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Loose Bellows

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Well, I made the mistake of handing my new C/G Dipper anglo to a musician friend. I looked away for a second while I was reaching for some music and heard him say, "Jeez, this is a lot harder to open than I would have thought." I looked up to see that he had forced the instrument open about a foot without using the air button (Yes I am an idiot for not saying something to him, but he really should have known better). Now when I do the bellows tightness test (hold the instrument by a strap and see if gravity can open it), it does very slowy open and significantly faster than my Suttner. It opens about 5"-6" in ten seconds. Now, I did not check the instrument when I first got it a couple of weeks ago, but my assumption is that it was very tight.


Am I being too demanding and paranoid about this, or did my friend do something to the instrument which loosened the belows and is there anything I can do about it short of sending the concertina back to Colin for asjustment. In the alternative, is this a non issue which I shouldn't be worried about in any case?


Thanks for any comments.

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Egads! You should be asking for condolences, not just comments. You certainly have my sympathy. :( If my long-awaited Dipper ever comes it won't get passed around much, that's for sure...


It is definitely an issue. I know Lachenals are no comparison, but to illustrate: I had one that was nice and tight (well, for a Lachenal) and took 30 seconds to open. One that opened in 10 seconds was too leaky to play easily at speed (these were anglos). I'm certain Colin would deliver a new box in _very_ tight condition. Maybe your friend (if he still is one) should pay postage for you to send it back to Colin. Just where the air seal was broken is hard for this amateur to guess - there are a lot of possible places. Maybe our resident repairmen (Frank?) would have an idea of some possibilities you could check for yourself.

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Both Dippers I own are extremely airtight and barely move at all when held up, even the one I got in 1986. It's unlikely he sent it to you that way, although, I guess, anything's possible. Try opening the bellows all the way (using the air button, of course) and pressing in. Listen and feel carefully at each end for air sounds. You shouldn't hear any! If you do, try to determine where it's coming from.

If it seems to be coming from within one of the ends, it may be a pad not seated properly or a weak spring. If you do hear air, you will have to remove the end. Try blowing through the vent holes one by one. Each should be quite resistent to air being forced through. If and when you find the vent hole which is leaking, check the pressure it takes to depress the button. It should be similar to other buttons whose vent holes are not leaking. If it is quite a bit weaker, you will have to retension the spring.

If this is not the problem, another remote possibility to check while you have the end off is a crack in the action board. (this is very unlikely.)

If air is coming from the joint between the wooden ends and the bellows frame, maybe one of the end bolts is a bit loose. Colin may have made a last minute adjustment and neglected to snug up all the endbolts. Don't overtighten, though. They should be "finger tight" only. If you hear or feel air from anywhere on the bellows other than the joint between the body and bellows frame, you have more serious problems as there is probably a leak in the bellows (unlikely, unless your friend is King Kong.)

If you really get stuck on this, you can call me and I'll try to talk you through any tests or repairs, but Colin would be your best bet. Good luck!

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Sad to hear of your mishap, Marc. I would expect that it should at least go to a repairer for a check-up, if not back to the Dippers. However, it would probably be a good thing to know yourself just what may have become damaged, so I would suggest that firstly you acertain where the air is leaking from.


Could be the bellows, but from my experience of Dipper bellows, the force required to make them leak from the sort of treatment would have been massive.


If you open the bellows and *gently* push without holding down any buttons, you should be able to feel if and where air is leaking from the bellows by holding the concertina against your cheek or tongue.


More likely is that the pad security would have failed before the bellows. The obvious result will be notes that play without pressing down buttons, or, at least, air escaping from the pads. Again, open the bellows and *gently* push and listen for air escaping from the ends.


Yes, I know the rules about not opening or closing the bellows without pressing buttons, but you are not likely to do any further damage than what is already done as long as the word *gently* is adhered to!


Good luck.

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I had exactly the same situation Marc, but someone told me that they played the concertina and then proceeded to drag the bellows apart without using the air button.Luckily I was watching and he did not get any further than the initial tug.It has never happened since and I learned a big lesson that night.


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Thanks for all of your comments. Sorry that I did not thank you sooner, but I have been having some difficulty signing in. Malcolm, I also saw your comments in a different thread (and Alan Day mentioned the same to me) regarding what a bad idea it is to hold the concertina by a strap and let gravity do its dirtiest. I will furthermore eschew that practice!


I did take my life (and screw driver) in my hands and removed the right end from which I can detect air escaping. It SEEMS to be a pad, but all of the buttons seemed to be equally tensioned. All of the holes seem to be covered. Blowing through the holes from the other side of the pad does not seem to allow any air to escape.


I imagine I am going to have to send the instrument back to Colin to check. In any case, the left hand D, middle row, and E buttons in an unrelated matter, are producing some kind of slight metallic buzz or vibration. I imagine something was slightly dislodged in shipping.


By the way, regardless of these minor adjustments which need to be made, this is a wonderful instrument and I can hardly put it down. It is a dream to play, and quite beautiful to look at. My wife is filing for divorce claiming concertinadultery :).


Thanks again for all of the assistance.

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Hmm! A whole new branch of psychiatry to explore based on "squeezebox envy".


Time to put the concertina down and take your wife out for a nice dinner where you spend the entire evening complimenting her and starring in her eyes.


(No license to practice; no charge!)






PS. If you feel uncomfortable diagnosing the air leak yourself, wouldn't it be worth the trouble to have a competant repair person like Frank E. or Bob at the Button Box, or Paul Groff or Wally Carroll take a look at your Dipper before sending it all the way back to Colin?

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Ironically, I am a psychologist. I work in Pediatric Oncology at the IWK in Halifax, Nova Scotia, so I am in North America. I did take my wife to dinner last night and did look into her eyes, but then had to quickly look back to my 6 year old twins who were on the verge of playing catch with a dinner roll. We'll revisit the romantic dinner suggestion in 12 years when they go off to University.


I actually ordered the Concertina through Paul Groff, but it is as much of a hastle shipping to the states to Florida as sending it back to Colin. But your suggestion is a good one and I will likely send it to Paul. Any of the other excellent technicians/builders would do a great job, of course, but with a new instrument I probably should send it to the builder or is agent.

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