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Sounds Like A Concertina ?


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One other way to put it: is it possible to build even a simple, experimental, proof-of-concept, single note instrument, that will sound like a genuine concertina, but will have an accordion reed?

I guess that you would have to define what you mean by "Sounds like a concertina". Depending on the make, era, system, model, concertinas sound quite different from each other. For example, a linota from the 1920s sounds quite different from the Wheatstone Chris Droney plays. They are both Wheatstones. Over the years, I have owned two Dippers, built for me but built over the space of ten or so years. They are quite different in tone. Lachenals sound quite different from Jeffries etc. What did some of these instruments, like Lachenals sound like when they were new? Then there is the Brass vs steel factor. The point is, there is no one Concertina sound. I believe I have been able to design my Professional Model hybrids that fall within the wide range of concertina tones. So in my opinion, the answer is yes, depending on the specific instrument you are refering to for comparison.

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I prefer the "parallel sound" that too many (imho) concertina community people vilify and call "strident." my metal-ended dipper county clare has a thick, "fat," loud tone that to me is perfect, but I've read this dipper tone derided by people who want a refined, "warm" tone...it's all in the beholder, I guess...but I've recently emailed juergen Suttner to ask if he could do an EC with "Jeffries" construction rather than the radial "Wheatstone" construction in the model listing...

 

 

 

[i guess that you would have to define what you mean by "Sounds like a concertina".]

 

there is that as well--I would have taken "sounds like an accordion" to indicate, bright and strident, but here I believe Geoff is indicating the "accordion-sounding" concertina is warmer? I like the loud, barky "strident" edgelys---are these the "standard" rather than the "professional"? I heard one that could have led a ceili dance by itself....some people would hate this, but I liked it...the Morse standard durall reeds are an example of accordion reeds that are warm and mellow, which some find, not loud and bright enough, but others cite that very mellowness was the very reason they chose a morse....

 

last year I became the owner of a large metal-ended crabb crane that is 10 inches across due to having long-scale reeds (radial layout). i actually thought at first that this concertina sounded something like a bright, loud accordion. love the sound of it, but it is the sole free-reed instrument I own that makes the cat not only caterwaul, but climb up and bite and paw at my hand trying get it off the buttons...the middle and low notes are thick and rich, but the high notes are quite piercing.

 

don't know anything about how "long-scale" versus "short scale" affects the issues you are raising here....?

Edited by ceemonster
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don't know anything about how "long-scale" versus "short scale" affects the issues you are raising here....?

 

Or even what the difference is. A few years back I measured reeds in a few different instruments, including Aeola, New Model, Edeophone, a couple of brass-reeded Lachenals of differing quality,....

 

I forget the details (and where I filed them, though I'm sure I'll rediscover them some day), but I recall that no two had the same length reed tongues for the same pitch. In particular,I remember that the Edeophone and Aeola were significantly different, though I believe that both were advertised as having "long scale" reeds.

 

I think that long scale reeds were supposed to improve response rather than have a significant effect on tone, but others here probably know for sure.

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...

but it is the sole free-reed instrument I own that makes the cat not only caterwaul, but climb up and bite and paw at my hand trying get it off the buttons...the middle and low notes are thick and rich, but the high notes are quite piercing.

...

 

Definitely something wrong with the cat ;-)

/Henrik

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  • 1 month later...

Someone just forwarded a link to this thread to me….

 

A few facts:

The reed amplitude and active reed length is determined by the relative difference in mass/resistance between reed base and tip. This difference can be obtained by either varying thickness of the reed or width. E.g., a wider reed base creates more resistance, just as a thicker base does. Another example: 2 reeds, one parallel and one tapered, of the same thickness and length: the tapered one will sound higher in pitch (reduced tip mass). Turn the tapered reed around (fishtail), and it will sound lower than the parallel one.

The reed taper itself does not change/affect the reed movement. However, tapered reeds allow for much more manipulation of the harmonic spectrum because of increased reed amplitude. Depending on pitch and scaling, most reeds have less mass at the tip than at the base. Tapered reeds allow for a more consistent reed thickness, which allows for more manipulation. Because there is less difference in thickness between base and tip, the reed can be thinner, = more flexibility = more amplitude at same airflow = more harmonics/ manipulation. On a side note, modern vocal steel is more stable than 19th century steel.

It is much easier to voice the fifth in a modern reed (tapered) than in an old one. Early instruments used baffles and fretwork to hide uneven harmonics and equilibrium: Lowest notes often were either too soft (early instruments), or too loud (Aeola/edeophone models). High notes often sounded harsh and did not follow the voicing line. Because modern reeds can be voiced perfectly, there is no need to hide any uneven harmonic spectrum.

Modern free reeds produce stronger, more uniform harmonics and create a richer tone with a more even equilibrium over the full compass. In (our) modern concertinas we use chamber length, volume, and reed position, primary and secondary sound reflection in the action chamber to ‘shape’ the sound of our instruments. The reeds produce a constant spectrum which is either tempered or enhanced by (sound) filtering and reflection.

The end result is determined by the customer: mellow sound/clear/bright. Etc.. in Geoff’s case, our standard duet concertinas have a ‘clear’ spectrum. We want all the notes to be audible, also when you play chords + a melody, not mushy and covered up by overpowering low notes. Sound preference is personal, and is also determined by playing skill/style. Someone who plays polyphonic music will require a much better balance than someone who plays single note melodies.

The modern reeds do produce a much stronger octave and fifth than ‘old’ reeds, but this is by choice. It is very easy to make a modern reed sound (exactly) like a vintage one. You can even ‘copy’ the spectrum of a brass reed and make it indistinguishable in a brass instrument.

 

Parallel chambers DO NOT necessarily affect sound quality. This is one of the myths that still exists. They make it easier to obtain a certain spectrum from the reeds, which can also be obtained with a radial reed pan. The bandwidth of radial (vintage) and parallel chambers overlap quite a lot. The position of vintage radial reed pans on this bandwidth can easily be covered with parallel chambers (can produce the same sound characteristics). Reed pan layout only becomes interesting at the extreme ends of the design, the small areas that you can only obtain with either radial or parallel.

The size of the air holes (pad holes) is/should be determined by the amount of airflow needed in the chamber to start the reed swing cycle (bernouilli effect). The vent holes under the reeds act as the ‘chamber back door’, they determine the air pressure in the chamber. Accordion reeds have no vent holes. The frame slot determines the air flow rate. Because of this accordion reeds have different specs and harmonics than a concertina.

 

a few remarks:

Our (Wakker traditional) reeds are made by hand (by me personally). The reed frames are made on a specially designed (by me) CNC machine. Our frames are 3 dimensional, with a varying vent (varies in angle and height) per concertina model/pitch, to adjust the ‘reed pressure release’ (moment and rate the air pressure on the reed drops off). This can only be produced on a high end CNC machine, not by hand. We are the only ones that produce frames like this. All other concertina frames are 2D, with either straight slot walls or generically tapered.

 

Wim Wakker

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It is much easier to voice the fifth in a modern reed (tapered) than in an old one.

 

Just a point of clarification, Wim. By the "fifth" in the quote above, do you mean the twelfth (i.e. the third partial, an octave and a fifth above the nominal)?

 

Terry

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It is much easier to voice the fifth in a modern reed (tapered) than in an old one.

 

Just a point of clarification, Wim. By the "fifth" in the quote above, do you mean the twelfth (i.e. the third partial, an octave and a fifth above the nominal)?

 

Terry

 

You're correct....for practical reasons it is usually referred to as the 'fifth' rather than the 'duodecime' (octave + fifth)

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Our (Wakker traditional) reeds are made by hand (by me personally). The reed frames are made on a specially designed (by me) CNC machine. Our frames are 3 dimensional, with a varying vent (varies in angle and height) per concertina model/pitch, to adjust the ‘reed pressure release’ (moment and rate the air pressure on the reed drops off). This can only be produced on a high end CNC machine, not by hand. We are the only ones that produce frames like this. All other concertina frames are 2D, with either straight slot walls or generically tapered.

 

So this requires a 4D mill Wim? The usual X & Y axes for length and width, Z axis for depth and A (rotational) axis for tilt?

 

Terry

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is perfectly possible to create a whole series of varied vent angles accurately by hand with appropriate jigs and a good magnifier. It has been done at least since my early Bb//F Jeffries which not only had varied vent angles, but very carefully belled vents that created a very snappy pressure volume curve. ( hand filed and beautifully done) I made a nice set of vent profile scrapers that worked both quickly and left a very nice finish. Though I eventually decided I preferred a more linear pressure volume curve. CNC machines are great, but are hardly the only way to accomplish such things. The huge advantage in CNC machining is in the ability to turn a design into a cutting path with ease and to be able to change it on a whim. Repeatability is also their strong point. They make practical things like Wim's fancy and very attractive metal inlaid wooden ends. ( though the technique is centuries old )The primary drawback to real production ( not hobby level ) CNC machines is their very high cost. Not to mention computer and software costs in addition to the machine and controller. In that respect handwork has a lot of advantages. Even if it takes longer to do a good job, you are paying yourself for the time, not paying off the machine. I used to hang around great old machinists in the 60's. They could do amazing things with ordinary tools and machines when CNC was still in it's infancy. Sadly, in the face of computer technology, a lot of the old techniques have been or are being lost.

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