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Playing With Bellows Centered Over Knee...


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I happen to agree with you, Clive. I hate the idea of destroying a beautiful instrument, but it is an instrument and some people use certain tools and instruments differently than others. This is coming from someone who had to save for a long time just to get a really cheap English, though - so my view may be a bit skewed on the subject.

 

I want to play and have fun doing so - if the position I hold my 'tina in is uncomfortable I won't be having as much fun and would likely end up quitting.

 

If, one day, I end up getting something better - I doubt my attitude towards this will change.

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what happens if you later get a beautiful old Jeffries with the legendary bellows made by Mrs. Jeffries ? You are not going to be able to change your habitual way of playing, and they are going to be destroyed in no time !

 

 

I don't want to upset you Stephen, but my (obviously contraversial) attitude would be that if the legendary and revered Jeffries bellows are destroyed in no time then they couldn't have been 'Fit for purpose' in the first place, given that the purpose was to allow the player to play in his chosen style.

 

For me it comes back to my original comment that the instrument is there to be played, ie it is a tool rather than a work of art.

Clive,

 

It is precisely because the likes of those "Mrs. Jeffries" bellows were supremely 'fit for purpose' (playing music, not being dragged across somebody's knee) that they have been, and should be cherished. I'm not talking about their physical appearance, as you seem to suggest, but the superb way they function. And they will easily last another 100 years or so, if treated with a modicom of respect.

 

But playing with them across your knee would be subjecting them to abuse that no bellows can be expected to withstand, unless it is built like a Soviet tank, in which case it will be too stiff to function as a bellows in the first place !

 

Indeed, I have seen many's the great concertina ruined by a new set of bellows that will take forever to "play-in", which played "like a dream" when its old bellows were usable. Don't underestimate their importance !

 

Musical instruments are, by their nature, delicate things that need to be treated with care and respect. There are right, and wrong, ways of treating all of them.

 

 

... wear considerations should not be a major influence on playing style. If this were the case then we would all be ... driving our cars around at 30mph all the time.

I would see it as more a case of not deliberately driving your car into brick walls, when you can choose not to drive that way. (Though if you had that "Soviet tank", it could be fun ! ;) :rolleyes: :) )

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... wear considerations should not be a major influence on playing style. If this were the case then we would all be ... driving our cars around at 30mph all the time.

I would see it as more a case of not deliberately driving your car into brick walls, when you can choose not to drive that way. (Though if you had that "Soviet tank", it could be fun ! ;) :rolleyes: :) )

I don't think "fun" is the issue here. Playing with the bellows -- rather than the bellows end -- resting on your leg is more like using brick walls instead of brakes to stop your car. It may "work", but it results in unnecessary (some might say "unacceptable") wear and tear.

 

...my ... attitude would be that if the legendary and revered Jeffries bellows are destroyed in no time then they couldn't have been 'Fit for purpose' in the first place, given that the purpose was to allow the player to play in his chosen style.

Not "given". The "given" purpose of all concertina makers has been, as far as I know, that their instruments should be used in a more or less standard way to make music. I doubt that the Jeffries' purpose in building their instruments was to make them able to withstand personal styles of abuse. Whether they expected people to avoid playing "across the knee" or whether they considered periodic bellows replacement reasonable, I'm sure they didn't attempt to design a bellows to withstand years of rough rubbing. Yet many have survived more than a century of non-abusive playing.

 

Well I don't consider £100 for a self fit set of bellows, as mentioned by Dave Elliot in another thread, to be too expensive - its cheaper than having a tune up.

Clive, you seem to be of the opinion that "a bellows is a bellows is a bellows". In fact, there are significant differences in quality and performance. As an immediate example, there's some comparison of different bellows (among other things) in this Topic. So far, Marcus, Edgley, and Morse are mentioned there.

 

One expert has told me that if he needs a replacement bellows, he uses different sources for Englishes and anglos, because the different bellows techniques (infrequent reversals for English, frequent and often rapid for anglo) require different bellows characteristics, and bellows makers specialize.

 

Old Wheatstone price lists indicate that bellows quality was considered as important as reeds, buttons, and other details, and varied as much between low- and high-end models.

 

Jeffries bellows have a reputation -- deserved, in my observation -- for being different from other makers' bellows.

 

Even the bellows on my Lachenal New Model English and my Lachenal New Model Maccann are quite different from each other in both construction and feel.

 

So, with all respect to David Leese, I wouldn't expect his assemble-it-yourself bellows to be an ideal or even appropriate replacement for any and all bellows from vintage or modern makers.

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One expert has told me that if he needs a replacement bellows, he uses different sources for Englishes and anglos, because the different bellows techniques (infrequent reversals for English, frequent and often rapid for anglo) require different bellows characteristics, and bellows makers specialize.

Name names (offline if you wish, but I am interested).

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Timson
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Name names (offline if you wish, but I am interested).

 

Chris

Chris,

 

On the concertina connection website you can read this about Anglo bellows vs. English/Duet bellows

Our Anglos have all leather (no 'black' papers) black 6 folds bellows. Extra folds, different colors, and bellows papers are optional. See our bellows page for details.

 

The folds are thicker than English/duet bellows. They allow less side movement. The most important asset of anlgo bellows is stability.  When playing on an anglo the bellows movement is very short and irregular. Because of the rapid changes it is important that the folds themselves do not move. When the folds 'bounce' when you change bellows direction, you lose energy which results in slower bellows changes and less control over volume.

 

Read more at this page.

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Well I don't consider £100 for a self fit set of bellows, as mentioned by Dave Elliot in another thread, to be too expensive - its cheaper than having a tune up.

Clive, you seem to be of the opinion that "a bellows is a bellows is a bellows". In fact, there are significant differences in quality and performance. As an immediate example, there's some comparison of different bellows (among other things) in this Topic. So far, Marcus, Edgley, and Morse are mentioned there.

 

 

Jim,

 

I am certainly not of this opinion and it was not what I intended to convey (as I hope most people realised)! You made the point about people saving up to buy a Stagi, so I quoted a cheap set of bellows to put that statement into perspective. Obviously if you've got a £3000 Jeffries or similar you would not be fitting Sub £100 pound bellows. But if it was a Stagi, or a lower end Lachenal you might consider it. My Jeffries has 'Dipper' bellows and I would almost certainly go for those again in the event of catestrophic failure.

 

Clive.

Edited by Clive Thorne
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I guess I'm in the middle of the road here; Clive is right, if it's a museum piece you should put it in a museum; on the other hand, due care when playing is important to me as well...those bellows Clive is quoting are about $200 American...just $25 less than I paid for a brand new Jackie. Why would I bother? Slap the old box on Ebay, and order a new one!

 

This same conflict is seen in the old car hobby - restorationists vs. modifiers...I always gave the same answer there, too. do what YOU like, and ignore the opinions of others. If you play it, it sounds good to you, it makes you happy,etc. then who cares what is "right?". "Right" and "Wrong" is subjective based on taste, opinion, and circumstance. Here and now, I side with preserving the bellows as much as possible. If, when I know more, I choose to build a "hotrod" concertina, I'll be proud of it and Stephen will be horrified, no doubt! I can see it now...flames painted on the end plates... B)

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I would suggest that it is a little early to judge the "sub-GBP100" bellows. For all we know at this stage, they may turn out to be as good as most others, although the finished product would depend on who finishes them. The only person (on c.net) who really has any idea of their comparative quality at this stage is Dave Elliott. Dave, what is your take on these bellows.

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If, when I know more, I choose to build a "hotrod" concertina, I'll be proud of it and Stephen will be horrified, no doubt!  I can see it now...flames painted on the end plates... B)

Ah, you may think you know Stephen, but you don't ! ;)

 

I believe in respecting the craftsman (and craftswoman)-ship (historically, bellows were generally made by women) that went into making these wonderful instruments years ago, and trying to preserve it as long as possible because it is so good. I would regard replacing a good quality old bellows as very much a last resort, and have been known to spend more time repairing one than it would take to build a new one. :huh:

 

But, for years I've been talking about building a "punk" concertina, with transparent dayglo pink ends, and safety pins through the tartan bellows ! :blink:

 

Limited edition, place your orders now ! B)

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I would suggest that it is a little early to judge the "sub-GBP100" bellows.

I'm certainly going to order a set to try out, you can't go far wrong at that price. :)

 

They can't be any worse than some of the cheapest Lachenal bellows (which I wouldn't attempt to save), though I doubt if they are of "Mrs. Jeffries" standard either (but then, neither were the majority of Jeffries bellows !).

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It is precisely because the likes of those "Mrs. Jeffries" bellows were supremely 'fit for purpose' (playing music, not being dragged across somebody's knee) that they have been, and should be cherished. I'm not talking about their physical appearance, as you seem to suggest, but the superb way they function.

I did not mean to imply that you were only concerned with the appearance of the bellows Stephen, so please accept my apologies if it came over that way. Perhaps the analogy of "Tool v. Work of Art" was not good one. Also the 'Fit for purpose' remark was specific to this application, where Neils possibly wanted to play with it over the knee. I was not meaning, in anyway at all, to suggest that Jeffries bellows were no good.

 

 

But playing with them across your knee would be subjecting them to abuse that no bellows can be expected to withstand,

I wouldn't expect them to withstand it, I would expect to replace/repair them at regular intervals. Perhaps that's the crux of our different views, I tend to think of bellows as a consumable and you think of them as permanent.

 

 

Musical instruments are, by their nature, delicate things that need to be treated with care and respect. There are right, and wrong, ways of treating all of them.

Actually I don't disagree with these sentiments, perhaps it's just a matter of degree. I believe that I do treat them with care and respect, but at the same time I have to be able to use them as I want to.

 

 

I would see it as more a case of not deliberately driving your car into brick walls, when you can choose not to drive that way. (Though if you had that "Soviet tank", it could be fun !  ;) :rolleyes:  :) )

I don't see it quite the same as this as the purpose of playing over the knee (which I don't actually do - I hold it in the air) is not to deliberately damage the instrument. Damage may be a consequnce, but its not the aim.

 

Perhaps a compromise analogy would be a racing car where, when pushing it the limit, there is risk of loosing it on a corner and wrecking it. But then what's the point of the racing car if you don't push it to the limit?

 

 

 

You know sometimes I hate these forums (forums in general that is, not just C.net); unless you write great treatises explaining evry nuance it's so easy to imply something you didn't actually mean. I responded to Neils' original question with a simple two sentence reply and end up spending the next three nights trying to explain it. Plus, in trying to explain what you really meant you end up with a thread remeniscent of the good old "Goran and Jim" days. Discussing these things over a pint would save so much time!.

 

 

Just in case it comes over as such can I make it clear that I don't consider any of this thread as being an argument. I just see it as an amicable exchange of different view points. I am not trying to convert anyone to my point of view, I'm just trying to say what my point of view is and where it comes from.

 

 

While I'm typing can I also explain that I did not mean to imply in anyway that the £100 bellows are not any good. They may be superb for all I know.

 

 

Clive.

 

 

PS If you ever acquire a Soviet tank Stephen (Ebay ?) do let me know - it does sound like great fun.

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If, when I know more, I choose to build a "hotrod" concertina, ...  I can see it now...flames painted on the end plates... B)

Better there than here in the Forum. B) :D

 

"Right" and "Wrong" is subjective based on taste, opinion, and circumstance.

While I agree with you in principle, I would still be appalled if someone used acrylics to paint flames on a Stradivarius violin... or replaced their nickel-plated Jeffries endplates with fluorescent lucite and threw out the originals. :o

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...the 'Fit for purpose' remark was specific to this application, where Neils possibly wanted to play with it over the knee. I was not meaning, in anyway at all, to suggest that Jeffries bellows were no good.

Part of the reason for my own response is that I would expect the Edgley bellows to be just as much an integral part of the design of a finely crafted instrument as a Jeffries bellows, and not easily replaced by an off-the-shelf from some other maker.

 

But playing with them across your knee would be subjecting them to abuse that no bellows can be expected to withstand,

I wouldn't expect them to withstand it, I would expect to replace/repair them at regular intervals. Perhaps that's the crux of our different views, I tend to think of bellows as a consumable and you think of them as permanent.

But to be consumable, they must be readily replaceable, else you stop playing. The point I tried to make on this is that just because "bellows" are readily available doesn't necessarily mean that an appropriate bellows is readily available.

 

I'm reminded of a friend in New York City discovering that her car's windscreen (deliberate use of British word) was missing. It wasn't vandalism. It hadn't been broken. The rubber gasket had been carefully sliced and the glass removed, presumably in one piece. Why would anyone want to do that? Replacement windshields (note American word) are readily available in New York. Ah, but not for a Morris Minor! It appears that someone who needed one found it so hard to get the correct replacement part that (s)he was reduced to stealing.

 

Perhaps a compromise analogy would be a racing car where, when pushing it the limit, there is risk of loosing it on a corner and wrecking it. But then what's the point of the racing car if you don't push it to the limit?

That analogy suggests that playing across the "knee" (I still think most players use the thigh) somehow supercharges the player's performance, while my own experience suggests that it lowers top performance a bit.

 

While I'm typing can I also explain that I did not mean to imply in anyway that the £100 bellows are not any good. They may be superb for all I know.

I certainly didn't think you implied that. Nor did I mean to imply it, though I think my own comment on the matter is easier to construe that way. My own point regarding them was simply that "one size fits all" is never true.

 

I responded to Neils' original question with a simple two sentence reply and end up spending the next three nights trying to explain it.

And so I continue it by saying: I don't think it's a question of your having to "explain" what you meant. Instead, it's because the subject overlaps many other important issues, from personal taste to effective playing to maintenance and repair, and that has stimulated expansion of the discussion in multiple directions.

 

Discussing these things over a pint would save so much time!.

Naw, but it would proceed much further and wind up on an unrelated subject. It would also be more refreshing. :)

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DEAR NEILS: I would add one piece of advice and one only: hold the instrument in such a way that you are COMFORTABLE. I play with my left leg crossed over my right leg and with the concertina cradled weightlessly in my lap. I have not worn out any bellows (and i probably put in more hours on the instrument than most).

 

You might like to see the little "history" of how the instrument has been held in my tutor, CONTEMPLATING THE CONCERTINA. . ., available from the Button Box.

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Will you all stop encouraging Steve Chambers to drive a tank! The roads of Ireland would never be safe again! I have always suspected that Steve's driving is the reason that multiple pile-ups are referred to on news bulletins as 'concertinaed'!

Steve, I drove along Lea Bridge Rd the other day and noticed Vicarage Rd with happy memories.

Best wishes

Roger

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