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wrightguy

Squelching Sound on Changing Bellows Direction

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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone,

First let me say that I am a week-long owner of a new 30-button Anglo concertina. I am learning Irish traditional music and have been thoroughly enjoying playing it on this wonderful instrument.

I bought my concertina (Wren 2) new from a reputable musical instrument shop in Dublin, Ireland (https://mcneelamusic.com/the-wren-anglo-concertina-2/) and all has been going well but, for the last 2-3 days, I started to notice a soft "squelching" sound when changing the bellows direction on some of the buttons. I would describe this sound as the noise one hears if they tightly close their hands together and compress/decompress the air inside both palms. The sound is most noticeable on the left-hand buttons with the main culprits being the D/F# (inside row, 4th button), E/F (middle row, 2nd button) and G/A (middle row, 1st button). When I change bellows direction while holding any of these buttons then you can hear this soft squelching sound. I have attached a short recording of me playing the buttons mentioned above. As you will notice, the abnormal sound becomes more noticeable as the bellows direction is changed more quickly.

Since this is a new concertina, it may not be an issue at all but rather something that has to be worked in. I can't imagine there's any damage as it's basically brand new and I've cared for it since getting it one week ago. I have always kept it in the case when not playing and it hasn't gotten damp or been exposed to serious temperature fluctuations (I am currently in Ireland and the temperature has been quite modest). I have a guarantee with the seller and I'm sure there would be no issue in getting it looked at. However, it may turn out to be just something simple and I said I would ask for advice here first.

Thank you all very much. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Squelching.m4a

Edited by wrightguy

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It sounds like valve noise.   But since it is a new instrument you should contact the shop who sold you the concertina for their advice.  They will be familiar with your model of concertina and should be responsible for advising you and carrying out repairs should that be necessary.

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Posted (edited)

Hello Wrightguy,

 

I have a Wren 2 concertina from the same supplier as yours, although mine doesn’t have leather bellows (mine appears to be some kind of black plastic coated fabric, with white corner pieces). My concertina sounds exactly as yours does. As you say, it happens mostly on the lower notes when the bellows are changing direction.

 

When I took mine apart (to sort out sticking buttons) I thought I would try to determine the cause of this annoying noise. I saw that there is a piece of plastic covering one side of each reed that serves to prevent the reed from sounding when it isn’t required to i.e. when the bellows is moving in the wrong direction for that reed. I couldn’t fix that particular problem because I worked out that the most likely cause was that as the air pressure drops and changes direction with the change in bellows direction, the plastic covering the reed vibrates until it settles in its closed position. So, I believe that the noise you and I hear is the vibration of the plastic, together with the reed sounding.

 

The good news is that as you improve your speed with the concertina it becomes less noticeable, but is still annoying if you like to play slow airs.

 

If you do decide to send yours back for repair I would be interested in hearing how you got on, and what the cure was.

 

Best Wishes

Tony

Edited by Big T

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Thank you for your replies gentlemen.

Tony, I appreciate that information - it's helpful to know that someone else has the same issue. I wouldn't have guessed that it was a vibration issue as I thought a vibrating issue would lead to a buzzing sound rather than this squelching sound. But I'm very new to this so I can't say much.

Before posting I was looking to find if anyone posted about a similar issue before and I did find this (https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/18969-slight-popping-noise/). This person had a valve issue (something called a curled valve) which was leading to a popping noise... Popping isn't the first word I'd use to describe our issue but it might be related (Theo above also mentioned it sounded like a valve issue).

I'll contact McNeela instruments and will let you know how I get on. I'll mention your experience with the plastic covering.

Cheers.

PS: My concertina doesn't have leather bellows either. Sorry, that was a typo - I meant to say "it hasn't leather bellows" above. However they probably do require a bit of working in.

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@Big T Apologies for the late reply.

I messaged McNeela instruments regarding this noise. Someone from the shop listened to the recording and thought it was a vibration issue (like you suspected). They believed it is most likely caused by a "slow reacting reed" and that it should lesson over time once some tension builds up in the reed however they also said that the reeds are of "student/beginner quality".

As I was within 14 days of purchase, they offered me a refund. I said didn't want to return the instrument but I also mentioned that there really shouldn't be quality issues with an instrument that is brand new and comes with a considerable price tag (it's relatively cheap but nothing to be glanced over). I believe this is especially true when McNeela Instruments preach so much about their quality standards on their website:

Here at McNeela Music, it's all about quality. It's a fact that students using a low quality instrument are more likely to stop practicing and even worse, quit altogether. That's why we only provide customers with the highest standard of instruments, as we know lesser quality instruments would be doing our customers a disservice and may hinder them from achieving their goals.”

They were fairly understanding and offered me a refund or repair if this issue doesn't settle down. In the few weeks since contacting them, the noise has settled down a little but it's still there, particularly on some notes. Overall, I'm fairly happy with my Wren 2 and McNeela Instruments were quite helpful but I'm still surprised that both of us experienced this issue so early on with the instrument.

All the best Tony, I'll let you know if there's any change as time progresses. I'm just over a month with my Wren 2 and making great progress!

Cheers.


 

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Valves usually make a popping sound. I wonder if it is more prevalent on the left hand side and when the bellows are being compressed, if this is the case I have a good idea what it might be.

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OK Wrightguy,

 

Thanks for the update. I'm pleased to hear that you are enjoying learning, as I am, despite the shortcomings of the instrument.

 

BTW, as a tribute to the sales patter of the man that sells the Wren 2 Concertina, I am learning the tune 'The Blarney Pilgrim' 😉

 

Best Wishes, Tony

  • Haha 1

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Valve issues like this can often be played around by double fingering the button rather than changing direction with the button held down.

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