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Ray

Some High Notes Feeble

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A few of the higher reeds on my 1914 Wheatstone English tenor-treble sound thin, with less volume than others. I suspect the instrument has been played a lot more in its middle and lower ranges than up high, so part of the difference might be a difference in how much playing-in the different reeds have undergone over the years.

 

The feeble notes speak quite freely and start just as quickly as the others - they just produce a noticeably weaker sound.

 

I have a later Wheatstone (1928) and that has a fairly consistent volume up the scale, which I'd like to achieve in the 1914 one. Is this possible? How can I turn up the volume a tad on those weaker notes? In some cases it's just one of the pair - so the draw speaks louder than the pull or vice-versa.

 

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Ray

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First thing I would check is that the reed pan supports are all in place, secure and are holding the reed pan at the correct height - flush with the top edge of the bellows frame. Second thing - look for gaps between the reed pan and the bellows frame. Both allow internal air leaks and can give the symptoms you describe.

Also have a look at the valves. I've seen several examples of concertinas that have been described as "restored" and have been fitted with over heavy valves which dampen the sound of mid to upper range reeds.

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Also have a look at the valves. I've seen several examples of concertinas that have been described as "restored" and have been fitted with over heavy valves which dampen the sound of mid to upper range reeds.

 

I'm sure I'm not the only repairer who has been shown concertinas where the owner has stated that there were valves "missing" on the very top notes when it was purchased, so they fitted some.... :angry: (Applies to melodeons and accordions too.) They are not needed! Worth checking, Ray.

 

Controversially perhaps, I'd go one step further in suggesting that the valves on the entire top octave of a treble English are superfluous and only serve to dampen the sound by restricting the air flow. I never valve any of the notes of a treble above C#, unless there is a striking tonal difference to the notes immediately below, in which case I mount the valves back a little so that the slot is only partially covered.

 

Of course, if you remove or shorten valves on these notes, you will almost certainly need to retune the affected reeds.

Edited by malcolm clapp

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Is it not true that the very highest notes on almost all musical instruments invariably tend to be the weakest and least attractive to the ear. In my experience the very highest notes on my one and only 36 button Anglo have required many years of concentrated exercise and application to give of their best. Fortunately they are rarely required and almost superfluous.

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Is it not true that the very highest notes on almost all musical instruments invariably tend to be the weakest and least attractive to the ear. In my experience the very highest notes on my one and only 36 button Anglo have required many years of concentrated exercise and application to give of their best. Fortunately they are rarely required and almost superfluous.

High notes can be weak and often are on lesser concertinas, but they don't have to be. The difficulty with the highest reeds are that everything scales with them. The window draft angle has to be right for the reed, but beyond that, incredibly small differences in set have larger effects. Small amounts of curvature near the tip so the tip is low but there is still a gap at the edge can decrease performance. Too much reed clearance is huge here. One reed may be much better fit than the other, which on small reeds is measured in differences of a couple tenths of a thousandth of an inch. If all the other reeds are well made, the offending ones are likely to be as well, and may simply be slightly off in their set, or as Theo says poor localized reed pan support, though I feel the effect is less leaking, which on tiny reeds is easily overcome, but on the freedom of the reed pan to move slightly and absorb reed energy. If the opposite reed in the chamber works well, poor support is less likely since it affects both reeds. Leaks can be a problem, but I find they affect larger reeds that require more air more than the tiny ones. ( that don't need valves.) I find no difference adding valves above D6.

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High reeds are never going to sound as loud but if you feel there is something unusual consider the size of the chamber. Are the higher reeds in chambers which are not as small as they could be? Experiment with reducing the size of one. A piece of wood is probably best to fill up space, you can blutack it in as an experiment.

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