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"long Scale" Reeds


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I've run across a number of references to "long scale" reeds, as opposed to standard reeds. In fact, on the Wheatstone web site, Steve Dickinson lists "long scale reeds" as one of the features of his higher-range instruments. But in a vintage instrument, how do I know whether the reeds are ordinary or long-scale? Now that I'm trying to sell a few instruments, I find the question is more than just academic.

 

One of the two brass-reed Englishes was clearly built to a higher standard (and at a later date), and one of the differences is that it has noticeably longer reeds than the other. Are these "long scale", or did the standard lengths of reeds simply vary from period to period? (Both could be true, I suppose.) In fact, were there only two length standards for a given range -- standard and "long", -- or were there several different standards? (I except individual custom instruments like the one Chris Algar is currently selling, which has reeds in baritone frames tuned to tenor-treble pitches.)

 

Separately, the Ab/Eb anglo I'm selling has longer reeds than my Jeffries G/D. Was this a general difference between the two makers, or are they "long scale" compared to other Lachenal Ab/Eb anglos? As these two I mention are the only lower-pitched anglos I've examined internally, I don't have enough experience to know.

 

Of course, it's not possible to answer the question about specific instruments without seeing them. But I've created web pages for each instrument with lots of photos, including the reed pans, which I hope will be enough for those with experience. Those pages can all be accessed through this page. Each of the instruments I'm referring to is the standard size, 6-1/4" across the flats.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wheatstones had (Steve Dickenson still has I believe) a set of press tools for making Reed Frames. They used only 4 different sizes of reed frame per octave: useing the same reed frame for the following notes, (G G# A) (Bb B C) (C# D Eb) and (E F F#). On long scale reeds they used the next longer frame for the notes. i.e the frame that was normally used on standard scale for G/G# & A was used on long scale for the 3 semitones Bb/B & C. This was only done on their Aeolas and some other higher quality instruments. Whilst the longer scale reeds may give an improved timbre (this is very much a matter of personal taste) there is a trade off in that they respond more slowly when played; especially the lower notes. Jeffries used an entirely different set of reed frames to make the same notes, being shorter and wider than the corresponding Wheatstones. Which should give a quicker response, but (in my opinion) a harsher timbre.

 

Inventor.

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[Longer-scale reeds were used on] Aeolas and some other higher quality instruments.  Whilst the longer scale reeds may give an improved timbre (this is very much a matter of personal taste) there is a trade off in that they respond more slowly when played; especially the lower notes.

That seems to be contradicted by the response of Æolas vs. lesser-model instruments that presumably use the shorter-scale reeds. At the very least, there must be other factors that have a more significant effect.

 

Jeffries used an entirely different set of reed frames to make the same notes, being shorter and wider than the corresponding Wheatstones.  Which should give a quicker response, but (in my opinion) a harsher timbre.

Interesting, considering that I was surprised by the fine response -- both speed of response and response to light pressure -- of the low reeds in the anglo I referred to.

 

My concertinas in question are neither Wheatstone nor Jeffries, but Lachenal. If I assume that Lachenal followed Wheatstone's dimensions, then I would expect the reeds in this Ab/Eb Lachenal to be longer than those in my G/D Jeffries -- which is what I see, -- but how much longer was normal? And what about the differences in reed length between my two brass-reeded Lachenal Englishes?

 

Thanks for the information, useful as always, but one question I still would like an answer to is, "Are those particular reeds normal for a Lachenal anglo of that range, or are they longer than usual?" Their performance/response seems better than similar or even better Lachenal models in the higher C/G pitch. I was -- still am -- hoping that someone who has examined the insides of many more instruments than I have could look at my photos and give a definitive answer to this question.

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