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Quick question on different woods, number 1- a dipper clare model, looks to me like the sound board and reed pan is mahogany? is this the case?

and number 2 - bellows frames from C. jeffries, (Praed street) are english sycamore?

Any info gladly welcomed.

thanks to all.

Sean

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Sean, on my former small Dipper Cotswold, the soundboards were Cuban mahogany. Mine were also reinforced with two opposing double dovetailed splines. I can't remember what the reed pans were made of.

 

As for the Jeffries reed pans, it's my understanding that the reed pans are sycamore. More importantly, IMHO, is the fact that they are thicker than the reed pans of other makers.

 

It will be interesting to see what others have to say about the topic.

 

Ross Schlabach

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Sean

 

Jeffries reedpans are sycamore (I've never seen or heard of any that aren't); the action boards for bone buttoned 30 key Jeffries are often (always?) mahogany whereas the metal buttoned ones are sycamore. As for the Jeffries bellows ends, I don't think they are sycamore. The grain pattern doesn't look right for sycamore; I'd say they were a hard pine or deal - either way a softwood rather than a hardwood.

 

I've seen a Dipper with a multi-ply reedpan - certainly greater stability for humidity and temperature fluctuations than even quarter sawn sycamore

 

Alex West

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My 1890's metal buttoned Jeffries has a sycamore action board and reedpan, my 2001 Dipper Cotswold was made with a multi-ply reedpan at Colin's suggestion because I was living in a humid area.

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I've made a number of "concertina-reeded" instruments over the past year and a half, in addition to the 400, or so, hybrid-style concertinas over the past 14 years. My prototype concertina-reeded Heritage concertina was made with a laminated reedpan.....aircraft grade birch. There are 10 to 12 layers per quarter inch. This is much better grade of wood than typical Baltic birch laminate, and is very hard. I am currently using the prototype as my primary performance instrument, now. Comparing it to the other concertinas I have made with sold hardwood reedpans, I can say that the solid hardwood reedpans have a bit stronger tone than the laminated one, although the tone of the laminate is definitely very musical, and very similar to the tone of the solid hardwood reedpans. ... just a bit softer. I used the laminate for the prototype for several reasons: (1) since it was my first attempt at making an English-style (concertina-reeded) reedpan, I was not sure I would not make a mistake and ruin it. If I used a solid hardwood, I would then have to resaw and plane down another piece.....not an entirely insignificant amount of work. In fact, the first RH reedpan did have to be made again for layout reasons. The laminate is already in the appropriate thickness. (2)The laminate is very stable, the same reason Colin Dipper suggested it. While I am currently making concertina-reeded instruments with solid hardwood reedpans, I would not hesitate making one with the laminate birch reedpans if someone were to request one. It's always been my policy to only make instruments that I would be happy playing as my own.

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After seeing Alex's post, I checked my bone button Jeffries. I have 28 and 30 button models from the 1880s -1890s period and none of them have any mahogany components. They all appear to have sycamore action boards too but it could be some other light appearing wood. It doesn't surprise me that the instruments appear to made of a single wood type since this would greatly simplify the manufacturing process for any home or shop workers doing the casework.

 

IMHO, the selective use of woods, while common in other instrument making for generations, was less common in the earlier part of our concertina history (other than the dominant use of sycamore in reed pans) but has become more prevalent as more recent and current makers have endeavored to avoid the flaws they discovered in older instruments.

 

Ross Shlabach

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Well that just goes to show the risks in trying to be definitive about Mr Jeffries!

 

I've seen a number of bone botton and metal buttoned sub-38 key Jeffries and I'd not seen any metal buttoned ones with mahogany action boards and only one 26 bone buttoned ones with sycamore boards - I also seem to recall Stephen Chambers discussing the bone buttoned mahogany boarded instruments.

 

Ah well - I suspect you're right Ross that the choice of woods might have been more dictated by availability than musical tone choices, but might it also be a date of manufacture clue (just a guess, no facts to support this)?

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I don't absolutely know why sycamore but here are a few clues. Sycamore is European Maple, and one of the standard woods used in violin making. Look at the back of most fiddles. More prosaic but very relevant; Sycamore grows everywhere in the UK. It also machines easily and is not terrribly unstable. Not very stable either but two out of three isn't bad. When thinking of concertinas you always have to remember they were a factory product. Any material had to be cheap and with guaranteed supply.

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As it happens, The Button Box currently has two Wheatstone English concertinas in stock that are virtually identical except for the pad pans (aka sound boards); one is a model 21a from March 1924 and the other is a model 21 from Sept. 1923. The model 21a has a sycamore pad pan, the model 21 has mahogany.

 

There is a distinct difference in the tone of the two instruments, with the sycamore pad pan being much brighter than the mahogany.

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I have a bone button Jeffries with sycamore action boards. The Jeffries with mahogany action boards I have seen seem to be earlier models. This was probably common in the early days. Did Jeffries work at some stage with Jones? Or did he order tinas from Jones as he appears to have done with Crabb and added his own reeds? His early wooden ended tinas certainly look like Jones and I think mahogany action boards were used in the latter. I'm not sure but perhaps mahogany cracks easier than sycamore and this lead to a change in the material used.

 

 

Shay

Edited by SeascaShay

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I have a bone button Jeffries with sycamore action boards. The Jeffries with mahogany action boards I have seen seem to be earlier models. This was probably common in the early days. Did Jeffries work at some stage with Jones? Or did he order tinas from Jones as he appears to have done with Crabb and added his own reeds? His early wooden ended tinas certainly look like Jones and I think mahogany action boards were used in the latter. I'm not sure but perhaps mahogany cracks easier than sycamore and this lead to a change in the material used.

 

 

Shay

 

Many earlier Jeffries wee made by Crabb, maybe Geoff might have some input?

 

Dave

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