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Reducing The Volume Of Selected Reeds


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In another thread: Boyd Wheatstone Concertinas

BW77 mentions some experiments with muting the volume of selected reeds:

Usually one thick or maybe 2 thin washers fix the damping allright. The other 2 just reduces the button travel ( and for what reason?) Muting the sound by reducing the pad lift IS a possibiity. I have muted some instrument by reducing the pad hole opening itself with tape strips. The result is quite interesting. Another method of course is using various kinds of "baffles" underneath the endplate.


I have tried a leather baffle on the LHS of my Peacock and while it reduced the volume it also changed the tone. Most of the time I don't use the baffle. Another problem is that it reduces the volume of all of the reeds on that side, whereas I only want to lower the volume of the lowest reeds.

 

I tried 'feathering' the bass buttons with my fingers to see if I could get a decent volume reduction with a very slight button press, but there seems to be quite a cliff edge between sound and no sound so I am not sure if this technique will work for me. I might try some additional washers to see what happens - it is a simple, non-destructive experiment.

 

Then BW77 mentions taping over the pad holes with 'quite interesting' results. Please elucidate.

 

Is that interesting in a good way or a bad way?

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In theory, if you adjust the reed so that it's lower at rest, it should reduce the volume and make it start playing quicker.

 

But I think it might be the maximum volume available that's reduced, rather than the normal volume.

Only experience would confirm it either way. But if the reed looks a bit high, it's something to consider.

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In another thread: Boyd Wheatstone Concertinas

 

BW77 mentions some experiments with muting the volume of selected reeds:

 

Usually one thick or maybe 2 thin washers fix the damping allright. The other 2 just reduces the button travel ( and for what reason?) Muting the sound by reducing the pad lift IS a possibiity. I have muted some instrument by reducing the pad hole opening itself with tape strips. The result is quite interesting. Another method of course is using various kinds of "baffles" underneath the endplate.

I have tried a leather baffle on the LHS of my Peacock and while it reduced the volume it also changed the tone. Most of the time I don't use the baffle. Another problem is that it reduces the volume of all of the reeds on that side, whereas I only want to lower the volume of the lowest reeds.

 

I tried 'feathering' the bass buttons with my fingers to see if I could get a decent volume reduction with a very slight button press, but there seems to be quite a cliff edge between sound and no sound so I am not sure if this technique will work for me. I might try some additional washers to see what happens - it is a simple, non-destructive experiment.

 

Then BW77 mentions taping over the pad holes with 'quite interesting' results. Please elucidate.

 

Is that interesting in a good way or a bad way?

- BAFFLES. Both measures and materials have influence. In early instruments there were wooden boards. You used leather you say.Try cardboard instead. What happens is reduction of amplitude and some absorption of high overtones. Asphalt sheets may reduce overtones a little more. You can of course experiment just covering the lower part of your left side. You may be surprised how great deal of the fretwork you can cover witt fairly little effect. Another simple experiment is just covering (parts of) the fretwork with adhesive tape. For attaching internal baffles use double adhesive tape 2-3 mm thickness.

 

- WASHERS. Reducing the pad lift can mute the sound also but doing just part of the keyboard will change the general button feel when playing. IF it happens that doing it all over gives you a nice playing experience why not since completely harmless ( except for the work...) but it will consume considerable work unless you can slip on the washers without taking the pads off.

 

- REDUCING THE PADHOLES with tape. Entirely harmless of course and takes very little time and effort. Don't use plastic tape though which can be too sticky to gett off ! Try the kind of paper tape used to mask when painting which comes off easliy. Try covering a little more than half of the pad holes for a start and check the result. The amplitude is reduced and you can easliy choose what range of the keyboard you wish to soften.

Subjectively the tone itself seems to be changed by this operation also. My impression is that the tone spectrum is changed with lower amplitude ( less influence by high overtones ) This is something which ought to be easy to evaluate by spectrometric analysis. Someone who knows and have checked this?

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Don,

Using a thicker (fluffier?) valve opposite the reed you wish to quiet usually works. You may need to retune the reed a few cents.

 

Thicker (softer?) pads with a larger diameter can also "tone down" a loud note.

 

Slightly adjusting pad lift by adding key disc felt washers or adjusting the action arm can also influence volume.

 

There is also the possibility of experimenting with partial baffles (say only above the lower notes) or trying different baffling materials such as gauze, clothe, leather etc.

 

As Patrick mentioned the reed set too can make a difference in volume but with the long, low reeds there is not much critical distance in a narrow set between optimum response and a note stalling (not sounding immediately)

 

It may be a combination of the above that gives you what you want. The concertina can be a demanding mistress! :o And each one comes with their own set of demands and peculiarities. Getting things just right can take some time and experimentation.

 

Good luck!

 

Greg

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One other idea. I was given a concertina to tweak from a performer. I was unimpressed with the instrument's sound, perhaps disappointed is a better word. when I opened the instrument up I found thin, acoustic foam sandwiched between the button pan (sound board) and the reed pan!! :o :blink: Once removed the instrument had a sound which impressed.

 

I asked the performer about the baffling and he said it was in consideration of his performing partner who could not stand the sound of the concertina! I skipped the obvious comment of how it might be time to find another partner ;) :P and made sure I put the dampening foam back in its original place.

 

So, it might be worth experimenting using a very thin dampening material in individual chambers which are causing you volume problems....

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When one has become sufficiently fully acquainted with the detailed individual characteristics of a particular concertina it is not altogether impossible to control the volume of an individual rogue reed by using variable bellows pressure alone. Not perhaps the ideal solution but a technique that is still well worth exploring.

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I have done a quick test of partially taping over some of the pad holes:

IMG_6109.jpg

My conclusion is that it certainly reduces the volume of the reeds whose holes are taped over. When I play a scale starting on C3 (or C2 depending upon your religious affiliation) I really notice a jump in volume when I play the first un-taped hole.

 

I think that the tone also changes, not so bright. I am not sure if this is good or bad. I am going to have to live with this for a while.

 

I taped over all of the holes by about the same amount - a little over half of each hole is covered. I may open the holes up a little and I am thinking of gradually reducing the coverage as I go up the scale.

 

BTW. I used some 3M 'Delicate Surfaces' painter's tape.

 

Don.

 

And thanks, Greg, for the other suggestions. I might try them later, but this test was very quick and easy as I had all I needed on hand.

 

When one has become sufficiently fully acquainted with the detailed individual characteristics of a particular concertina it is not altogether impossible to control the volume of an individual rogue reed by using variable bellows pressure alone. Not perhaps the ideal solution but a technique that is still well worth exploring.


I play a duet so I cannot lower the bass volume without lowering the volume of the RHS notes at the same time. I want to lay some dronal stuff, but right now I can only hear the drone and not much of the melody.

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Don,A good try !... I should have said that it probably had been even easier doing it at the other side of the reed pan as I use to do it. Then you might cover 3-4 holes with one strip of tape and not be disturbed by the pads when putting it there... but never mind, you got some result to work on with.

 

Summing up concerning this kind of interference it definitely is wise using methods which are quick, easy and instantly reversible causing no job to set things "right" again. So is covering the fretwork, either with tape like this or a baffle. The only thing to consider may be that IF there is some original cloth or gauze inside the endplate too sticky tape may loosen it when removed.

 

If the tone becomes a bit muddled in some unpleasant way try combining this padhole trick ( with a bit less covering) with a complete or part "baffle" . Do report if it works for you !

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Sorry...."reed pan" ...I obviously was asleep writing that...action board of course.....

As you can detect from the photo Don has provided... this is a Hybrid instrument and access to the under side of the pallet board is not possible as the reeds are attached. :) Good ideas though.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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As you can detect from the photo Don has provided... this is a Hybrid instrument and access to the under side of the pallet board is not possible as the reeds are attached. :) Good ideas though.

Yes, it took me a while to figure it out, but it’s the left side of a Peacock, upside-down. I’m surprised that the thickness of the tape, as small as it is, didn’t create leaks where the pads overlie the edges of the tape.

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Geoff:

 

It would be possible to tape over the underside of the pad holes, but it would involve a lot of disassembly. The (accordion) reeds are held on with screws rather than wax so I could probably remove them to tape over the holes. At this time, I don't feel like doing this.

 

David:. No evidence of air leakage, but the button pressure is quite high (about 100 grams) and the pads fairly new.

 

One problem that occurred was that the highest note that I taped over, G3, became slow to speak. I have decided that, at least for now, I want to have a full volume low G, so I have removed the tape from it's pad hole. I should probably remove the G#3's tape as well.

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One problem that occurred was that the highest note that I taped over, G3, became slow to speak. I have decided that, at least for now, I want to have a full volume low G, so I have removed the tape from it's pad hole. I should probably remove the G#3's tape as well.

You can of course experiment varying the degree of choking by the tape strips but iif you are prepared for a little bit more work why not try what Greg mentioned.....Thicker pads ( and maybe wider also, since I noticed there is plenty of space between the pads on this model)

 

It looks as if the pads are attached to the lever by a ball ( traditionally a leather one or similar). Removing this ought to give room for trying different pad thickness ( and choking effect) without interfering with other conditions.

 

Concerning the G and G# if muted allright but getting slower onset it is not impossible that the orientation of the tape can have some influence. Turn it 90 degrees and check what happens...(two possible alternatives..)

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Consider a playing technique that involves no modification. Play the offending loud notes shorter with a briefer note duration so they don't over-power the melody notes you want to speak out. A bit of silence at the end of the accompanying notes can appear to make melody notes louder if they are played longer. This technique is quite effective, though it does take practice to achieve the desired result.

 

For the Anglo in the harmonic style, this might be described as "right hand long, left hand short". A basic piece of advice for all players in that genre.

 

In actual play, volume is created by button duration as well as bellows pressure and there is the secret to making melodies speak out above the din. My opinion only.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Jody

 

Trouble is I want to play in a dronal, harmonium-like style and the drones drown out the melody line.

 

So far, I am quite pleased with the change.

 

Thanks for the advice. Even though the reeds are somewhat muted a stacatto LHS style still works.

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On an Anglo it is inevitable that a sustained low drone will rob higher notes of air....in much the same way as do left-hand accompanying chords. Just one of the many challenges that confront us. All part of the fun. Is the intention to modify the instrument specifically for drone work ?

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On an Anglo it is inevitable that a sustained low drone will rob higher notes of air....in much the same way as do left-hand accompanying chords. Just one of the many challenges that confront us. All part of the fun. Is the intention to modify the instrument specifically for drone work ?

Rod

 

It is a Hayden duet, not an Anglo. Running out of air is not a problem, my problem is that the lowest notes on the LHS are too loud for what I want to play.

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...a sustained low drone will rob higher notes of air...

Running out of air is not a problem, my problem is that the lowest notes on the LHS are too loud for what I want to play.

 

 

I don't think Ron was referring to "running out of air" when he said "rob higher notes of air," so much as actually making the higher notes quieter by diverting air to an easier route of escape from the bellows that has lower resistance (bigger holes) than the high notes.

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