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Bruce Thomson

New Idea - Sliding Thumb Strap For English Concertina

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In case anyone's interested, in addition to...

- the under-thigh strap I'm now using to stabilize the concertina and to give me about 30% more air

- the swivel thumb strap I'm using to give hand flexibility in all directions

...I'm also now using a 'rail' mounted thumb strap (still swivels too) so I can slide to the higher range or back to get lower notes.

Video is at https://youtu.be/UIQoBGEBbjQ

Photo attached.

 

One thing I'd be glad to know is whether my junky old experiments Stagi tenor treble can have a bellows mod that will muffle it and give it a nice fruity tone like a Wheatstone.

Many months, someone gave me some good ideas about muffling, but I got distracted by a million things and have forgotten what they said.

 

 

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Hi Bruce,

 

This seems like an interesting idea! I have been finding that prolonged english concertina playing has resulted in very sore elbow joints, possibly Reperitive Strain Injury... I would be interested to know more about your under thigh straps, do these have the effect of reducing strain on the elbows?

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In case anyone's interested, in addition to...

- the under-thigh strap I'm now using to stabilize the concertina and to give me about 30% more air

- the swivel thumb strap I'm using to give hand flexibility in all directions

...I'm also now using a 'rail' mounted thumb strap (still swivels too) so I can slide to the higher range or back to get lower notes.

Video is at https://youtu.be/UIQoBGEBbjQ

For what it's worth: I've been playing English for 40 years, and I've never felt the need for any of your modifications, nor do I think -- looking at them -- that I'd find them helpful/useful. But take that with a grain of salt. I don't hold the instrument quite the same way you do, and it looks to me like your fingers are significantly longer than mine.

 

One thing I did encounter recently was an English where the thumb-loop mountings had apparently been modified by rotating them ever so slightly from standard. I found that awkward, making it difficult for me to "grip" the ends, even though the "tilt" couldn'tt have been more than a few degrees. But apparently someone else had decided that introducing that "tilt" was for them an improvement.

 

One thing I'd be glad to know is whether my junky old experiments Stagi tenor treble can have a bellows mod that will muffle it and give it a nice fruity tone like a Wheatstone.

I think what you're looking for is "baffles". A search here should turn up a few threads about baffles. However, they have nothing to do with the bellows.

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Things you find helpful on the stagi wouldn't likely be a help on the smaller format Wheatstone / Lachenal type Englishes which are physically much easier to play. Hand sizes vary greatly though and really long fingers can make reaching the low notes as difficult as reaching the high notes is easy. You won't likely have room for the sliding mechanism on a smaller instrument. It is clever though. Seeing the under thigh strap perversely made me want to yell Fire! It was always interesting to see my piper friend strap himself in, but at least he could get up and run if he needed to. I am not sure how you play the instrument, but it might be a good idea to watch some really good players to see how they hold and control the instrument. I'm thinking of people who are real masters, who have had to find out what works best in order to bring out the instrument's full potential.

No mod or baffles will make the Stagi sound like a Wheatstone. The stagi sound is at least relatively sweet. Let it be what it is. If you don't already have a high quality English and you like the system, buy as good a one as you can. You'll get the sound you want in a package that is a delight to play compared to the Stagi.

You can use your cleverness for other things, like case clasps that can't open accidentally, or a really light weight but strong and protective case.

Dana

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Seeing the under thigh strap perversely made me want to yell Fire! It was always interesting to see my piper friend strap himself in, but at least he could get up and run if he needed to. I am not sure how you play the instrument, but it might be a good idea to watch some really good players to see how they hold and control the instrument. I'm thinking of people who are real masters, who have had to find out what works best in order to bring out the instrument's full potential.

In particular look at Alistair Anderson and see how he manipulates the bellows in free space to get maximum expression. See this video or this one as examples.

 

I went to a workshop by Alistair a couple of years ago, and although he can play when holding the concertina still (even lying on his back on the floor with it on his chest!), his expressiveness is released when he can move his arms.

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