than I am choose which reed to use on an anglo according to whether or not the sound is affected by the position of the hand that is holding the instrument.

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Ok, interesting - I will test that out when I get my first concertina.

 

The material used for the ends clearly has an effct on the sound quality and volume.

 

The combined area of the holes must also have an effect on quality and volume. To test this idea, block some or all of all the holes up and see what happens. ;-)

 

As for the shape, I would guess that any set of shapes that more or less equally distributes the holes will do.

 

Note that better players than I am choose which reed to use on an anglo according to whether or not the sound is affected by the position of the hand that is holding the instrument.

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I was wondering about precisely what role(s) the 'holes' (I don't know if that is the technical term) on either end of the concertina play - if they have any substantial impact on the sound a concertina produces and if so what - or are they purely for embellishment. As I was thinking, what if one was to modify their concertina adding holes to change the sound and so forth? - Or if the holes have no impact on the sound, if you could just add extra holes in desired shapes to make your concertina more elaborate and unique.

 

The holes (sometimes called "fretwork") do have an impact on the sound. Having fewer holes (less "open" fretwork) makes for a less mellow sound. If you wind up getting a Rochelle and want to decorate it, I would suggest sticking details on it rather than making unreversable changes to its design.

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Ah alright. I agree, although in the case of a concertina that is too 'tinny' or 'boxy' sounding than it is perhaps an idea if you add holes to make it more mellow as you said.

 

Sorry, I got it backwards! More holes is less mellow, less holes more mellow. I neglected to re-read that post before submitting.

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Ah ok no problem. I was wondering for a while that it seemed paradoxical hehe

 

Number of holes has very little impact on the character of the sound compare to the reeds. When you have few openings for the air to come in and out, sound is naturally muffled and begins to sound "mellow". It's not mellow, it simply has less overtones, as some of them are absorbed by the cabinet. Close it completely - no sound at all. Few small holes - sounds "booming" and on the quiet side, as higher frequencies don't get out. More holes or no ends at all - you get pure sound of the reeds. If the reeds are good - it's a good thing. If reeds are buzzy, or "tinny", or just uneven sounding - it's bad thing.

Some accordion players, when play for public, take the grills off. It makes sound louder and more piercing. Some accordions have big "flaps" that open or close. It does change character of the sound, but mostly done as muffler during times when mikes were not common.

All these differences between push and pull reeds, or reeds with different location relative to the fretwork are almost un-audible (if not audible at all) to the listeners. You have the room echo, people sounds, clacking of the keys, ambient noise, what not.

I did experiment quite a bit with covering of grills and putting muffling materials underneath. Unless you cover almost all the area - no difference in loudness at all. Thick padding provides muffling of high frequency waves and makes sound less "ringy", but the padding must be dense and at least 5-7mm thick.

Jackie didn't seem to response to padding at all. It was either it sounds, or it doesn't.

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Thats very interesting - that thick padding you experimented with sounds like it could have a beneficial effect when playing in certain situations/surroundings. The Rochelle concertina I intend on getting seems to have a smaller overall area of holes and a very different layout to the majority of 'high end' type concertinas so I began to wonder what the impact actually is.

 

Rochelle: AAAAAneHMwEAAAAAACFKqg.jpg and a more high end type concertina: concertina_small.gif

 

Considering what you've said I'd probably have an advantage if I was to attempt to pad the ends of a Rochelle as the holes are few and simple in comparison to the other. I look forward to experimenting.

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Thats very interesting - that thick padding you experimented with sounds like it could have a beneficial effect when playing in certain situations/surroundings. The Rochelle concertina I intend on getting seems to have a smaller overall area of holes and a very different layout to the majority of 'high end' type concertinas so I began to wonder what the impact actually is.

 

Rochelle: AAAAAneHMwEAAAAAACFKqg.jpg and a more high end type concertina: concertina_small.gif

 

Considering what you've said I'd probably have an advantage if I was to attempt to pad the ends of a Rochelle as the holes are few and simple in comparison to the other. I look forward to experimenting.

 

Here's what I think.

Grill on the "high end" instrument is not there for acoustic purposes, but as support for the hands and fingers. Grill is not needed at all and first concertinas didn't have any. It is simply a guard. Sometimes it has gauze underneath to guard against dust particles. It's the only reason for accordion grills (and automobile's). Rochelle simply has the simplest holes necessary for the air to come in/out. Nobody calculated the size of the holes needed. Just drilled them in the shape that suited makers' taste (very unsophisticated at that).

There is very little space inside the ends to put adequate padding to affect the sound reasonably.

There is another way - putting the padding on the OUTSIDE. Something like Danny did.

Then you have a chance to put enough thickness. I'm thinking to use clear plexiglass on the outside of my Jackie. Just to see if it will have any effect. I expect it to become more "booming", like old radio. But mostly it will be a side "benefit" from installing more ergonomic handles (if I ever have the time). But your Anglo doesn't need such "improvement", so no need to fiddle with the design. Just play it, it'll keep you busy.

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There is another way - putting the padding on the OUTSIDE. Something like Danny did.

 

Photos here. I used MDF, carved away a little on the inside so it fits snugly, and attached using sticky-backed velcro (which I find leaves no significant mark on the wooden ends, after many years of use). Velcro means it takes only a few seconds to attach/remove the "baffles". I attached a little card rim around the inside edge to fill the gap between the MDF and the concertina end.

 

They decrease the volume slightly, but the main effect is to reduce the high frequencies - mostly the overtones. The disadvantages are that they add weight, they seem to decrease the dynamic range slightly, they make the treble/bass balance slightly worse, and of course they look a bit ugly! I used to use them all the time (at home), but now only use them rarely.

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I used MDF

 

 

Red Alert here!!!

MDF is considered to be connected with cancer. Working with it means lots of dust, lots of touching with bare hands and spreading dust everywhere. I made one end with it, then abandoned the whole project as dust was uncontrollable.

The worst part is that after you finished and painted the ready ends, the dusty debris lay everywhere and the kids play with them.

How about plexiglass? It's dense, easy to work with, looking good and not as crumbling.

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I had no idea about that. Interesting info otherwise.

 

I used MDF

 

 

Red Alert here!!!

MDF is considered to be connected with cancer. Working with it means lots of dust, lots of touching with bare hands and spreading dust everywhere. I made one end with it, then abandoned the whole project as dust was uncontrollable.

The worst part is that after you finished and painted the ready ends, the dusty debris lay everywhere and the kids play with them.

How about plexiglass? It's dense, easy to work with, looking good and not as crumbling.

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This is really interesting. I got my first Elise a couple weeks ago. I'm working away from home during the week, and thought it would be a great opportunity to practice in the evenings. Unfortunately I can't seem to play quietly enough, and am afraid of being kicked out of the hotel for disturbing the other guests with my non-stop horrible rendition of "twinkle twinkle little star". My options are: find a way to make it quieter or stay in a tent in the woods instead of a hotel.

 

I never considered the possibility of padding to quiet it down. Sounds like I have some experimenting to do.

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I used MDF

Red Alert here!!!

 

Well - I appreciate the info (I didn't know, but luckily I don't do much wood (if you can call MDF that) work), but I doubt if it's a real significant issue unless you go into serious production! If you cut the stuff outside and use a mouth/nose cover I'm sure the dangers are negligible.

 

As for whether it's better or worse than plexiglass - you can make one end of each and then compare!

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I used MDF

Red Alert here!!!

 

Well - I appreciate the info (I didn't know, but luckily I don't do much wood (if you can call MDF that) work), but I doubt if it's a real significant issue unless you go into serious production! If you cut the stuff outside and use a mouth/nose cover I'm sure the dangers are negligible.

 

As for whether it's better or worse than plexiglass - you can make one end of each and then compare!

 

It probably is negligible, but who knows what triggers what? As somebody said, we get Cancer 500 times a day and 500 times our body gets rid of it. Give extra burden and who knows... I was cutting the stuff in the back yard, then filing in my garage etc. There are air ducts there and if this dust gets airborn... how many times are we breathing it in and out? It's a war of attrition. The info is glued on the sheet of MDF, sold in Home Depot. I got two sheets of Plex and a friend who is good with tools. Give me some time to summon the troops.

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