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Baffles - How To Make?


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I have read some of the postings with spouse vs. concertina problems. To keep the peace in my home, I'm entertaining the idea of a baffle. So first, do baffles actually work to lower the sound? And Second, how does one go about making one? My assumption is that it is just a peice of leather to cover the holes from the inside of the concertina.

 

Thanks

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I'm fortunate that I can play usually when I'm in the house on my own. I do however wonder about the benefits of baffles. Doesn't the restriction in air flow severly change the characteristics of playing and or lead to premature bellows failure (that air pressure has to push [or pull] against something)?

 

If it does change the charactersistics of playing then why bother - you are not getting proper practise.

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I'm fortunate that I can play usually when I'm in the house on my own.  I do however wonder about the benefits of baffles.  Doesn't the restriction in air flow severly change the characteristics of playing and or lead to premature bellows failure (that air pressure has to push [or pull] against something)?

 

If it does change the charactersistics of playing then why bother - you are not getting proper practise.

There is only a restriction of air if you fit the baffles badly - i.e. air-tight or close to. Obviously not a good idea. Baffles should have no impact on the playing characteristics of a concertina.

 

I fit baffles because in many circumstance, such as song accompaniment or solo performance, I greatly value the sweetness that baffles give to the tone. Baffles can have more impact on the character of the sound than wooden v. metal ends. In my experience baffles don't reduce the volume greatly, but by making the tone softer you can sometimes bring to reason someone who otherwise thinks they don't like the concertina.

 

My tuppenyworth.

 

Chris

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There is only a restriction of air if you fit the baffles badly - i.e. air-tight or close to. Obviously not a good idea. Baffles should have no impact on the playing characteristics of a concertina.

 

Chris

thanks Chris - that's helpul and reassuring

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Has anyone tried adding baffles to a Dipper County Clare concertina? How were the results? Even my kindest friends tell me my concertina is too loud at sessions, especially because my playing is, well, at a beginner level, and my goofs are too audible. :unsure: The pictures of leather baffles (linked above) are attractive, too, although the work sounds daunting!

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  • 1 year later...

I need to install buffles into my 20 button Lachenal.

I contacted Button Box, but they have no material for the buffles.

I contacted Concertina Spares, no luck.

Barleycorn - same.

Where do I get the right leather for the buffles?

Thanks.

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Where do I get the right leather for the buffles?

 

From Robert Gaskins, "Baffles for Maccann Duet Concertinas":

 

The first step is to acquire the proper leather. The range of leathers with different properties is astonishingly wide, but not many of them are useful for concertina baffles. All the leather varieties made for clothing or for upholstery are too soft--they drape easily, and they stretch, and both of these properties are fatal for baffles. Leathers which are sturdier are often thicker and thus not as useful in the constricted space available in a concertina end, or else so rigid and stiff that they might resonate. What is needed is leather that is thin, strong, fairly stiff but limp (not rigid), dimensionally-stable, and air-tight.

 

Such leather is surprisingly difficult to find. I tried out samples of every plausible leather from Tandy Leather Company (now selling online exclusively) without finding a suitable choice, and had similar results from other online sources, including suppliers of leather for organ repair. I bought leathers with mixed success from specialist stores in London. Finally I found the ideal supplier: J. Hewit & Sons Ltd. of Edinburgh. These folks create wonderful leather, mostly for bookbinders but also for other purposes as various as bagpipes, and are traditional suppliers to concertina makers (the business goes back to at least 1806). Hewit has an comprehensive website with an admirable online store, making prompt and accurate deliveries to any part of the world. Full details are below under Suppliers.

 

The best leather for baffles is goatskin, which has all the desired properties; this was traditionally referred to as "morocco" leather, which is goatskin treated to emphasize its natural grain (so-called "French Morocco" is a sheepskin imitation, to be avoided.) Hewit supplies "Chieftain Goat", which is traditional East Indian goatskin, re-tanned in Edinburgh, processed to a ravishing grain pattern, and colored with vegetable dyes to traditional colors. For light colors, they supply a very similar goatskin which is "alum tawed" (rather than tanned) to produce an etherial creamy white leather.

 

After I finally found and bought some of this distinctive leather, I handed a small scrap of it to Steve Dickinson of C. Wheatstone & Co., who without any prompting immediately identified Hewit by name and went on to name the specific type of goatskin and even the specific color; it is the same leather that he sometimes uses for bellows. I should have known earlier to look for bookbinder's morocco leather if I had studied my concertina history more closely:

 

"The bellows on these very first Wheatstone concertinas [to 1842] were of the finest glazed green morocco leather, of a similar quality to that used by bookbinders. The Wheatstone workshop ledgers show regular purchases of morocco leather and payment of bookbinders' bills for the production of these fine bellows. Indeed, similar techniques of neatly skiving, lapping, and folding the leather were used as in fine bindery practice, producing the neat joins and thin bellows folds found on all concertinas up to the end of 1842." Neil Wayne, "The Wheatstone English Concertina," The Galpin Society Journal 44 (1991): 117-49.

 

Buying goatskin is not like buying an industrial product--this is a natural material, with lots of variations in the leather and in the processing and finishing. Rather than some neat rectangle, one buys a whole skin, in the shape of an animal with four legs and so forth, and every skin varies in size; pricing is by actual area, so each skin also varies a little in price, as it is bigger or smaller. The skins are roughly half a square meter to two-thirds of a square meter each, so the unit of sale is about half a square meter. Any skin in this size range should cut up into at least four baffles for a very large concertina (say, a 72-key AEola), or into at least nine baffles for a small concertina (say, a 46-key hexagon), so even the smallest skin should make two to four sets of baffles. Skins are priced by the square meter, about GBP 100 per square meter in standard grade II; since a typical skin is a bit over half a square meter, the price of a typical skin is around GBP 55 (USD 80, EUR 90).

 

J. Hewit & Sons Ltd.

Edinburgh

Tanners and Leather Dressers

and Suppliers for all Craft Bookbinding requirements

(By appt to HM the Queen, manufacturers of leather)

 

Information on J. Hewit & Sons, sellers of leather for concertina baffles

 

P.S. David Barnert (above) referred to this material at the old Maccann Duet website; that old site is soon to be removed from the web, and it has not been updated in over a year. All of its content (plus several times more in new material) has been moved to the Concertina Library website.

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I am now working on Wheatsone serial 1503, this has spruce baffles

 

so baffles were: leather, spruce, or pasteboard. Interesting to see if there are any tonal differences. If only I had time.....

 

Dave

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...baffles were: leather, spruce, or pasteboard.

And some instruments had gauze under the fretwork, but others had other fabrics. I had one with silk, but I suspect it wasn't original. I don't know if that would be considered "baffling", but it implies more of a continuous range of designs than just baffle-no baffle.

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And some instruments had gauze under the fretwork, but others had other fabrics. I had one with silk, but I suspect it wasn't original. I don't know if that would be considered "baffling", but it implies more of a continuous range of designs than just baffle-no baffle.

Jim

Ive seen many unrestored low-end Lachenals with silk, it seems to have been about as common as that reddish imitation leather that was also quite popular.

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