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How To Know When It Is The Time To Tune A Concertina


richard

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Hello

How do we know that it is time for a tuning? I want my instrument to be in tune but I don't want to have scraping and filing done on reeds that need to last many lifetimes. My Dipper is almost 10 years old...are new instruments expected to need a tuning at some point like an automobiles 50,000 mile tune up?

 

Richard

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I think it depends on how far out of tune you can tolerate!

 

I will take out a reed and check for dust and alignment before even considering reaching for a file. So many times it has just been an invisible piece of dirt that has caused the problem.

 

If a reed goes seriously out and is clean and working freely then it is probably a sign of a crack in the metal and you are going to need a new reed soon.

 

Sometimes it is just a case of playing for a couple of hours if the concertina has not been used for a long time, to get the dirt moving!

 

Otherwise I have my main concertina which has not had a general tune up since about 1987.

 

I would add that I have never owned a new concertina though so am interested to hear if people consider that there is a "running in" period.

 

Robin Madge

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If you are not noticing a problem then there isn't one. Mind you, the people you play with might be!

 

If you want a quick check of the tuning, play through your concertina in two note octaves, they are unlikely to have shifted the same direction and amount. If one or both of the reeds are out the octave will not be smooth.

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I think the answer is no. Unless you can hear an out-of-tune note. Or if you think that it's not playing as well as it was, in that one or two notes are much slower to start sounding than they used to be, or than their neighbours.

 

If you want to check the tuning, you can get a free app for your mobile phone that tells you the pitch.

They are mostly set up for guitars, but they still work for concertinas.

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Otherwise I have my main concertina which has not had a general tune up since about 1987.

 

 

I find that insane, I have a melodeon I have played fairly regularly for the past 7 or 8 years and it needs a tune.

 

Or maybe just a change of valves and clean would do it based on your experiance

Edited by Jake of Hertford
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Otherwise I have my main concertina which has not had a general tune up since about 1987.

I find that insane, I have a melodeon I have played fairly regularly for the past 7 or 8 years and it needs a tune.

Or maybe just a change of valves and clean would do it based on your experiance

 

Robin // I have similar experiences. Some instruments have stayed in tune "for ever" ( and som have not..) but all squeezeboxes need regular use to have a reasonable chance doing so. There are a couple of important reed quality factors involved...one (1) is the contancy of pitch vs time....another (2) the stability of pitch vs playing force (air pressure over the reed slot) .

Concerning (1) Robin's instrument obviously has good quality but otherwise in a complete reed-set you will often find some reeds which are less resistant and may need re-tuning.

Concerning (2) Squeezeboxes are usually "tuned" to a certain pitch at a certain playing force ( an arbitrary pressure over the reed slot ) BUT free reeds are NOT completely stable vs playing force so when playing softer or louder than the choosen tuning pressure the instrument will always get more or less "out of tune".

For low range reeds this variation may be 10-30 cents or even more which makes a common ambition like "tuning with a tolerance of +/- 2-3 cent " somewhat

unrealistic or even misleading.

 

Consequently the ambitions and expectations regarding needs for tuning of squeezeboxes ought to be regarded with great tolerance and like Chris Ghent said above: "If you are not noticing a problem then there isn't one"...mostly holds very well. One different example may be "wet tuning" or "musette tuning" for accordions. You may accept - and even like - squeezebox tone which is inherently "out of tune"....

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Well, I should point out that my main instrument is a Wheatstone 40 button D/G from about 1918 and it was Steve Dickinson that tuned it last.

 

Is it a given thing that the design of concertina reeds means that they are more stable than accordion style reeds?

 

Robin

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Pitch stability is not connected to the instrument style, more to how thin the reed is, and the lower the pitch the more it is an issue.

How thin it is...yes...but firstly the profile along its length. High range reeds may be thinner at the tip than at the base, mid range having roughly the same thickness or just slightly thinner in the mid part, while low range reeds may be very much thinner in the mid part or even carry a weight at the tip ( which makes it possible to use a shorter reed for the same fundamental pitch) ...all this causes the difference that low range reeds get less pitch stability vs air pressure.

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