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Azalin

Question About Spring Tension/resistance

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Hello dear concertina folks,

 

After seeing that other thread from Eskin I thought of asking a question I've had for a long time but never thought of posting it. I've got two concertinas, my "main" one in C/G and the other one in Bb/F. I first got used to the button/spring pressure of my C/G concertina, and then after receiving my Bb/F I've always had this minor issue where the button resistance on the Bb/F is much lower than the C/G, and sometimes my fingers lazily lay on some buttons and it will actually make the button go down and play random notes on the Bb/F. I realize that I might have a "bad" technique and I should not let some fingers lay down on some buttons I'm not playing, maybe changing my habit and always making sure all my unused fingers are lifted at all times is the best option, but I was wondering what type of work would be needed to make all the buttons on my Bb/F to have more resistance and make it closer to my C/G.

 

After knowing what would be involved, I could then debate if having some modifications made to the Bb/F versus readapting my technique would be the easiest solution, knowing that I'm definitely lazy and I don't have as much time as I used to have for practice, although one hour a day should be enough if needs be.

Edited by Azalin

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It is not a big job to equalise the return spring force of the buttons of your two concertinas. Just a matter of deciding whether to increase the pressure of the one with the lighter touch or vice versa. The springs can be adjusted , with care. A simple pressure gauge can be made or bought on line quite cheaply. Or just judge the pressure by touch.

 

I like my buttons to start depressing at weight of 60- 80 grams... some like more , some like less.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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It is not a big job to equalise the return spring force of the buttons of your two concertinas. Just a matter of deciding whether to increase the pressure of the one with the lighter touch or vice versa. The springs can be adjusted , with care. A simple pressure gauge can be made or bought on line quite cheaply. Or just judge the pressure by touch.

 

I like my buttons to start depressing at weight of 60- 80 grams... some like more , some like less.

 

Thanks Geoff. I actually would like more resistance on my Bb/F to get it closer to my C/G. What kind of work/technique would be involved to increase the pressure of a spring? I'm not very good with that kind of manual work usually, but might be able to send it to someone who could do the work.

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To assess the weight of the heavier one you want to match, find a digital scale (ie. kitchen) with an accuracy of say +/- 1 gram. Take the end off and put the complete action box on the scale and zero the scale with the tare button. Push a number of buttons one by one just hard enough to have them lower and record the weight as button pressure. They will not be totally consistent, average them out. You then have a method to test them if you adjust the other one yourself or a target pressure for the new one if you decide to send it out.

 

As a job it should not take long if the instrument is a quality one and the springs are relatively new. If I was doing this (not volunteering) I would expect to do it in about an hour on a 30 key.

 

The procedure I follow is, remove the spring, hold it near or at the coil, tweak the top run of the spring upwards but only just, the smallest movement possible, and replace the spring. Test again. Bend again if not right. In technical terms this is called "adjusting the preload". Make sure you bend straight upwards, slightly off and you might induce side loads. In instruments where the spring is reluctant to be removed just unhook it from the lever and tweak the top run upwards near the coil with needle pliers. Tiny adjustments are difficult, it is sometimes easier to move it further away from right and then do a bigger tweak back in. Remember, the process of bending a wire backwards and forwards is one way to break it. If you end up bending one point a few times shift along the wire to a new point.Just bending spring wire is not enough to permanently bend it, you need to bend it enough to feel it shift. Hard to describe that feeling, it is like, as you bend there is increasing resistance from the spring. Suddenly it will bend without the resistance increasing and that is it really bending. I think that is called, exceeding the "plastic point".

 

I wouldn't want to be doing this without the ability to make a replacement spring but countless people have done it to countless concertinas without ruining a spring. I would give the job a 3 out of 10 difficulty rating.

 

As I recall you have quality concertinas and you are not far from The Button Box or Greg Jowaisas. Easy fix that way.

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Wow thanks Chris could not ask for a more detailed post! Yes my Bb/F is actually an amazing Carroll concertina and I remember when I got it I was amazed at how easy it was to play, as if it was already "broken in". That's why I really need to ponder if it's worth changing the resistance or not, but I'm very happy to finally know about the technical requirements for changing the resistance.

 

I actually have very good experience with Paul Read from Toronto, he's always done amazing jobs on my Dipper concertina. I try to avoid cross-border shipping with concertinas as it's a bit stressful.

 

Thanks again!

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I regretted not saying, and I'll say it here because these posts sit in the archives, I think it better to not bend enough to make a difference 5 times rather than be excessive once. Yes, it is time consuming to replace a spring and find it is not any stronger/weaker than last time but being timid about it is the way to do no damage. The same applies to changing the set on a reed.

 

Azalin, you may find when you increase the spring tension on your Carroll it no longer feels quite so easy to play. There are pros and cons with both strong and weak spring pressure. Strong pressure (not talking about anything excessive here) means very quick button elevation and this can really suit some people. Weaker pressure means less effort, not always a bad thing.

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Thanks for the tips Chris. The thing with the Carroll is, since it's Bb/F and not the "standard" key for Irish Music, I tend to play it at home the most, in a very relaxed environment, so it's not as if I needed a performance optimization. So readjusting the pressure of all springs on it might be a bit overkill for my needs, and feels like it would a lazy way of dealing with this. I'll try to spend more time playing the Carroll (which is always a great experience, the sound is amazing) and try to adjust. Thanks again!

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