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Do concertinas go out of tune?


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I started playing one year ago, & got a nice Phoenix concertina from McNeela a few months later. I love it, & play at least an hour daily.  Each time I pick it up, am struck with the pretty tone. However, now the (E-F) 4 button on the left side sounds really off: no longer clear, flat in pitch and in fading off sounds increasingly flat…brings to mind a baby calf, bawling.

 

I know nothing about troubleshooting or any maintenance that might be required. How much do I need to know? There is an accordion repairman nearby, but I’m wondering if I should learn some general “fixes”. For instance, I’m going to a music festival in about a month & it occurs to me I’d be stuck if something were to go wrong. Hmmm…sounds like a good excuse to buy a second concertina   :^ )

 

Any tips re: learning DIY maintenance, or the particular problem I described would be appreciated. BTW, I’m in Kansas City, & would love to connect with other enthusiasts.

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Concertinas do not generally go out of tune. That's one of the great things about them. Just pick it up and play.

 

However, things can go wrong and I always bring a repair kit to a festival or gig. Lots of things can break. Springs snap, pads and valves fall off, bellows get punctured and reeds can fail.

 

Reeds can corrode or get lint caught in them and they can crack. Playing as much as you do, especially if you play loud, could crack a reed. I've done it by over-playing. A cracked reed might well sound as you describe.

 

Another thing that has happened to me and may cause your calf to bawl might be something touching the reed as it vibrates. Perhaps the bellows is impinging? Especially when the bellows is almost closed completely.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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On 3/18/2022 at 11:50 PM, Sunny22 said:

...Any tips re: learning DIY maintenance, or the particular problem I described would be appreciated. BTW, I’m in Kansas City, & would love to connect with other enthusiasts.

Might be worth your while considering investing in a copy of Dave Elliot's Concertina Maintenance Manual

Even if you decide not to go down the DIY road, you'll learn a lot about concertinas by reading this excellent

book. Order details here...

 

Edit: link to Dave Mallinson's site in the ordering details seems to be incorrect. Correct details further

down this thread...

Edited by lachenal74693
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Thanks, guys. I will definitely get that Maintenance manual, & I am relieved my concertina can be set right agin. Yeah, not needing to be tuned has been very much appreciated, after years of playing stringed instruments whew!

 

I’m still feeling uneasy about going to this small music festival out in the sticks…I’m liable to be the only concertina there & so unable to count on anyone knowledgeable there to assist me, if needed. Yet I wouldn’t know what “next” concertina to buy as a “spare”, since I’m so happy with my Phoenix.

 

Thank you for your helpful replies!

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I just ordered the manual & also realize I already own another 30 button, so there’s my back up. I started playing concertina with an inexpensive 20 button, quickly moved up to an inexpensive 30 button. Played it like mad for 3 months at which point one of the buttons quit working. A local accordion repairman fixed it but warned ALL the buttons would probably fail because the instrument was so poorly made. That’s when I got my Phoenix. So now I’m pleased to remember the previous 30 button cheapy which plays just fine.

 

I’ll receive the repair manual in a few weeks which will give me time before the music festival to open up the Phoenix & see if I can sort it out. My husband is also very handy with instruments so I’m feeling very positive once again! LOVE concertina!

Edited by Sunny22
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Sound tone can sometimes be affected by environmental conditions; damp room or weather outdoors, dry atmosphere maybe..possibly central heating; who knows.. but I would say don't tamper too much as things may adjust themselves in time on their own. I myself have the steel reeds, and sometimes they may mildly buzz but I find that they settle down with use.

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Does anyone know how the Phoenix's reeds are mounted to the reed pan? If its wax, its possible the wax has slackened its grip on the accordion reed, which makes one note behave differently in my experience. You'll get an unstable sound that might even sputter or moan. You can see if the reed will wiggle if you can get your fingers on the plate and try shifting it around. If you notice movement, it will be time to re wax the reed in place. 

 

If the reeds are secured by screws, its an easier job to see if the reed plate is loose and just needs to be snugged up by adjusting the two screws that hold it in place. 

 

If you're experiencing environmental changes frequently, it's possible wax would de-bond from the reedplate in question or for the screws holding the plate in to slacken a bit. Ive had both happen (I live in New England, where the weather is always shifting)

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23 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Might be worth your while considering investing in a copy of Dave Elliot's Concertina Maintenance Manual

Even if you decide not to go down the DIY road, you'll learn a lot about concertinas by reading this excellent

book. Order details here...

I just spotted that the link to MallyProductions in the ordering details seems to be incorrect.

I think it should be:

 

https://www.mallyproductions.com/

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13 hours ago, Sunny22 said:

I’ll receive the repair manual in a few weeks which will give me time before the music festival to open up the Phoenix & see if I can sort it out.

Be aware that the manual is about instruments with traditional concertina reeds and the Phoenix has accordion reeds, which are held in place differently.

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