Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
FortyTwoBlades

Chemnitzer, I Presume?

Recommended Posts

First post here and looking for info. I'm mostly an ocarina player but used to have one of cheapo 20b Anglo Hohners that I liked to noodle around on, but when we moved to a new location someone must have drop-kicked it because in spite of its soft shell case the reeds all got knocked clean off their mountings. I decided to take the opportunity to look for a better one, and while I'll probably still end up getting another nicer Anglo to replace it with I found this piece on eBay and snatched it up. It hasn't landed yet, but it supposedly still plays ok.

 

$_57.JPG

 

$_57.JPG

 

It's supposedly unmarked but my Google-fu is indicating that it looks most similar to Chemnitzer concertinas by Uhlig and F. Lange. Anyone seen one like this before? I wasn't able to turn up any exact matches in my searches. I'll be interested in seeing how the tuning is when it arrives and if the bellows have any leaks, but from the other photos they had and the description it sounds like it's in pretty decent shape for its age.

 

Thanks for any info you're able to provide!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Almost certainly not a Chemnitzer. They usually have 4 rows on the left hand side.

 

However, there are certain similarities between most of these "large, square concertina shaped objects". I suggest that when it arrives you map the buttons and post that information for a reliable identification, assuming that no previous owner has changed notes from the original fingering.

 

Good luck with your new acquisition...and welcome to concertina.net

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My thoughts were that it might be an early one due to the 38 button arrangement, which I was under the impression of being a variety of the style. I'm obviously far from an expert, though--do 38 button ones still have four rows on the left hand?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My thoughts were that it might be an early one due to the 38 button arrangement, which I was under the impression of being a variety of the style. I'm obviously far from an expert, though--do 38 button ones still have four rows on the left hand?

 

I think it could be a small Chemnitzer. I believe that the 38 button ("76 key") models continued to be made even after the bigger ones came along. The standard Chemnitzer work Henry Silberhorn's Instructor for the Concertina (my copy is the sixth edition, from 1927) says, "The Concertina is made in two principal sizes. The smaller one is made with 38 Buttons or 76 Keys. The larger one is made with 51 Buttons or 102 Keys." Silberhorn's 76 Key keyboard diagram shows three rows on the left and right hand sides.

Edited by Daniel Hersh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent--thanks! It should be here in the next couple of days, at which point I'll try checking it against a tuner and examining it closer for any marks that the seller may have missed. Very interested in discovering the maker if possible. The "CONCERTINA" nameplate on it looks like this one, which is attributed to Uhlig and I think just has some small cosmetic differences though it's possible that one or the other has seen some servicing over the years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent--thanks! It should be here in the next couple of days, at which point I'll try checking it against a tuner and examining it closer for any marks that the seller may have missed. Very interested in discovering the maker if possible. The "CONCERTINA" nameplate on it looks like this one, which is attributed to Uhlig and I think just has some small cosmetic differences though it's possible that one or the other has seen some servicing over the years.

 

It may not be possible to determine the maker, but there might be a maker's mark somewhere inside the concertina. I don't think that much can be determined from the style of the "CONCERTINA" plate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, I stand corrected (egg on face emoticon).

 

Just realised I had a 3 row Chemnitzer(?) stashed away in the cupboard, albeit a 39 button/78 key, but only 3 rows on the left. A Pearl King, Made in Germany, with a single set of steel reeds, gangmounted.

 

I bought it some years back, but put it away after somebody described the coloured celluloid finish as "like baby poo". :unsure:

 

post-121-0-85732900-1413184447_thumb.jpg

 

post-121-0-80011000-1413184397_thumb.jpg

 

 

Guess I'll sit down now....and learn to play the thing!

Edited by malcolm clapp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It may not be possible to determine the maker, but there might be a maker's mark somewhere inside the concertina. I don't think that much can be determined from the style of the "CONCERTINA" plate.

 

 

Yeah I was figuring there might be some sort of marking or label on the interior. The plate itself is at least something of an indicator because it required dedicated tooling to produce the plate so unless the plate was provided by a third party manufacturer and was used by multiple manufacturers then it probably helps in at least narrowing things down. I haven't been able to turn up any images of concertinas with that exact plate other than the one that I linked to, and the styling of the instrument as a whole is identical other than the decoration on the bellows and the presence of edge guards on the folds in addition to the corner ones. I could be wrong, of course, but it would mean that the same name plate and overall build aesthetics of the instrument were copied very closely by a competitor. That's far from impossible, though. Knock-offs have existed for just about everything since practically the beginning of time. :D

 

OK, I stand corrected (egg on face emoticon).

 

Just realised I had a 3 row Chemnitzer(?) stashed away in the cupboard, albeit a 39 button/78 key, but only 3 rows on the left. A Pearl King, Made in Germany, with a single set of steel reeds, gangmounted.

 

I bought it some years back, but put it away after somebody described the coloured celluloid finish as "like baby poo". :unsure:

 

attachicon.gifChemnitzer Rt.jpg

 

attachicon.gifChemnitzer Lt.jpg

 

 

Guess I'll sit down now....and learn to play the thing!

 

I wonder how hard it would be to replace the veneer with something a little more pleasing? Nonetheless if it sounds good I'd play it! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely a Chemnitzer layout: Note that the "0" keys are to the right of the "4" keys. On other German concertina layouts, the "0" is to the left.

 

The layout is a subset of the 52-button version. You can download a chart from my site here: http://ciceroconcertina.weebly.com/downloads.html

 

I would not expect it to be in A=440 Hz, or in equal temperament.

 

As for the stamped metal "Concertina" grille, I believe these were made by suppliers who sold to many instrument builders. Only the large factories (like Alfred/Arno Arnold) stamped their own with a company name/logo.

 

If no maker's name is on the inside, the wing-shaped pattern of the holes on the treble side (under the heel of the hand) may help identify it.

 

I think the square (i.e. not chamfered) corners put it's age pre-WWI. The material of the reedplates (zinc vs. aluminum) may also help tell the age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It landed today. Overall condition seems decent, although it needs some repairs that I think will be minor. On the inside of the bass end is a marking confirming that it's an F. Lange and the reeds are gang mounted on zinc. Will post photos later. Repairing the broken string for the air lever now and seeing if I can figure out which of the treble reeds is continuously sounding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Photos. Any idea about who would be best to get in touch with to get this baby cleaned up and back in action? The bellows actually seem rock solid from what I can tell, it just needs the pads/valves serviced and a tuning. Also the attachment points for the hand straps need some fixing but I can probably do that myself.

 

1017734_10204883074065070_13865775118763

 

10703758_10204883074345077_5072963006202

 

10440691_10204883074465080_1268520619713

 

10577002_10204883076505131_1222579777674

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, looks pretty nice!

 

Are you noticing a specific problem with pads/valves, or just want them serviced on general principle?

So far as tuning, is it actually out of tune entirely, or is it tune with itself at something other than A=440 and Equal Temperament? Just one man's opinion, but I would keep it as close to the original tuning as possible, unless you have a strong need to be able to play it in ensemble with other fixed-pitch instruments. But if you're more playing for personal pleasure, or with something that can tune to it like a fiddle or guitar, adjusting it just enough to get it shipshape should be cheaper, and less futzing with the reeds. If it's in non-Equal temperament, that'd also mean it'll sound sweeter in some keys than an Equal box would.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the pads I think there's some leaking around one of them, which is allowing the reed to continuously sound. The valves have definitely "fallen" so I would presume they could probably do with replacement and I figure that if I were to send it to someone to deal with the offending pad I might as well have the rest done as well just to make sure everything "under the hood" is in good working order--after all, shipping a concertina securely isn't exactly the cheapest thing in the world!

 

I would definitely want to preserve the original tuning. I haven't been able to check the tuning at this point in time due to the continuously sounding reed and the handful of reeds that buzz in one or both directions (the inside was pretty dusty so I bet that's the cause of those at least) but it otherwise seems to be in stellar shape other than the hand strap mounts needing some repair. Nothing a little wood filler epoxy and fresh hardware won't fix there, though, and I have some nice leather from a set of busted horse reins that would make perfect new straps for it. Whoever the original owner was clearly played it a good deal (the hand rests are worn almost glassy smooth) but took very good care of the instrument.

 

I've read that accordion repair establishments are usually the best place to service Chemnitzers--is that correct?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to hear you're keeping the tuning traditional, and that it's in such good shape overall. So Lange was Uhilig's son-in-law, did they keep Lange's name even after his death, or does that help date this?

 

What kind of music are you fixing to play on it? I had a Chemnitzer at one point, but gave it up because I just never warmed to bisonoric concertinas. But when I did play, I liked to do a lot of organ-like music, as befits the original intent of the instrument. My humble suggestion would be to try some Sacred Harp tunes on it; they're heavy on fourths and fifths as harmony, so a lovely bass-end swell sounds great with them.

 

I'm not a huge fan of piano accordion, but here's a decent rendition of the Sacred Harp tune Idumea on accordion. Imagine how it would sound better on Chemnitzer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMd2yEjEw7s . Here's the same tune in four-part acapella harmony ("shape note"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU_QFvkPJvw

 

 

Here's the dots, the third line down is Tenor, and that's the melody line:

307lx6q.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking probably some appropriate ragtime and early jazz selections could be fun. Lots of heavy walking and stomping bass line on those old tunes. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read that accordion repair establishments are usually the best place to service Chemnitzers--is that correct?

 

If this were a post-1930s American-made instrument, I would say yes, that's usually correct as those instruments will have an aluminum action and potentially some other accordion-like construction features. You may find an accordion technician who can successfully work on it, but you will want to make sure that the person working on it actually knows what they are dealing with.

 

I have a 44-button bandonion of similar vintage (See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Early-bandonion.jpg for photo). I have done work on it (and one 1920s era German instrument) myself and will offer the following:

  1. A continuously sounding note may indicate that one of the levers has warped and the pad is no longer aligned with its respective opening.
  2. A continuously sounding note might also indicate that one of the springs has weakened with age. They're not hard to fabricate with some piano wire wrapped around a rod. Later instruments have the springs at the "pad end" of the lever so they put pressure directly onto the seal. Also note that if you pull the main hinge pin out on one like yours, the levers will go flying into the air in sequence if you don't restrain them first. :o
  3. The leather disc hinges are fragile, and handling the pads will probably pull some of the hinges apart. They're easy to replace if you have some leather and a hollow punch. I buy my leather from an organ builder, Columbia Organ Works.
  4. The hinges on the outer row of buttons (leather sandwiched between wood) are also usually fragile, but also replaceable (though more difficult than the hinges).
  5. Removing the reed plates for tuning may end up requiring replacement of the leather gaskets between the reed block and plate. This is tedious work, and the inner partitions of the reed blocks can be very fragile, depending on the construction method.
  6. Aside from blowing out with compressed air, the buzzing reeds might be fixed by a slight rotation of the reed tongue about its rivet (use a pair of pliers at the root of the reed; never push the free end side to side).

But when I did play, I liked to do a lot of organ-like music, as befits the original intent of the instrument. My humble suggestion would be to try some Sacred Harp tunes on it; they're heavy on fourths and fifths as harmony, so a lovely bass-end swell sounds great with them.

 

 

On a little box like this, it may prove difficult to sustain notes for this type of music, though it couldn't hurt to try. I have never heard anyone playing anything like this, but of course nearly all of the players I know personally are older Catholics of East European Descent, in the urban North US, so Sacred Harp/shape note songs are probably about as foreign to them as an Uzbeki Shashmaqam.

 

Incidentally, I find parallel 6ths a more natural harmony on these instruments.

 

I was thinking probably some appropriate ragtime and early jazz selections could be fun. Lots of heavy walking and stomping bass line on those old tunes. :)

 

That could definitely be fun, and challenging. This instrument was probably built around the time those styles were emerging. I look forward to hearing how it comes along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I've read that accordion repair establishments are usually the best place to service Chemnitzers--is that correct?

 

If this were a post-1930s American-made instrument, I would say yes, that's usually correct as those instruments will have an aluminum action and potentially some other accordion-like construction features. You may find an accordion technician who can successfully work on it, but you will want to make sure that the person working on it actually knows what they are dealing with.

 

I have a 44-button bandonion of similar vintage (See https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Early-bandonion.jpg for photo). I have done work on it (and one 1920s era German instrument) myself and will offer the following:

  1. A continuously sounding note may indicate that one of the levers has warped and the pad is no longer aligned with its respective opening.
  2. A continuously sounding note might also indicate that one of the springs has weakened with age. They're not hard to fabricate with some piano wire wrapped around a rod. Later instruments have the springs at the "pad end" of the lever so they put pressure directly onto the seal. Also note that if you pull the main hinge pin out on one like yours, the levers will go flying into the air in sequence if you don't restrain them first. :o
  3. The leather disc hinges are fragile, and handling the pads will probably pull some of the hinges apart. They're easy to replace if you have some leather and a hollow punch. I buy my leather from an organ builder, Columbia Organ Works.
  4. The hinges on the outer row of buttons (leather sandwiched between wood) are also usually fragile, but also replaceable (though more difficult than the hinges).
  5. Removing the reed plates for tuning may end up requiring replacement of the leather gaskets between the reed block and plate. This is tedious work, and the inner partitions of the reed blocks can be very fragile, depending on the construction method.
  6. Aside from blowing out with compressed air, the buzzing reeds might be fixed by a slight rotation of the reed tongue about its rivet (use a pair of pliers at the root of the reed; never push the free end side to side).

But when I did play, I liked to do a lot of organ-like music, as befits the original intent of the instrument. My humble suggestion would be to try some Sacred Harp tunes on it; they're heavy on fourths and fifths as harmony, so a lovely bass-end swell sounds great with them.

 

 

On a little box like this, it may prove difficult to sustain notes for this type of music, though it couldn't hurt to try. I have never heard anyone playing anything like this, but of course nearly all of the players I know personally are older Catholics of East European Descent, in the urban North US, so Sacred Harp/shape note songs are probably about as foreign to them as an Uzbeki Shashmaqam.

 

Incidentally, I find parallel 6ths a more natural harmony on these instruments.

 

I was thinking probably some appropriate ragtime and early jazz selections could be fun. Lots of heavy walking and stomping bass line on those old tunes. :)

 

That could definitely be fun, and challenging. This instrument was probably built around the time those styles were emerging. I look forward to hearing how it comes along.

 

 

Thanks--very informative. I've opened the bass side and found that there is one broken reed and a couple of missing valves (you can see the shadow of where they once were) but otherwise I'm not seeing much obvious damage. I've contacted one fellow about repairs and he seems fairly confident that he can do the work as he's serviced a bandondeon of similar vintage. I'm in Maine and he's in Vermont so sending it off to him to get it assessed shouldn't be too bad.

 

The continuously sounding note I think stems from one of the pads being a very tight tolerance (little overlap with the hole) and if the button is wiggled even a little the lever has just enough play to open a gap. A pad that was 1mm wider would cover it. :P The springs are all intact and still strong.

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Guest
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.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...