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To baffle or not to baffle, that is the question!


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...after all who would want to reduce the volume in an age where there was no other practical way of increasing volume in such places as theatres

I was under the impression that most of the concertinas sold, especially before 1900, would likely have been played in the home, not in a theater performance. A subdued tone might be appreciated by guests in a drawing room, not to mention family members having to endure a player's practicing.

 

I would also suggest that a "loud" instrument might be less important in a populace that hadn't suffered widespread hearing loss from military-strength amplification at rock concerts and maxing out the volume on a Walkman or portable mp3 player. B)

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...after all who would want to reduce the volume in an age where there was no other practical way of increasing volume in such places as theatres

I was under the impression that most of the concertinas sold, especially before 1900, would likely have been played in the home, not in a theater performance. A subdued tone might be appreciated by guests in a drawing room, not to mention family members having to endure a player's practicing.

 

I would also suggest that a "loud" instrument might be less important in a populace that hadn't suffered widespread hearing loss from military-strength amplification at rock concerts and maxing out the volume on a Walkman or portable mp3 player. B)

 

Yes Jim, My Anglo is certainly at its most seductive when played quietly and that suits me fine. I cannot believe that the Concertina was ever designed to be played in auditoriums, theatres or on windy street corners. Mine is an instrument for the drawing room...or preferably the kitchen with its hard reflective surfaces. In 2010 I watched on television a folk group of some sort performing in London at one of the annual series of Promenade Concerts and the Anglo players contribution was unsurprisingly totally lost in the vastness of the Royal Albert Hall.

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My 1854 wooden-ended, brass-reeded Wheatstone baritone English had had its original wooden baffles removed when I bought it a few years ago. (presumably so that it could complete with the nearest piano accordion in sessions - vandal!) I managed to get some thin spruce, used to make guitar tops, from a luthier, and Colin Dipper very expertly used it to make a pair of new baffles, which he fitted, to restore it to near its original condition. The original baffles were probably made from Russian pine, so Colin told me. Anyway, it doesn't sound quite as loud as did before, but I don't mind and it looks gorgeous.

 

Chris

 

Chris, do you know what thickness the spruce was? I think I will try it. I've fitted paper ones but I think that's a bit of a compromise.

Andy.

 

 

Sorry, Andy, I don't know what thickness the spruce was. Colin told me that the piece of spruce I gave him, was a little too thick as it was, so he sanded it down to make it the right thickness. My memory is that the piece was approximately .125" or 3mm thick, originally, and was left in its natural colour and not stained.

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Drinkwater
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'I was under the impression that most of the concertinas sold, especially before 1900, would likely have been played in the home, not in a theater performance.'

Hi Jim

I would cite people like Regondi, George Case, Sedgewick & Blagrove - to name but a few who did play on the concert stage.

You may very well be right on the probability that most people's hearing had not been destroyed by what constitutes our modern life style (I know my hearing was somewhat affected by using a 'hammer drill' in close proximity to my ears, on & off for a number of years) a lower ambient noise level would be wonderful - but it aint gonna happen. I guess the weaker ones hearing gets - the louder the volume is raised, we must be on volume setting '13' by now!!

chris ('pardon, what did you say')

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I would cite people like Regondi, George Case, Sedgewick & Blagrove - to name but a few who did play on the concert stage.

But did they use instruments with baffles for their performances?

I don't think there was any period during which all concertinas were made with baffles.

 

I guess the weaker ones hearing gets - the louder the volume is raised, we must be on volume setting '13' by now!!

chris ('pardon, what did you say')

George: "I've had my new hearing aid for a week now, and it really is an improvement."

Bill: "That's great. What does your family think of your improved hearing?"

George: "Oh, I haven't told them yet... but already I've changed my will four times." :D

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would they sacrifice tonal quality for volume? Difficult to say. Might be a research project for someone!!

If anyone could tell us, it would probably be concertina.net member allan atlas.

 

But there's also the question of whether they (or their audiences) would consider it a "sacrifice". Not only do different people have different tastes, very often the same person has different tastes, depending on the context. I know I do.

 

I don't think it strange that someone might prefer a more intimate sound in a more intimate setting and a "stronger" sound in a concert hall performance. Or different sounds for different kinds of music. Alistair Anderson, e.g., seems to perform mainly on a metal-ended instrument, but for certain pieces he regularly uses an amboyna Aeola.

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would they sacrifice tonal quality for volume? Difficult to say. Might be a research project for someone!!

If anyone could tell us, it would probably be concertina.net member allan atlas.

 

But there's also the question of whether they (or their audiences) would consider it a "sacrifice". Not only do different people have different tastes, very often the same person has different tastes, depending on the context. I know I do.

 

I don't think it strange that someone might prefer a more intimate sound in a more intimate setting and a "stronger" sound in a concert hall performance. Or different sounds for different kinds of music. Alistair Anderson, e.g., seems to perform mainly on a metal-ended instrument, but for certain pieces he regularly uses an amboyna Aeola.

 

I have finally gone for very very thin quarter sawn Spruce. 1.5mm. I believe there is a definite improvement in the tone, with hardly any loss in volume. It sounds lovely.

Andy.

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  • 9 years later...

I just received some white “muslin” fabric from Amazon that I am going to use for replacement cloth baffles:

 

Neotrims UK Finest MUSLIN Loose Weave Cheesecloth Fabric, 100% Cotton, 55 GSM. Semi Transparent Weave.
Natural Ecru and White = 129-130cms wide
Sold as By the Meter

 

I laid it out flat and generously sprayed both sides with a few layers of red paint and It is a perfect match to the material in my metal ended treble Aeola.

 

I don’t think the thin material will affect the tone noticeably so I want to add it to the inside of my metal ended tenor treble to keep the bugs and other reed fouling debris out.  There is some traces of old glue on the onside with an embedded cloth pattern so it was there originally.  I also got a metre of it in black as well but it will have to be sprayed to stiffen it up and look the same.  Black or red?

 

I have a wonderful 1856 treble once owned by the Bulteel family (Lord Revelstoke) in near perfect all original condition with leather battles.  It is my go to instrument for playing quietly at night even with it’s steel reeds... quiet yet still very expressive with great dynamics.  It is the quality of instrument I am sure Messrs. Blagrove and Regondi woukd of used.  Fast and responsive.  Don’t laugh but I play along with the TV (love the commercials) while watching.

 

Another instrument still in the process of restoration is an 1852 treble with it’s original wood battles.  It came to me in very poor condition but is coming along.  It is beautiful with it's amboyna and green leather and has colored buttons engraved with the note names and accidentals on the tips and nickel silver reeds.  No end bushings and so clacky so maybe a tutor model though not sure they were known as this that early on.  Wonderful instrument too with lots of character but it is very muffled and subdued but then again it could also be the reeds.  I much prefer the dynamics of the wooden baffled Bulteel with it’s leather baffle and steel reeds.

 

Maker’s label and serial numbers are attached to the baffles as someone previously stated.  The thin wood baffle had the serial number stamped right into it.

 

If you do remove your baffles, make sure you add an equivalent thickness spacer to the wooden posts supporing the thumb straps and pinky slides.

 

PM me if you would like photos of any of the above.

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