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LateToTheGame

Harsh Reed Work Around

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I have a connor with a mix of old reeds. One just bugs me. It has been gone over by Greg J. and a master craftsman in accordions here in Chicago. That reed is as good as it will be. Someone had me put a hand over the place on the grill where the air vents, and it sounded much better. Which led me to the ever so inelegant placing of paper surgical tape, like you'd use for bandages on that spot. Which dampened it enough to make it blend better. The tape has a very light adhesive so it isn't gooey, but I assume it would attract dust on the underside if it stayed on too long. So I am curious about an alternative. I've seen old lachenal's and accordions with something like grill cloth on the underside of the ends. Anyone have any experience with this? What glue would be used on a metal ended concertina? etc.

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Are you talking about snuffing only the one reed, or toning down the whole instrument? I lined the grill of my metal-end Lachanel with dense foam supported by foam tape, and the tone of the whole thing was considerably improved, especially fat, close chords. If you are talking about a single reed, it seems like the closer you get to it with a damping material, the better. Perhaps even within the reed chamber.

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It seems strange that the only reed different to the rest should be harsher when it is more usual the other way around. Can I suggest shifting the reed to a different position and seeing whether the harshness follows it? If it does then it is either touching, has much tighter clearances than its peers, or is ridiculously thin. As an easy fix it might be the best thing ask around for a replacement reed of the same value.

 

If the problem vanishes when the reed is shifted then it may be the wood slot it is in is shaped to jam one end of the frame but not the other. If the problem stays in the original position then it may be again one end only jamming. This can easily happen when a person reshapes a frame to fit a different instrument and it sounds as if this is true of all of the reeds in your concertina.

 

When a mishapened frame jams only at one end it is often hard to see. Putting a thin sliver of paper down between the frame and wood roughly alongside the tip of the reed while you put the frame in is helpful; if it is easy to pull out when the reed is in then it is too loose at the tip.

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Since you've asked all-stars to work on it without adequate improvement and your tape makes the reed sound good, why not install heavy paper or perhaps some felt inside the metal end where you've placed the tape, using rubber cement or another non-permanent adhesive.

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could be a basic leather baffle would do the job, but probably at the cost of the projection from all the other reeds. I would try the following:

 

  • move the reed to a different position to see if the harshness migrates (as suggested above)
  • if the tone moves with the reed, check the reed set or replace the reed.
  • if the problem is the location then check the the length of the chamber, try fitting a temporary chamber end stop, to shorten the chamber, or removing the end stop and fitting another on a bit further from the reed tip

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You can use a slice of cork, after drinking the wine, as a temporary chamber end stop as suggested by Dave. If it works then you could just change its status from temporary to permanent.

 

It is getting harder to find real wine corks these days, but the hunt is worth while in its own right.

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Thanks for all the good suggestions. I will percolate and hesitate and get around to dealing with this in the next few weeks, as is my custom. Shifting it around will be an interesting test. I think Greg J. would have noticed if it needed a reset. I asked him specifically to work with this one and he gave it quite a bit of time. I wouldn't mind replacing the reed itself if that makes sense. With these vintage reeds Conner used it could be hard to find one that blends, but more experienced heads here could comment on that one. Who might have such a reed? I'd assume vintage reeds are scarcer than hens teeth and would require finesse to blend.

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