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Weird sounding "E" note on my anglo


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Dear C.NET folks,

 

For years when I had a strange sounding note, the fix was easy. Open up, find the reed, pass a small aluminium sheet under the reed to remove the hair or dust. Put things back together and "bang" it's fixed.

 

This time, I can't seem to find the problem. I've tried the alluminium sheet cleanup technique, nothing. I checked the valve and it seems fine. I don't see anything abnormal, visually at least. I was wondering if someone had an idea. I recorded a small video. On my anglo C/G, that's the E on the "C" row on the left side.

 

Thanks for your help!

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To me, that’s the sound of air escaping around the reed shoe. Often, it can be remedied by simply pressing the reed shoe firmly into its dovetail joint, but you’ve probably done that already (consciously or not) if you’ve removed the reed as in the pictures and replaced it. Next thing I’d try would be to place a very thin shim (newsprint) along the length of one edge of the shoe and replace it into the joint. Just be careful the shoe doesn’t get pinched, changing the shape of the rectangular hole.

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15 minutes ago, David Barnert said:

To me, that’s the sound of air escaping around the reed shoe. Often, it can be remedied by simply pressing the reed shoe firmly into its dovetail joint, but you’ve probably done that already (consciously or not) if you’ve removed the reed as in the pictures and replaced it. Next thing I’d try would be to place a very thin shim (newsprint) along the length of one edge of the shoe and replace it into the joint. Just be careful the shoe doesn’t get pinched, changing the shape of the rectangular hole.

 

Thanks a lot! I'll try all of your suggestions tomorrow, fingers crossed 😃

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13 hours ago, David Barnert said:

To me, that’s the sound of air escaping around the reed shoe. Often, it can be remedied by simply pressing the reed shoe firmly into its dovetail joint, but you’ve probably done that already (consciously or not) if you’ve removed the reed as in the pictures and replaced it.

 

Well, I just put the reed back in its shoe but noticed a space of about a milimeter at the tip so I pushed a little harder to cover the whole shoe and now it seems to be working perfectly! I will put it more to the test later on but it seems that was really the problem. Thanks a million for that, I've got the great "The Concertina Maintenance Manual" but couldn't really make out what the problem was because the sound was a bit weird. 

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Whenever I take an end off my concertina for any reason, before putting it back together I go around the perimeter of the reed pan with my thumb and gently press each reed shoe to make sure none of them are a little loose.

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I've had two instances this month (for different tinas) of reeds warbling, that were fixed by pushing the carrier home, or adding a paper shim. I suspect the recent high temperatures and drought in the UK are a factor. Cambridge where I live has had less than 5% of it's usual rainfall in July, and a peak temperature of 40C (104F), never seen before. It's not surprising that wooden precision instruments like concertinas feel the effects of climate change!

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This brings back such bad memories of when I had my Peacock.  Humidity. I bet if you put the concertina in a controlled environment, the concertina will correct itself without any invasive assistance.

 

Do you have a dehumidifier?

 

My current concertinas are much less sensitive to drastic changes in environmental conditions. Still, nevertheless, when the humid summer months come upon us, my "tinas" do a yearly migration to an area in the home where these issues are controlled. Admittedly, it is a little inconvenient, but it works.

 

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On 7/27/2022 at 2:57 AM, Noel Ways said:

 

Humidity. I bet if you put the concertina in a controlled environment, the concertina will correct itself without any invasive assistance.

Yes, humidity variation is a problem for 'tinas, but not generally in England. Monthly average humidity where I live in Cambridge (the driest city in the country) historically varies from 70% to 90%, remaining pretty even throughout the year. This past few weeks of drought have dropped it to around 40%. So a de-humidifier is not the answer!

 

Also in my experience, traditional English concertinas are quite resilient to humidity changes - I lived in inland southern California for three years, and had few problems, though I did keep my best concertinas in a closet with a room humidifier nearby.

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I learned something today. Thanks for posting the problem and thanks for posting the solution.

 

Now I appreciate even more the reed design by Dana Johnson. From his website http://www.kensingtonconcertinas.com/kensington-reeds.html :

 

"I make my reeds starting with large sheets of brass for the reed shoes  and reed clamps, and wide strips of reed steel I shear and grind into the individual reed tongues for each of the 60 reeds of the concertina.  Traditional concertina reeds are normally mounted in tapered dovetail slots. The reed shoe sides match the dovetail slot and when slid home and the reed shoe fits snugly which is important for good sound.  This method works well in places with stable humidity, but in places like New England in the US, winters are very cold ( down to -30 F where I used to live ) and house humidity levels drop to 10% or lower.  summers see the humidity go up to 90%.

This causes expansion and shrinkage of the reed pan and it's slots.  When it expands against the reed shoe, the softer wood crushes, sometimes pinching the reed shoe sides against the reed causing it to jam. When it contracts in winter, it pulls away. After a few cycles of this, the slot remains oversize and the reed shoe needs shims put in to keep them from rattling or falling out..

I switched the way my reed shoes are held in the slot.  They have a chisel point at the tip and a small semicircular cut at the base where a small flat head screw simultaneously wedges the reed shoe forward where the point mates with a small nick at the bottom surface of the slot, and also holds the base of the reed shoe tightly at the same time.  Since the reeds are mounted in the direction the wood hardly shrinks at all, they aren't bothered by the movement of the reed pan."

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