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Posted (edited)

I am working on a 48 button Lachenal that Dowright has dated c. 1860.  It has brass reeds (which don't look like they've been bothered very much), glass buttons and a 5 fold bellows.  Overall it is in very good shape.  I am making new thumb straps, doing some bellows repairs,  and replacing pads, springs,  valves and bushings. All of the internal and external woodwork and action components are in excellent condition.  If it was for my own use I probably wouldn't touch most of the pads, springs and valves, but it will be gifted to a friend who isn't the type to poke around inside of it, so this work is prophylactic.

 

I don't play the English, but some friends who do tried it out and it sounded pleasantly in tune with itself.  My initial thought was that I could handle tuning the 2 or 3 "bum" notes that were apparent.  Today, just for fun, I printed out a button layout diagram and tried each button against my little tuner, recognizing that this exercise will be more useful with an accurate tuning app, and once the spring, pad, valve and bellows work is done.  However, the results have me reconsidering a DIY tuning job, and also wondering what I'm starting with.  Here are the initial findings (the tuner is set for equal temperament and A 440):

  • It's sharp across the board - this wasn't too big a surprise- I've read about the evolution of standard tuning.
  • With some "black key" exceptions, notes range from about 15  to 30 cents sharp.
  • push & pull notes on each button are in tune with each other
  • the tuning of a particular note is consistent across the key board e.g. all the Fs are 30 cents sharp, all the As are 18 cents sharp
  • G#s, F#s, C#s all read as in tune for A440- Abs show as 35 cent sharp G#s, D#s are all 10 cents flat, and Ebs show as 30 cent sharp D#s.

Having read, but not fully comprehended, some of the recent threads on temperaments I'm wondering if the patterns noted above might give some clues to how this was originally tuned?  It will be used by a professional singer for self accompaniment, so maybe something other than EQ at A 440 would be viable?

 

I welcome your thoughts, just remember that I am a by- ear-playing Anglo-phile with no musical theory. Layman's terms appreciated!

 

 

Edited by Bill N

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Bill,

I'm not a expert on temperaments by any means, but I have the feeling that, if each and every button gives exactly the same note on push and pull, all the reeds are as they were intended to be, with regard to both concert pitch and temperament.

As a singer myself (though not an EC player) using a concertina only for solo song acompaniment, the concert pitch would be immaterial to me. The couple of Hertz higher or lower wouldn't force me to transpose a song to make it singable. And an unequal temperament could be an advantage, because some chords do sound better, and would thus flatter my voice.

 

Cheers,

John. 

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Posted (edited)

To add a bit more info for your consideration, here are the ranges in minutes for all occurrences of each note as read by a tuner set for EQ at A -440:

 

G 18-22 sharp

G# in tune

Ab read as G# 35 sharp

A. 18 sharp

Bb  30 sharp

B.  10-18 sharp

C    18-25 sharp

C# in tune

D    18-22 sharp

D#.  10 flat

Eb  read as 30 sharp

F.     30 sharp

F# in tune

 

Edited by Bill N

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At a quick glance  it looks like  a  Meantone temperament.   As a rule of thumb  for this,  and similar  temperaments,  all  the sharp keys  are  flat  and all the flat keys are sharp,  of some  some central point.  It is not  unusual to  come across  EC's from the 19th century  which were  originally  tuned  this way.

 

 

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Thanks Geoff and John,

 

I'm glad I didn't barge ahead.  I'm looking at getting a tuning app that allows one to select pitch and temperament.  Sounds like the best approach is to do all the other work first, then use the tuning app to deduce what the original tuning was and spot tune to bring it back in tune with itself.  I'll talk with my singer friend to see if this will work for her.

 

Cheers

Bill

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49 minutes ago, Bill N said:

I'm looking at getting a tuning app that allows one to select pitch and temperament.

 

I can recommend Piascore PTU-2 (I'm using the iPhone app), but you would have to find the center ("opposite" the wolf) and determine the pitch level first. You could as well, as Geoff might prefer, use a table of deviances from ET.

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Posted (edited)

The clouds are parting and understanding dawns!  I found an old thread on this topic, and Geoff provided "note deviations from EQ in cents".  I plugged my results into his chart assuming that the tuning is centred on A (my values are in in Bold) and this is what I got:

1/5 Comma; A= 0, Bb= +10 12, B= -4 -4, C= +6 4, C#= -8 -18, D= +2 2, D#= -12 -28, Eb= +12 12, E= -2 -6, F= +8 12, F#= -6 -18, G= +4 2, G#= -10 -18Ab= +14 17.

 

So except for my sharp notes which are more extreme, it looks pretty close to 1/5 comma meantime centred on A, with A being around 444.5 HZ.  Does that sound reasonable?  Maybe the approach should be to leave it in the meantone tuning, but bring the whole thing down to modern pitch? I fear my ignorance is showing, but the only way forward is through!

 

Edited by Bill N

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5 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

You could as well, as Geoff might prefer, use a table of deviances from ET.

Good idea Wolf.  I found a table on line with over 100 temperaments.  The closest matches all appear to be in the meantone family.

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quarter comma meantone might be more likely historically 

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