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Arthur Kay

Elise - A Little Scratchy Sound

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Very recently purchased a new Elise, which is lovely so far, but have a question about a little scratchy sound.

 

It comes at the beginning of the note, mostly on the lower notes, on push or draw. It sounds almost like radio static for just a moment. It's most pronounced when moving the bellows slowly, and gets shorter when I give the bellows some oomph but the sound is still there.

 

If this is just a technique issue, and I need to get used to giving the lower notes a little more gusto, I can deal with that. Sort of like a string player learning to avoid scratchy sounds with good bow technique. On the other hand, if this is a mechanical problem, and especially if it's likely to get worse, then I simply need to get it fixed.

 

I poked around the forums and did a few searches, and I guess I just can't tell if this is 'action noise' or 'problem noise'. I very much welcome comments and suggestions.

 

That said, the Elise seems pretty darn sweet. It's definitely not the kind of starter instrument that you want to put out of its misery, and if it had four more keys I might just buy a gold-leafed case for the thing and call it a day.

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I don't know much about concertinas, but I've had my Elise for a month or so and it makes the same sound. I think it's just the bigger reeds getting "started."

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I don't know much about concertinas, but I've had my Elise for a month or so and it makes the same sound. I think it's just the bigger reeds getting "started."

Sort of like the rumbling of a large truck starting up, as opposed to a little two-cylinder. I'm with you.

 

As I get a little more deft with the bellows work, the scratchy noise is a bit less annoying and a bit more contributing to the overall fullness of the instrument's sound. And I'm really relieved to hear that someone else gets the same sound, and that it hasn't gotten any worse over time. Pretty strongly suggests to me that this is par for the course, and it will get better as I do.

 

Good thing, too. If I had to hand it over for replacement or repairs, I'd be moping like Snoopy in the rain right now.

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Actually, I'm increasingly leaning toward reed uptake time, although it was the valve suggestion that led me to the page with the crucial language. From this page at Concertina Connection which, compliments of Mr. Wakker, is the manufacturer of this fine instrument:

 

"The start of the swing cycle of a reed is one of the most important aspects of the playability of a free reed instrument. Preferably the reed should start its cycle the moment the key is depressed and the air flow is generated. The size of the reed plays an important role in this. In general, larger reeds need more time to get up to maximum amplitude than smaller reeds."

 

As I understand, this would explain why it happens in the lower notes, and why it is more pronounced at lower air pressure than at higher pressure, although it is not all that loud in any case. Also, this effect happens even when I depress the button entirely, and then begin to push or draw; it doesn't seem to bear any relation to the pushing or releasing of the button.

 

Though, I freely admit, I get this all from a half-dozen available websites concerning the interior workings of the thing. I am no pro.

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Actually, I'm increasingly leaning toward reed uptake time, although it was the valve suggestion that led me to the page with the crucial language.

Larger reeds may take longer to start, but that effect does not create any gurgling or scratchy sounds when the reed starts. It sounds like a valve issue to me too.

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Hah! Well, now there's two newcomers scratching their respective heads and wondering "What the devil?"

 

So, I've spent some more time listening as closely as I can to the sound and have come to two conclusions.

 

The first is that the sound actually comes at the END of the note, rather than on the attack. I was confused because I was pushing and drawing to elicit the sound, but I'm positive now it is at the tail end of the note, and is sort of a roughly tonal buzz/hum.

 

The second is that I should probably use some technology to RECORD the confounded thing. I feel like a guy describing the sound his car is making to a forum of mechanics, but using text. So I'll do that recording as soon as I can.

 

But so, if it is a valve, what action if any should we be taking, do you think?

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I noticed that sound on the pull-note of the low E-flat of my Jackie when I got it. I assumed it was some kind of tiny thing obstructing the reed, but a valve issue is an interesting possibility.

 

I found that after a few minutes of messing with it (sudden attacks, slow crescendos, sustained loud or quiet notes, etc.) I got it to go away entirely. It's come back once or twice since (maybe depending on the weather?) but I don't think it's ever been as bad.

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Oh, yeah. That might not even be the same sound I heard. That does sound really valve-y.

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Alright, then assuming it is a valve, what should a fellow do next? I could open it up and poke around, but as a rank novice I am a bit nervous. Maybe just take advantage of the warranty?

 

I suppose I'm still a little confused about why the valve would be making noise when it's open already, or why it might be making sound only at the end of the notes.

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This is valve noise, but not the usual valve issue which is with the valve beside the reed. This is with the valve on the opposite side to the reed. The valve has landed to close the air off but is being flapped up and down by the air puffed through by the last dying swings of the reed. It sounds like a valve with a great desire to return to straight and horizontal but without much mass. Maybe a plastic accordion one.

 

This is not a quick fix with a screwdriver, I suggest you take it up with the maker...

 

Chris

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Reviving an ancient thread as I am noticing this same sound on my brand-new Minstrel.  It only happens on the lower notes, and only noticeably when I am trying to quickly alternate push/pull... the liminal space of one note ending and the other starting sounds a lot like "old radio static", kinda flappy.

 

Per some of the comments above this is a valve issue?  I would like to think that's unlikely as it's a brand new instrument, but perhaps something requires adjusting given the climate changes between construction and arrival at my place?

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In an e-mail exchange with William Wakker, he told me as follows (similar to another poster above):

 

Quote
The larger the reed, the more time it needs to start the reed swing cycle. The amplitude of the reed increases with the length of the reed. Imagine a swing set. Swinging back and forth one foot on both sides from center takes a lot less time than 10 feet from the center.  The larger reed is slower because of the distance it needs to travel to pass the parallel position. Since accordion reeds are low pressure reeds, they will always be a little slower than the higher pitches.  The problem can be solved with concertina type reeds, but that comes at a cost.....
 
Over time the lower reeds will build up tension and will react faster.

 

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