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Hot Roding my Ec


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My first EC was a Trinity Collage 34 button and the buttons pushed down flush with the end plates. I them progressed through several Wheatstone EC's. So

I have had this idea in my head for a very long time. That is to make the buttons push flush with the end surface. I recently saw Henrik Muller's web site where he did just that but by having new ends made.

https://www.concertinajournal.org/articles/no-thumb-straps-no-finger-rests-but-it-is-an-english-a-personal-journey/

 

My idea was to make plates that fit over the buttons. What I have done  is totally reversible so I have done no damage to my wonderful 1922 Wheatstone model 21.

 

This all started by removing all the buttons and reeds that I didn't need for playing Irish music. This removed almost 4 ounces of weight; a noticeable amount of weight.  At first I removed the upper 6 buttons/ reeds on each side and then went back and removed the flat notes that I don't ever use as well.

a week ago I went out to my shop and started making the plates which are 1/8" thick alum. with a .010" brass sheet laminated on top of the alum. I nickle plated the brass to match the end plates. I found Henrik's dimensions of the button spacing to be just an estimate. Here is my CAD drawing of dimensions from my instrument.

1767744534_CADdrawing.thumb.png.f104779fbe86b357f3bcc8c0cd2e08c6.png

 

 

Here is the laminated plate being drilled

drilling.JPG.25a936acc83e8f59e64ae9fe71028cce.JPG

Here is the end result.

1425269194_leftend.JPG.3ca12c813201647612609de8fd71b409.JPG

 

So, What did this all accomplish? The feel of the buttons is completely different. My brain now senses the feel of the plate and has made my touch much lighter. As I play more I will soon begin to do things like sliding a finger from one button to another with much greater ease and speed. I eagerly await all the benefits of doing this modification. Also if I find, in the future, that I use more buttons I can add them back and also make additional plates for the upper buttons.

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I get all of the lightening but try as I might I can’t think of a single reason why being able to touch the end plate when the key is down is a good thing. I see it as a problem and have put much effort into making sure it no longer happens for  a couple of concertina owners. I have a Jeffries G/D of my own waiting for that very fix; I am going to make it a new set of longer metal buttons. Is it because you have owned an earlier instrument with this problem and became used to it?  I can see it might tell you when the button is approaching fully down but this is something the fingers will learn anyway. I find you have to push harder to reach the fully down position because you have to flatten your finger tip. The act of lifting the finger then becomes a greater act. Maybe I’ve missed something. 

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My  1898  Wheatstone ( prototype model 22)  has  buttons  that  are  almost  flush  with  the  metal  ends  when  fully  depressed  but  that  is  because  I  have  removed  all  but  one  of  the  felt  washers on the  button location pins.  This  allows  maximum  Pad lift,  giving  full  voice  to  the instrument.    I  have  often  thought  of  making  button  extensions  ,or  just  longer  buttons,  because  I  am  used  to  at  least  2mm  minimum  height.

 

What  you  have  done  Fred v,    I imagine,  is  to  limit  the  dynamic  range. You  may  feel  you  have  enough  volume for  playing at  home  but   for  a  session ?  The  sound  from  a  concertina  travels  out  horizontally  at  a good  distance  from  the player's ears  and  in a session  the  power is  absorbled  by  the body  of  the  player's on either side  and  this  can make it  difficult  to  oneself .  The  English  concertina  usually  does not  produce  as  much  volume  as  an  Anglo.

 

I  feel  strongly  that  those  cheap  starter  instruments,  which  were  never avaliable  when many of  us  began  playing  concertinas,  can  lead  one astray  and , rather than  encourage the  beginner   to  commence  learning,  deter  good advancement.

 

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Fred explained what he's after:

9 hours ago, fred v said:

My brain now senses the feel of the plate and has made my touch much lighter. As I play more I will soon begin to do things like sliding a finger from one button to another with much greater ease and speed. I eagerly await all the benefits of doing this modification.

It's about the nature of the contact between fingers and keys.

 

  Henrik Muller's article Fred refers to states about his shorter buttons:

"Having shorter buttons that depress all the way, flush with the end plate, had more impact than I could have expected. Traditional Irish music has a lot of repeated notes, and to preserve the flow of the tune, they need to be performed by switching fingers; deep buttons go a long way in facilitating this."

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There's a different feel to playing an instrument that's been properly set up to have flush buttons. It's probably not to every player's taste, but I've "Müllerized" instruments for two players so far and they both seem very pleased with the change.

 

Nice work Fred; what is the car in the background?

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I  certainly  do  not  agree  it  is  easier to  play  repeated  notes  using  alternating  fingers  on  buttons  that  arrive  flush  with the  end plates, in  fact  quite  the opposite.  The  repeated  three  note  ornament  that  purports  to  be an  Irish  'Roll'  is  something  I  prefer to  use  very  sparingly, if  at all  however,  there is  one  tune  I  have  been  trying  to  play  which  has  several  four  note  reiterations  ( La  Bourrasque)  and  I  have had  more  success  achieving these,  with  my  old  worn out  fingers,  on  buttons  that  are  higher  and  do not  decend  all the  way  down.  

 

We are  all  different  I  suppose.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Interesting discussion, folks!
 
You have missed something, Chris - I just don't know what it is 🤪, except that it could simply be an EC thing - I don't think Anglos have problems like having to throw the middle finger below, or (even) over the index finger. The fingers are more straight on, and the spacing is wider, too. Says the non-Anglo player...

 

The background for it all started after I had played the little 18 button Stagi EC the first time in 2003? (Samantha Payn - remember?!), and was wondering: "What is it that makes this feel so good and the playing so different (= pleasant)?
 
And after a few more tunes, I realised it was three things:
 
1) There was more button spacing (vertical 12.5 mm, horisontal 15.5 mm)


2) The buttons went all the way down, flush with the ends


3) The button had slightly bigger diameter
 
1) and 2)

For me, the larger spacing and the "deep buttons", as I call them, led to the development of a better fingering and almost begged for a religiously strict "Never the same finger twice on the same button". What does that mean?

 

Say you have a repeated middle "a". According to The Good Books, you press the "a" twice with your R1 (right index finger). 

 

Well... it works, but what if you want the attack on the second "a" a bit harsher, or snappier? As part of your interpretation of the tune? Same finger: beep, beep

 

Now try this: hit the "a" with your R1 and WHAM! a second time, with your R2 (right middle finger). Two fingers: beep, Beep! Now that makes a difference to the attack, doesn't? 

 

     "Yeah, and it makes me fingers hurt!"

 

Yes - after a 2-3 hours (session) the fingertips start to feel a bit sore...unless, of course, you are playing an instrument with deep, or flush buttons.

 

Unfortunately, this is only possible with a bespoke instrument, because the obvious, nice looking, non-invasive solution that Fred made, has the built-in problem that Geoff pointed out: the buttons stop prematurely = before the pad is fully lifted. It does the job, but it's up to the individual instrument what effect the resulting lift has.

 

3)

The Stagi button diameter (5.5 mm) had a slight, pleasant feel. At the time of the "Stagi experience" I'd had very little experience with button diameters:

 

My Wheatstones all had 3/16" (4.75 mm) semi-domed buttons and another, older Wheatstone (or Rock Chidley) had completely flat (apart from a slightly rounded edge) German silver-capped buttons. Terrible stuff! But again - I am sure there are styles of playing that goes fine with flat buttons.

 

It was only after playing my build No 1 (diameter 5.7 mm Rotring pencil caps) and comparing it with my build No 3 (diameter 4.75 mm Suttner buttons - like Wheatstone, but with a fraaaaction sharper edge) that I came to a decision with respect to The Two Ds (diameter & dome). If I could choose freely, I would have:

 

   Diameter: 5.5-5.7 mm
   Dome: Ideally, the mix between a circle and a square = with no edge whatsoever.

 

Funnily enough, the preference for such a dome came out of the increased freedom my fingers got with the wider spacing, hence a bigger chance to hit the edge of a neighbour 🤪 

 

But all this is me (for 16 years), and as Geoff says - we are all different - 

 

P. S. - if you get a chance to try a modern instrument with deep/flush buttons (they are out there) , don't disqualify it after two minutes, give it a chance! After all, you'll be fully occupied trying to find the thumb strap and the pinkie rest 😎

 

/Henrik

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Thanks for all the comments and a BIG thank you to Henrik for the inspiration to move forward with my ideas. I bet if any of you played my concertina you would start thinking......

 

While thinking about this I experimented with working the bellows while depressing a button and listening to the sound. My conclusion was that the buttons have twice the stroke than is needed. So I realized that adding the plate also shortened the stroke. I had already reworked all of the action to make the buttons the same height and depress the same amount by adding felt shims to the bottom pin as well as adjusting the spring weights. That was the first major difference in play-ability and led me to the further addition of the plates. The buttons protrude a max of 1/8" so the short stroke is quite amazing to feel.

To each his own. I'm just sharing my thinking and experimenting.

Alex, the car is a '52 Morgan F Super 3 wheeler. I have 3 different models of these amazing cars.

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As a person who switched from the buttons sticking out to the buttons going all in, the difference is HUGELY in favour of "deep buttons" for me.

 

First of all, my fingers no longer hurt after a long session, because the full depression force is spread out and there is no button edge to act on the same area of the finger repeatedly. Paradoxically, this have lead to even lighter touch.

 

What is more - 6mm, flat buttons with a very soft edge (I have flattened button caps that were originally made round) that go all in enable playing triplets with a three finger technique, where the previous finger slides to the side and up, not only upwards. It doesn't go any faster than this. Even when not playing triplets, switching the finger on the button is way easier and can even be made seamless, because when fully depressed, there is basically no coupling between the finger and the button sidewise. I play Hayden, so there is basically no fixed fingering pattern and with long jumps and strange finger configurations any improvement on the ergonomy had a direct impact on the level of play.

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I too like short buttons on both my English and anglos.

     However.....

Quote

 sliding a finger from one button to another with much greater ease and speed.

               ............for me the button height is irrelevant for this.

 It's much harder to do but gets easier with practice but  I never slide fingers, only plan so I can tuck them under or over. Seems really awkward to begin with then becomes normal.

Robin

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It’s horses for courses I think and go with whatever works best for you. In the diatonic button accordion world people use and have experimented with many different button set ups -  button height, spacing etc as well as an array of strap styles/ playing positions. 

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Very interesting to see experimentation on instruments still taking place. I know I once was in a music shop years ago [in York UK.] and a man demonstrated an instrument, unfortunately very clumsily and proceeded to press the buttons so far into the concertinas he pushed it right inside anyway! [nearly broke it],,,

I have had experience  of trying out basic models where button can be felt to go rather too easily into the concertina, and it always feels rather too unnerving, on the fingers; my own [modern instrument from 1990s] is just about right amount of movement to control easily; the tone as much as I personally need] to play as I want.  The buttons go down adequately, but not too far to be flush with the face plate. I find with the right amount of up and down pressure, when it is  just right, can aid in effects like staccato, legato, and loud and quiet sounds just nicely. But if I felt button was going down too flush with surface it would make me hesitate too much! [just my own view]. Wouldn't mind that fine drill you use. incidentally to make alloy buttons/spares. [for my much loved hohner brand concertina].. but that's another story!

 

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49 minutes ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

Very interesting to see experimentation on instruments still taking place. I know I once was in a music shop years ago [in York UK.] and a man demonstrated an instrument, unfortunately very clumsily and proceeded to press the buttons so far into the concertinas he pushed it right inside anyway! [nearly broke it],,,

 

Müller style instruments are carefully set up so the buttons come to a firm stop when the top of the button is flush with the end plate. It's not possible to push them below the end plate like on some other types of action. It allows for a particularly 'energetic' style of playing without bruising your fingertips.

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I suppose thing thing is you would have to remember to trim your finger nails regularly, I remember playing an instrument where the buttons stop flush with the end and I had not, the thing is then is that your finger nails touch the end before the button is all the way down resulting in a bit of an un ... "definite" end to the button stroke and possibly the pad doesn't lift all the way in such a case if you haven't pushed the button all the way down in such a case. Trimming nails is generally a good thing to do regularly anyway though.😆

 

The especial thing to beware of with not pressing the button down all the way is that the amount to which the pad lifts affects the tuning, the note sounds at a slightly different pitch. One of the main reasons concertinas go "out of tune" is actually because the pads have compressed or sunken down over years and the overall lift is greater which affects the tuning a little. 

 

Not really a problem if you have trimmed your nails though.

 

Edited by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe
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I suppose thing thing is you would have to remember to trim your finger nails regularly

    Yep.....I was lucky enough years ago to buy one of the great Jeffries (G/D) anglos from John Rodd, member of the Albion Country Dance band ( the concertina was on record, I think )

        He was an astonishingly good anglo layer BUT.....he was then playing guitar as well and had Colin D. put on buttons that were very long so he could play it with his long guitar-picking fingernails.

        I found it difficult to manage so Colin re buttoned it for me..........

    

        

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8 hours ago, Robin Harrison said:

    Yep.....I was lucky enough years ago to buy one of the great Jeffries (G/D) anglos from John Rodd, member of the Albion Country Dance band ( the concertina was on record, I think )

        He was an astonishingly good anglo layer BUT.....he was then playing guitar as well and had Colin D. put on buttons that were very long so he could play it with his long guitar-picking fingernails.

        I found it difficult to manage so Colin re buttoned it for me..........

    

        

I didn't think about that. The subtle difficulties of the multi instrumentalist I suppose.

 

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On 2/27/2022 at 7:50 PM, Jake Middleton-Metcalfe said:

Not really a problem if you have trimmed your nails though.

 

Jake,

Perhaps you should offer a free pair of nail clippers with every concertina.

 

(You heard it here first ,folks)

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On 2/27/2022 at 4:43 PM, alex_holden said:

 

Müller style instruments are carefully set up so the buttons come to a firm stop when the top of the button is flush with the end plate. It's not possible to push them below the end plate like on some other types of action. It allows for a particularly 'energetic' style of playing without bruising your fingertips.

Back in the day it was a popular modification to the Hohner DG melodeon; fitting a strip of something in the back of the keyboard casing to stop the buttons going down the holes. Might still be for all I know. Used to be a bit tricky because you had to get it into position and secured after the Keyboard case was fitted. Otherwise you couldn't get the case to fit over the buttons.

Edited by Clive Thorne
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