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Reed Upgrades For The Rochelle, Jackie And Elise

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For years people have asked us for ‘better’ reeds for their standard accordion reeded concertinas.

We finally decided give it a try, and offer high quality replacement reeds for the Rochelle, Jackie and Elise. They can of course also be used for your own concertina project….


The reeds come in complete sets, valved, reed wax, and instructions. The sets for the Jackie and Elise are slightly smaller than the original reed frames, and require some chamber reduction. We’ll include the material and instructions for this. The difficulty of this project: easy/moderate.


Replacing the reeds will take about 2 hours. Tools you need are: screw driver, small knife, pencil, glue (e.g. elmers), and a lighter.


If you’re building your own concertina and want something special…we have one (1) unique set available that you won’t find in any hybrid concertina. We will use these (slightly different frames) in the near future for our custom Clover model.


more information: http://www.concertinaconnection.com/replacement%20reeds.htm



Wim Wakker
Concertina Connection Inc.
Wakker Concertinas

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For people switching to these new reeds, overall what kind of advantages would we feel in playing? Do they use less air, or are louder, or have a different tone palate? I kinda like my Elise so the idea of upgrading it has some appeal, not to make too much a silk purse of it.

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No, the upgrade is sold separately. Besides the fact that we don’t have time to do the upgrades ourselves, the labor cost would make it too expensive.

We have a limited number of sets available, and will decide if we’ll continue the upgrade after a few months.


Our entry level models (Jackie/Jack, Rochelle and Elise) are perfect candidates for upgrading the reeds, action, buttons, finish, fretwork, bellows, etc… We’ll be willing to supply parts and instructions, but you’ll need to do the work yourself. For instance, the Rochelle can easily meet or even surpass the performance and sound characteristics of other much more expensive hybrids with a customized airflow pattern, sheet brass action, better reeds, etc..


Just like some people are able to upgrade/customize a basic car to a high performance one, the same can be done with a concertina.
After 10 years there are now many thousands of these instruments all over the world. We frequently hear from owners what they have done to their instrument to improve/customize them to make them function better for their type of music. Personally I think that’s a good thing. The more concertinas become part of different cultures, the better it is for the concertina in general.

We’re willing to supply the parts and develop upgrade kits for the action etc., but it is up to the player to do the work and get creative. Like I said, we’ll give it a chance.



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Our entry level models (Jackie/Jack, Rochelle and Elise) are perfect candidates for upgrading the reeds, action, buttons, finish, fretwork, bellows, etc… We’ll be willing to supply parts and instructions, but you’ll need to do the work yourself. For instance, the Rochelle can easily meet or even surpass the performance and sound characteristics of other much more expensive hybrids with a customized airflow pattern, sheet brass action, better reeds, etc..


Genuine question, not trying to sound snarky: on the CC line, what are the parts least needing replacement? That is, how to you make it good without making it a Ship of Theseus (in American parlance, George Washington's axe that has survived centuries and is in great shape because "the head's been replaced twice and the handle replaced three times").


Is it the wooden core of it that's the real keeper, the soundboard and walls and all? Replacing the action sounds one of the trickier operations, but Łukasz got great results by replacing and bushing the buttons, and your reed drop-in looks easier than that, so that seems a way forward. If I can find an affordable accordion tech in Bogota, I may bring down my Elise next time I go to have the new reeds dropped in, buttons replaced with metal or Delrin and with bushings. Just have to see how Colombian skilled labour costs come out compared to US where it's just not cost-effective to have a pro do it.


Definitely would really like to hear any opinions from folks as to what the advantages of the new reeds are. Better tone? Smoother playing? More air-efficient? I actually find the stock reeds pretty good-sounding (barring a few that are a little buzzy), so curious about potential improvement.

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First of all, there is no need to replace or upgrade your Elise (or Rochelle, Jackie/Jack which are all the same instrument). In the original form it will probably last 20+ years. The reason why you might want to upgrade certain parts is because there is some room for improvement.


The best way to describe it is by comparing your instrument to a very basic car. You don’t need to change anything, it will run just fine the way it came from the factory, but you could change the upholstery to leather, maybe larger alloy wheels, different exhaust, modify or replace the engine, etc.. As you know updating/customizing a car is very common. Customizing/upgrading musical instruments may be less common, but also possible.


I think you’ll be shocked to know how little difference there is between your Elise and other hybrid concertinas when you look at them from a technical point of view and compare the numbers (airflow value, air consumption, harmonic spectrum, etc.).
All hybrid concertinas currently on the market (including some traditional ones) are reflection instruments only; all harmonic filtering/amplification is done by chamber and cavity reflection. They don’t use tone woods, acoustically invisible glues (variations of hide/bone glues) or finishes (e.g. French polish, alcohol based stains), which would allow the ‘box’ part of the instrument to interact with the sound waves. For instance, just the use of modern wood glues prevent sound waves to travel between wooden parts because it never really hardens and acts as a rubber insulator. The same goes for spray paints which (measurably) interfere with any acoustic properties of the wood.


So, basically from a construction point of view, your Elise is on equal ground with the other hybrids. It might not look as nice, be larger, etc., but the performance is comparable.
Mechanical parts like the action and buttons can be upgraded. The Elise has a wire riveted action (as most other hybrids do) and plastic buttons, comparable to Delrin. The ‘optimal’ action would be a (bushed) balanced sheet brass action (e.g. as used in the Clover, Peacock and Rose), with metal capped buttons. Personally, as a professional musician, I think plastic/delrin buttons are at the bottom of the ladder. The next step up would be bone, then all metal, and at the ‘top’ metal caped (domed or flat) nylon core light weight buttons.


Because of the reflection only construction, I would keep the foil valves it has (much better harmonic spectrum from the reeds), but would upgrade the reeds. The advantage is the lower tip weight (also called Bernoulli weight), less airflow required for reed coasting and better dynamics. You can also adjust the airflow to the chambers by changing the air hole sizes. Finally, you could add ‘Wakker’ bellows, which have the largest percentage of resistance free travel (95%+). The lower bellows resistance will also improve the reed performance, both attack and dynamics.


The reeds used in hybrid concertinas are basically the same.There are only a few manufacturers making them. They basically all produce identical harmonic spectra, with the typo al mano producing the most higher harmonics (harsh sounding) which makes them less ideal for concertinas. The difference is in airflow resistance/ reed economics, uniformity and sensitivity.

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To Mr. Wakker:


I, for one, am not shocked to learn how similar the Elise, et. al. are to higher-priced modern hybrids. I have been, as I have written here before, extremely pleasantly surprised by the touch, feel, and yes, the sound of the Elise, and am thrilled to read that it should last 20 years or more. By then I will probably have upgraded, but not until I can pay for and take musical advantage of that upgrade. I will certainly not "hot rod" it until it is out of warranty, and then with caution. Again, thanks for providing so much fun and value at such a fair price point.


Thanks again, and regards,



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Hi Wim,


The Rochelle II had upgraded reeds from the original, I recall. Mine was an original.


Are these a step up again? If it's not a trade secret, who/where are they from?


And would you be able to give a ballpark price to the UK?





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David: Glad you 're enjoying your instrument.



We decided to postpone the introduction of the Rose baritone. As you might know, there are a few technical problems (equilibrium, reed coasting and dynamic differences) that come with installing lower accordion reeds in a concertina box that we want to solve first. Accordion reeds are designed for a large air reservoir and low airflow. A concertina basically is the opposite, which does create problems with lower reeds.


The 1st generation Rochelles had Chinese reeds (different scaling), the current generation has Italian reeds. "Italian" doesn't always mean that the reeds were actually made in Italy....a lot of Italian reeds are produced somewhere else.

All I want to say about these new reeds is that they are a step up, and are not Italian reeds. We prefer to keep their origin to ourselves, but let's just say that we have enough knowledge and experience in this field that we don't need to buy (Italian) stock reeds....


We ship the reed upgrades world wide. Shipping outside the US is $20.



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  • 2 years later...

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