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We have just received a Lachenal English Tutor, S/No 27054, when we opened it up we were surprised to find it had wooden baffles, about 1/8 " thick, stamped with the serial number in the same stamp font as the body, so it must have been a factory fit ........... has anyone seen this before ?




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Probably not uncommon in the making but uncommon to survive 150+ years.  I have several similar Wheatstones and Lachenals with wood baffles on the workbench or in the project closet.


Chris, check for original 1/4 comma mean tone tuning.  (Although the shiny spots on your reeds may indicate a retuning)  The combination of wood baffles and mean tuning make for a sweet, mellow instrument.



Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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Back in the late 60s early 70s in Britain there were a lot of these instruments with baffles in, found in junk shops for much lower prices than the high end instruments with ebony finish, ie for up to 3 UK pounds rather than   up to 10 UK pounds for something truly superb. If only we had a time traveling machine!


Enthusiasts would take the baffles out and dispose of them, as no one understood that they were over-tone modifying plates, and not just for muting the sound.  I had an early Wheatstone with baffles and fourfold bellows, which certainly had a soft sweet sound (as Greg describes). Peggy Seeger told me that this was because some of these had "german silver" reeds.


I do not think anyone knew much about fine tuning and temperaments in the folk scene of those days, so the level of knowledge today is, thankfully, higher.


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I can usually count on two or three instruments a year that are fitted with spruce baffles, some odd ones with heavier leather baffles. They do suppress volume, and tune out some of the higher harmonics making the tone more mellow. Equally there seem to be a number of 'German Silver' reeded concertinas surfacing at the moment. This an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, (no silver). Some times called nickel -silver , it is a brass with around 18%, less copper, and but with an addition of around 25% nickel, the rest being zinc. 


The most interesting use of baffles that I have come across has been where a horse shoe shaped baffle has been fitted to mask the power of the lower notes on the big reeded bass concertinas.

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