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I feel that the modern (thicker with synthetic foam) pads can dampen the upper partials more than the old thinner felt stuffed variety... Do you think the pad material could have an affect on the tone?

 

Yes I do think so. I have made the same reflection myself. I also think button measures and materials can have similar effects. Compare for example 5mm metal buttons with 6mm bone ones

 

Ardie, you mentioned a button pressure of 50+ grams, have you, or any others here, a suggestion for a device or method for measuring this?

 

I use a very simple balance. In principle it looks like this:

 

 

So glad you agree about the pad material issue,I thought it could have just been another of my crazy thoughts. I will put up with the small amount of "pad slap" from the original thin pads so as to retain the tone, or make my own pads next time using as much as possible similar materials.

 

Thanks also for the "balance" sketch.

 

I have another thought regarding Scoopet's clickings; A lachenal that has solid metal buttons might produce a noise when a button is pressed at any slight angle to the perpendicular because the button stem can be displaced sideways in its retaining hole and thus tap on the wood of the pallet board. There is quite a bit of clearance between the button stem and retaining hole especially on an old and much played instrument.

 

Maybe this is part of the reason why Wheatstones went to the extra bother of making metal covered wooden keys, apart from the 'low unsprung weight' issue.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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So glad you agree about the pad material issue... I will put up with the small amount of "pad slap" from the original thin pads so as to retain the tone...

 

Priorities differ...I prefer a mellower tone myself if the noise can be eliminated.Just as I can't stand fingernail noises from some guitar players...

 

I have another thought regarding Scoopet's clickings; A lachenal that has solid metal buttons might produce a noise when a button is pressed at any slight angle to the perpendicular because the button stem can be displaced sideways in its retaining hole and thus tap on the wood of the pallet board.Maybe this is part of the reason why Wheatstones went to the extra bother of making metal covered wooden keys, apart from the 'low unsprung weight' issue.

 

Definitely a reality and an important factor.The true Wheatstone motives may remain obscure. Their combined material buttons break pretty often and wooden pins are worn and buttons have to be replaced while all-metal buttons last forever. If using ideal button measures and tolerances there shouldn't be much of that rattle between button stem and the hole. I haven't checked carefully but I have a feeling that the top line Lachenals ( New Model and Edeophone) have better precision in this respect. One way to improve button stability would be using longer buttons - i.e a longer distance between action board and endplate. Longer stem pins another.Perfect bushings between endplate and button is important.For stability of the button maybe no bushing would be better.It all depends on the used measures for the parts and the idea that the end plate, holding the keyboard in place, comes off in one piece is a dubious tradition. Some early models had a smaller plate for the keyboard only. That solution might be awakened together with better arrangements to stabilize the buttons. If someone wants to experiment a little...

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Yes there are always people looking for cheapo solutions, but if there is an inherent flaw in such a solution , then the solutions don't tend to survive, certainly not get copied into multiple formats over many years.

 

'True' of course but we do find numerous examples when mass production has come up with inferior solutions that survive 'for ever' since people don't ask for expensive quality - don't we?

 

There is an additional problem with Lachenal hook and window type actions where the flank of the arm and the inner face of the window bear on each other. Where the arm has significant cranking, in 'plan' view, the twisting couple causes very much accelerated wear patterns causing the whole arm to twist...

 

Agree - but that is the result from the mechanically inferior cranking ( if not symmetrical so that it balances) of the arm and not primarily related to the lever/post connection type. With a straight (or balanced) lever and a good saddle there should be no problem.

 

People say that hook type actions are less positive, I say get your valves, and action heights right, your spring tensions even and your reeds set properly and in good condition.

 

Completely agreeable - but concerning the annoying noises mostly coming from pads and buttons not even good condition always helps and you would wish that better constructions had come up.Pads are generally too hard and buttons mostly too unstable.Rather easy to fix by some modifications of the design.

 

There is an alternative design, its called the digital concertina, no pad noise, no valve issues, but the micro switches need to be well balanced and the amplifier & speakers are a bit big.

 

More seriously, If Charlie Wheatstone had been about today, Would he have used felt, card & leather pads, nylon keys, MDF sound boards, plastic valves, PVA glue, clock spring reed tongues, card & leather bellows? who knows? He was a man of his time, and the concertinas likewise, are of their time. As I see it, we all have two options,

 

1: to go down the reproduction route like Morse and other manufacturers, preserving the playing characteristic, the sound , but using current technology, and perhaps extending the benefits of their work into existing traditional instruments

 

or

 

2: to continue to retain the full characteristic of the instrument, good and bad, using traditionally compatible materials, and techniques.

 

My contribution the playing society is restoration and maintenance of concertinas, I am by definition an option 2 follower. The concertinas that I work on are not my property to be able to vary the design. Where design is changed, in say re- pitching to A=440, its always an owner's decision. The reproduction instruments are very good and those makers are doing a sterling job, but a lot of the problems I get result from the use of inappropriate materials, tapes, steel springs, wood screws and glues on traditional instruments. I often reflect that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

 

We have moved a long way from clacking keys.

 

Dave

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As I see it, we all have two options,

 

1: preserving the playing characteristic, the sound , but using current technology, and perhaps extending the benefits of their work into existing traditional instruments

 

"preserving" - why? By using "current technology" you make something else already so why be so hesitant towards a continuing progress and changes?

 

or

2: to continue to retain the full characteristic of the instrument, good and bad, using traditionally compatible materials, and techniques.

 

In principle I sympathize with that - at least if the instrument is fairly well preserved before i.e having all original parts or missing ones being possible to replace exactly.But retaining "bad" characteristics? Talking about pads again which are consumables anyway.If some current choice of materials can make them more silent - if/when noise is a problem - why not?

 

We have moved a long way from clacking keys.

 

Not more than 4 inches at most - and it is all "click,slap,slop" where ever the source is located. Some of these noises are not audible for a distant listener but only in the player's position which may be comforting in a way but may still be a distracting torment for the later.Are current products less noisy generally? (understanding that you compare with old instruments in perfect condition)

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firstly, thanks everyone for the advice and the lively discussions!

yesterday I did the key hole bushings and replaced a couple of springs on one end....didn't make much difference noise wise!!

however when I started replacing the key to lever bushing its made a real diffence to the action ...hurray!!

thanks again,

simon

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As I see it, we all have two options,

 

1: preserving the playing characteristic, the sound , but using current technology, and perhaps extending the benefits of their work into existing traditional instruments

 

"preserving" - why? By using "current technology" you make something else already so why be so hesitant towards a continuing progress and changes?

 

or

2: to continue to retain the full characteristic of the instrument, good and bad, using traditionally compatible materials, and techniques.

 

In principle I sympathize with that - at least if the instrument is fairly well preserved before i.e having all original parts or missing ones being possible to replace exactly.But retaining "bad" characteristics? Talking about pads again which are consumables anyway.If some current choice of materials can make them more silent - if/when noise is a problem - why not?

 

We have moved a long way from clacking keys.

 

Not more than 4 inches at most - and it is all "click,slap,slop" where ever the source is located. Some of these noises are not audible for a distant listener but only in the player's position which may be comforting in a way but may still be a distracting torment for the later.Are current products less noisy generally? (understanding that you compare with old instruments in perfect condition)

 

Ardie,

 

If you don't want to keep the Concertina playing characteristic and sound, then why play the concertina in the first place? Rich Morse spent a lot of time developing his reproduction concertina to sound as close to that of a traditional concertina as he could. I believe other manufacturer's like wise. Surely a modern reproduction should at least be a reproduction of an original in function and definition?

 

Good and bad? Concertinas were products of their day, there are compromises in design, and in the materials used; but an 1890's concertina is just that, an 1890's concertina, if I am restoring, and servicing then it should be in the best condition I can get it to, and still be an 1890's concertina, hopefully with another life time or two of playing in front of it. If the instrument has been messed about with, then my role is to bring it back to standard, if damaged then to make good, that is what the owner wants, if they want something different then that comes out in the discussions and agreement of the scope of work. If the life of a traditional set of pads is what 15, 20 yrs, longer? that's not a bad deal. Do you know what the life of the foam pads is?

 

As to the benefits of pad types made with alternative materials, I cannot comment, I have no comparative test data to work from, does anyone else have objective evidence to present?

 

Dave

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If you don't want to keep the Concertina playing characteristic and sound, then why play the concertina in the first place?

Isn't that a somewhat narrowing view? People obviously like different things about "concertinas" and "characteristics" as well as "sound" is ambiguous.Chemnitzers and Englishes are very different and the Clarionet English "concertina" doesn't sound like any other concertina at all..

 

Rich Morse spent a lot of time developing his reproduction concertina to sound as close to that of a traditional concertina as he could.I believe other manufacturer's like wise.

We should not put too many words in RM:s mouth since he can't defend himself but I have heard him say that he did so to please the customers firstly. If they had asked for something else he would have done that and I know he had advanced ideas for a thoroughly redesigned anglo but conservatism in the market held them back. I have heard many other manufacturers saying the same and it is rather expected I think that contrary to conservative players inventive craftsmen may be a lot more interested in developing new constructions but they have to produce objects they expect to sell to make a living.Novelties have to be made on individual special orders on a small market. Simple as that.

 

Surely a modern reproduction should at least be a reproduction of an original in function and definition?

How do you deal with that when neither "reproduction", function nor definition is settled or agreed upon?

 

Good and bad? If the life of a traditional set of pads is what 15, 20 yrs, longer? that's not a bad deal. Do you know what the life of the foam pads is?

"Good or bad" concerning pads in my view is firstly a matter of 1) being tight 2) being silent.If they last 20 or 40 years is rather unimportant.It is neither very costly nor difficult to replace them.

 

As to the benefits of pad types made with alternative materials, I cannot comment, I have no comparative test data to work from, does anyone else have objective evidence to present?

Yes, that would be interesting to hear! What are the pad routines among makers using more current materials otherwise?

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If you don't want to keep the Concertina playing characteristic and sound, then why play the concertina in the first place?

Isn't that a somewhat narrowing view? People obviously like different things about "concertinas" and "characteristics" as well as "sound" is ambiguous.Chemnitzers and Englishes are very different and the Clarionet English "concertina" doesn't sound like any other concertina at all..

 

They are what they are, .

 

Rich Morse spent a lot of time developing his reproduction concertina to sound as close to that of a traditional concertina as he could.I believe other manufacturer's like wise.

We should not put too many words in RM:s mouth since he can't defend himself but I have heard him say that he did so to please the customers firstly. If they had asked for something else he would have done that and I know he had advanced ideas for a thoroughly redesigned anglo but conservatism in the market held them back. I have heard many other manufacturers saying the same and it is rather expected I think that contrary to conservative players inventive craftsmen may be a lot more interested in developing new constructions but they have to produce objects they expect to sell to make a living.Novelties have to be made on individual special orders on a small market. Simple as that.

 

Here you are being a little offensive, I have had corresponded with Rich and he was proud of 'carving' accordion reeds to get close to the original concertina sound. I reviewed his baritone when it first came out and the comment came out of that correspondence. Rich had no need to defend himself to any one. If he did this to please the customers surely the customers must have known what they were trying to reproduce? there is a recognised concertina expectation.

 

Innovate as you wish but don't put 4 wheels on a tricycle, it becomes a quad.

 

 

Surely a modern reproduction should at least be a reproduction of an original in function and definition?

How do you deal with that when neither "reproduction", function nor definition is settled or agreed upon?

 

So all the people who have bought and played concertinas over the decades don't know what a concertina sounds, plays an looks like?

 

Good and bad? If the life of a traditional set of pads is what 15, 20 yrs, longer? that's not a bad deal. Do you know what the life of the foam pads is?

"Good or bad" concerning pads in my view is firstly a matter of 1) being tight 2) being silent.If they last 20 or 40 years is rather unimportant.It is neither very costly nor difficult to replace them.

 

As to the benefits of pad types made with alternative materials, I cannot comment, I have no comparative test data to work from, does anyone else have objective evidence to present?

Yes, that would be interesting to hear! What are the pad routines among makers using more current materials otherwise?

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Chemnitzers and Englishes are very different and the Clarionet English "concertina" doesn't sound like any other concertina at all..

They are what they are, .

Do you mean that all instruments known being called concertinas today are concertinas but future novelties are not? When this discussion came up 25 years ago lots of people absolutely refused to call an instrument with accordion type of reeds a "concertina"...but time has changed

 

We should not put too many words in RM:s mouth since he can't defend himself ..

Here you are being a little offensive...Rich had no need to defend himself to any one.

Not offensive at all,I meant to your or my or anybody else's reference of his intentions.That is why I don't want us to argue about them.So let's leave RM aside since we are probably 'right' both of us and he in particular.

A clever craftsman or salesman always adapts the product and the description of it to the market and the individual customer ( up to a certain limit of tolerance towards customer eccentricity...)

 

there is a recognised concertina expectation.

Innovate as you wish but don't put 4 wheels on a tricycle, it becomes a quad

...Surely a modern reproduction should at least be a reproduction of an original in function and definition?

I can't agree about that since I mean reality shows a contradictory diversity

 

So all the people who have bought and played concertinas over the decades don't know what a concertina sounds, plays an looks like?

Well, they certainly "do" - or believe they do each one by themselves - but if there is no commonly accepted and lasting definition what do they actually know? This discussion has been going on before. Do You have the definite answer?

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Maybe time to get back to real topic:

 

firstly, thanks everyone for the advice and the lively discussions!

yesterday I did the key hole bushings and replaced a couple of springs on one end....didn't make much difference noise wise!!

 

So, how to get on? Simon, haven't you managed yet to find out where the noise might come from?? Is there absolutely no sound from the keys and their holes now or can there still be some? From the key pins? The lever in the key hole? Or is it the pads?

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

In theory harder springs of course keep things better in place but as I said above I doubt that it has any importance unless initially so light that nothing works anyway.

In Lachenal action the spring pressure has to be sufficient to close the pad and to hold the lever in place in the top of the post. In a riveted action it only has to close the pad. So you can achieve lighter spring pressure with riveted action.

 

It is also hard to believe that riveted vs non-riveted construction as such has anything to do with the action noises generally.

Hard to believe in what sense?

My experience is that "lachenal type" action can be much noisier, and more so if the spring pressure is light. The reason for this is that in fast play the finger hits the button at speed, imparting a high acceleration to the button/lever/spring/pad system, as a result inertia of the lever and pad becomes significant and the lever can momentarily loose contact with the top surface of the slot in the action post. As the spring returns it to the normal position you can get an audible click. You either live with this, increase the spring pressure to the point where the noise stops, or get a riveted action.

You are absolutely correct in your anaysis of the clicking noise on Lachenal instruments. However, it's not just the fact that Lachenal uses a hook action, and that hook actions are noisier than riveted action. It is the design of the hook action they used that's more at fault. You are correct in saying that insufficient pressure at the fulcrum causes the lever to lose contact with the fulcrum, and when it is reestablished causes the clicking sound. With a different design this can be eliminated. I know because I have been doing it successfully for eleven years. The riveted action also has its drawbacks. Over time, the rivet and the rivet hole wear, causing the same clicking effect, and for the same reason---movement---downward movement allowed through wear, and upward movement causing the rivet to hit the upper side of the hole, and the resulting click. The only solution to this is to use an oversized rivet. This requires removing the fulcrum from the action board, removal of the old rivet, and the replacement with a larger diameter rivet, and finally replacement of the fulcrum in the hole.

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It is also hard to believe that riveted vs non-riveted construction as such has anything to do with the action noises generally.

Hard to believe in what sense?

My experience is that "lachenal type" action can be much noisier, and more so if the spring pressure is light. The reason for this is that in fast play the finger hits the button at speed, imparting a high acceleration to the button/lever/spring/pad system, as a result inertia of the lever and pad becomes significant and the lever can momentarily loose contact with the top surface of the slot in the action post. As the spring returns it to the normal position you can get an audible click. You either live with this, increase the spring pressure to the point where the noise stops, or get a riveted action.

You are absolutely correct in your anaysis of the clicking noise on Lachenal instruments. However, it's not just the fact that Lachenal uses a hook action, and that hook actions are noisier than riveted action. It is the design of the hook action they used that's more at fault. You are correct in saying that insufficient pressure at the fulcrum causes the lever to lose contact with the fulcrum, and when it is reestablished causes the clicking sound. With a different design this can be eliminated. I know because I have been doing it successfully for eleven years. The riveted action also has its drawbacks. Over time, the rivet and the rivet hole wear, causing the same clicking effect, and for the same reason---movement---downward movement allowed through wear, and upward movement causing the rivet to hit the upper side of the hole, and the resulting click. The only solution to this is to use an oversized rivet. This requires removing the fulcrum from the action board, removal of the old rivet, and the replacement with a larger diameter rivet, and finally replacement of the fulcrum in the hole.

 

I am afraid there may be some confusion around here because : 1) We better not generalize when comparing "hook action" and "riveted action" since there are so many variants 2)The fairly common hearsay *when* generalizing after all that "hook action is more noisy than riveted action" is biased by several coexisting confounders and it takes systematic testing to isolate and analyse them one by one 3) The described phenomenon that a clicking sound is caused by the lever leaving its site and makes a noise when returning needs to be objectified to become "believeable".

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And your concertina credentials are???

 

Frank,this is not firstly a matter of "concertina credentials" but just being critical and methodical in any trouble-shooting.We all face the same insufficiency as Simon "scoopet" who started the topic when meeting 'concertina noises' and already in the first posts half a dozen people came up with a dozen good suggestions, including the *lever loosing contact with the fulcrum* hypothesis.As I said before this comes up now and then and since I have not managed to objectify it I am sceptical and curious to hear what evidence there is for it.Some reason for my scepticism was mentioned in post #10.Another is that I have not yet come across any metal part related noise with "pivot" action", nor "rivet action", that has not been possible to identify and among them I have not under normal conditions succeeded in detecting neither a lever getting loose from the fulcrum nor clicking back.When noises truly have come from the lever/post connection there have been irregularities from processing or wear and the noise has disappeared after grinding and polishing, and some time greasing.

 

So - I am curious to hear (from Frank, Theo and others): 1)have you *seen* the lever "get loose from the fulcrum and return back"? 2) during that process "heard a clicking sound when returning"? 3) with what instrument did this happen? 4)how do you know that no other source of noise might have been present?

 

Concerning the *noisy Lachenals* there are many co-factors around that mess up the whole picture.IF we generalize - which I dislike to do - it is *possible* that you find a greater number of noisy Lachenals than Wheatstones ( a common topic for discussion...) but looking at that assumption critically you either will end up in knowing nothing or finding a couple of specific details that explain certain differences. One such detail is design and use of materials for buttons and a) all metal buttons rattle more than bone, plastic, or composite ones b)metal buttons rattle more in the pin holes c)if end plate bushings and button/lever bushings are worn all-metal buttons rattle more than others.One might believe that the seemingly greater stability from a riveted lever/post connection reduces these button noises but I find very little support for that.When everything is in good condition and if you compare instruments with all other characteristics alike except the lever/post connection I do not believe you will find any "noisier Lachenals than Wheatstones".

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