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Bellows, Your Experiances.


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Hello to all,

in a nutshell: how long do bellows last? How much maintenance and patching is normal? Does anyone have bellows that have lasted forever?

I have a new 'famous name' concertina coming: I consider putting protective leather patches on before I play it or perhaps play with maybe a piece of velvet on my knee so as to avoid abrasion of the bellows. What do you think?

 

 

Alan.

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... in a nutshell: how long do bellows last?

How long is a piece of string ? :huh:

 

But seriously, there are many concertinas still being played with bellows that are 100 or 150 years old, and plenty of them have never been repaired !

 

How much maintenance and patching is normal?

If the leather is good, and the instrument is taken care of, none is normal.

 

Does anyone have bellows that have lasted forever?

I own the first concertina (my avatar), dating from c.1833, which still has its original (and perfect) bellows.

 

I have a new 'famous name' concertina coming: I consider putting protective leather patches on before I play it or perhaps play with maybe a piece of velvet on my knee so as to avoid abrasion of the bellows. What do you think?

It is much better to rest only one end of the instrument on your knee, but never the bellows, there is nothing worse for them. Not only does it cause wear to the leather, but (much worse) it destroys the internal "skeleton" of the bellows, which leads to their terminal collapse. :o

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But seriously, there are many concertinas still being played with bellows that are 100 or 150 years old, and plenty of them have never been repaired !

I can vouch for this. We have one that is 150 years old, another that is 100 years old and a couple somewhere in their 80s. They are all on their original bellows.

 

Look after your bellows and your bellows will look after you. :)

 

Chris

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To clarify:when I play I keep the left side of the concertina on my left leg but have had some wearing of the leather on the first bellow fold on that side and also of the leather that secures the bellow to the playing mechanism, that is the leather that sits directly on my knee...Alan

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To clarify:when I play I keep the left side of the concertina on my left leg but have had some wearing of the leather on the first bellow fold on that side and also of the leather that secures the bellow to the playing mechanism, that is the leather that sits directly on my knee...Alan

That's a relief, it sounded rather like you were playing with the bellows across your knee, as many of the old players in Ireland used to do.

 

But I would still emphasise that it is better to try to just keep the end, meaning the wooden part, resting on your knee. Otherwise, if you know just where you tend to wear the bellows, it might be no harm to ask the maker to put a reinforcing patch in that position, or a repairer could do it for you (best done before you wear a hole anywhere).

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On a related note: is there any maintenence required of bellow leather? I'm thinking baseball gloves here...should they be oiled (Glov-olium, etc) or dressed like a car seat at all? Just curious, nothing needs done on mine yet....

 

Greg

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I purchased, from Paul Groff, a treatment used for leather book bindings which I have used on a hundred year old bellows, and it seems to have woked well to help preserve the leather even though it does not restore it to the supple character of a new bellows.

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