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What was behind the ends? Baffles? Cloth?


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I have a Lachenal Excelsior which I date to about 1875. At some point in its life somebody removed the manufacturer's marks and the deep red cloth that sat inside the ends. When you look through the fretwork you can see the pads and levers etc...

 

I was told that this was probably done to enhance its volume - which is not something that is important to me. In fact our cat would quite like it to become totally silent!

 

I also read in the forums that wooden baffles were sometimes used to both quiet the volume and to reduce some of the harmonics resulting in sweeter sounding chords.

 

I have recently dismantled one end and I wonder if my Excelsior originally had baffles (with the red cloth glued to the baffle?).

 

Can anyone advise me if this was the case and if so describe, or better yet post a photograph, what such a baffle would look like on an instrument like mine.

 

Here is a picture of the inside of one of my ends, it looks to me that there were once some little stand-offs in each of the hexagon corners - two of the stand-offs in the top of the photograph are still there, the rest are gone leaving some glue marks behind. (You can also see a page from Dave's Maintenance Manual in the picture - thanks Dave!).

 

Inside an end

 

Any advice will be welcome,

 

 

Don.

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Those look typical of the blocks of cork used as a standoffs for baffles made of a soft material, typically a white silk textile, or red leather. If the original baffles had been wood then the support blocks (which act as spacers where the long fixing screws go) would have been shorter and you would now see evidence that they have been replaced or built up.

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This is really interesting. I too have a Lachenal Excelsior which has no trace of the blocks shown in the photograph. It has, however, at some point had red fabric glued to the ends, possibly to act as a baffle/dust barrier. I suspect it is of similar date (serial 27026 from memory). Might these have been offered with/without baffles. A further consideration is that mine is an extended 56k treble - might the baffles have had a detrimental effect on the higher register?

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Yes, these little stand-offs do appear to be made of cork.

 

Here is a picture of the same concertina (not mine but one which is currently for sale on eBay) that still has the original cloth and makers marks behind the ends:

 

Lea's Excelsior

 

I would like to restore mine to a similar state, but it is not clear to me how the cloth is kept taut or how it is attached to the ends.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

 

Don

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I have a very similar concertina to the Lachenal pictured (although mine is not a Lachenal), with a Salvation Army sticker in the maker's oval. It has a red cloth behind the fretwork, which the man I bought it from installed, I think by just gluing it to the frets). I presume that the Salvation Army sticker was attached to a cloth or whatever before this was done, but I have no way of knowing; it could have been added later to enhance the interest in the instrument.

 

My point here, though, is that unlike the concertina in the photo, I find that the red cloth distracts from the (not-so-elegant) fretwork. It seems to pull the eye to the irregularly shaped cuts rather than to the curves and S shapes. Maybe it's because of the lack of contrast between the red and the very black finish of the wood. I've toyed with the idea of taking the cloth out, in hopes of getting better volume from the brass reeds, but for now I'm letting it be and playing something else (and better). I just mention this as a caution that the fabric might detract rather than add to the appearance of the instrument.

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Yes, these little stand-offs do appear to be made of cork.

 

Here is a picture of the same concertina (not mine but one which is currently for sale on eBay) that still has the original cloth and makers marks behind the ends:

 

Lea's Excelsior

 

Is there any evidence that the red cloth is original?

 

Much more likely imho is that it is much later. For a start the colour is much too bright and clean compared with the condition of the rest of the concertina. The white cloth on which the serial number appears does look original, and most likely is a remnant of the original cloth that backed the fretwork. I have seen several examples of this style of white, usually silk, cloth in situ.

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Yes, these little stand-offs do appear to be made of cork.

 

Here is a picture of the same concertina (not mine but one which is currently for sale on eBay) that still has the original cloth and makers marks behind the ends:

 

Lea's Excelsior

 

Is there any evidence that the red cloth is original?

 

Much more likely imho is that it is much later. For a start the colour is much too bright and clean compared with the condition of the rest of the concertina. The white cloth on which the serial number appears does look original, and most likely is a remnant of the original cloth that backed the fretwork. I have seen several examples of this style of white, usually silk, cloth in situ.

I agree that the cloth looks a bit bright, I have no idea if it is original. I am looking for something more subdued.

 

So would such a cloth just be glued to the inside of the end?

 

I could recreate the cork standoffs, but then what and how do I attach to them?

 

Thx. Don.

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The cloth on my Excelsior is certainly just glued on the inside of the ends. I am not sure that it is original, although it is a slightly faded and stained claret silk. I have toyed with the idea of removing it, but the ends have a number of very fine cracks in them and I think even the most careful and patient removal would risk aggravating/destabilising any existing weaknesses. I think there is a pointer here for anyone contemplating installing such fabric - ensure that gluing is kept to a minimum and the process is fully and easily reversable.

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A few draft notes, may be of interest

 

 

Geoffrey

 

Geoff:

 

Thank you very much for this - most illuminating. I think that my Excelsior originally had leather or paper baffles as the remnant stand-offs clearly match the configuration that that you show.

 

When I get a round tuit I might experiment with making up some new leather baffles.

 

Don.

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Also, the red cloth showing in the picture seems much denser than original cloth is. Original cloth is more a gauze that keeps dust out but is no impediment to sound..........this stuff looks more like a fibre baffle to me.

Robin

...and the clips sound like having gone through a baffle as well!

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Also, the red cloth showing in the picture seems much denser than original cloth is. Original cloth is more a gauze that keeps dust out but is no impediment to sound..........this stuff looks more like a fibre baffle to me.

Robin

Hmmmm... Is there a specific fibre/cloth that is used for audio baffles?

 

The recordings of that tina have a sweet sound - which the owner says was not achieved by post-processing the audio.

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Also, the red cloth showing in the picture seems much denser than original cloth is. Original cloth is more a gauze that keeps dust out but is no impediment to sound..........this stuff looks more like a fibre baffle to me.

Robin

I've yet to replace the gauze in a concertina, but in harmonium/reed organ restorations I use a burgundy coloured poplin material as the gauze.

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