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Another Us Concertina Maker

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Perhaps Geoffrey Crabb could enlighten us similarly as to the scale choices of his family's instruments?




Hi David & folks.

An acceptable description of long and short ‘scale’ reeds has been made elsewhere. Although there are many theories as to why there was a variation in reed size, it was usually, as with most concertina construction, down to manufacturing compromise.


At Crabb’s, the reeds were referred to as being ‘standard’ or ‘undersized’, this being carried over to describe the instruments physical size. Crabb reeds compared in size generally with those of Wheatstone and Lachenal but less sizes were used, each size covering a wider range of notes.


Because the majority of Crabb instruments were basically custom built, especially Anglo’s and Duets with larger key counts, it was often a customer’s wish that the instrument be made as small as possible.

To enable this, it was usual for the reeds to be made ‘undersize’ i.e. shorter than the ‘standard’, the latter being of the ideal size for best performance.


It has also been mentioned that lower range reeds require longer chambers with the reeds inset to increase the distance between the tip of the reed tongue and the pallet hole for ultimate reed response.

In many ‘undersized’ Crabb instruments this was not possible so it will be found that concertinas where:

a, the chambers are arranged radially, all reeds, including the lower ranged, are fitted with the heel ends to the edge of the reed pan.

b, with parallel-arranged chambers, it was necessary to include a third bank of reeds inboard on the reed pan. These reeds tend to have a different timbre to those mounted to the edge of the pan and this should only be done as a last resort.


With ‘standard’ Crabb instruments, the concertinas physical size would be such to accommodate reeds of ideal size, positioned on the pan for the best response.


99% of Crabb English system concertinas were made to ‘Standard’ size for the range of the particular instrument.


It may be of interest to see some examples of size comparisons between standard and undersize instruments. These are taken from plans of Crabb instruments that have been made in the past and are only a few of the many variations that were made.


45 Key Hex C/G Anglo. Standard 7.25 inch Undersize 5.5 inch.


61 Key Hex Crane Duet in C. Standard 8.5 inch Undersize 6.75 inch.


80 Key Oct Crane in C (Max Range). Standard 12 inch Undersize 9.75 inch.


The sizes quoted are the dimension across the end of the instrument from flat side to flat side.






It must be remembered that the use of undersized reeds is a compromise and the success in their use is dependent on the art of the reed maker.


Hope this satisfies and is not too long or boring.






Hopefully see some of you at Bradfield :)

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