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Lachenal Suppliers


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I recently have finished an article on miniatures concertinas, which will appear in Papers of the International Concertina Association (PICA) 2012. I now have a little time to turn my attention to a couple issues that have intrigued me for some time.


1. Tuning. As I use my electronic tuners to tune my instruments, I cannot understand how the tuning was done before the advent of strobe tuners and other electronic tuners. The Conn firm invented the strobe tuner in 1936. What was used before then? Did the makers have extensive collections of tuning forks? Was a lot of the tuning done by ear? (That would have required piano-tuner-quality hearing in the extreme, especially for the very high pitched notes such as those on miniature concertinas.) Back in the nineteenth century, they even used non-standard tunings (such as A 448) and tunings with separate notes for G# and Ab, D# and Eb, etc. I just cannot see how they did the tuning without electronic equipment,


2. Vendors. In making over 250,000 concertinas, Lachenal must have had a lot of vendors who supplied raw materials and, maybe, parts or even some types of sub-components. I do a little research on stringed instruments, especially those of the Gibson company. I have a list of their pre-World War II vendors--case makers (11 firms), engravers (6 firms), electroplaters (7 firms), lacquer and other finishing suppliers (11 firms), hardwood lumber and veneer sellers (15 firms), and vendors of other products and sub-components such as buttons, tuners, inlays, etc. (18 firms). Of course, Gibson was making guitars, mandolins, and banjos and needed different materials than concertina makers, but the need for suppliers was on a similar scale. Gibson has made thousands of instruments, but still do not compare to the voluminous output of Lachenal concertinas.


Through oral tradition passed down to living relatives in the Lachenal family, I have learned that Lachenal purchased screws and bolts from companies that were later merged into the modern GKN company (formerly, Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds)--in particular, screws from Nettlefolds and bolts from the Patent Nut and Bolt Co.--clear back in the mid-1800s. These are the only vendors of whom I am aware. But in making a quarter million concertinas, they must have had many vendors for raw wood, brass, steel, leather, inlays, ets. And it seems that suppliers of finished parts might have been involved.


Any information on the tuning issue or parts suppliers for Lachenal (or other concertina makers) would be much appreciated.


I have sent an email to Geoffrey Crabb, concerning Crabb vendors, but I have not heard from Geoffery yet.

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