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SteveS

Detune Or Leave Alone?

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A baritone Lachenal I have has the frame of the low F on the right hand side marked as a F. However someone sometime has tuned this up to a G#, duplicating the Ab on the left hand side.

 

Does the community have any opinion on whether the reed will tolerate tuning back down to F?

 

It's nice to have the extra versatility that a low F offers on a baritone. I'm prepared to have new steel reed vibrators fitted if necessary.

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A baritone Lachenal I have has the frame of the low F on the right hand side marked as a F. However someone sometime has tuned this up to a G#, duplicating the Ab on the left hand side.

 

Does the community have any opinion on whether the reed will tolerate tuning back down to F?

 

It's nice to have the extra versatility that a low F offers on a baritone. I'm prepared to have new steel reed vibrators fitted if necessary.

Just to offer part of an answer it might be mentioned that the tuning up probably didn't mean an entire semitone back then as it might have been done with the "F" reed having still been in high pitch.

 

Besides, I would really appreciate a low "F" on my treble concertina too but am not inclined to touch (or have touched) the great original reeds. Might get me fitting reed shoes with extra reeds? Maybe this would be a good solution in your case too? not replace the reeds but the whole reed/shoe units?

 

However - best wishes, Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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Hi Wolf

I forgot to say that the 'tina is still in old pitch, so tuning down to F is 3 semitones plus a bit more to tune to concert - quite alot of metal to remove.

I'm leaning towards having new reeds (frames and vibrators) made up for it - pretty much answering my own question here :mellow:

Steve

Edited by SteveS

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I think it is unlikely that the current G# is the old F tuned up by 3 semitones as that is a very long way for a concertina reed, even a melodeon reed, of which I have far more experience, would be very difficult to move that far and have it speak correctly. So new reed and would almost certainly be needed. YMMV

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As a low 'F' on a baritone, it was probably weighted at the tip, if it has been tuned up then odds are that the weight was messed about with. If the body of the reed is as original then it should be possible to change the weight or add to the existing weight without any loss of reed power. Open up the 'tina, post us a photo, or as we live close to each other give me a phone call.

 

re weighting a reed is fairly straight forward.

 

D

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Hi Dave

There's no evidence of there having been a weight on the reed. The freed frame is stamped F, so clearly tuned F originally.

Thanks guys

Steve

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Edited by SteveS

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I agree with Dave, and your second photo shows a different filing pattern at the tip which most probably is evidence of weight having been removed. Weight it with solder, if you don't like the result you can remove the weight and go back to the current setup.

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Theo, Dave,

 

would this procedure possibly be applicable to treble concertinas as well (in order to avoid irreversible interfering with the valuable reeds?). Might be a way to getting the long-desired low F for me...

 

Thanks in advance - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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Tip weighting of high pitch reeds can adversely affect the response and timbre of the reed, but for the lowest reeds on a treble EC the reed tip will often be the full thickens of the steel stock, which is effectively an extra weight on the reed tip. It is something I have done successfully.

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Thank you very much for the immediate reply Theo!

 

Would you say that it could be more or less easily (or nonhazardously) done by the player (i.e. myself) with leaving the reed on the shoe, using just a small electric soldering iron and then filing the applied solder?

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F as a substitute for G sharp is not really that unique. Even Geoffrey Crabb comments that that is what they did. See his chart giving ranges on concertina instruments in the Bought and Sold forum 13th October - his response on 15th October.

 

Incidentally the first treble EC I ever owned had the low left hand A flat changed to F (solder wise). I found this useful, it not only lowered the range but meant a neat F A C triad on the left hand with the octave F on the right. You see like most people I never played in A flat major and hopefully will never have to. But F major was always a possibility.

 

Now on my Baritone the low right hand G sharp is the F. I never seems natural to me, as I somehow always expect to find it somewhere on the left. And an octave F the same side most odd. Isn't concertina playing fun!

 

Les

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F as a substitute for G sharp is not really that unique. Even Geoffrey Crabb comments that that is what they did. See his chart giving ranges on concertina instruments in the Bought and Sold forum 13th October - his response on 15th October.

 

Incidentally the first treble EC I ever owned had the low left hand A flat changed to F (solder wise). I found this useful, it not only lowered the range but meant a neat F A C triad on the left hand with the octave F on the right. You see like most people I never played in A flat major and hopefully will never have to. But F major was always a possibility.

 

Now on my Baritone the low right hand G sharp is the F. I never seems natural to me, as I somehow always expect to find it somewhere on the left. And an octave F the same side most odd. Isn't concertina playing fun!

 

In addition to those with standard layout, I've had a couple of trebles with low F replacing the G#. On my last one I had that switched to be a replacement for the Ab, since I more often use the G# than the Ab, and so it made more sense to not have that G# in a position out of pattern. There was also the advantage that the F was then in the "proper" hand -- the one where it is found on the tenor treble, -- even though not in the "proper" position. And that means -- as Les notes -- that the F-A-C triad is all in the same hand, as it "should" be.

 

But there were times -- including in one of my own compositions -- when I did need to play that low Ab and where I found it very awkward that I had to use the G# instead. Besides, having the F still left me without the corresponding F#. So I'm quite happy to live within the limitations of the standard treble layout when that's what I'm playing. If I insist on going lower, I use my tenor-treble (or baritione-treble, or bass), which not only adheres consistently to the Wheatstone pattern, but allows me to go even lower than just that F. After all, if you want that F, what's to stop you from then wanting the D or C below it? (Or just the E, for that matter, though it seems that many don't play much in the key of E or even A.)

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I have a Wheatstone bass with the F in the G# position - it was manufactured like that.

I'll have a think about the G# to F solder trick too - any ideas how much solder to apply?

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Jim, what you're saying seems to demonstrate my problem in disguise...: as long as I can't afford to get me an extra TT or tenor, I'll have to stick exclusively to my (much beloved, as you know) treble and therefore might be willing to "lower" those two reeds without ruining them as those Ab ones they'd been meant to be and probably would have to be again when the treble would be just an option...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

 

P.S.: Further reading has revealed that one might risk to ruin the vibrators through applying too much heat which would cause a loss if temper...

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Jim, what you're saying seems to demonstrate my problem in disguise...: as long as I can't afford to get me an extra TT or tenor, I'll have to stick exclusively to my (much beloved, as you know) treble and therefore might be willing to "lower" those two reeds without ruining them as those Ab ones they'd been meant to be and probably would have to be again when the treble would be just an option... Best wishes - Wolf P.S.: Further reading has revealed that one might risk to ruin the vibrators through applying too much heat which would cause a loss if temper...

Disclaimer: I've never tried this and am not recommending it, however...

 

Spring steel is normally tempered to a relatively very high temperature because you want it to be very tough but don't care about the hardness so much. One reference table I just found said 340 degrees celsius, another (on the website of a spring steel supplier) said 400-550C. Re-heating it to a temperature lower than that shouldn't have any significant effect.

 

Conventional 60:40 tin-lead based soft solder melts at about 186C, so in theory a soft soldering iron that isn't running way over-temperature should be safe to use on spring steel. I would use a temperature controlled iron and turn it up gradually until it's just hot enough to melt the solder.

 

To be doubly safe, you could prop the reed in a small container of water such that only the tip is above the water - that way if the steel was somehow affected, it would only be the tip of the tongue, not the belly. I've used this technique when burning the tang of a knife into a handle where it has the double advantage of making the tang springy and unlikely to snap in use without affecting the hardness of the cutting edge.

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To be doubly safe, you could prop the reed in a small container of water such that only the tip is above the water - that way if the steel was somehow affected, it would only be the tip of the tongue, not the belly.

 

I had thought about using a heat shunt - say a metal clamp clamped to the body of the metal vibrator offset away from the tip, and by the amount I wish to solder.

Edited by SteveS

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I have weighted big reeds to flatten them on more that one occasion, I slip a a bit if shim steel under the reed leaving the end of the tongue in fresh air above the surface of the reed frame. I then put a small metal G clamp to hold the teed tongue onto the shim and i the reed frame, not tightly, only firmly. This forms a heat sink to protect the belly of the reed (the working part). you can then grip the G clamp in a vice to hold the work at the right height and angle and so you are not chasing it around the work top with a soldering iron. Don't forget to clean the reed tip before you start assembling clamps etc.

 

On a baritone & bass instruments usually bits of brass are soldered into place to concentrate the mass, say 5 mm long 2 mm deep the width of the reed tongue, this sizing can only be a bit of a guide, I have seen some weights on really big instruments twice this size.

 

To weight the G# to F natural, simply a blob of solder will do. BUT make all tuning adjustments in the tip, do not be tempted to make any significant tuning adjustments in the reed body. If too sharp, add a bit more solder, too flat. chip a bit of solder off.

 

 

 

Dave

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