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seanc

English concertina suggestions?

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Ok here is the scenario.... 

I have a Wheatstone 22.. it is awesome. I can not begin to do it justice. But putting a lot of time and effort in. I am trying to trade/ sell my ac Norman as I have come to realize I just can note make sense of the push pull different notes and the EC is clicking with me.
 

The Wheatstone is Everything you could want. It is beautiful, fast, loud, cuts through... but.. it is LOUD. So... to try to ensure some matter of “domestic tranquility” at those appropriate and or inappropriate times. I am considering a back up.  Something for when LOUD and cutting through are not the desired traits.

 

so .. looking for something that still has that fast action and fast response. But just not that loud. Stick with Wheatstone? Expand the horizons into others? BB had a 3E that is pretty nice. the New model and Excelsior at BB were impressive. And I can’t seem to get Greg J’s Homewood TT out of my head either.

 

is there a strong recommendation from the knowledgeable people here? And as a side note.. I picked up a 55b new model crane that is pretty darn impressive. Great tone. But just not Near as fast as the 22.

 

Edited by seanc

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I use a lachenal with brass reeds around the house as it doesn't have a piercing tone. I have bushed the buttons and set it up properly to enable a decent speed of play. It is nowhere near as fast as my steel reeded Wheatsone but I find that it is very good training to build music up to good speed on the  Lachenal. The Wheatsone feels super easy after that training. 

A bonus is that I actually prefer the sound of the brass reeds.

A repairer once told me that he played a nice Wheatsone before opening it up, finding that it was fast and responsive. He was surprised to find that in fact it had brass reeds.

Edited by Tiposx

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A  good  wooden  ended  New Model  makes a great  companion  to  a 22.    I  made  a double  case  that  acts  as a   chair  when  stood  on end,  the  spare compartment  has  had  several  occupants  over the  years  but my  favorite  was  a  48 rosewood  New Model, great for those  occasions  when the 22  is  just  a   little too much.  The  previous owner of  that  New Model  wanted it  back  and  now  my  double case has an unbalanced  feel  whilst I  look  for  a  suitable  replacement.....  perhaps  an  Aeola ?

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an Excelsior coud really suit your needs IMO, the tone is sweet and mellow - just make sure that the action  of a particular instrument is toleraly fast enough re your style of playing, and above all, that the air supply is sufficient.

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Wow all three responses so far are Lachenal.


I was not expecting that.

 

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A decent Lachenal could do the job - I’ve got a wooden ended New Model which has a fast action, good reeds and a mellow and sweet tone. 
I’ve got a Model 22 as well and yes, it can be loud but it’s got a good dynamic range. Maybe it’s worth trying to play at the bottom end of loudness… 

installing internal baffles could help as well 

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Is it that the New Model such a known commodity?

 

Or are the later 50s/ 60s Wheatstones just really not thought that well of? Or, maybe a well known vs a less well known commodity?

 

have to say that I am very glad I listened to the wisdom of the crowd here on the 22. It really is an immense step up over the older lesser model Lachenal I had.

 

 

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The  Lachenal  New Model  was  perhaps  the forerunner   of  the  'modern'  concertina,  a re-design of the  standard  Victorian  instrument, it  was  a  real  step up  in tone  and  dynamics  . Its  qualities  must  have  caused  a  stir  in the  development department   at  Wheatstone & Co  and  led  to  the introduction of  the  model 22 and  the Aeola  .    The New Model appears to  have  been  made from  the 1890's  until  the demise of the company.  The closure  of  Lachenal & Co. , due  to  the  economic   circumstances of  the period  also  heralded   cost  cutting measures   at  Wheatstone's.  It is probable  that  market  rivalry  between the two  factories  led to  some of the finest  instruments  being  produced , but  with the   competition  gone  the  bean counters had  their  way  and  later  Wheatstone  concertinas  suffered  the  fate  of  being  made  down to a price.

 

 

 

A  very  short  and probably 'date' inaccurate   history.

 

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Hi Geoff Woof

I am interested in the improvements Lachenal made to the New Model that set it apart from the earlier ones. Could you give a bit more insight please? I have only played a New Model briefly some time ago but it seemed quick and light under the fingers, more like the Wheatsones I have played that have riveted action.

Thank you

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Tiposx,

 

now  there  is  a topic  to  engage  a  technical  expert  and  a concertina  historian... of  which I am  neither  but  I'll try  to  put  down  some  thoughts  from  the  few New Models  I  have  examined.

 

In a  comparison  with  the  usual  'victorian'  concertina  as  produced by  most  of  the  makers    during the 19th century  the  New Model, which appears in  Lachenal's  Price list  of   (  assumed)  1890:  

 

The  first  thing to  note  is  the  refined  Reedpan  design  ( at  least in those I  have  examined)  which  is  of  the  'canted'  or  tapered  type.  This means  that  the  wall  heights  of  the  reed chambers  are  lower towards the  high notes  and   increase in  elevation  as the  note  pitches  decend.  The idea of this  is  to  get  all the notes to  speak  at  a similar  loudness  at  a  set  air pressure. 

 

The  other  change  was to  add  cross walls  in the reed chambers  to  decrease    the  air  volume  which  in turn   allows  increased air pressure  which also  builds  more quickly .  These cross wall were  sometimes  added  by  owners of  the   older  concertina  design  to  increase  the  volume  output.  A  block of  cork  jammbed  between  the  chamber  walls  just past  the ends of the reeds  will  speed up  the speaking  and increase  efficiency  of notes.   So, with these two  devices  more  and  better balanced  volume  can  be  obtained .

 

On the  Victorian  model  the  pallet hole  sizes  are usually  the same  throughout the range of the instrument  but  in the  New Model  these  vent holes  have  been adjusted ,  graded  in size  , again with the intention of  improving  efficiency.

 

I'm  sure much attention was also  paid to  the  action box.  Perhaps  the  lever pivot  points  were  shifted  a little  to  improve  the  pallet lift.  Certainly  the  'raised  ends'  do  bring  the open part of the  grills  closer  to  the  vent  holes... perhaps that  adds  a more direct  tone quality  to  these instruments.

 

That  these  New Models  were introduced  as early as  1890    appears  fact  but I  wonder  how much  further development  took place.   For  me  the  metal ended  versions  are  too  strident  but the  Rosewood or  Ebony  ended  types  have  a very lovely  tone, perhaps  imparted  by  their  Mahogany  pallet boards.

 

Other things to  note;  the  New Model's  bellows  are  sometimes  criticized for  having  short  depth  folds    but  they are usually of  such  fine quality  that  100+  years on  they  are still able to  function  well.  The  general  build quality  of  the  New Model  is also  remarkable.

 

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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That is interesting, thank you. I didn’t know that the sound holes were in various sizes, or that the pallets were made from wood (if I understand correctly). That certainly makes them different to the lesser models that I have looked at.

Regarding the tilted reed pan and shortened chambers I see that in all the 4 or so Lachenals I have opened, including the cheapest sort of tutor models, but they were  built in or after 1910.

I notice that the pivot hoops on the cheapest models are simple brass wire staples, whilst the better ones are accurately cut from some sort of steel with a black finish. It looks to be a higher grade material than mild steel and appears to be rust resistant. The action feels better on this design. Perhaps the New Models are similar.
 

I apologise for thread drift!

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Pallets  are not  made of  wood  , I  mean the  holes in the pallet  board.

Usually the  action  materials  are  Brass  and  certainly  the  pivots are of  a decent  quality  on the New Models, some  even have  riveted  action !

 

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18 hours ago, Geoff Wooff said:

the  New Model's  bellows  are  sometimes  criticized for  having  short  depth  folds


a feature which they would share with their predecessors (f.i. the Excelsior which supplies a surprisingly small amount of air through its five-folds-bellows)

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Indeed  Wolf!

I  forgot  to  mention  reed  quality  when  suggesting the improvements  happening  during the early 1890's.  Only the  best  reed makers  were  used  on the more expensive  instruments.  Harry  Boyd  is  purported  to  have  specified  that only  the  finest  craftsmen    should work  on the concertinas  he  ordered, which  suggests  there was some  variation  in output quality.  I  have  noticed that  some  concertinas  have  parallel  sided  reeds  and    in others  the  reed tongues  are  tapered.  Obviously  there was  quite an  amount of  development  work  going on and  "all the latest  improvements"  appears  in the Lachenal  price lists.

 

All these  small  changes  can make  a huge  difference;  my  1898  Type 22  with its  shallow flat  reed pans and  parallel   sided reeds  sounds  very  different  to  a  Model  22 from  post 1910.

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