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Buzzing reed on Carroll anglo, Part 2

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Back in July, I posted about a problem I was having with one of the reeds (?) on my Carroll anglo #150. It involved the pull D on button #22 (C row, right hand), which had a metallic buzz/sizzle as the button was released. It has a metallic sound, like something was vibrating that shouldn't be doing that. I tried a bunch of things on my own and got a lot of great suggestions from the last time I posted here. As you have certainly guessed, nothing worked. (The up side of all the troubleshooting I've been doing is that pretty much the only concertina repair tasks I haven't taken on since buying the Carroll are tuning reeds and any sort of bellows work. I am definitely no longer afraid to open the box up.)


Here's what I've tried so far.


  • I checked out the felt bushings on the button and buttonhole to make sure that the button was moving freely. This included opening up the action box to look directly at the assemblies inside.
  • I pulled the reed shoe and plinked the reed. It sounded as though the reed was moving freely, but I put it on a makeshift light table to be sure. No apparent contact between reed and shoe.
  • Using very thin metal foil, I cleaned the reed off to make sure there was no gunk or debris on it. Also, I put the reed back onto the light table to make sure there was still clearance on all sides. Under a magnifier, it looked like there might be junk adhering to the inside of the shoe near the reed screws, so I used the foil to carefully clear that stuff out.
  • I checked the reed slot for anything on the sides or bottom that might be pressuring the reed shoe.
  • I backed the reed shoe on button #22 out a bit.
  • I shimmed the reed shoe on the side, and un-shimmed it, too.
  • I swapped the D reed from button #15 on the left side G row with the 'problem' D reed on button #22. The 'problem' assembly worked just fine after moving it to the #15 push slot. No nasty noises at all, but former #15 reed assembly made that bad sound when moved into the #22 pull slot.
  • I replaced the spring on button #22.
  • I checked to make sure that none of the springs on #22 or any nearby buttons were contacting a lever arm.
  • I replaced both valves on button #22.


Most of these things had no effect on the sound. Backing the reed out made a minor imporovment. I think I've listed everything I've tried, but there were so many things that I might have forgotten something.


I should mention that I've had several local players try the haunted button #22, and they all heard the problem sound. I"ve attached a new sound file if you want to hear it, too. It has me playing the D on #15 three times, and then playing the problem D on #22 three tiimes.


So several months later, I still have the bad sound on button #22 that I started out with in July. I am *so* out of ideas at this point. Can anyone out there think of something I haven't tried?




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I would check that the reed tongue is not touching a side of the vent in the wooden reed pan. This can be just the slightest 'kiss', any more contact would stall the reed altogether. Are you losing and pitch? a hint flatter? 

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Sounds like the tongue is slightly hitting the reed shoe. You actually need to check the tongue alignment with the shoe in the pan as changes in the humidity can squeeze the shoe in ways that cause the tongue to be slightly off center only when it is in the slot. If you slightly prop up the reedpan over a light table and pull down the tongue on the opposite side of the D note a little, you can see the tongue clearance with the note installed in the pan.  (Turning off any other lights in the room can help get a better view).  It is likely slightly off to one side. If you are careful you can nudge it away from the side that it is hitting. You can use a thin piece of wood like a toothpick for this. Just press lightly on it at first and add pressure as needed. 

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Sorry - I said pull down the “tongue” on the opposite side . . . I meant to say pull down the “valve”.  In other words, you want to let in a little light under the D note by pulling away the valve that sits under the D on the opposite side of the pan. If you prop up the pan an inch or so, you will have room to slide a screwdriver underneath the valve and slightly pull it away from the wood. You might even crumble up a small bit of paper and stick it partly under the valve to let some light in which will allow you free use of both hands to manipulate the tongue. Once you have the pan elevated and the valve slightly lifted, look down on the note and gently press the tongue down into the shoe. You should see a clear line of light around all sides. If one side looks like it is hitting or is really close to hitting, gently nudge it away from where it looks to be contacting. It may take several tries yo get it correct. 

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The short story:  I still have the problem.


I've stuck the reed pan up on my improvised light table and I haven't been able to see any point(s) of contact between the reed and the shoe. I've even looked at some of the other reeds in that part of the pan to see what they look like on the light table and I'm not seeing any difference between those reeds and the D reed on #22. If there's contact, it's not happening while I"m looking for light around the reed.


Aside from looking for contact, I've also slide a piece of that very thin foil around the sides of the reed. It moves freely, which seems to be to be another sign that there's no contact.


Are there any more ideas out there?

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I have to say I listened to your reed sample on the audio you put here.. and I cannot hear anything that I think sounds horrible or buzzy.

Maybe it is just the way that instrument is .. they are all different and complex things, and not ever absolutely identical in timbre or tone.

My one (Anglo 30 key) has its breathy buzzy notes here and there and it is he way it is; not necessarily a sign of fault in itself.

Sometimes we can focus on mild perceived technical issues, and they can seem to grow worst on repeated focussing on the issue; whereas in reality, there maybe is nothing out of place at all🌝?

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Simon does have a point. Interestingly, I actually thought the first three notes you recorded were the ones you were unhappy with. I was listening through my phone’s speaker so probably not the best way to diagnose an issue. When I listened again just now, this time with headphones in, I couldn’t hear a problem with either set of notes. I do hear a volume difference between the two (second set of notes is softer) but without the instrument in hand I can’t tell if it’s the instrument or how you are playing it. It really could just be the way that any D3  note in that chamber will sound.  The fact that the problem persisted when you swapped in a different D3 suggests this as well. If you are really certain it is hitting something, Dave has suggested it could be hitting the wood in the slot underneath. You can check this by pushing down on the tongue with a flashlight shining down on it if needed. 

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Because it has not been mentioned ( not meaning it hasn’t been done), when assessing whether a reed is too close to one side of the frame it is necessary to push the reed down so that it is just inside the top of the slot. 

You can also look for witness marks at the top of the slot where a reed might have been scraping.  You need magnification to spot this and it is likely to be a tiny mark. Look for a spot that is shiny compare to the surroundings.  You have to be looking from underneath. If it is near the tip it will likely be smaller than if it is further down the reed.  

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