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Playing With Bellows Centered Over Knee...


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Will you all stop encouraging Steve Chambers to drive a tank! The roads of Ireland would never be safe again!

Roger,

 

There are times you might wish you had a tank on the roads around here, but then again, plenty of them would be too narrow, with too many sharp bends for one !

 

That's why I've given up driving MGs & Alfa Romeos, and bought a sensible Japanese estate car (station wagon, for our American readers) with four-wheel drive. Mind you, it is a Subaru and goes round corners like it's on rails. ;)

 

 

I have always suspected that Steve's driving is the reason that multiple pile-ups are referred to on news bulletins as 'concertinaed'!

Thanks a lot mate ! Actually, the only time I got 'concertinaed' whilst driving was when I had my MGB GT, years ago, and had to brake hard, because somebody coming the other way pulled out to overtake in front of me. I had my concertina, in its case, in the back and it came flying, smack, at the back of my head - very disconcerting ! :huh: (They didn't put headrests in 1960's MGs !)

 

 

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

Hmmm, I wonder if the old "singing pub" is still there, or has it been done-away with ? Paul Davies used to love to go there with me, and listen to the very talented piano player. Mind you, we were horrified one night when we got talking to the old man who sometimes joined him on the banjo, and he told us he'd thrown away a Jeffries "because the bellows was gone on it" ! :blink: :o :(

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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. And simple surface wear repairs are cheaper still, especially if treated before it starts leaking.

What is meant by "shelf fit"? Sounds like you get a bellows that you put right on your concertina without any work at all - BUT that would mean that the bellows would come with the FRAME as well. No replacement bellows I know of comes that way (with the exception of Stagi bellows). By the time you add the cost of adjusting and attaching a bellows to a frame, that will be considerably more.

 

Also, unless you buy in bulk, Stagi bellows cost more than £100. And while they DO come with frames, they RARELY fit the same model that they were made for and can take considerable fussing with to make work.

 

One thing that seems to have been overlooked here in the bellows-across-the-thigh playing issue is WHY they "wear out". By "wearing out" most people might think: abrasion to create holes in the folds and tips. While that may be true when a frame is rested on the thigh and adjacent folds rub back and forth... the case is different when the weight of the box is supported by the bellows. Certainly there is abrasion as the bellows works but there is also - and more importantly because the bellows fails quicker than due to abrasion issues - bellows construction failure.

 

By this I mean that due to the weight taken by the bellows, the bellows cards separate from the hinges and outer leather coverings. The bellows is then quite easily implodes on the draw - whether you support it on your thigh or not. This happens with Stagi bellows, Dipper bellows, Jeffries bellows....

 

Virtually all the bellows we've replaced due to playing across the thigh is due to bellows construction failure rather than surface wearing out. This can happen in as little as 2 years - and as pointed out - it's less expensive to get a new Stagi that replace one with a bum bellows. It would also be a major drag to fork out $400-600 to have a vintage quality bellows replacement every few years.

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The worst one I experienced was with an absolutely gorgeous "Robin Scard" Dipper. This instrument had been played so roughly across the knee that several bellows cards were crushed and there were a couple of gussets ripped open. The beautiful amboyna ends of this G/D were all battered and chipped around the edges. Two thirds of the reeds were adrift inside and when I opened it up there was a note written by Colin Dipper saying that the instrument had already been repaired at a specific date (a couple of years previous) "after having been submerged in water". So this was the second bellows on this instrument. If there was a SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) for concertinas I certainly would have reported him for cruelty!

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One thing that seems to have been overlooked here in the bellows-across-the-thigh playing issue is WHY they "wear out". By "wearing out" most people might think: abrasion to create holes in the folds and tips. While that may be true when a frame is rested on the thigh and adjacent folds rub back and forth... the case is different when the weight of the box is supported by the bellows. Certainly there is abrasion as the bellows works but there is also - and more importantly because the bellows fails quicker than due to abrasion issues - bellows construction failure.

 

By this I mean that due to the weight taken by the bellows, the bellows cards separate from the hinges and outer leather coverings. The bellows is then quite easily implodes on the draw - whether you support it on your thigh or not. This happens with Stagi bellows, Dipper bellows, Jeffries bellows....

 

Virtually all the bellows we've replaced due to playing across the thigh is due to bellows construction failure rather than surface wearing out. This can happen in as little as 2 years - and as pointed out - it's less expensive to get a new Stagi that replace one with a bum bellows. It would also be a major drag to fork out $400-600 to have a vintage quality bellows replacement every few years.

Richard,

 

I couldn't agree more, and pointed out the same thing a couple of days ago, but nobody followed up on it then:

I have often had to try to save bellows that have been ruined by such use, and I would say that the main problem is not the apparent external wear, but the internal damage to the core (a "skeleton" of cardboard and cloth tape, or leather hinges), which makes the bellows collapse. It isn't designed to support the weight of the instrument, and is likely to fail before you even realise it, followed by gaping holes appearing where the leather rips in consequence. Just give it a few years ...  :huh:

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Stephen, thank you for an MG sensory memory. My mother's first car was an MG TB, yellow with red leather interior, soft top and grill. I was but 3 and loved that car. would sit in it for hours. Just reading your post, I could smell the leather.

 

I have followed along as this bellows discussion has developed. There is no need to ruin a bellows. Techinques can be adjusted to accomodate an instrument. When I pick up my friend Tom O'hairs lovely Wheatsone (1861) the same year my cottage was built and look at those well worked green bellows I am overwhelmed by it's beauty and functionality. Just a little care and upkeep and it continues to function as intended. Astounding!

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And a supercharged V8 where the bellows should be ?

 

Any racer will tell you, it ain't about size, it's about compression! My family's race cars pretty much either won or grenaded the motor.... when my father and uncle would race (SCCA - "D" productiuon) if they weren't in the first group of cars to complete lap 1, we'd just head for the infield hospital....

 

I would simply hope to not blow out a bellow or throw a button rod!

 

PS - I'll order a punk concertina, if you'll make the ends flourescent green! Or, make it yellow buttons on a yellow end printed up with a smiley face! I'd buy that one!

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I must add my agreement to Mark, Richard and Stephen,that constant rubbing of bellows over a surface will eventually wear them out and to rectify your playing methods is so easy as to be silly not to take advice.This is from someone who ruined a good pair of bellows in my early playing days ,for playing them over the thigh and also for the other reason that has not been mentioned over stretching them instead of working out a different way of playing the tune.This resulted in the bellows collapsing in on themselves .The cost £300.

Be comfortable when playing but not to the detriment of the lovely instrument you own.

Al

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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

 

All I can say is that I used to have a t-shirt that read: " Anyone can restore a classic car, but it takes takes real guts to chop one".

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Stephen, thank you for an MG sensory memory.  My mother's first car was an MG TB, yellow with red leather interior, soft top and grill.  I was but 3 and loved that car.  would sit in it for hours.  Just reading your post, I could smell the leather.

Hmmm, now you're taking me back ...

 

My grandfather had a beautiful MG Y-type saloon that rarely left its garage (he cycled to work every day). I loved being taken for a run in it when I was a child, and I can still remember the burr walnut dashboard, the leather interior and that octagonal badge ...

 

Could that combination be the reason I took up the concertina, and always wanted an amboyna Æola ? And the strangest thing is that I finished up buying one from somebody in Abingdon-on-Thames (the home of MG) ! :huh:

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Sorry - I'm low on cash, and into immediate gratification....now pass me that rattle-can!!!

 

You mean that "Robin Scard" Dipper that Frank E. described earlier in this thread?

 

It having been submerged in water, I stayed away from the phrase "spray bomb", and thought I was safe....perhaps a "Krylon Koncertina"????

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I loved being taken for a run in it when I was a child, and I can still remember the burr walnut dashboard, the leather interior and that octagonal badge ...

 

Could that combination be the reason I took up the concertina, and always wanted an amboyna Æola ? And the strangest thing is that I finished up buying one from somebody in Abingdon-on-Thames (the home of MG) !  :huh:

 

You just made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! That little octagonal badge! Perhaps doomed we both were.

 

Mom's "La-La" was quite elderly by the time she bought it in Stillwater, Oklahoma and broke down not infrequently. She would call the shop and upon hearing her voice they instantly replied... "Where are you Mrs. Evans?".

 

Dad rotated home from an overseas assignment and insisted the MG be sold replacing it with a new Mercury with factory AC. In spite I shoved tinker toys in the AC and broke it :angry: .

Edited by Mark Evans
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In spite I shoved tinker toys in the AC and broke it :angry: .

 

I knew I liked you for a reason! I learned to drive in my dad's pair of mid-60's Minis, raced an MG midget in SCCA Sportsman class, and currently own a Triumph TR6, as well as an old Brit cycle. Ahh, the smell of old wood and leather, the sight of moonlight off that long, curved hood, the signature "dispeptic bumblebee" sound of the exhaust...it almost makes one forget what pigs those cars really are to drive! I love 'em...and hate 'em....depends on what's broken, and how expensive the ear-splitting noise it suddenly started making sounds.....

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I learned to drive in my dad's pair of mid-60's Minis,  raced an MG midget in SCCA Sportsman class, and currently own a Triumph TR6, as well as an old Brit cycle.

Y'know, parrots are really smart critters, especially African Greys. I remember Makua's first word... :rolleyes:

 

Ahh, the smell of old wood and leather,... the signature ... sound...

Now that sounds more like concertina conversation. ;)

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