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dmksails

Stiff Bellows

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I'm a beginning player with a new Jackie 30-key English concertina. I'm finding the bellows seem to be very stiff and require a good bit of effort to open.

 

I sail a 31-ft boat by myself and have a good bit of arm strength, but I find I'm tired out after only a few bars.

 

I've played with the concertina on my knee and have tried playing with a neck strap. Playing with the neck strap does seem to distribute the effort to both arms more than playing from the knee, but it still gets tiresome very quickly.

 

Any solution to this?

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Play more, because they will soften up, and play more quietly, because it will take less effort.

 

It is likely that your tired arms result from tension rather than simply the effort required to manipulate the bellows.

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When people say the bellows seem stiff it can be that the instrument itself can only easily be played quietly and slowly because the reeds are not efficient. I think in this circumstance the best approach is to play quietly and slowly and when you are ready, spend more and get a concertina that is easier to play. If it is actually the bellows then you can test this by holding down as many buttons as possible (or the air button if you have one) and working the bellows in and out to gauge how much effort is going into them.

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New player will have strain on sets of muscles that are being used in new ways. It is the same for any exercise /work that is new to us. Many people do complain about the stiffness of the bellows on these starter models and, they say, this goes away after a while. I have tried the Jackie bought by a neighbour and it does appear to be hard work in comparison to my vintage instruments. This is probaby not so noticeable on the Rochelle and Elise models due to the strain being taken by the whole hand.

 

Good luck .

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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I started on a Jackie about 18 months ago. It was a considerable effort to use. After about 6 months, I moved to a Lachenal - chalk and cheese - fast, smooth - very little effort needed.

 

I think (hope?) I've made more progress since switching. Also some of the tunes I now play - Scots tunes in A Major - would have been impossible because it didn't go high enough.

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I had the same problem when starting on the Jackie. I found that pumping the bellows a few times, using the air button, each time I played seemed to improve the situation. Of course the more you play the looser the bellows gets and the stronger your hands/arms.

Stick with it.

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