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Will Moore

Concertina Vs Accordion Reeds?

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This probably seems a silly question to many here, but apart from differences in sound, what are the physical differences between traditional concertina reeds and accordion reeds (in a concertina).

 

Is it just a difference of material, or a different process in making them? How come builders of concertinas didn't stick with the old style reeds?

 

Sorry in advance if some sort of war is created from this question, I'm just intrigued! I love the sound of both types of reed!

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Someone will explain it better, but, traditional concertina reeds are made one at a time, placed perpendicular to the direction of the bellows. Accordion reeds are built in groups and placed more in the direction of the bellows.

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Although not the most transparent search device, the search feature on concertina.net will yeild results if you use "advanced search" and are persistent. Here are some links that will help explain differences of concertina vs. accordion reeds:

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=14661&hl=%2Bdifference+%2Bconcertina+%2Breed+%2Bvs+%2Baccordion+%2Breed&do=findComment&comment=139696

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=9797&hl=%2Bdifference+%2Bconcertina+%2Breed+%2Bvs+%2Baccordion+%2Breed&do=findComment&comment=98539

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=8895&hl=%2Bdifference+%2Bconcertina+%2Breed+%2Bvs+%2Baccordion+%2Breed&do=findComment&comment=87949

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6597&hl=%2Bdifference+%2Bconcertina+%2Breed+%2Bvs+%2Baccordion+%2Breed&do=findComment&comment=62008

 

This should keep you busy for awhile. You may want to try and find some of Dana Johnson's posts. He is the maker of Kensington Concertinas and has given some very clear answers on the differences between traditional concertina and accordion reeds.

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas

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Thanks Greg!

 

I did a brief search but it got no results - clearly needed your skills! I'll read that lot :)

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Clicking on the little "daisy wheel" just outside of the search box takes you to the advanced search. I've had much better results there than just typing into the search box.

 

Greg

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My own theories of why concertina reeds sound different are firstly and most important, the way they are mounted.

Concertina reed frames are brass, and fit very snugly into a hardwood sounding board. It's a tight friction fit, and transfers a lot of vibration to the wood. So a lot of the sound you are hearing is from the wood.

In accordions, the reeds are waxed in, to smaller more rigid structures. The wax kills the vibrations, and the box-like housings don't vibrate as much. So what you are hearing is a more direct metallic sound directly from the reed beating the air.

 

The other thing I noticed is that concertina reeds seem to have less taper, from the mounting to the tip. ( I might be wrong there, as I've never measured it ). Maybe this gives the honky quality when the reed starts the note.

 

Theo, I doubt if the air pressures are much different. The reeds would act as a release valve while notes are being played, and they probably play at similar pressures. ( just going by my tuning efforts, using the same bellows )

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Patrick, I suggest you read the links provided by Greg.

Well, I did, but I didn't see any one definitive answer to the difference in tone. What did you have in mind?

 

I have a Castagnari Giordi that has similar sized bellows to a concertina, and very impressive reeds that really shout out. But the tone is still accordion, not concertina. (It's a hell of a tool though, in the right hands)

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Here is a snippet from the Concertina Connection's web site description of "About ... Concertina Reeds"

 

At that time the opening between the reed and frame increases for a short moment and more air is

allowed to pass. In this part of the cycle the shape of the concertina frame plays an important role.

Unlike the slots in accordion frames, which have parallel sides, concertina frame slots widen at the

bottom. The exact place depends on the size and frequency of the reed. The slots of the higher reeds

widen only a little or not at all.

 

This widening of the slot allows the airflow to increase again when the reed moves down into the slot.

Compared to accordion reeds the second part of the swing cycle of a concertina reed is a lot less effective.

Because of the less effective cutting of the airflow, concertina reeds produce less harmonics.

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I did read that, but I wasn't convinced that that caused the main difference in sound, although it's bound to have some effect.

 

If that was all it was, it would be easy enough to convert accordion reeds, with just a few minutes filing or grinding of the slots.

 

But there's only one way to be sure, and that's to try it.

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Thanks for all the input. From my side, I felt the links answered all the technical points I have, however as a new player (2 months) and having purchased an Edgley Professional G/D, I still feel a sense that I will always have something inferior compared to traditional instruments, which doesn't seem right when I've spent good money on something beautifully handmade, built by a very talented chap.

 

This might just be my brain trying to get me to buy both a vintage and modern concertina, but who knows - I guess it will come down to what I prefer as my playing and taste matures with time spent with both instrument.

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Nothing inferior about an Edgley. Just different. And not that different either. The action is unsurpassed, and they have a great sound. I'm in Newfoundland at the moment, and the best player of traditional Newfoundland and Irish music on the island (Fergus Brown-O'Byrne) plays an Edgley professional. He makes his living as a traditional musician, and wouldn't trade his Edgley for anything. Don't fret- just play. The Edgley will make great music for you.

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I might be overthinking this :)

A lot of that goes on around here.

 

The main thing is that you've done something that is frequently advised here but which is hard for most people to do. You started out with a very fine concertina which will not limit you in any way, or cause you to struggle with poor construction or ill-tuned reeds. Nothing about this instrument will hold you back.

 

That doesn't mean that at some point you won't be infected with concertina acquisition syndrome, which is also common around here, but that is an entirely different question.

 

Now, pick up your Edgley, break in the bellows, and play, play, play, all the time enjoying this fine instrument and working to be worthy of it.

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It reminds me of my first new motorbike. I lusted after it for ages, couldn't wait to get it. Then when I first got it, it was fantastic.

Then I started noticing other peoples bikes, and mine seemed a bit ordinary. Then I abused it, wore it out, neglected it and finally sold it.

Now, years later, if I still had it, it would be worth between ten and twenty times what i paid for it new. And I really wish I still had it, and had looked after it.

I think it's human nature. Well, it is mine, anyway.

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Don't fret- just play.

The differences in the sound of these instruments are minimal and the biggest factor is the the player, not the instrument. Become a great player and what instrument you play on is of small concern.

 

I play Bastari with reeds in banks, Morse with waxed accordion reeds in chambers, Jefferies with proper concertina reeds in slots. They are all different, sure, but what the audience hears is the performance formost.

 

Still, in choosing a beginner instrument, it's important to be comfortable. The most inexpensive instruments will certainly limit your capacity to enjoy the learning process because a of a variety of issues including limited dynamic range, poorly functioning mechanics and inefficient air maintenance. Your Edgley is undoubtably well beyond those limitations and will surely be a delight for a good many years.

Edited by Jody Kruskal

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Thanks everyone! I'm just going to play play play and not worry about it anymore :) That said, I do feel concertina acquisition syndrome is already beginning to happen :) Luckily my bank balance wont allow for any more right now!

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I came across this youtube vid the other day. It illustrates the topic quite well.

The guy plays the same tune on a Jackie, a Marcus Music, and an old Lachenal.

Marcus get a very good sound out of accordion reeds.

 

Out of the three, I think I like the Marcus tone the most. Although you'd have to play them yourself really.

But the Lachenal does sound slightly more "real concertina" ish I guess. But there's not much in it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7cZP_8MhbE

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