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I’ve been pondering hybrids lately as I continue to go through Harold Herrington’s paperwork, study, and build hybrid concertinas in his style.  I was curious to see if most hybrid makers were using A-Mano reeds, etc.  From Harold’s logbooks and order forms he seems to have almost exclusively ordered A-Mano reeds with leather valves tuned to 440, 

mostly from Binci and Antonelli which is now Voci Armonichie.  I have found a few reed sets marked Tipo A Mano ~ machine made hand finished reeds but they seem to be samples, possibly?  I figure most hybrid makers are using Tipo A Mano or A Mano reeds but I have recently read on one of the higher end hybrid makers websites that they offered an upgrade to TAM, Tipo a A-Mano, reeds for an additional fee leading one to assume that they come standard with economy or export quality reeds?    I know there are different ranges of quality from Stagi, Rochelle, Bastari up to high end sets like Tedrow, Edgley, etc.  Would these sets with a step below TAM reeds be considered mid-grade?  So far from my brief flirt with concertina making Ive not noticed much, if any, difference between TAM and A-Mano reeds but once you start getting down into cheaper reed options they seem to use more air, harder to play, wider gaps between the shoe and the steel tongue.  I’m sure this had been discussed at length but I don’t see a lot on the topic.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

 

Cheers, Seth Hamon

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Seth,

 

I too recall one or two people here who were convinced that a-mano were audibly superior, at least for their own playing. They may turn up and respond.

 

Ken

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It is easy to call something by a name that has the connotation of quality.  Fully machine made reeds need larger tolerances, since the punching process for both the windows and reed blanks produce very slight size differences that together can cause an interference fit if a tight window matches up with a wide reed.  As such, if your punch sizing eliminates this problem, you have reeds that can go from a good fit to a very open fit from the same punch set.  Hand finishing allows you to start with tighter fitting blanks and work to a tighter tolerance that can be more uniform from one reed to the next.  I am not terribly familiar with that sort of reed making, beyond the various film clips I’ve seen, but I have seen reeds separated into sets that share similar characteristics to make sets that behave well together.  Really good reeds will have more attention paid and by workers that specialize in making them.  Price ranges within one company is probably a good indicator of what is good.  Prices from middlemen maybe less so.

I have seen really good accordion reeds and pretty bad ones too.  They were easy to tell apart.  Since reeds have a major part on how responsive a hybrid will be, go with reeds that show off your efforts.

Dana

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Dana has explained the main differences in his usual clear an precise way.

 

There is another difference I've noticed with some a mano reeds and that is the lengthwise profile.  A mano reeds from Binci and Ciccarelli have a profile that is thinner towards the tip.  I believe that this helps them speak at a lower pressure and also may be the feature that gives them a distinctly brighter sound.  I've not seen this with a mano reeds from Cagnoni or VA.

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3 hours ago, Theo said:

Dana has explained the main differences in his usual clear an precise way.

 

There is another difference I've noticed with some a mano reeds and that is the lengthwise profile.  A mano reeds from Binci and Ciccarelli have a profile that is thinner towards the tip.  I believe that this helps them speak at a lower pressure and also may be the feature that gives them a distinctly brighter sound.  I've not seen this with a mano reeds from Cagnoni or VA.

Most of the reed sets I have in the shop are Binci and so far they seem to be the best I’ve tried.  Other reeds I’ve tried are Voci Armonichie A-Mano and Tipo A-Mano, Salpa, Antonelli, and right now I’m making a set with A-Mano reeds from Tidelbach aka Harmonikkas and these reeds seem to be the closest in quality to the Binci reeds.  I am curious about the new reeds coming out from Voci Armonichie this year called Blue Star which is some type of new proprietary technology they have coming out later this year.   I need to try more TAM reed sets from the various makers to compare them with the A-Mano but so far with Voci Armonichie I can tell a difference between the A-Mano and TAM reeds.  I want to use the best reeds available as Dana suggested to match the work I’m putting into the instruments.  I’m trying all makers so my early instruments will have a variety of different reed makers in them.

 

The best quality control would be to make my own reeds which I’ve messed with but already having had carpal tunnel surgery and two ulnar elbow nerve surgeries I’m nervous about repetitive stress issues and would need to automate such a system as much as possible.  Anyways, I’m having fun and hope Harold would approve.

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