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Tuning an old instrument to 440


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Thank you everyone, for responding to my trivial interest, and sorry Everett for getting off subject. My sincere apologies.

 

All my anglos are modern hybrid ones with accordion reeds and I do not need to worry about ruining classical precious concertina reeds. 

I think I will try 1/4 comma meantone temperament as I tend to play harmonic stylo solo with lots of thirds. 

First of all, I think I will need to make a tuning table to speed up the process. 

 

Cheers!

 

Totani

 

 

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He is not a concertina specialist, but is very skilled, experienced, knowledgeable etc.

"Accordion family" certainly comes from an American viewpoint. Let's call it American/British syntax differences.

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I think that we are all concerned that someone unknown to the community who claims to be an expert repairman for concertinas and who hails from Wisconsin is actually an expert repairman for Chemnitzer concertinas which are quite different from English manufactured vintage concertinas .

 

Chemnitzer reeds are accordion reeds and are tuned with a scratcher or a dremel tool type grinder whereas vintage concertinas are tuned using a fine file.

 

It would be a good idea for the OP to simply ask the repairman what tools and techniques he uses to tune the reeds and if he does not say a file then to tell him not to to do any tuning.

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7 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

I think that we are all concerned that someone unknown to the community who claims to be an expert repairman for concertinas and who hails from Wisconsin is actually an expert repairman for Chemnitzer concertinas which are quite different from English manufactured vintage concertinas .

 

Chemnitzer reeds are accordion reeds and are tuned with a scratcher or a dremel tool type grinder whereas vintage concertinas are tuned using a fine file.

 

Chemnitzer concertinas (like our smaller concertinas) are sometimes made with accordion-type reeds.  But many Chemnitzers use long-plate German-style reeds which are another type of reed.  I don't know what the standard technique is for tuning long-plate reeds.

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9 hours ago, Daniel Hersh said:

Chemnitzer concertinas (like our smaller concertinas) are sometimes made with accordion-type reeds.

The OP was asking about tuning a 1927 Wheatstone Model 21 which has concertina reeds, not accordion reeds or long-plate reeds.

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10 hours ago, Daniel Hersh said:

 

Chemnitzer concertinas (like our smaller concertinas) are sometimes made with accordion-type reeds.  But many Chemnitzers use long-plate German-style reeds which are another type of reed.  I don't know what the standard technique is for tuning long-plate reeds.

 

26 minutes ago, Don Taylor said:

The OP was asking about tuning a 1927 Wheatstone Model 21 which has concertina reeds, not accordion reeds or long-plate reeds.

 

I think that was the point. Mr. Hersh was speculating on the likely skill set of a midwestern “concertina” repair person and suggesting that such a craftsperson might have limited familiarity with the kind of reeds found in a vintage Wheatstone.

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When I posed the question about tuning technique it was not to denigrate the capability and experience of the repairer in Wisconsin, but to caution people in general that the traditional, vintage, English made concertina reeds are a different proposition to the accordion reeds, and indeed accordion derivative reeded instruments. I am working on a 1906 Wheatstone 56 k extended treble fitted with single rivet retained reed assemblies. This shows every evidence of having seen a scraper, and possibly a Dremel tool. two of the very top reeds are ruined, and irreplaceable. The skill evidenced by the previous tuner in the use of his tools is very good, alas not so his/her concertina experience, nor their understanding of tuning tolerances in such an instrument.  an over range of +/- 12 cents does not cut the mustard. 

 

When electing to re-tune I think the motive is important. 

  • Are we wanting to play with other musicians in sessions, or bands, if so A=440hz as a nominal standard is expected., less important might be that the instrument is overall a couple of cents sharp or flat. If you are wanting to play concertina band then the deviation from nominal becomes more important.
  • Is it because the instrument is not in-tune with it's self? octaves are wrong or the notes are not consistent between push and pull (English/ Duets). If you are playing solo  and or/ for singing, the nominal pitch is immaterial. I would suggest that some reed adjustments rather than re-pitching the concertina is a reasonable course of action.
  • Perhaps you feel that the concertina will become more valuable, or certainly more marketable if tuned to concert pitch. The concertina will certainly appeal to more people and be more versatile.

I council my customers along these lines, once an instrument is re-pitched it is very much down a one way street. 

 

There is something about melodion pitch, I think it involves so may paces and a skip, but I might be biased.

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I should reassure that my repair tech is quite aware of the differences between all the different reeds he may encounter within family of free reed instruments. He has never in 25 years employed anything like a Dremel tool in tuning an instrument. I have full confidence in him.

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I hope this is viewed as reinforcing, rather than taking things off topic: As an example of what "concertina" means in large parts of the American Upper Midwest, using the search engine of your choice, look for "Milwaukee+concertina." You'll get listings for concertina bars and taverns, many with Polish names. These are beer and polka places, not venues for Irish sessions, and the concertinas are not our concertinas.

 

As an illustration of this, although an old one, to be sure: In an interview in Concertina & Squeezebox (no 31,Summer 1994), Louisa Jo Killen (then Louis Killen): "I was thinking about being a concertina maker--there was a course being offered in Redwing, Minnesota. [Interviewer: For Chemnitzer-style concertinas.] That's what it turned out to be, this was an accordion and concertina making class. And the lady who was teaching was trained by Hohner . . . . I went to visit with her, to find out about the course. As I discovered, she had never touched an English concertina, and unfortunately I didn't have mine with me. It was regrettable, because she was saying she had never heard a 'concert' concertina; she'd never played a Wheatstone--the only English concertina she'd ever played was a Bastari, which is not too different from those bandoneons, which is what she thought was a true concertina."

 

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21 hours ago, Everett said:

I should reassure that my repair tech is quite aware of the differences between all the different reeds he may encounter within family of free reed instruments. He has never in 25 years employed anything like a Dremel tool in tuning an instrument. I have full confidence in him.

Is there some reason you’re not sharing his name and location? Is it someone who has been discussed before in these forums? Such a resource would be a valuable thing to have documented here.

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4 hours ago, David Barnert said:

Is there some reason you’re not sharing his name and location? Is it someone who has been discussed before in these forums? Such a resource would be a valuable thing to have documented here.

 

13 hours ago, Mike Franch said:

a course being offered in Redwing, Minnesota. [Interviewer: For Chemnitzer-style concertinas.] That's what it turned out to be, this was an accordion and concertina making class. And the lady who was teaching was trained by Hohner . . . . I went to visit with her, to find out about the course. As I discovered, she had never touched an English concertina

In an earlier post Everett said that the repair tech is in Wisconsin and that he was trained at that very school in Redwing, Minnesota -  which is why there was a concern that a rare Wheatstone concertina could be ruined by the wrong hands, however well-meaning.

 

It would be in Chad Walker's best business interest to introduce himself here and explain his background and techniques.  Lord knows we could use another good repair tech in North America.

 

Edited by Don Taylor
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This thread and discussions with my technician, Mr. Chad Walker, had stimulated me to have him ship my 1927 Wheatstone model 21 to Mr Snope at Button Box. My tech, Mr Walker, in Wisconsin agrees that it would be best. I was not trying to hide Mr Walker's identity. He has a very excellent reputation.

Mr Snope is looking forward to receiving it. He was actually my first choice, but had said he could not get to it until early October and I was impatient. I still believe Mr Walker would have done a good job, but yes, servicing concertinas is not his primary business.

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And three cheers for Mr. Walker for stepping away from this job. That shows class. And cheers to you, Everett, for taking this to the community. I certainly can think of a time that I should have done so!

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9 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

In an earlier post Everett said that the repair tech is in Wisconsin

 

Not in this thread. I now have found where he mentioned the information elsewhere.

 

1 hour ago, Everett said:

This thread and discussions with my technician, Mr. Chad Walker, had stimulated me to have him ship my 1927 Wheatstone model 21 to Mr Snope at Button Box.

 

A fine choice. I drove two hours to Sunderland last week to have him spend an hour attending to my Wheatstone.

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As a matter of interest. I decided to find out more about the Accordion-Concertina Repair and Technician's School. I struck me as a good idea to have an institution nurturing free reed technical skills and giving some form of formal qualification. The qualification is a 'certification diploma', a term I am not familiar with.

 

The Accordion-Concertina Repair and Technician's School. publishes a comprehensive and excellent curriculum relating to accordions etc. but I did note that concertina modules relate to, and I quote 'modern versions'  for both English and Anglo concertinas. So I think it safe to infer that traditional 'vintage' concertinas are not currently within their scope. Hopefully a future development for them? Especially as there are manufacturers producing high grade reproduction instruments that use the concertina reed design.

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