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wunks

Tuning up or tuning down

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Posted (edited)

I have a Jeff duet that is just shy of C#;  probably old philharmonic pitch, as Wolfe M. has kindly pointed out.  I'm considering having it re-tuned to modern concert pitch.  I Have a second instrument that is already there.  Both are centered on C.  I could tune up and have an instrument in D or tune down for C.  Upward would be slightly more of a leap.  In general, is it easier to tune up or down?  It has a Nice Jeffries Honk and I'd hate to lose that.  I play a lot of Dance music and it is more robust than the Wheatstone.  I favor tuning down or leaving it the same but I really like playing with other musicians.

Edited by wunks
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I think  I would  be correct  in saying  that  most of the vintage  (pre-war)  concertinas  in  modern use, i:e: being played with  other  instruments,  have been  re-pitched  to   the A440hz  standard. In the english speaking countries  that  would  generally  mean the  pitch has been lowered  from  A452hz.  ,or  was it 453  or 459 ?,  I can never remember.  In continental Europe  where the pitch had been  lower  ( 432  or 435hz.)  before the war    instruments  would require    a tune up.

 

I    re- pitched  many  concertinas  during my years in Australia ...   it is generally  safer  ( less  dangerous or injurious  to reeds)  to lower the pitch....

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2 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

I think  I would  be correct  in saying  that  most of the vintage  (pre-war)  concertinas  in  modern use, i:e: being played with  other  instruments,  have been  re-pitched  to   the A440hz  standard. In the english speaking countries  that  would  generally  mean the  pitch has been lowered  from  A452hz.  ,or  was it 453  or 459 ?,  I can never remember.  In continental Europe  where the pitch had been  lower  ( 432  or 435hz.)  before the war    instruments  would require    a tune up.

 

I    re- pitched  many  concertinas  during my years in Australia ...   it is generally  safer  ( less  dangerous or injurious  to reeds)  to lower the pitch....

 

I seem to understand that lowering the pitch is part of the process of initially tuning a pre-fabricated reed, which wouldn't have much of a "waist" otherwise...

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So, tuning down shouldn;t be detrimental to she sound of the instrument?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, wunks said:

So, tuning down shouldn;t be detrimental to she sound of the instrument?

 

Well.... 'should not'    IF there is enough meat  on the  reeds  and IF  the tuning is done  carefully... So, in comparison  to  all the other 'tuned down'  Vintage concertinas    it should be ok.  

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Thank you gentlemen.  I appreciate your cautious statements.  "I seem to understand" is a new one for me!  I had a brief phone conversation with someone from the Button Box (a couple hours away) who thought it would be best to leave it as is and I'm gathering other opinions before I decide.  What about historical interest?  I'm a player not a collector so my inclination is to enhance playability but I don't want to spoil a vintage instrument.

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Posted (edited)

There is less chance of damaging high reeds if you tune down, and less chance of damaging low reeds if you tune up. Yes, this information doesn't help make a decision!

Edited by Chris Ghent
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Posted (edited)

A'rity, Pirate it is then!  No rules save mine own.  Damn yer eyes!

Edited by wunks
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Well, Wunks I have another possible alternative, but first you have to answer a question. If all the other musicians have tunable instruments like guitar, fiddle and such, then it should not be great burden to ask them to tune to you. That way, you never have to risk losing that wonderful honk. 

 

Just sayin....

 

Ross Schlabach

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Yes, and for now, considering all the above advice. I'll stick with that strategy. Plus, I've sorted out the anomalies in the Wheatstone and realize I can get my low G by swapping out a low B which doesn't exist on the Jeffries.  Thank you all for the help.

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Let's look at it another way. Carefully done I don't think a semitone either way is any great issue. So which would be more useful to you? Can you play in all the keys you need on the C-centred box? Or would a D-box give you greater scope, especially for playing with other musicians (which you've stated you love to do)?

 

If you can play in all the keys you need on the C box then you're only complicating your life by having a D box. Either you have to learn two fingerings for each tune (according to which box you have with you) or you have to carry both boxes with you all the time.

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I follow you Little John and I think having a D box offers no great advantage for a duet, at least for me.  I've been exploring different keys and the Jeffries pattern seems to accommodate anything I'd want to play without much trouble.

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There is a method often used by Melodeon repairers to tune the reeds down a little; by adding a tiny drop of solder (the old flux cored type at one time used for soldering components to a printed circuit board) to the tip of the reed. This has the advantage that it is reversible with virtually no damage to the reed. I expect that there are  several people shouting "no no no" to this suggestion; but perhaps you might consult one of the repairers of both melodeons and concertinas. Theo Gibb of Newcastle upon Tyne immediately springs to mind, he even has a Jeffries Duet currently in stock for restoration.

 

Inventor. 

  

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something like that had sprung to my mind as well, but I didn‘t dare to make such a bold remark 😎

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One thing that is often mentioned in discussions about tuning concertina reeds that hasn’t been mentioned here yet. If all this is new to you (and you want to minimize the chance of damage to your reeds), don’t tune it yourself. Take it to someone who knows what they’re doing. If tuning your own reeds is something you’d like to eventually be able to do, start with a junker instrument and lots of time.

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It occurs to me that I have seen inside a couple of Jeffries Duets (one quite recently) and noticed that the note that they played did not correspond to the note stamped on the tip of the reed frame.  I think it quite possible that the reeds may like yours have been in old pitch. but have been tuned "just that shy" up. Then moved to the correct position to give the normal Jeffries duet pattern in C. 

You would of course need a pair of new reeds for the very lowest note of each side. Many of the reeds will most likely fit without altering the slots, however I fully endorse David Barnerts "don't do it yourself. Take to someone who knows what they are doing".

 

Inventor.

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Rest easy, Gentlemen.  I would never attempt such delicate work.  I spent 37 years building and ripping up railroad track.  My hands are used to four foot wrenches, hammers and claw bars.  In my profession the way to fix it is to hit it as hard as you can with the heaviest hammer you can find. 

 

"Just shy up" on my instrument would be a larger leap than just shy down as the C is audibly a bit below C#.

 

I've realized there is an advantage for me when singing with the Jeffries.  The near semi-tone high brings the low end up enough to be much more comfortable for my vocal range.  

 

I've also noticed that the the bellows on the Jeff are thicker and respond differently than those on the Wheatstone.  Although that has nothing to do with pitch might they be anglo type?  I've heard there is a difference. 

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Inventor You have complicated my life considerably!  I just looked at the Jeff on Theo's facebook page and it appears Identical.  Unfortunately, I'm knee deep in instruments right now as I just yesterday stumbled across an estate sale of a wonderful folk instrument luthier.  I bought what I could and may go back today.  No one seems interested in Dulcimers (hammered and  mountain), Autoharps and such even at rock bottom lawn sale prices.  There's even a stack of Piano keyboards and 2 barns full of air dried instrument wood billets.  Off topic but I mention it in case anyone is near Utica NY and has an interest.  It's probably all going in the trash bin after today.  The address is 237 Daley Road, Frankfort NY.

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