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English Concertina Finger Rest Discomfort

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Im not sure if this question has come up here or if Im just missing it, but Ive done my best to search for it and havent come up with a conclusive result.

 

I have noticed that many English concertinas have a naked finger rest. That is, without leather dressing. In fact most do not have leather on them. In the case of antique instruments, it makes sense that the leather had deteriorated away over time, but I see most musicians play ECs with an exposed metal finger rest.

 

My lachenal has such a rest, but I find it incredibly uncomfortable due to this small metal ridge that hangs over the edge of the rest. It digs into my little finger and makes playing awkward and distracting.

 

When trying to search for information on this, I decided to check concertina-spares.com to see what might be standard, but I didnt find the answer I was looking for. They list two types; brass simple rests with no ridge, and ornate nickle rests like mine, with the ridge:

 

WP_20161206_001.jpg

 

My first guess is that this was designed to add some sort of extra adherence to the leather when it covered the rest, preventing squirm when playing. Perhaps it was intended to add a slightly noticeable bump when leather covered it, adding a bit more grip from the hook against the finger.

 

Apart from the issue, I like the aesthetic and idea behind a metal rest, without leather, but am not into the edgy metal. I might grind away and polish the ridge (unless that falls under the do no harm clause)

 

If anyone can shed some light on finger rests differences and ergonomics like this, Id greatly appreciate it!

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You could just glue a strip of leather or some other material such as rubber under the top edge. About the same depth as the ridge.

post-10028-0-11285800-1515623305_thumb.jpg

Edited by kenneads

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That... is a pretty great idea!

It would maintain the aesthetic of polished nickle while providing some comfort. Excellent advice, thank you!

 

I still am quite curious though as to why these rests are so different from each other. There has to be some logic behind it

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I don’t play EC, but I have to say I’ve never heard of or seen anything but bare metal finger rests (don’t know about the ridges). In addition to the above suggestion, you might fill the space behind the ridge with putty or plastic wood, or some other workable material.

 

I still am quite curious though as to why these rests are so different from each other. There has to be some logic behind it

 

 

Are you talking about the two rests you have pictured? They look like mirror images to me (if you flip the one on the left up so the screw holes are on a vertical wall).

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It never occurred to me that these „rests“ might have been covered at some point; never played one which had these „ridges“ - however, I don’t make much use of them anyway...

 

But I guess you are already having a workaround...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Ah sorry for the confusion, no those are indeed the same rest. I neglected to provide a photo of the brass ones for reference. Here it is:

 

958899884358.png?v=7516fd43adaa

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Wolf,

Yes apparently they were covered with leather.

Here are a couple concertinas with their leather rest covers in tact:

 

42db17056d50ead19b873f2159939463.jpg

C288a.jpg

 

The concertina repair book by David Elliot also makes note of the fact that they have had leather covers and offers instruction on making new ones.

If you do not use the rest, how do you stabilize your English concertina? Ive found the ergonomics rather awkward and would think a wrist strap would be more comfortable.

Thanks for your input!

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Ross, thats amazing!

 

As to my playing, it mostly engages 2 to 4 fingers of either hand, and therefore Im having sufficient stabilisation combined with resting the right end on my right knee - plus having the thumb straps widely opened in order to be able to put the thumbs complely into the respective loop.

 

However, should I choose to play some single line melody I might seek the rests for further stabilisation...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Somewhere (here?) I got the idea the brass ones were originally leather covered in the old days, while the nickel plated ones were not. But that wouldn't explain the ridges on a nickel set in this case, as they don't seem very ergonomic.

 

Ken

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Perhaps the leather sheafing of the rests was more prevalent in the earlier period of concertina manaufacture and use (when primarily a parlour instrument), i.e. up to c.1870/80s. On later instruments, less common, perhaps reflecting the developing uses and users of concertinas. A quick peruse of the instruments in the 'Concertina Museum Collection' supports this hypothesis.

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wrongway.jpg?w=300&h=226

 

Try to just 'rest' your little finger there with little to no pressure.

 

 

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Haha, excellent photo Don. Well, its not that I’m supporting the entire weight of the instrument with my little finger, it’s just that the small ridge is uncomfortable no matter how I interact with it

 

Myrtles cook; mine seems to have had leather covering it at some point in time, as one of the rests still has dark residue that appears to be left over leather. Must’ve fit into that time period I ‘spose

 

No hypothesis’s as to why there is a ridge or not on these rests folks? Perhaps it will continue to just be one of those mysteries in the end.

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The finger rests with the ridges appear on later Lachenal models, not exactly sure when they started and if they were on the whole range of models. I do not think this type were leather covered originally and the ridge appears to improve the grip for those who hold the concertina using these metal plates.

 

I find these ridged rests perhaps more comfortable than those used by Wheatstone but then I do not constantly have my little fingers in them. I think one's fingers get used to these items and they , like the small button diameters that some people complain about, only cause me problems after a very long session of playing or when I've not played the EC for some weeks.

 

You could try a bandage on the tips of your Pinkies if the rests are uncomfortable.

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The finger slides that are self-coloured brass were usually covered in a leather to match the bellows. These slides are quite thin and the soldering is usually identifiable. When you take these slides off you can often find the remnant of the leather trapped behind them, or ots shape impressed into the polish. The retaining screws seem to stand a bit proud as well.

 

The nickel plated slides were intended to be visible, the 'lip' which is causing the discomfort was intended to stop the finger falling away from the slide. On my metal ended Aeola I found this feature most uncomfortable so I did as suggested by Kenneads, above. The bits of leather have been in place for about 25 yrs now, it works

 

Dave

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I have noticed that many English concertinas have a naked finger rest.

...

My lachenal has such a rest, but I find it incredibly uncomfortable due to this small metal ridge that hangs over the edge of the rest. It digs into my little finger and makes playing awkward and distracting.

...

If anyone can shed some light on finger rests differences and ergonomics like this, Id greatly appreciate it!

I'm probably not the one to offer a solution, since I don't suffer from your problem, though I often play standing. I.e., I have never experienced any sort of discomfort, ridge or no ridge. I hadn't even thought about it, but now that you've mentioned it:

  • I recall that I've seen (and played) Englishes where the finger plates (I do not use them as "rests", but as grips) had a thin leather veneer where they might contact the finger. But that was (in my experience) uncommon, and I think they were all "earlier" instruments, as Myrtle's cook has noted.
  • Also, I just checked the instruments I have at my present location, and doesn't seem to be as simple as just leather or no leather, nor ridge or no ridge, nor a correlation between the two features.

Here are the features of these instruments:

  • Rock Chidley 48-button hex treble #2365 - molded (therefore, irregular surface) nickel-plated(?) hardware; leather; no ridge
  • Wheatstone 48-button model 22 treble #26128 - nickel-plated ends (& hardware?); no ridge; no leather (evidence that someone had tried to attach something inside the plates, but non-uniform spots and not likely original)
  • Lachenal 48-button Edeophone treble #57175 - gold-plated hardware; flange (ridge along edge), suggesting possible previous leather (supported by discoloration of internal angle?)
  • Wheatstone 50-button Aeola treble #31979 - gold-plated hardware; no leather nor ridge; looks original
  • Wheatstone 64-button Aeola tenor-treble #32622 - nickel-plated(?) hardware; no leather nor evidence thereof; ridge in from edge (i.e., not "flange")
  • Wheatstone 64-button Aeola baritone-treble #31677 - nickel-plated(?) hardware; no ridge or flange; no leather nor evidence thereof
  • Wheatstone 56-button Aeola bass #35230 - nickel-plated hardware; no leather nor evidence thereof (actual wear of nickel plate); ridge in from edge
  • Lachenal 35-button stretch-hex G-bass #51602 - nickel-plated hardware; flange; no leather, and unclear whether it might have had some originally, but there is wear of the nickel plate

I've taken some photos, but I don't expect to get them processed and posted before tomorrow at the earliest.

 

Edited to add: Looking again at your first photos, I see that what you're calling a "ridge" looks like what I'm calling a "flange". My "ridge" is a raised line inboard of the edge. I hope my photos will make the difference clear. But it doesn't seem likely to me that my "ridge" was associated with a layer of leather, while my "flange" (your "ridge") might have been.

Edited by JimLucas

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As to my playing, it mostly engages 2 to 4 fingers of either hand, and therefore Im having sufficient stabilisation combined with resting the right end on my right knee - plus having the thumb straps widely opened in order to be able to put the thumbs complely into the respective loop.

 

However, should I choose to play some single line melody I might seek the rests for further stabilisation...

wrongway.jpg?w=300&h=226

 

Try to just 'rest' your little finger there with little to no pressure.

"Wrong" way? Different individuals prefer different methods of holding and controlling an English concertina.

 

As I mention frequently, my preference is quite different from that suggested by either Don or Wolf, but I'm not going to claim that my way is better for them.

 

In particular

  • I use my thumbs and little fingers to "grip" the ends of the concertina, which I believe gives me greater control over the orientation and movement of the ends. My little fingers don't "rest"; they "work".
  • As a consequence, I use mostly a 3-finger (on each end) style of playing, though I will on rare occasions lift a little finger briefly from its plate to play a note when that is less awkward than the alternatives. However, at these times, the contact of other fingers with buttons or the fretted ends gives adequate control... as I believe Wolf has also implied in connection with his method.
  • I keep my thumb loops tight, so that only the tip joints of the thumbs can enter. I find this makes it easier to press downward with the thumbs, to oppose my little fingers in forming the "grip". More importantly, I believe, it allows me to use the long joint of the thumb as a lever, improving my ability to reach both "higher" and "lower" buttons on the keyboard and also to control the orientation of the ends.
  • Finally, although I may occasionally rest one end of the concertina on one of my legs, this is the exception rather than the rule, and it could be either end on either leg. Even when sitting, I usually hold the instrument (yes, even my big G-bass) suspended above my legs, as I find this gives me greater control of the ends and therefore of dynamics and accentuation.

But returning to the issue of finger plates and ridges, I have never felt any pain from finger plates with ridges/flanges. I've never even noticed them. Are Ross' fingers significantly more sensitive than mine? Am I not pressing as hard with my little fingers, in spite of my "grip" method of holding the concertina? Paying close attention as I play, I suspect another difference:

I don't hold my little finger lengthwise under the plate. Instead, my little fingers are arched, and only the tip of the finger reaches under the plate, pointing inward and slightly upward. And thus my fingers don't come into significant contact with the ridge/flange, much less with pressure against it.

 

I'm not a selfie kind of guy, but I should see if I can get some photos to show what I mean.

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Here are a couple concertinas with their leather rest covers in tact:

 

42db17056d50ead19b873f2159939463.jpg

FWIW, the instrument in your photo that I've copied here is by a contemporary maker, though constructed in the vintage style. Maybe someone who knows him could ask where he got the idea to cover the finger plates in leather and in particular, whether he does that on all his Englishes?

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