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There's no accepted definition of "long scale" but generally longer reeds are considered to be better. They have more dynamic range and more sensitivity to low pressure (the two are linked). It's subjective, but they might also have a better tone than shorter-scale reeds.

 

LJ

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It is very possible to make two reeds of substantially different lengths that are still the same pitch.  At the high end say C6, shortening reeds makes a big difference in pitch, so reeds that, as a practical matter, work as they should, end up very close to the same size.  However lowering pitch by adding length creates reeds that in the lower notes C3 etc. get long fast and take up more room.  In order to keep lower reeds a workable size in a concertina where space is at a premium, shorter lower reeds are chosen and then weighted near the tip either by grinding the reed to be thick at the tip, and or adding solder or a bit of brass to the tip making them heavier and slower to vibrate.  The more this needs to be done, the worse the reed’s response.  By varying the scaling of the reeds ( the scale factor of length from one reed to the next in pitch ) reeds can be made to fit in a limited space.  “Long Scale” reeds are made as long as practical in the low end and generally will be longer pitch for pitch than instruments that needed shorter reeds in the low end. 
   Reed length and width do have an effect on tone, but a lot of other factors do too so it is hard to generalize about causes.  Within practical parameters though making a reed longer with a thinner tip will make a more responsive reed.  Regarding tone, the shorter chambers that go with shorter reeds have a noticeable effect on tone which may be interpreted as coming from the reed instead of its local environment. 
   Low reeds are naturally slower to respond than higher reeds ( assuming a well made instrument). Optimizing low reed response is a very worthwhile goal since reeds need to equal the music they are asked to play.

Dana

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Thanks for the response.    so if a 'long reed' are slower to sound their pitch, then does that mean they can be made to sound slightly flat (when using a bit less bellows pressure) and perhaps make a more legato sound?

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13 hours ago, billyboy said:

Thanks for the response.    so if a 'long reed' are slower to sound their pitch, then does that mean they can be made to sound slightly flat (when using a bit less bellows pressure) and perhaps make a more legato sound?

 

It's short low-pitched reeds that are slower to start and more prone to bending flat, because they need a heavy weight at the tip to pull the pitch down and that gives it a lot of inertia. Note that a heavily weighted reed takes a while to start up "from cold" but will also keep vibrating for a second or two after you release the button, so if you play the note twice in quick succession (in the same direction) it will sound much more quickly the second time.

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The first long series reeds belonged to Lachenal and their Edeophone design, Wheatstone then brought out their Aeola, first the six sided pinhole Aeola, later the octagonal range that became their Aeola standard.

Edited by d.elliott
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2 more little things. 
Lower reeds that are thin (and don’t have enough strength) may respond well, but are more subject to choking and also blowing flat under pressure. Badly centered reeds also blow flat more easily than well centered ones.  Reeds need to develop enough spring force to return effectively against the playing pressure.  
   In instruments like large duets, baritone and tenor Englishs need longer reeds in the mid range to compete in loudness with the naturally large, long and loud lower reeds, so the scale for  baritone or tenor may be longer for the same pitches than a treble instrument.  Making the already slow low reeds thick heavy tipped to lower their pitch will make them respond poorly, so compromises need to be found elsewhere.

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This is what Steve Dickinson told me about Wheatstone Long Scale Reeds.

The Wheatstone Factory had press tools for making Reed-Frames (Shoes). There are four different sizes of Reed-Frame for each octave. Each size was used for 3 consecutive semitones. Long Scale Reeds used the next larger size of Reed Frame for a particular pitch than the Standard Size Reed-Frame for that pitch.

 

Inventor.      

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