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Don Taylor

Tuning and setting waxed-in Morse reeds

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Posted (edited)

I recently bought a used Morse Beaumont and need to set a few of the reeds because they are a bit slow to speak.  Some may need a touch-up tune as well, but I have not got that far yet.

 

The reeds in Morse concertinas (Button Box) are accordion reeds and they are held in with accordion wax.  The Beaumont even has some of its reeds set into a small reed-block just like an accordion.

 

How do you set and tune these reeds?

 

Melting and replacing the wax every time a reed is taken out and replaced seems a lot of work.  When I read about how this is done in accordions it seems that they set reeds and tune reeds in place in the accordion rather than use a tuning table as is used for concertina reeds.

 

I can see how to set and tune an 'outside' reed, but how do you get at an 'inside' reed without de-waxing and re-waxing?

 

Don.

 

One thing that I did think of trying was to tune/set the outside reed of a reed pair then remove the pair and flip it over so that the inside reed becomes the outside reed, wax it back in place and then tune/set the new outside reed.  But I suspect this flipping may affect the the tuning of the new inside reed because of its new sonic environment.  Thoughts/experience?

 

This trick would not work for Morse Anglos.

 

 

Edited by Don Taylor
Added PS about flipping reeds over.

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Posted (edited)

Don,  

 

why not   save  yourself the bother.... send it back to    the BB  for  servicing.

 

Having repaired  and   tuned  my own concertinas  for  many  years  I am often tempted  to rescue  old accordions  I find at  flea markets.  Fiddling around for hours  on a sunday  to get these old boxes  going  .  One of my  neighbour  melodeonists  bought an old  Hohner  Lilliput  recently  but she had the good sense  to  take it to our local  accordion  repairer  and I was  suprised  at  how reasonable  the bill was.

 

If it was my Morse  concertina  I'd  probably try to find  some local  accordion tuner  willing to work on it. I doubt I'd  want the hassle  of sending it back to the USA as anything coming  in or out  of   the EU   can attract  a fair  amount of Duty. To  and from  the USA   will   meet with even more customs  problems  once  Mr.Trump's trade war  starts.  Perhaps it is the   same  across  the  Canada/USA  border.

 

Good luck with it,

 

Geoff.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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1 hour ago, Geoff Wooff said:

Don,  

 

why not   save  yourself the bother.... send it back to    the BB  for  servicing.

 

Having repaired  and   tuned  my own concertinas  for  many  years  I am often tempted  to rescue  old accordions  I find at  flea markets.  Fiddling around for hours  on a sunday  to get these old boxes  going  .  One of my  neighbour  melodeonists  bought an old  Hohner  Lilliput  recently  but she had the good sense  to  take it to our local  accordion  repairer  and I was  suprised  at  how reasonable  the bill was.

 

Good luck with it,

Geoff.

 

O.k., I guess your right Geoff - I thus mind look for a local repairer for my "Preciosa" as well... :)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

 

O.k., I guess your right Geoff - I thus mind look for a local repairer for my "Preciosa" as well... :)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

I've been inside  a Beaumont  Wolf  ( and Don)  and also quite a few  complex  accordions  but  there comes a stage  where  a  tricky task  is best  asigned to  a trained person.  I see it in my own  line of work  where a simple   repair  for me has been made  difficult  by  a well meaning amateur.

 

There are hundreds of examples  in   ordinary life.  A simple  one;   your car  has a flat tyre... so you change the wheel,  but will you repair the puncture ?

Okay, it is fun to fiddle around with  things  that one can afford to  break  but......

 

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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7 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

why not   save  yourself the bother.... send it back to    the BB  for  servicing

Geoff

 

I will probably do so this time around as there are several reeds to take care of and because the BB will perform a minor upgrade for me at the same time*, but I like to do this kind of work for myself. 

 

Don

 

* Mine is one of the first Beaumonts that the BB made and later models had some design changes.  The BB will retrofit these changes to an older Beaumont.

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Posted (edited)

Don, I have tuned a lot of old boxes prior to concertinas entering my life. It had never occured to me that de-waxing and re-waxing could be avoided at all back then. However, it is a simple task to just re-apply the zinc plate to the instrument several times in a process of trial and error without the wax.

 

BTW, when I'm tuning concertina reeds (mostly just filing the solder as applied by myself) I am able to reach a very good approximation by just pressing the reed shoe against a table top before doing the unavoidable fine tuning in the end. A similar thing is very well possible with accordion reeds too in order to minimize the effort.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

 

P.S.: For setting an inlying reed the plate has to be removed I reckon, the "lifter" trick is just for the tuning.

 

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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4 minutes ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

I have tuned a lot of old boxes prior to concertinas entering my life. It had never occured to me that de-waxing and re-waxing could be avoided at all back then. However, it is a simple task to just re-apply the zinc plate to the instrument several times in a process of trial and error without the wax

Aha!  A light bulb moment!

 

Thanks Wolf, it had not occurred to me that I would not have to re-wax between tests.  I don't mind doing the wax and re-wax but I just did not want to have to do it multiple times when I work on each reed.

 

So to remove a single reed would I simply cut through the wax surrounding the reed?

 

Don.

 

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58 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

So to remove a single reed would I simply cut through the wax surrounding the reed?

 

yes indeed.

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In that case I can treat them like concertina reeds and not use scratchers and lifters.  I looked at many accordion sites and videos and nobody spelled out that you do not have to re-wax a reed between tests of individual reeds.  Actually, most of them assumed that all of the reeds should be removed and the all of the wax before replacing and re-waxing the whole set - which struck me as insane!

 

And the descriptions about scratching the back sides (pun intended) of reeds did not appeal to me!

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Posted (edited)

Don, this is exactly what I did - and I didn't scratch the reeds either, just filed them... The zinc plates had always been fastened by two tiny hooks which I hope the Beaumont will have too. And apart from that, there are easy-to-handle substances which might replace the wax if needed, at least temporarily... 😎 So I'd say, if it's just a couple of reed pairs, go ahead!

 

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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If sending it off to the B.B. deters people, or any of their dealers across the Pond,  just remember, you don’t tune to the given note, but tune the deviation amount.  Whether in the instrument carcass or removed from it, if a note is 5 cents off, tune it 5 cents from whatever pitch it is if removed and on a tuning table.  Don’t expect it to have the same pitch if pressed in place vs. Waxed.  Draw notes will need to be removed to reset in hybrid instruments, if they really need it.  Press reeds don’t.

    Don’t assume bad setting is the problem.  Sometimes on reeds from the Italian reed makers, the valves come unglued and the reeds become less responsive since the reeds then deal with bypass air.  In this case, press reeds may have lost their valves, while it will be obvious if the draw reeds have lost theirs.

Dana

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I had long discussions with Doug at BB, he will advise, sell you tools that don't require de-waxing etc. I seem to remember he had a video clip too. Talk to Doug, or email him at the BB

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6 minutes ago, d.elliott said:

Talk to Doug, or email him at the BB

Thanks Dave, that makes sense.

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