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11 folds bellows


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In another thread called "Scores for Wicky or Hayden duet concertinas" Jim2010 asked me about the bellows that I use. As I think that maybe some people who are not interested by the scores for duet concertinas could be interested by this question I prefer to open a new thread here.

My instrument is a Beaumont 52 buttons made by the Button Box. For the music that I like to play, with long phrases, I often felt short even with the extra 7th fold bellows that I got when I bought the instrument. It's the reason why at the end of last year I ordered a special 10 folds bellows to the Button Box. It is made with two 5 folds bellows joined with a separate part, so actually it's like an eleven folds bellows. 

It's an experimentation and like all the experimentations sometimes you get some surprises from what you expected.

The first surprise is that I expected that switching from 7 folds to 11 folds could allow to get at least 30 per cent more air. I got more air but not that much, maybe only 5 per cent more. 

The second surprise is that this change as an unexpected effect on the quality of the sound which is now a little more mellow.

Also this new bellows is more flexible than the previous one but as it's very large I had  to change my playing technique. Recently I used to play with the bellows placed on one thigh but it's impossible with this size. So now I use the same technique than bandoneon players placing the instrument on both thighs and using my legs to accompany the movement of the bellows. This technique is interesting because it allows new musical possibilities.

So I don't really understand why the result is different from what I expected regarding the volume of the air and the quality of the sound but maybe some specialists here could have an interesting advice. I also think that it would be very useful if concertinas makers could make more experimentations to improve the Wicky or Hayden systems which are very interesting but can yet be improved, but maybe we are not enough players for that.

Here is a video with this new bellows:

 

https://youtu.be/7jUkkrsDWYA

 

Didie

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Thank you for sharing this experience.

 

This is quite interesting that you did not get as much extra air as you expected. I have played instruments with loads of folds and it seemed as if the bellows move faster somehow when played, so that you ran out of air faster somehow despite having more length. I believed the problem was that the reeds were not very efficient or something like that, though maybe there is something else going on here (perhaps relating to the volume of air and the resulting pressure? I am no physicist and have no way of working out why this would be). I never tried playing say a 7 fold bellows then the same instrument having been converted to 11. I was told by a very well respected maker that there is no point going above 7, though I have made eight fold sets and found that quite good, but not totally essential (with anglo anyway) as you can always find another way of playing a piece of music to get around any problem of running out of air. But this is all relating to playing an anglo and specifically in the English style. I have never learned the duet and am quite fascinated by it.

 

Given your experiences, what do you think would be the optimum number of folds for your duet playing?

 

Best wishes

Jake

Edited by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe
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Jake is right - there's much more to it than the number of folds or the total volume of air. Firstly there's the overall airtightness of the instrument. Then there's the condition and effectiveness of the valves. On one low-quality instrument I had Alex Holden managed to double the effective air capacity by attending to these issues. Then, and crucially, there's the efficiency of the reeds. I believe (though I'm happy for the real experts on this forum to correct me) there are two aspects to this. Firstly how closely the reed tongue fits the reed frame. Secondly how the reed is "set"; which affects how quickly it will sound and therefore how much air it takes just to get it going.

 

If the general air-tightness and reed efficiency are good, then I believe you don't need more than seven folds. In recent years I've played mainly a Dipper (7 folds), Crabb (6 folds) and Holden (7 folds) - all Crane duets and all, incidentally, with a cross-sectional area smaller than your Beaumont. I've always found the bellows gave sufficient air. In fact the Holden is so efficient I could easily get away with six folds.

 

A further point is that well-set, quickly sounding reeds allow bellows reversals mid-phrase without sounding awkward. I need this, as I have a couple of anglo-style buttons to extend the bass, but it's helpful for general playing anyway.

 

LJ

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Thank you Jake, to know the optimum number of folds I'd like to try all the possibilities but maybe 11 folds is a little too much and if I have an opportunity I'd like to ask if it's possible to reduce my current bellows to 9 folds by removing one fold on each side. Maybe I exaggerate a little by saying that I have just 5% more air, maybe it's something like 10%, so maybe it would not be so different with 9 folds and easier to control. I think that you are right regarding the pressure and maybe it's because there is less pressure inside that the sound is getting mellower.

Another point: as my purpose was to continue to play on a single thigh I asked also the Button box to take advantage of the middle separate part to build a knee rest (see pic). I think that it's a good idea even if it would need some slight modifications, but as I can't play on a single thigh anymore actually I can't use it at the moment.

 

image0.jpeg

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3 hours ago, soloduet said:

In another thread called "Scores for Wicky or Hayden duet concertinas" Jim2010 asked me about the bellows that I use. As I think that maybe some people who are not interested by the scores for duet concertinas could be interested by this question I prefer to open a new thread here.

My instrument is a Beaumont 52 buttons made by the Button Box. For the music that I like to play, with long phrases, I often felt short even with the extra 7th fold bellows that I got when I bought the instrument. It's the reason why at the end of last year I ordered a special 10 folds bellows to the Button Box. It is made with two 5 folds bellows joined with a separate part, so actually it's like an eleven folds bellows. 

It's an experimentation and like all the experimentations sometimes you get some surprises from what you expected.

The first surprise is that I expected that switching from 7 folds to 11 folds could allow to get at least 30 per cent more air. I got more air but not that much, maybe only 5 per cent more. 

The second surprise is that this change as an unexpected effect on the quality of the sound which is now a little more mellow.

Also this new bellows is more flexible than the previous one but as it's very large I had  to change my playing technique. Recently I used to play with the bellows placed on one thigh but it's impossible with this size. So now I use the same technique than bandoneon players placing the instrument on both thighs and using my legs to accompany the movement of the bellows. This technique is interesting because it allows new musical possibilities.

So I don't really understand why the result is different from what I expected regarding the volume of the air and the quality of the sound but maybe some specialists here could have an interesting advice. I also think that it would be very useful if concertinas makers could make more experimentations to improve the Wicky or Hayden systems which are very interesting but can yet be improved, but maybe we are not enough players for that.

Here is a video with this new bellows:

 

https://youtu.be/7jUkkrsDWYA

 

Didie

Thank you Didie. I liked your sound before, and I like your sound even better now. Prior to hearing you play I never gave much thought to the Duet, but you have certainly changed that. You make beautiful music with it.

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Just a small observation I have three large crane duets from two makers , all with original 8 fold bellows . I find this is a good size when playing a box with 68 keys or more and frequently playing in octaves.

REgards. Mike

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Thank you Mike, I didn't know that large crane duets have 8 fold bellows. My first Stagi Hayden had 10 fold bellows and I wanted to try the same size on my Beaumont in order to be able to play long phrases with full chords and melody. But maybe with better quality instruments 8 fold bellows is enough for that.

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  • 8 months later...

Hi Didie!

Like Little John, I wonder if the problem would be the airtightness of the bellows and the valves,and quickness of response of the reeds, rather than the size of the bellows... Moreover a very long, flexible bellows must give a less "crisp" response of the reeds, as you experienced it. So I think 7 to 9 folds would be perhaps sufficient, even if you want (as I often do) to play slow, long phrases and full chords.

Personnaly, I prefer to take into account the limitations of my instrument, breathing like an animal and having to catch often its breath, unlike an organ or a reed organ, and to adapt my way of playing to that... Nevertheless I'm happy that some inventive person like you decide to explore new solutions to be able to play exactly what you want! So I'm longing to know the next episode of your bellows adventure!

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Please excuse a bit of thread drift, but this thread seems a reasonable place to enquire about how the folds are conventionally counted. Starting from one end, if the folds go in and out N times, they are called (N-1)fold. Why is that?

 

Back a bit closer to the topic, I have a Koot Brits Anglo which quickly runs out of air, despite being C-G (so having no very large reeds), 12-sided, with just over 7 inches across the flats, and 8-fold (as conventionally counted) bellows. I don't think there's anything wrong with the bellows, so I think the fault is inefficient reeds.

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55 minutes ago, Richard Mellish said:

Please excuse a bit of thread drift, but this thread seems a reasonable place to enquire about how the folds are conventionally counted. Starting from one end, if the folds go in and out N times, they are called (N-1)fold. Why is that?

 

It's conventional to count the number of ridges (excluding the ends) rather than the valleys. The latter would be more logical, but it's not the custom!

 

55 minutes ago, Richard Mellish said:

... so I think the fault is inefficient reeds.

 

See my earlier post. If it's the tolerance of the reeds there's nothing you can do about it, but if it's the set of the reeds it's fixable. It could also be the valves.

Edited by Little John
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20 hours ago, Little John said:

 

It's conventional to count the number of ridges (excluding the ends) rather than the valleys. The latter would be more logical, but it's not the custom!

 

That was the point of my enquiry: why is the logical way of counting not the custom?

Edited by Richard Mellish
Deleted an extraneous word.
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10 hours ago, Richard Mellish said:

... why is it the logical way of counting not the custom?

 

Ah, now you're getting philosophical! My answer is that ridges have a "positive" quality about them. You can see them and count them even when the bellows are closed. Valleys have a "negative" quality. You can't even see them when the bellows are closed. I suggest it's against human nature to count something you can't see.

 

The value of a convention/custom is that, logical or not, more-or-less everyone knows what you mean. Logic and convention sometimes collide when describing anglo concertinas. The description "32-button anglo" is logically correct, but in counting the air button and the novelty button most people will be misled into thinking it has 32 buttons playing proper notes; i.e. two buttons in addition to the standard 30-button anglo (which some do).

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Hi Clive, no I didn't get any problem after changing my technique to manage the bellows more like bandoneon players. I understand that there are many factors which have an incidence on the air volume and not only the size of the bellows, so it could be interesting if duet concertina makers pursue their researches on those multiple factors because I think that we need more air with duet concertinas when we want to play different styles of music. 

And thank you also Richard and Little John, now I don't know how many folds have my bellows and maybe it's better like that...

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