Jump to content

Wheezing Lachenal (& First Post)

Recommended Posts

Hello hello,


This is my first post on these forums, so an introduction, if I may. My name's Matthew, I'm from Bristol (UK), and until recently my association with concertinas has consisted of happily mashing tunes out of a couple of old Scholers.


One can't read about concertinas on the Internet for long without hearing that Scholers won't do, and one really requires something from the English school of design, so when the opportunity arose to acquire an 20 key Lachenal requiring some attention, I took it.


I think it's one of the later Lachneals, as the fretwork is raised slightly above the screws on the ends (does that make sense?). It also has the pretty full fretwork. The woodwork and bellows are both in good condition.


The fault with the instrument is that while every key will sound, it is extremely wheezy, requiring most of the 6-fold bellows' worth of air to get a note going.


I'm quite used to bashing about inside the Scholers to keep things working, but as soon as I opened the Lachneal I realised this was an entirely different sort of animal, and demanded far more measured and thoughtful ministrations than the German objects.


And this brings me to you. My gut reaction to this wheezing is to replace the valves with ones that are not curling up, and reset the reeds -- all of which are either rather high or largely flush.


Regarding the valves, none of my local friendly hardware shops stock the most often suggested glues (Shellac and Hide), but have seen a few people on this forum suggest Pritt Stick! Can anyone comment? My principle concern is damaging an instrument that is already three times my age.


Regarding the reeds, is there a recommended method for removing them? (I mean the whole reed, not just the tongue). I don't want to force them out, but I'd like to adjust and tune them in a home-made testing bellows.


Other than the reeds and vales, where would I be sensible to look for potential causes of Wheeze? My instinct suggests the pale leather gaskets around the bellows ends and around the thing with all the reeds on.


Many thanks for taking the time to read my waffling.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could you also be leaking air somewhere? I usually check other components before tackling the valves. I've had several old Lachenals, and you can lose a lot of air via worn-out bellows, a warp in the reed pan, etc. Others will chime in here on diagnosis with more specifics.


This (a leaky or wheezy instrument) seems to be a common step on the path to concertina-hood; you've had lots of company!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

...and reset the reeds -- all of which are either rather high or largely flush.


Certainly not until you've covered all other possibilities. The proper reationship between reeds and their frames in your Lachenal vs. that between reeds and their plates in your Scholer is likely quite different. The "set" of the Lachenal reeds should vary -- particularly with pitch, -- and the tops of the reed tips should generally be above their frames. So maybe their set doesn't need changing.


If there are curled valves, replace them all. Probably a good idea to replace all the pads at the same time.


If there's space between the reed pan (the board that holds all the reeds) and the inside of the bellows ends, then that needs to be eliminated by adding material under the gasketing.


Then if there's still "wheezing", check for bellows leaks.


Mucking about with the reeds is as likely to cause problems as to solve them... more likely, if they're not actually the cause of the problem.


But you should definitely get Dave's book and use it as a guide for a thorough evaluation and fettling of you instrument. Then you can ask more questions here as you proceed.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding the valves, none of my local friendly hardware shops stock the most often suggested glues (Shellac and Hide), but have seen a few people on this forum suggest Pritt Stick! Can anyone comment?


With myself being the only person I can recall talking about the use of Pritt sticks in this forum I can tell you that it was regarding the application of bellows papers (and even here, I would not go so far as recommending that method - it just worked out well in my case).


For the valves you might need something more reliable...


Apart from that I strongly second Jim's advice, particularly as to not touching the reeds it the necessity is not proven..


Best wishes - Wolf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More seriously,


the WCCP have a number of members in and around Bristol, there is also a Beginner/ improver's weekend in October at Kilve, not far from you, one of the tutors is a repair specialist, who will be talking about concertina care, repairs and fault finding as well as running some first air and more serious clinic for injured concertinas.


Modesty prevents me from extolling the virtues, experience and skills of the said repairer, but he will be selling his book there as well.


The WCCP (West Country Concertina Players) are one of the biggest and certainly most active concertina 'clubs' around. Membership is very little £10/ yr and I would strongly suggest you look at their web site, make contact, and see who could meet with you and help you. WCCP members back me up here please, I am a member and I live in Yorkshire!



Dave ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seconded: I would highly recommend WCCP... though I very rarely make it along there myself.

As for repairs, like a lot of other skilled folks here, you're obviously brave enough to tinker with the instrument yourself. Me, being fairly cack-handed, I gave all that up years ago and, when I have an instrument needing repair, I head straight for Marcus Music, near Newport. Junction 28 off the motorway. Even closer for you than it is for me. Marcus is great to deal with, not expensive and will do you a good job. He recently restored my old Wheatstone English, re-bushing, improved action, a bit of tuning and other minor reed work. It's one I originally bought from him and have been hammering for about thirty years. It's as good as new now.

Advert over! If none of that appeals, get the book and get stuck in. I guess you'll learn a lot more that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for taking the time to read and reply so thoroughly to my post. It's a pleasant (and rare) surprise to find such an active and helpful community on the web.


Also, my apologies for not revisiting the thread in so many days. Work takes me away from home and the internet for days at a time through the summer.


Ken, thank you for pushing me to go back looking for air leaks -- I hadn't checked the bellows at all thoroughly because they looked so tidy (not a single mark on the outer edges/corners).


I took and end off, and put a lamp inside the bellows and sure enough I've got little holes in some of the gussets, and one gusset is rather lacy.


So this means (Jim Lucas, you'll be delighted to hear) I will shelve my Scholer-derived plans on what I might like to tackle first. It looks like I need to take a look at making the bellows more air-tight as a first port of call.


Also, on your prompt Ken, I took a look for warped reed-pans (if that is the right phrase), and discovered that one of mine has a barely-measurable curve (outwards from the bellows), however it also seems that the action-board (if that too is the right phrase) has a perfectly matching inwards curve, and no air appears to leak from around them.


Lots of good things to be said about this book (including by the author, so I'm not counting that review!) so I suppose I shall have to save up for it. I have the mixed fortune of working in an industry where all the pay turns up in November, so summer tends to be a bit tight!


So in the meantime is anyone game for entering into a conversation about gusset replacement? Is the usual practice to remove the old gusset entirely? Do people tend to try and lift the surrounding leather (such as the run around the outside corners and edges) in order to paste the new gusset underneath as per the original, or is it glued over the top of everything else?


For the record, the curious piece of advice regarding sticking valves with Pritt Stick was made by one Frank Edgley on this thread. Hello Frank! Do you still stand by that opinion? The point is probably moot now anyway, as if I have bellows repairs to make, I'm going to end up with a pot of the hide glue anyway.


Finally, thank you for bringing the WCCP to my attention. I honestly had no idea how I would go about finding other players in Bristol.


Again, thank you all for your welcome and advice,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you tap into Bob Tedrow Concertina Construction,( or something very similar ) it will lead you to some interesting,entertaining and very well illustrated stuff that you will probably find useful. Perhaps you have already done so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

Welcome Mattew to a really good and friendly community.


I join with the others in recommending Dave Elliott's book. I would discourage anybody from "interfering" with reeds until you have got the action absolutely right. Altering anything, including replacing the valves, because of the structure of the internal accoustics.


Finally, glue? I use Evo-Stick Resin W for valves amd pads. Really good.


Best of luck,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...