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How long does it take to make a Concertina?


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I recall reading some time ago, that it took a professional company about a month to make one Anglo Concertina. But today most makers are working in small workshops with few helpers. I wonder how long they need to complete a basic classic style C/G 30 Btn Anglo Concertina?

Thanks in advance.

 

 

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Considerably more than that for me. I am a one-man business and my instruments are very bespoke so I spend a large chunk of my time discussing details with clients, designing instruments, and learning new skills. A maker could probably produce them much faster if they focussed on a couple of standard models with minimal customisation options.

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1 hour ago, alex_holden said:

Considerably more than that for me. I am a one-man business and my instruments are very bespoke so I spend a large chunk of my time discussing details with clients, designing instruments, and learning new skills. A maker could probably produce them much faster if they focussed on a couple of standard models with minimal customisation options.

 

My impression is that this was Rich Morse's approach. He once pointed out to me that some of the other makers in North American had other means/income, while he had to pay all his employees every month, sales or not. So (at that time) his concertinas were all the same color.

 

Ken

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Different makers take different approaches, of course.  The Button Box let me know that they had others make their end grilles.  Other components like bellows might also be contracted to others.  Reeds are more often purchased from a factory to keep the amount of hand-work down.  If a maker works at it, making or having others make each component in batches, then the time required is really one of component assembly.  (Just like Eli Whitney's muskets!) You can generally tell by the price, the wait time, and by how much customization is offered which makers do all the work in-house.

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While I wouldn’t call myself a concertina maker, I have built a couple of them. My large, 66 button Hayden took me about 700 hours, but that count includes all of failed experimental ideas, reworks and doing some of the things three times (I hate valves with a passion) and a highly overdesigned, hand carved endplates, which took about 150hrs of tedious sculpting. If I knew what I’m doing from the beggining, with simple, traditional endplates, I could probably make it down to 350-400hrs using my universal workshop, not optimised for concertina building. This is with purchased reeds. Anglo could probably be done in 150-200hrs (not everything scales down proportionally with button count), so yes, a month for a single, fairly standardised box sounds about right. Assembling and tuning 3D printed 46 button box, not counting the time necessary to design it or print it, but including time to make the bellows, still took about 40 hrs. 

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3 hours ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

Assembling and tuning 3D printed 46 button box, not counting the time necessary to design it or print it, but including time to make the bellows, still took about 40 hrs. 

 

Is that a Hayden? Are there pictures/videos/sound files anywhere?

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17 hours ago, David Barnert said:

 

Is that a Hayden? Are there pictures/videos/sound files anywhere?


Yes, it is a Hayden, but it was a „single serving” box designed and assembled in under two weeks, with a similar life expectancy :D It still works (kind of) and the design was a success, but it is far from presentable. I did have a plan to design a proper one, but those plans are now on hold, due to life happening (I’m from Poland and war in Ukraine has a profound impact on economy here, so currently my everyday job leaves me with very little time left for anything else).

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54 minutes ago, Łukasz Martynowicz said:

(I’m from Poland and war in Ukraine has a profound impact on economy here, so currently my everyday job leaves me with very little time left for anything else).

 

Yes, of course. It’s too easy to forget here that the war isn’t just something one reads about in the papers. My thoughts are with you.

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After 20 years of making concertinas, I would guess that we still put about 120-150 hours into each instrument though I've never timed it as we usually have 6-8 instruments at various stages of construction.  The breakdown is roughly:   bellows around 20 hours.  The finishing process (sanding, applying coats, polishing) is about 15-20 hours. The reeds take about 20 hours to assemble and install.  The woodworking is about 15 hours.  The case is 15-20 hours.  Tuning and setup is spread out over 2 - 3 weeks with the total time on this in the 15-25 hour range.  Making buttons, making and installing the action, making the springs, reed shoe and tongue making, assembling it all, etc. another 25-40 hours.  This does not include the extensive amount of research and development that we still do as well as the seemingly constant breakdown and repair of equipment 😁

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29 minutes ago, Wally Carroll said:

I would guess that we still put about 120-150 hours into each instrument

 

Assuming a 37-hour week (but I bet you work more!) that works out at about 3 to 4 weeks. So if anything, less that the month Notetaker suggested.

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There is saying .. 

" If a job's worth doing ..it's worth doing well".. in other ways taking the time to do things (without the need to rush to a deadline).. I have myself in past spent hours making intricate woodwork, veneered designs, and projects that take great patience to achieve; and it invariably makes a better product at the end of the day.

Edited by SIMON GABRIELOW
Titchy little phone keypad used niggly!
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3 hours ago, Wally Carroll said:

After 20 years of making concertinas, I would guess that we still put about 120-150 hours into each instrument though I've never timed it as we usually have 6-8 instruments at various stages of construction.  The breakdown is roughly:   bellows around 20 hours.  The finishing process (sanding, applying coats, polishing) is about 15-20 hours. The reeds take about 20 hours to assemble and install.  The woodworking is about 15 hours.  The case is 15-20 hours.  Tuning and setup is spread out over 2 - 3 weeks with the total time on this in the 15-25 hour range.  Making buttons, making and installing the action, making the springs, reed shoe and tongue making, assembling it all, etc. another 25-40 hours.  This does not include the extensive amount of research and development that we still do as well as the seemingly constant breakdown and repair of equipment 😁

End grills?

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19 hours ago, Little John said:

 

Assuming a 37-hour week (but I bet you work more!) that works out at about 3 to 4 weeks. So if anything, less that the month Notetaker suggested.

About 2.5- 3 weeks sounds right for what we average but there are also five of us. (2 full time and 3 part time). We can only get about 20 out per year. Part of this has to do with the significant hours spent on other than building. I mentioned design but also client communications, bills, payroll, inventory, purchasing, taxes, shipping, repairs and general shop shenanigans 😃

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23 hours ago, Wally Carroll said:

About 2.5- 3 weeks sounds right for what we average but there are also five of us. (2 full time and 3 part time). We can only get about 20 out per year.

 

OK. These two bits of information each suggest about 9 to 10 man-weeks per concertina. (I'm making the assumption part-time means half-time.)

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On 9/18/2022 at 4:28 PM, wes williams said:

If we go back to late 1920s/early 1930s, Lachenal were suggesting that it would take around 5 - 6 weeks to produce and despatch Edeophone and New Model concertinas, as they were not stocked but built to order. See bottom of page 2 of this price list.

 

That is pretty interesting. I would say 5-6 weeks to make an Edeophone is very fast really, given the complexity of those instruments and how many hand made reeds they have. Its hard to say how many man hours that would be though - I would guess that the instrument would have been worked on by more than one person at once, making different parts. From what I have learned Lachenal and Wheatstone practiced very good division of labour and ran a rather efficient production line.

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