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Gail_Smith

My D# is flat (English Concertina)

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My D#  [left hand, middle octave on  a 48 key English system ] is about a quarter tone flat according to a fiddle player i play with who would ideally like it to be just a little bit sharp (just because of where the emphasis and drive are in the piece) on a piece we are playing together. I'm finding it really difficult to play the Eb instead. 

 

I don't want to send the instrument away .... is re-tuning it likely to be something i can do myself?I'm not proposing to tune it to anything other than a conventional D#  - although it could be a D# in just temperament which is a teeny bit sharper than equal temperament D#. 

 

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Is this a sudden flatting of the pitch?  Or has it been like that for some time?

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I would suggest 'yes'......armed with the "Tonal Energy" Tuning App on a mobile phone, something to shim beneath the reed with to support the tip and a good quality nail buffing 'kit' / tool, if no diamond/fine file is to hand. 

 

For one pair of reeds and a minor tweak, if your hands are strong enough to clamp the end (to the bellows) and your thighs to hold the instrument for an 'up down' pull push on the one button you will not need to keep screwing it down which, I find is a bit of a pain.

 

No doubt others will cringe at my recklessness !!🤨 

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1 hour ago, Gail_Smith said:

My D#  [left hand, middle octave on  a 48 key English system ] is about a quarter tone flat according to a fiddle player i play with who would ideally like it to be just a little bit sharp (just because of where the emphasis and drive are in the piece) on a piece we are playing together. I'm finding it really difficult to play the Eb instead. 

 

 

I would suggest you don't do anything hasty! There's a lot that can be read into what you've said.

 

First thing. It's unlikely that both D# reeds have drifted out of tune to exactly the same extent. They are probably tuned correctly. You also indicate that you're playing Eb instead, implicitly because it is sharper than the D#. That's exactly what you would expect if your instrument is tuned to a mean tone temperament, as many English concertinas were (and as quite a few still are).

 

Secondly, there are some styles of playing/singing where people prefer to make leading notes in particular sharper than they would naturally be. It sounds like your fiddler is one of those. But a fiddle (or voice) can make micro-adjustments to the pitch. A concertina can't. You'll have to find some other way round the problem. Either your fiddler will have to accept the pitch your concertina plays at, or you need to find some other solution, like you playing a harmony instead of both playing in unison. Whatever you do, don't ruin your concertina's tuning for the sake of one fiddler's preference of style!

 

LJ

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Theres also always the possibility that the reed shoe is a little tiny bit loose in the slot. I recently had this issue with my wheatstone EC.

I knew the box was in concert pitch before sitting down to play, and upon playing D, found it was a good bit flat. 

That was very odd, so I opened the box up, found the D, lightly pulled on the Reed shoe and it came out without any resistance at all. I cut a tiny tiny piece of paper a la dave Elliotts book suggestion, pressed it back into the slot with the paper and put the box back together 

 

Reed was perfectly in tune again. Just that slight looseness around the reed drew energy away from the note, making it flat. I'm in new England and winters are very dry here (baseboard heating) so it makes sense. I always put the concertina back into a humidified case, but even just a minute of playing in a dry environment is like pumping warm air into wood. 

 

May be worth checking that first (if you haven't already)

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1 hour ago, SteveS said:

Is this a sudden flatting of the pitch?  Or has it been like that for some time?

 

I don't often play D# and i don't have a particularly good sense of pitch  anyway. so I'm not sure -  

 

Until last month, i only really used it for some 18th century stuff and Adam Sutherland's "Road to Errogie" which he wrote in B, because he could. I'm now trying to get another Adam Sutherland tune - Inspector John Duff of Braemar Mountain Rescue - up to performance standard, but this time playing along with others. 

 

I think it probably been gradually going out of tune since it was last tuned as part of a general overhaul by the Concertina Tinker about years ago.  

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Hi Gail, I did two concertinas for you in 2017, is this the Edeophone or the six sided 'tina that has the issue? My records show both in concert pitch equal temperament. In 2.5 years I would not have expected a reed to 'drift' especially not a pair of reeds. and I would not really expect any other malfunction either, the D# is hardly an overworked reed pair.  I would strongly  advise  not trying to fix tuning problems yourself, especially not on a good instrument. if it is both D#s, push and pull, I might suspect the fiddler, rather than the 'tina.

 

you have my details, phone me please so we can see what the issue is, and how to proceed.

 

Dave

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I would follow Dave's advice. Did you confirm the note was flat eith a tuner? It could well be the fiddler.

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Thank you everyone for PMs as well as this thread. I have been away for a few days and will get round to checking the reed bed tomorrow (which is now sounding to be the most likely explanation) and go through the tunings with an electronic tuner to see what i actually have.

 

Particular thanks to David for reminding me how he tuned the concertina (its the Ediophone) and when he did it !

 

I have now looked up various different ways of tuning (I also have a hurdy-gurdy that has been set up using "just" tuning) and its clearly a really important issue for some people and can make a significant difference to how a group of instruments sound together a I am now better educated. 

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If this is a short term/one time thing, why not just swap the D# and Eb reeds around if you're having trouble hitting the Eb button at speed.

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Well, that was easy, when i finally had the time and courage to follow up your advice. 

Both D#s were loose in their  reed shoes, as were a couple of the very high notes [I don't play these very often either].  They are now not loose and are essentially in tune. 

 

By the way - i was not intending ever to tune a reed higher just to please the fiddler, but i could see that she had a valid complaint when it was flat. 

 

The "swap the D# for the Eb" idea was a great bit of lateral thinking that would have been my next step. 

 

Thank you to everyone, particularly Dave and "Oberon"

Gail. 

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