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Evening all, I thought i'd share my recent emotional roller coaster with my new Lachenal 20 key with brass reeds. it's had some pretty heavy use what with my renewed motivation upgrading from a Scarlatti and to my dismay 2 nights ago I realised the a1 button not sounding! being a novice I had no idea why this might be- broken reed, a broken mechanism- i envisaged an expensive repair job and stewed over the posts describing these instruments as inferior and prone to breaking down. Boo hoo i thought. However, i stumbled across some threads here regarding fluff/debris in the reeds- with great trepidation I opened my anglo and after working out which reed it was I gently flicked it with a stanley blade and gave it a jolly good blow- Success! The note returns, and I can plough on with my Zelda iterations. What relief.

 

The highs and lows of a new instrument. A great satisfaction in diagnosing and treating this simple problem myself.

 

Has anyone had similar experiences?

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Happens all the time. I was called out to fix a friend's concertina a couple of weeks ago - he was convinced that the reed was broken and that dire things had happened. I took all my gear with me - not so much in the expectation that I could make a new reed at his flat but at least to show that I was taking the problem seriously.

 

When I opened the instrument up all I could find at issue was that the reed shoe was ever so slightly loose in the slot. When I put the box back together as a trial, the reed was sounding fine. More to prove that I'd done something rather thanjust blown pixie dust over it, I put a sliver of paper round the end of the shoe.

 

Problem fixed; one happy camper!

 

Alex West

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Playing at NEFFA this weekend, I became aware of two problems at once, one on the left side of my Wheatstone Hayden Duet and one on the right. Neither caused the instrument to be unplayable, and I forgot to attend to it when I got home. At Morris Dance practice tonight I was reminded of the problems as soon as I started playing, so between things when the guys were talking and walking through figures, I had time to fix them both.

 

On the left, one button occasional got stuck in the "up" position, that is, I couldn't press it. I took off the end and before opening the action box I noticed that the layer of the pad for that note that seals the hole in the sound board had gone astray and I realized that therefore the pad was sitting lower that it should, and the button higher. The peg at the bottom of the button was riding higher than the hole it should sit in, and this is why I occasionally couldn't press the button. I opened the action box, found the missing pad piece floating around, and fastened it to the pad with some adhesive I carry with me. Then I put it all back together in time to play.

 

Next opportunity to tinker, I addressed the right side. One note stuck open (wouldn't shut up) for a few seconds while I was trying to play and then got better after I shook the instrument. Later, it happened again with a different note. I guessed that some small object was bouncing around inside the action box and occasionally getting caught between random pads and the sound board. I opened up and sure enough, it was a peg and its felt bushing that had broken off the bottom of a button. I always carry a spare button (and some springs, a screwdriver, and other stuff) in my concertina case, so I swapped the good one in and fixed the broken one when I got home to use as the next spare.

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  • 3 months later...

Suddenly, without warning, my F# button will not sound on the draw position! I have taken the English Wheatstone apart, and the flap and reed on that note both look fine. When i put it up to my mouth and blow out, the F# is just fine, but, nothing when I draw air in! HELP PLEASE!!!???

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Sounds like the reed is stuck, maybe a tiny piece of debris is jamming it.

But they don't always sound when you blow. They really need a bellows. Some reeds are fine, but won't sound by blowing.

Also, it's not best to blow steel reeds, as you can leave condensation on them and cause rust. (although you could always prevent that, with a hair dryer)

But as the other reed is ok, and should be nearly identical, it sounds like it's stuck.

 

What I would do is firstly gently try moving it at the tip with a cocktail stick. If it feels stiff and won't move at all, it is stuck.

( you might try this on the good reed first, to see how the good one moves).

If gently coaxing it with the cocktail stick doesn't free it, I personally recommend using the thin blades from a disposable razor to slide along the gap between the reed and the reed holder.

You need to break apart an old disposable razor to get the thin blades out, and be careful, they are very sharp.

I've never had a stuck reed that couldn't be freed by doing this, but take it slowly and use repetition and patience rather than force.

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When i put it up to my mouth and blow out, the F# is just fine, but, nothing when I draw air in! HELP PLEASE!!!???

 

What are you putting to your mouth? The individual reeds, or the reed pan, with the reeds still in place? Saying that you're blowing the one but sucking the other suggests the latter. If that's the case, try removing the "offending" reed from its slot in the reed pan and sucking (from "underneath" the frame) to try to make it sound.

  • If it sounds, then the problem is probably that the slot in the reed pan is "pinching" the reed frame. This can happen due to changes in humidity or temperature. Slide the reed frame back into its slot, firmly but not too forcefully, and it should be just fine. If not, try reseating the frame again, with just a wee bit less force.
  • If it doesn't sound, then there's probably a bit of dust or grit blocking it, and if you hold it up to a bright light (looking "through" the reed slot), you can probably see where (a dark spot in the bright outline of the reed). Pressing the reed gently upward from underneath (a toothpick works fine) will usually dislodge such a hindrance. If not, try up and down a few times. Next would be Patrick's solution, though a small screwdriver or knife blade should do the trick. The razor blade should only be necessary if you have to slide something under the reed, which I would consider a delicate last resort and only to be done if you're absolutely sure that that's what is needed.
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  • 4 years later...

Bumping an old thread instead of starting a new one. My low E/F key has started  to not sound, but only on abrupt or strong pulls out - it feels stuck. It will sound if you pull gently, like Arthur and the sword in the stone. I pulled the box apart, took the reed plate out and blew air at it - didn't see anything stuck. Put it back together and it persists. Is this a valve issue? It's a hybrid w/ accordion reeds.

Edited by Geoff W.
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6 hours ago, Geoff W. said:

Bumping an old thread instead of starting a new one. My low E/F key has started  to not sound, but only on abrupt or strong pulls out - it feels stuck. It will sound if you pull gently, like Arthur and the sword in the stone. I pulled the box apart, took the reed plate out and blew air at it - didn't see anything stuck. Put it back together and it persists. Is this a valve issue? It's a hybrid w/ accordion reeds.

 

Try bending the reed slightly higher so that at rest there is a larger gap between the bottom of the tongue tip and the reed plate. Try to do it a tiny bit at a time and test the result. If you go too far it will sound breathy and will be reluctant to start at low pressure.

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I think it's a little better. I'm noticing it kind of happens on a few of the low notes, so perhaps it's a limitation of the box?

 

image.png.0d6ff706afcbbf6ef11a9cf4f8aa51cd.png

image.png.a8ce496c328bd79231eed54055d2a6bf.png

 

One interesting thing is the valve on the other side has its little...metal strip...bent. It's the only one like this. Is this to provide extra holding power, keeping the valve from falling open?

 

image.png.a59695571fc305eb3348d0fad6c56bdb.png

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For posterity, Wim's detailed reply to my inquiry:

 

Quote

Hi Geoff,

Free reeds have an airflow band width that they can handle: minimum/ maximum amount of airflow and tip weight. When an instrument is voiced, the reed resistance of all the reeds is adjusted so they will all sound at the same time at the same airflow value.
Variables:
- lower reeds need more time to complete the reed swing cycle (4 steps). 
- bandwidth is determined by chamber volume and airflow in/out.
- tip weight of accordion type reeds can not be changed.
- when an instrument is broken in, the reeds move to the optimum tip position by themselves. Because lower notes are not used as much as higher ones, they usually are not in that position.  A reed needs at least 100 hours of being played, both soft, loud, crescendo, and accent. On average, lower notes are played around 20 minutes per year.....
 
On your instrument the reeds are set/voiced for a certain amount of airflow. This will ensure all the reeds sound with the same bellows pressure.  If your airflow is lower than the min., reeds will respond slowly. if it is too high, they will block 🙂 the reed cannot proceed to phase 2 of the swing cycle, because it cannot move against the strong airflow).  A temporary adjustment is to increase the tip height of the reed. The side effects are that the reed will be very slow at normal airflow, and will produce a lot of wind noise.
 
The best solution is to improve your bellows technique. When you change bellows direction, make sure you do not play louder (stay within the reed bandwidth).

 

Edited by Geoff W.
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