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English concertina silent reed - how to fix


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My apologies for this newbie question, but I could not find this specific answer on this forum.

 

I recently purchased a Jackie from a reputable seller and I noticed that the C# (left hand top row) only sounds with the bellows closing. With the bellows opening I only hear a rush of air similar to the air button.

Does this mean that there is debris caught in the reed? Is the solution to run a strip of paper under the reed?

Thanks!

 

Ram

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Ramron

 

Do you feel confident enough to open it up?

 

If so. check the corresponding reed.

 

Is it present? It could be missing, or dropped out of its slot into the body of the instrument. If this is the case you can cut a sliver of paper and fit it along one side of the reed chamber to improve the fit of the reed.

 

If present, is the reed tongue in tact? If not, you will need to get a replacement reed.

 

If yes,check for debris in the reed and remove by sliding paper between the reed tongue and frame. Also check the end of the tongue is slightly above the frame, otherwise the reed will not sound. There are plenty of entries on this forum of how to adjust the reed.

 

It is also worth checking the corresponding valve is not stuck in the slot, as this will prevent the reed from sounding.

 

Consider purchasing a copy of Dave Elliott's Concertina Maintenance guide for resolving these sorts of problems.

 

 

 

 

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I’m pretty sure the Jackie doesn’t have the kind of concertina reeds that slide into slots, it has accordion reeds mounted on reed plates in pairs.

 

One thing you need to know is that there are reeds that face the ends of the instrument and reeds on the other side that face in toward the center of the instrument. If it’s the reed that should play when pulling the bellows open that’s silent, that’s the one that faces the ends.

 

As you surmised, there’s probably a bit of dust (or a small flying insect) stuck in it. You might be able to see it once you get it open and identify which reed you’re worried about, but even if it looks fine, floss it out, not with dental floss, but with paper (newsprint or a dollar bill work fine).

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Thanks for these replies. Fortunately I have a copy of Dave Elliott's book, which gave me the confidence to open it up.

 

I can only see the reeds that are facing outwards. If I understand correctly that should be the reed that would sound when pulling the bellows outwards. I did run a piece of paper under the offending reed, but it did not solve the problem. 

 

I do not know how to check the valve to see if it is stuck. Presumably, that valve is under the reed, meaning it faces the inside of the instrument, and cannot been seen on a Jackie.

If the valve were stuck, would air still flow when I pull the bellows, or would there be increased resistance?

Thanks again.

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14 hours ago, ramron said:

I can only see the reeds that are facing outwards. If I understand correctly that should be the reed that would sound when pulling the bellows outwards. I did run a piece of paper under the offending reed, but it did not solve the problem. 

 

Thinking about it, is it the reeds that face inwards, the ones that I cannot access that sound when the bellows are being pulled outwards? If that is the case, is there anyway that I can free up my C# reed? The reed housings are all glued (?waxed) in place. Jackie is not really made for user servicing unfortunately.

 

Thanks,

Ram

 

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11 minutes ago, ramron said:

Thinking about it, is it the reeds that face inwards, the ones that I cannot access that sound when the bellows are being pulled outwards?

 

Think again.

 

When you draw the bellows out, air from the outside tries to get into the instrument. It can’t get in through the closed valves on the outer surface that are opposite reeds on the inside. The air passes through the outer reeds and the open valves on the inside. Similarly, when you squeeze the bellows, air tries to get out and the inside valves close, blocking the outer reeds and allowing air to pass only through the inner reeds.

 

If you’re hearing “a rush of air similar to the air button,” the valve is unlikely to be stuck closed. When you were in there with the piece of paper, did you try twanging the reed? It should vibrate freely, like the tongue of a jaw harp, without the sound of any metal hitting metal. Either way, you may need to have it looked at by someone who knows what they’re doing. Since it has accordion reeds, an accordion repair shop might be the answer. Or if you want to take a trip to Western Mass, the Button Box (contact them first).

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Usually concertina reed plates are held in place with screws, maybe wax, almost never glued.

A stuck reed might have been blocked by some debris, a cats hair, or a splinter of wax etc.

It also could be broken .....

 

See if it moves freely by touching it gently with a small screw driver. Mind you these are small reeds so be careful.

Sometimes they get stuck at the sides when not aligned properly.

Don't touch it with you fingers, the moist from sweat can cause eventually.

 

Visit a local repair shop or accordion maker?

Edited by fiddler2007
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3 minutes ago, fiddler2007 said:

Usually concertina reed plates are held in place with screws, maybe wax, almost never glued.

 

Concertina reeds don’t have plates, they have shoes, and they are held in place by friction, being wedged into a wooden dovetail joint.

 

These are accordion reeds. They have plates and are held in place by wax.

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Just to clarify:  the silent C# reed when you are opening the bellows is the one that is on the hidden side of the reed plate.  The reeds that you can see are the ones that sound when the bellows are closing.

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1 hour ago, Theo said:

Just to clarify:  the silent C# reed when you are opening the bellows is the one that is on the hidden side of the reed plate.  The reeds that you can see are the ones that sound when the bellows are closing.

 

Theo! I know you have much experience repairing concertinas, but please read my 2nd post in this thread and reconsider your comments.

 

Again:

 

When you open the bellows air rushes in and the outer valves close, blocking access to the inner reeds and the outer reeds play.

 

When you close the bellows air rushes out and the inner valves close, blocking access to the outer reeds and the inner reeds play.

 

 

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But wait. He said:

 

On 6/25/2021 at 10:53 PM, ramron said:

I can only see the reeds that are facing outwards. If I understand correctly that should be the reed that would sound when pulling the bellows outwards.

 

and:

 

On 6/26/2021 at 1:05 PM, ramron said:

Thinking about it, is it the reeds that face inwards, the ones that I cannot access that sound when the bellows are being pulled outwards?

 

I’ve never looked inside a Jackie, so I don’t know whether it’s the inner or outer reeds that are more accessible, but both of these statements imply that it’s the outer reeds, and those are the reeds that play when you expand the bellows.

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I used to sell the Jackie and Rochelle for CC, so I am very familiar with the layout of their reeds.  They are quite unlike the traditional English built concertinas you are familiar with. 

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In order to help with the discussion posted above, I am attaching a photo of the reeds of my Jackie. These are the reeds that I can see, meaning these reeds are the ones that face the bellows of the instrument.

 

As an update, I had a short holiday and stayed in a non-airconditioned house in >30C / 90F weather.

After the second day, the C# reed in questions started playing normally. So all is well now, even though I never fixed the reed myself.

 

Thanks to everyone for sharing their expertise.

 

Jackie reeds.jpg

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