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Advice On Repairing Fret Ends?

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I’m not sure how I could track down single reeds in a shoe, considering the limited number of parts instruments on the internet, but the Button Box is only an hour and a half away from where I live. I might just stop by with the reeds and see if they can work with my existing shoes and just replace the reeds themselves.

I’ve identified a few to be slightly out of tune as well, so I’ll bring those along also. Probably after the holidays.

Don't just take the reeds. Take the whole instrument. The reed pan slots and even the full context can be important.

 

Also, the internet isn't the place to look for spare-parts reeds. Because of their business, the Button Box is likely to have a significant collection of them, complete with frames (shoes). That's much simpler than making new reed tongues.

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That makes sense. Chances are, they’ll need to hear how the reeds of the rest of the instrument sound in order to work toward a similar tone color and performance.

I checked with Button box earlier today to see what their lead time is on repair. It’s currently 4-6 weeks. I could either make what I could assume, a large investment in repair work and not have the concertina to make minor repairs to in the meantime, or I could tackle this as a project entirely on my own (apart from the reeds and tuning).

 

I bought this concertina knowing it needed some work, but it was not fully disclosed the extent of what was needed.

My only other concertina is a 20 button Tidder (I bought off someone from this forum/reverb).

I find that I miss having a chromatic scale, or at least the C#. So i decided to go with this lachenal. The problems I need to tackle however will take me some time to completely repair and I’d really like to get to playing :/

 

Maybe I can trade in the Tidder and this lachenal concertina for something of comparable value of the two somewhere, though who knows how likely that is.. An exchange for a 30 Button Anglo in good playing shape (like a used Morse?) or a comparable 48 would be nice. I could throw in some of my own Ocarinas to even a deal if applicable. Just a thought anyway. It may be worth sticking it out with these two

 

For the interim, I’ll just keep my ear to the ground and bide my time, whilst learning more tunes and thinking about repair work. Wish I had time to make my own tuning bellows!

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I checked with Button box earlier today to see what their lead time is on repair. It’s currently 4-6 weeks. I could either make what I could assume, a large investment in repair work and not have the concertina to make minor repairs to in the meantime, or I could tackle this as a project entirely on my own (apart from the reeds and tuning).

 

Ross, you may be assuming more of a problem than actually exists. My understanding is that the BB won't take your instrument and then start working on it 4-6 weeks later, but rather they'll put your name in their repair queue and contact you when they're (nearly) ready to start the work, so that you can deliver it. Until then, you would still have the instrument in hand to do your own work.

 

However, you should maybe plan to be in their queue twice... once to make sure you have a proper and complete set of reeds, but again to give the reeds a final tuning, after all the other work is finished. That's because a great many "external" factors -- e.g., new pads and valves and the thicknesses thereof -- can affect the final pitch of the reeds.

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Ross, I'd second what Jim is saying - but principally reinforce your idea of restoring this beautiful instrument. Since you seemed to be inclined to give the EC a go: don't let yourself be thrown off the track by obstacles that (given your woodworking skills and the clarification in the last post) appear to be solvable. It's a versatile and powerful system, and I never regretted having taken it up years ago!

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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Redacted

Edited by RossDubois

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Ross, as I'm still very busy with office affairs today, I'll have to come back to your inquiry later.

 

Very briefly:

 

The action/pad board might my crucial. An even surface is required to isolate the sound chambers and channel the air flow. Thus this might be the final straw... (hopefully, it is not that bad).

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Interesting thread (and good craftsmanship too), Don - did the pan stay flat without the clamps applied?

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Redacted

Edited by RossDubois

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Ross, I reckon $600 are not too bad in case you'll be able to sucessfully restore the instrument, but you won't sell it for this amount as is as long as you'd carefully point to the issues.

 

However, try to look upon this as a good thing, assuming you'll get through the process and finally have a 48 b EC at hand...

 

I'd say, go for it! :rolleyes:

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Interesting thread (and good craftsmanship too), Don - did the pan stay flat without the clamps applied?

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Yes, and I put in additional support blocks to help it stay that way. Though, I would not want to leave it out of the concertina for very long.

 

I have to pick up that project again after Christmas.

 

Don.

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Hi Ross,

I read where you said you are likely to need to change/replace some leather valves. With that in mind I offer you the following to think about,

 

People should also be aware that this concertina reed pan is a good example of the corrosive effects of alum tanned (naturally white ) valves. While it has good valve properties, they are corrosive to the metal they are near. You can see on the larger reeds where the brass is still bright below the valve, but with progressively more dark patina next to the valves.
Dana

 

The leather valves on my French Accordion are white (now I wonder if they are Alum tanned), so I will look further on what corrosion, if any, is on my reeds.

 

I had planned replacing with like for like leather; however now I am not sure, based on following the data mentioned by Paul S. Storch

 

Please also see my article here "starting to repair my French Accordion.

 

In the following link, Paul S. Storch in a article 'Caring for musical instrument part 1 and 2" from the Minneosota Historical Interpreter, talks about various materials from the early instruments.

http://www2.mnhs.org...talkmay2001.pdf

http://www2.mnhs.org...alkjuly2001.pdf

One comment he makes in the article is :-

Leather is used in various forms and preparations on both European and non-European instruments. To make it durable and moisture resistant, raw hides to be used for instrument construction must be treated with chemicals known as tanning agents. Vegetable tanning is used where flexibility and water resistance are required. Mineral tanning agents such as alum impart durability but do not have great water resistance. Their use also results in lighter surface colors. Organ bellows, bagpipe bladders and other instrument components of European manufacture are generally made from vegetable-tanned or combination-tanned cowhide or goatskin."

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If you want to destroy the ends, and hence wreck the concertina then strip them off, prize out the metalwork, ream out the felt bushings, wet the things and try to compress them, to close the cracks. A total re- finish does not stop at the ends, it includes the casings of the action plates as well.

 

The cracks are there because wood shrinks as it dries, dense rosewoods dry over a very long time, and back in the late 1800's seasoning was a bit of a hit or miss process. The cracks are stable, they have been reinforced behind, stuck with PVA as well. Your only issue is cosmetic. I would look around locally for a top class antique furniture, cabinet restorer. and take advice. With an instrument of this grade and potential. To loose the cracks you need to fill/ disguise them yet they are are the honourable scars of a long life. My advice: worry about making it playable. Service the instrument, get it into concert pitch clean it all up and make music. Then see if the cosmetics count so much. There are many worse being played with gusto and enjoyment. Can't say about the audience, voluntary or otherwise. Happy new year! Enjoy the challenge, it will be worth it

 

Dave

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Dave, I wholeheartedly agree as the advice you're giving here appears to be more than valid. Playability has to come first, and a conservative approach to the restauration of a beautiful vintage instrument may be well in order here.

 

However, the wetting and compressing had been considered re a warped action/pad board which might very much affect the sound and music, might it not?

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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If you want to destroy the ends, and hence wreck the concertina then strip them off, prize out the metalwork, ream out the felt bushings, wet the things and try to compress them, to close the cracks. A total re- finish does not stop at the ends, it includes the casings of the action plates as well.

 

The cracks are there because wood shrinks as it dries, dense rosewoods dry over a very long time, and back in the late 1800's seasoning was a bit of a hit or miss process. The cracks are stable, they have been reinforced behind, stuck with PVA as well. Your only issue is cosmetic. I would look around locally for a top class antique furniture, cabinet restorer. and take advice. With an instrument of this grade and potential. To loose the cracks you need to fill/ disguise them yet they are are the honourable scars of a long life. My advice: worry about making it playable. Service the instrument, get it into concert pitch clean it all up and make music. Then see if the cosmetics count so much. There are many worse being played with gusto and enjoyment. Can't say about the audience, voluntary or otherwise. Happy new year! Enjoy the challenge, it will be worth it

Dave

Excellent advice...

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Wolf,

 

yes, there are those who advocate wetting and pressing for warped reed pans and action plates etc. Over the years I have developed a different philosophy. I guess as a result of the cracking, shrinkage and twisting often found in big reed instruments where the expanses of wood tend to be so much bigger too. my thought process runs along these lines:

 

  • the damage occurred due to less well seasoned old wood drying out possibly in combination with modern heating systems
  • the wood and it's stresses are now as likely to be stable as they ever will be
  • if you re-introduce damp and stresses in pressing or 'correction' you can: destabilise the wood again, soften wood glue, create further or new cracking.
  • better to adapt the structure to accept the stable components

so I would normally:

  • adjust reed pan support blocks and build up some of the chamber walls on warped reed pans
  • shim under bellows frame gaskets to accommodate reed pan shrinkage
  • add new wood into the cracks on pad boards
  • modify action plates to mitigate twisting
  • fill from behind and reinforce splits in action box covers.

Generally I 'add in' to strengthen, seal and make good to make an instrument play properly and retain character. Remember the Hippocratic Oath, it works for concertina repairers too:

FIRST DO NO HARM

 

Dave

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People should also be aware that this concertina reed pan is a good example of the corrosive effects of alum tanned (naturally white ) valves. While it has good valve properties, they are corrosive to the metal they are near. You can see on the larger reeds where the brass is still bright below the valve, but with progressively more dark patina next to the valves.

 

......I've observed this effect before and had assumed it was caused by air rushing over the brass frame (plus smoke, pollution etc.)

Interesting about the alum causing it.

However, if it is only a patina, is it a cause for concern ? ie a discolouration rather than corrosion.

The reed frames appear intact simply darker.

 

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