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wunks

Fiddlin' around with the concertina.

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Concertinas do often have posts connecting the end plate to the action board, but I think they have more to do with structural strength than sound transmission.

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27 minutes ago, alex_holden said:

Concertinas do often have posts connecting the end plate to the action board, but I think they have more to do with structural strength than sound transmission.

 

yes - all three of my English concertinas have posts to support the thumb loops and "pinky rests" (and a third one?) ...

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3 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

 

Since the vibration of a reed is barely hearable anyway the communication of sympathetic reeds wouldn't add a thing of significance to the tone IMO. It's just a different type of sound generation...

 

 

Perhaps true but easily testable.

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I notice the OP starts out by saying his violin is strident. In the violin world we usually consider that a defect. Certainly my concertina is much more strident than any properly set up violin!

 

First, I'd recommend some work to get the violin sounding right. Then, for the concertina, if it's not loud enough, a couple of mics and an amp.

 

Nothing in this definition is good:

 

stri·dent   ˈstrīdnt/

adjective
  1. loud and harsh; grating.
    "his voice had become increasingly sharp, almost strident"
    synonyms: harshraucousroughgratingraspingjarringloudshrill, screeching, piercingear-piercing
    "a strident voice interrupted the consultation"
     
    Usually violins have only about four strong harmonics above the fundamental on the E string--that's what makes them sound nice--where a concertina will have more than that on the corresponding notes. So it's not high harmonics that a concertina is missing, unless something is wrong, and you certainly don't want to be adding more or pumping them up! I've put baffles in my Lachanel English, and it's made it sound more like a violin to the point where violin people are complimenting me on its sound rather than staying politely silent. 🙂 I suspect that's the original reason for baffles, since the English concertina was designed as a violin substitute.
     
    If the problem is that the high end is quiet, that's what happens when the reeds for high notes are smaller, and the air that is moving past them is less because they are small. Some reading up will confirm that it's a constant complaint of duet players that the low notes swamp the high. The solution to this is not to put in posts or other attachments to divert vibrations that could be making sound into moving wood that isn't supposed to move--this will damp the vibrations, not enhance them. If I were designing a concertina from scratch and wanted to experiment, I'd make the material closest to the reeds both lighter and more vibrant--perhaps use thin metal for the reed pan, for instance. But I don't think this would do much.
Edited by mdarnton

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30 minutes ago, mdarnton said:

I notice the OP starts out by saying his violin is strident.

Fiddle vs. violin?

 

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1 hour ago, Don Taylor said:

Fiddle vs. violin?

 

 

Sure, but technically speaking, a concertina should still be naturally more "strident" than a fiddle, unless the fiddle is a total piece of crap. :) My experience with fiddlers has been if you put a good violin in their hands they'll choose that, and that the fiddle vs violin myth disappears quickly when you hand a good fiddler a Strad.

 

As I just added above, making mechanical comparisons between the two is probably a bad place to start, but if one wants to insist on that approach, on a violin there's wood that doesn't move, and shouldn't, and making it move makes the violin quieter (bad players seem inevitably like necks that vibrate in their hands--this vibration should be making sound, not be diverted to handgasms) and there's wood that makes noise, which is usually wood nearest the bridge, for a start.

 

The violin is a very directly mechanical object, not magical. In a very general way, it's a mistake to think of them as "resonant", or to try to encourage resonance--what they are is highly responsive to subtle input, without too much specific discrimination. Putting pieces where they don't need to be usually makes violins quieter, not louder. In fact the usual cure for a strident violin is to move the post closer to the bridge and tighter, to control it a bit more and calm down that side--the E string side.

 

That's why I suggested that if one believes that concertina sound comes from moving wood (though all indication is that it's moving air, not wood, that makes the sound) then the answer is to let the material in the neighborhood of the reed move more easily so that it can vibrate and add its own sound, hopefully without sapping from what the reed is doing, which will lead to damping. One test of this: are aluminum reed frames louder than brass? If so, then putting aluminum frames instead of brass around the higher (quieter) reeds would be one way to make the high notes step up relative to the low.

Edited by mdarnton

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2 hours ago, mdarnton said:

I notice the OP starts out by saying his violin is strident. In the violin world we usually consider that a defect. Certainly my concertina is much more strident than any properly set up violin!

 

First, I'd recommend some work to get the violin sounding right. Then, for the concertina, if it's not loud enough, a couple of mics and an amp.

 

Nothing in this definition is good:

 

stri·dent   ˈstrīdnt/

adjective
  1. loud and harsh; grating.
    "his voice had become increasingly sharp, almost strident"
    synonyms: harshraucousroughgratingraspingjarringloudshrill, screeching, piercingear-piercing
    "a strident voice interrupted the consultation"
     
    Usually violins have only about four strong harmonics above the fundamental on the E string--that's what makes them sound nice--where a concertina will have more than that on the corresponding notes. So it's not high harmonics that a concertina is missing, unless something is wrong, and you certainly don't want to be adding more or pumping them up! I've put baffles in my Lachanel English, and it's made it sound more like a violin to the point where violin people are complimenting me on its sound rather than staying politely silent. 🙂 I suspect that's the original reason for baffles, since the English concertina was designed as a violin substitute.
     
    If the problem is that the high end is quiet, that's what happens when the reeds for high notes are smaller, and the air that is moving past them is less because they are small. Some reading up will confirm that it's a constant complaint of duet players that the low notes swamp the high. The solution to this is not to put in posts or other attachments to divert vibrations that could be making sound into moving wood that isn't supposed to move--this will damp the vibrations, not enhance them. If I were designing a concertina from scratch and wanted to experiment, I'd make the material closest to the reeds both lighter and more vibrant--perhaps use thin metal for the reed pan, for instance. But I don't think this would do much.

In my second response to Don I did say I thought Strident was the wrong word.

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8 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Fiddle vs. violin?

 

Could start another "discussion" but it's the same instrument and refers more to the type of music and /or context in which it's played.  The only modifications I'm aware of are a flattening of the top of the bridge by some to make better use of open string drones, triple stops and chords.  Also different tunings of the strings, often in conjunction with the former.  Fiddlers often dispense with a shoulder rest and/or hold it against the chest.  They usually hold the bow differently releasing the pinky from the frog end of the bow and sometimes choking up on it.  Beginners are sometimes taught to play with the bowing arm elbow resting on a table to establish a desired wristy technique.   There are gourd and cigar box fiddles but they might just as well be called gourd and cigar box violins.  Give me a Stradovarious,  or any fine concert violin and I'll be happy as a clam sawin' out "Fop Eared Mule"!

Edited by wunks
grammer

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I got my instruments out this morning with the intent of experimenting with a sound post.  Both of them however have connections from the end plate to (perhaps) the action board other than for the strap ends.  The Jeffries  has two small screws spaced in the button pattern.  I'm seeing 5!  tiny rivet ends in the button pattern of the Wheatstone (larger instrument around 8.5 inches).  The fret work of both is too tight to insert a sound post or determine, even with a pen light, what they're connected to;  post or brace.  I don't want to go further and open them up.  I yield the floor. 

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Hi wunks. If your instruments have metal ends, the tiny screws or rivets within the button pattern will be to hold the wooden bushing board in place. The metal is too thin to attach felt bushes, so a wooden board is needed. Wooden ended instruments don't need this - they are thick enough on their own. If you can see other screws, the heads of which do not come through the end plates, they will most likely be to prevent too much flexing of the end plate. I've seen that on at least one instrument.

 

LJ

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Little John.  Thanx for that observation.  I expected as much but I didn't recall a wooden brace plate when I had the Wheatstone apart years ago.  It's been an interesting side conversation but I'm going to pause my experimental efforts for now.  I just don't have the time at the moment.  I'm enjoying the topic though and there does seem to be some support for the idea of harmonics playing a role in tone quality and "unifying" the instrument somehow.    I'll try the sound post idea at a later date unless someone beats me to it and of course other schemes have popped into my head.  How 'bout a wire connecting the reed blocks at their bases?  how 'bout rounding the reed tips?  I seem to recall from reading about aluminum boat fabrication that sharp corners and edges create nodes of vibratory " dissonance" resulting in premature failure of parts.  There's a reference to "fishtail reeds" in Don's resonator thread.  Comments?

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wunks, no one will query whether „harmonics are playing a role in tone quality“.

 

besides, a traditional concertina as discussed in these forums will have no reed blocks.

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28 minutes ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

wunks, no one will query whether „harmonics are playing a role in tone quality“.

 

besides, a traditional concertina as discussed in these forums will have no reed blocks.

"Shoes"?

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yes - shoes of brass, aluminium... attached to the wood, mostly by pushing them into their respective slots

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Shoes it is then.  And do reed "pans" or reed "frames" as referred to by mdarton above mean a different part? 

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Wunks

 

I initially thought that you were complaining about a lack of volume ('stridency')  from your concertinas but I was wrong because you were really concerned about their tone and the discussion then veered off into modifications to your concertinas.

 

You have two metal-ended duets, have you had an opportunity to play a wooden-ended concertina?  Given your preferences I suspect that a good baritone EC would suit you better than the duets that you presently have.  Very hard to find I know.

 

That aside, I was hoping that the fiddler/violinists could throw some light on how to achieve at least some of the effects of the fiddle on the concertina.

 

Don.

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Don, we did get to touch on some of this before getting side tracked, and Wolf gave us some information on bending notes.  You may be aware of a u-tube video showing 7 (I think) ways to play a tremolo on the concertina you'll see it if you search Tremomo/concertina.  Most triplets and other grace notes are readily transferred with the exception of some non-sequential finger rolls, sometimes 5 rapid notes long that I sometimes use for jigs but I suspect they'll come once I get up to speed.  A rapid single grace note here and there sounds great as does a short touch on the bass like a fiddler reaching down for a quick "zoom" on the open G string.   I haven't figured out how to play a glissade (noting without pressing the string all the way down to the finger board; my definition), but waltzes, where I would use it most are lovely on the concertina anyway.  See fantastic Canadian fiddler John Showman of Lonesome Ace String Band use it on "Mexican Cowboy" u-tube.

 

I recently acquired a rosewood Lachenal EC Tutor that needs restoration but I would rather make some sort of a swap, hopefully for a Jeff duet in similar condition, nearly impossible I know.  I really like the duet and don't want to switch.  I would like one in modern pitch of the smaller size though.  The Wheatstone feels cumbersome to play (8.5" as opposed to 6.25" for the Jeff).  I have lots of instruments to parlay and I don't like to keep them out of other players hands if I'm not using them.  I have thought of having one made if there were a suitable maker willing to tackle such a thing and It would have wooden ends!

 

Is there any thing else specific that comes to mind Don?  I;m sure other fiddlers will have a different take than mine.

Edited by wunks
spelling

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