Michael Reid Posted September 26, 2003 Share Posted September 26, 2003 At the NE Squeeze-In, Rich Morse and I had a short discussion on the advisability of a "break-in" period for new instruments. With Rich's consent, I'm going to recap here what we discussed and invite others to join in the discussion. Our discussion began when I remarked to Rich that a particular used instrument being offered for sale -- a button accordion from a top maker -- was mildly disappointing to me (I emphasize "mildly"). It was just my impression, of course, but I thought the reeds didn't speak as quickly or crisply as other boxes from that maker. And when I played that box, an accordion professional who was present (not Rich) said it lacked the volume he expected, though I hadn't noticed that. Rich responded that perhaps the box had not gone through a proper break-in period. He said that Steve Dickinson had convinced him many years ago that new reeds should be played gently for a period of months -- at varying volume levels, but never excessively loud -- in order to ensure the best long-run tone. He cited his own Dickinson Wheatstone Hayden as a box that disappointed him when brand-new but got better and better through gentle playing over a few months. Rich contrasted this happy result with several cases where Morris musicians who bought new instruments from his shop played them really hard right away, and within a few months complained that their boxes were unresponsive. As one expecting to take delivery of a new concertina in a month or so, I'm very interested in this issue! Though I've played free-reeds for almost 20 years, I'd never before heard this advice. A few other players of button accordions with whom I've discussed this also said it's news to them ... and they're skeptical. So ... here are some questions on my mind. I hope others will post their thoughts on these and related issues: Is a break-in period the smart thing to do, or a waste of time? Do you have personal experience with a box that wasn't broken in properly? If you advocate a break-in period, how long should it go on, and what should you do (or avoid doing) during it? Is there a way to know when it's OK to play "hard"? Is a break-in period done for the benefit of the reeds, for other mechanical parts (valves, pads, etc.), or all of the above? Does this apply equally to concertinas with traditional reeds and those with accordion reeds? That's not all, but I'll stop there! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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