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Ken_Coles

A Repair Class I Took

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As a part of starting up this new forum, I'll throw out a thread here. Other than the occasional workshops offered by Bob Tedrow, I don't know of any classes in concertina repair in North America. This past summer, I took the diatonic accordion repair class at August Cajun Week (see the Links page to learn more about Augusta) taught by Larry Miller. I had an old one-row Hohner accordion in G that was the perfect patient to practice on. I showed Larry how concertinas were constructed, and he was (like all free-reed builders I've met) fascinated with the quality in a mid-grade Lachenal.

 

I learned alot, especially tuning. On an old accordion I am a little rougher than I would be on a Lachenal, but it was a great _learning_ experience. Which is why I post it here. But maybe Jim or someone will chime in and say this should be in the Repair forum! :lol:

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But maybe Jim or someone will chime in and say this should be in the Repair forum!

The repair of quality musical instruments is in one respect like playing the bodhran or bones... a most important thing to learn is when not to do it! :)

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This is of thread, but here goes:

 

Jim stated--and correctly, I feel --that repair is like

 

...playing the bodhran or bones... a most important thing to learn is when not to do it!

 

But it makes me wonder, why are percussionists reviled yet tolerated in all forms of music?

 

More on topic, I feel that a little knowledge is both necessary and dangerous. One should know enough to do stop gap repairs, but also know enough to leave damaging repairs to the experts. They've had more experience, and can damage things more skillfully than amateurs.

 

Jim

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Jim

 

At least when rhythm is at the heart of a musical idiom (as it should be for any kind of dance music), GOOD percussionists are appreciated, BRILLIANT percussionists are legendary heros sought as musical colleagues by the best melodic instrumentalists....but beginning, amateur, intermediate, or even just-plain-chronically bad percussionists are not always appreciated -- especially if they join loudly, enthusiastically, and without invitation in public music -- by those who care about the fine details of the rhythm. Sadly the bodhran has come to be infamous because of the misguided or insensitive behavior of many who are drawn to it by its seeming simplicity. But if dance music is all about the rhythm, and if loud percussion instruments have the ability to dominate the rhythmic sound of a group, then sensitivity and understanding of the fine points of the music (and a clear invitation from the most experienced players there) should be pre-requisites for percussionists. It is up to all of us to uphold the reputation of the instrument we love, whether bodhran, concertina, tuba, or washtub bass, and play it only in such a way that the instrument and its players are welcomed and enjoyed by fellow musicians and listeners.

 

One bodhran player I know told me he was "just as good as any of them." Whether he was or not, and whether he would have been able to tell or not, the general complaints about the instrument and its players among good Irish musicians of my acquaintance suggest that many who share his point of view are mistaken.

 

Paul

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After spending a brief time trying to approach the bodhran (I won't say "learn" let alone "master"), I decided the most tasteful use of the instrument, FOR ME, was as a display piece, especially since I wisely purchased one with a paiinted head.

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Prejudices are appearing. Including prejudices against "prejudices".

 

I did not say that playing bodhran was bad. I said it was important to know when something is appropriate. E.g., IMOI it is rarely appropriate for more than one bodhran to play along with a solo fiddler.

 

Bodhran players get flak for two reasons: 1) there seem to be too many poor ones (which reflects unfortunately on the good ones), and 2) there seem to be too many in proportion to the other instruments. NOT because bodhran is *inherently* annoying.

 

I also think it's rare for guitar or mandolin schools/workshops to include courses on "how to repair you Gibson". Then why do folks think that just anybody should be able to learn to retune or otherwise repair an accordion or concertina?

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Prejudices are appearing.

I didn't mean to cast aspersions on the bodhran; I really enjoy a well-played one. I was commenting on my talents as a percussionist.

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Ken (checking back after a few days off): (Grin!!!) We started a new forum on Learning, and here we are discussing something else! Suggests to me you will never parse us out into separate bailiwicks.

 

toot on, and squeeze on.

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Ken,

 

In defense of those who took your topic and ran with it, Ken, I think there's a lot here that does bear on teaching and learning. Jim L. made a great point, and most of the postings following his relate in some way to the "when not to" idea. Even the other Jim's view that percussionists might be generally reviled (which I don't share -- actually I'm not sure he really believes this) is relevant to this very important point: when a musician or his instrument is not appreciated by other players (or listeners), why is that? I can't think of a more important thing to consider if you ever want to play for the enjoyment of others, as most of us hope we will someday.

 

On the other hand, of course, you're dead right...

 

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff

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We started a new forum on Learning, and here we are discussing something else!

I disagree. We're just discussing learning more things than pushing buttons and bellows to get noise out of concertinas. We're discussing 1) learning repair, 2) learning when it is and isn't appropriate to do various things, 3) learning sensitivity to others, etc. IMO, those things are all more about learning than about old General Concertina and his Discussting army. :)

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Just as I rather expected, Jim. It's possible to set the bounds of "learning" so wide as to encompass everything - after all life itself is a learning experience; once I stop learning I expect and hope I'll be dead.

 

A variant of the horsemusic argument...

 

Chris

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I think the recent posts illustrate some problems that may occur whatever 'rules' are settled for structuring the 'forums' and 'topics' .

 

Jim, here you widen the aspect on 'specificity' of a "topic" seemingly to a part contradicting your earlier opinion that topics and forums ought to be more stictly sorted out....I do believe most readers expect 'concertina related subjects' being

the idea but we all have our favourites.....( When ICA discussions once focused on "concertina cake recipes" I dropped out....)

You mentioned before the handiness in the 'old forum' to change title of every message ....and this is something I miss in these new forums since it actually admitted a continuous 'thread' to be kept intact despite having some digressive sub-items being discussed and the titles still being able to locate for a simple search.

 

Today a routine opening a new topic in another forum can be quite confusing and in my view better be used only if it really could be expected to initiate another 'debate'. If it actually IS a 'related' - (...but *occasional* ...and a little bit deviating ...but still relevant)- item (like I mean the 'Bodhran issue' is) I think it could be best having it where it is. The best we can do probably is minimizing the deviations ourselves and not letting them expand by polite remarks. Or...can 'subtitles' be introduced....??

 

Goran

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Hi gang,

 

As the source of the percussion tangent above, I apologize. I'll try to remain on track in future.

 

I think Ken, who originated this forum, states at the begining of his section on repairs elsewhere at this site, "don't do it."

 

However, some people are more technically inclined than others. I've been taking things apart since I was a child (inanimate ones that is, except in biology classes), and since my teen years, I've been getting them back together. This works for me. I've learned, usually, to judge what I can fix, and what I'd best leave to experts. Then again, I've done electrical work, carpentry, enough plumbing to avoid it unless I can't, and finally worked as a piano tuner/technician for many years (28, but who's counting?).

 

Possibly the most important single thing a player, with some degree of mechanical ability, could learn about concertina repair is the wisdom, if that's the right word, to look into a one, assess a problem visually, and decide whether or not a repair or adjustment is within her ability level. I don't know if that can be taught. Some people don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold. Additionally, few people understand the importance of starting to re-install a screw in reverse to feel when it is once again in its original threads. Others cheerfully jump right in and strip out whatever the screw goes into, and wonder why it no longer holds when it did before. A good free reed repair workshop should teach what can be done by a talented amateur, as well as certain necessary skills, like the screw thing I mentioned above, so that the player can get the box open, look around, and shut it again without compounding the problem. Such a workshop shoud focus primarily on what to avoid doing--bending that which is unbent, breaking that which ain't broke, and fixing that which is already in good order. Fear of messing something up should be a major part of the curriculum.

 

No, the Gibson and Martin folks don't provide workshops on how to repair fine guitars, but most players with any experience at all can not only tune their guitars, but change strings, and ferret out any rattles or buzzes they hear. I think, personally, it is not inappropriate for a concertina player to be able to free sticky buttons, or repair a lose pad when the occasion neccesitates. Anything more than that is dicey.

 

Have fun,

 

Jim

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Jim:" A good free reed repair workshop should teach what can be done by a talented amateur, as well as certain necessary skills, like the screw thing I mentioned above, so that the player can get the box open, look around, and shut it again without compounding the problem."

 

Goran:I basically agree with what you are saying...only the above phrase raises some doubt....but depends what you mean by "good free reed repair workshop"..

 

Since ( 'British style'.. with separated singular reeds) concertinas are not always as known generally as 'accordions' and 'bandonions/konzertinas'.

I have got into trouble a couple of times with no doubt 'good' accordion (and earlier harmonium...)repairers who did not have experience from concertinas. With good judgement nothing should go wrong but if using the oldtime method of longitudinal scraping the reed for tuning of accordions you can easily damage concertina reeds. (Well...you can damage accordion reeds too for that part....)

Routines for application of valves need a bit of specific 'knowhow' too not to cause permanent future trouble since you can't use the same kind of glues on wood that you use on metal.

Just a couple of examples...

 

Goran Rahm

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I think Ken, who originated this forum, states at the begining of his section on repairs elsewhere at this site, "don't do it."

Actually, this is some of Paul's original text. At the time, for those of you who weren't around then (circa 1996), his focus was on complete newcomers. Now we all communicate more, and many folks learn to open their boxes. We were also conscious then (and still are) of the rare soul who may want us to take credit (or blame) for their repair mistakes...naturally we are not anxious to do so!

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Let's just add a new forum for each member and every possible topic:-).

 

This thread has covered 'Teaching and Learning (specifically a class attended by Ken)', 'Repairs (accordion vs. concertina repairs)', 'Session Etiquette (specifically as it relates to bodhran and generally as it relates to 'sensitivity to others'), and comments on the forum tree and 'topics and rules' dispute and other general comments.

 

It has been an interesting thread but I fear the fact that it is buried under the heading of "Teaching and Learning" is an indication of the misguided direction that the General Forum has taken.

 

Unless everyone agrees to restrict their comments to the specific topic the restrictive heading becomes useless if not counter-productive. Well reasoned opinions and observations on a wide range of subjects just disappear into the cyber-mess.

 

Of course there is no way of enforcing restrictions on comments and I would never encourage such enforcement.

 

I was going to post some info on a CD of South African "squashbox" music that I stumbled on but now I'm not sure where to post it :-) Is it Teaching and Learning?? Certainly. Is it Concertina History?? The tracks are field recordings from 1935 to 1960.

 

Maybe we should have another forum for recordings and maybe another one for sheet music:-) Who said that????!!!! Not me!! I think I'll just post it in General Forum.

 

From a personal standpoint the saddest aspect of the micro-managed forum is the fact that I believe this is the first thread that I can honestly say that I am in 99% agreement with Goran. Sorry Goran, it's just not in my nature to give ya 100% :-)

 

Cheers, and a sincere Merry Christmas to all.

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Sandy:"Unless everyone agrees to restrict their comments to the specific topic the restrictive heading becomes useless if not counter-productive. Well reasoned opinions and observations on a wide range of subjects just disappear into the cyber-mess."

 

Goran:I do mean too that this is really important but I actually think there could quite well be a couple (not very many..) more *forum* headlines. The first clue I believe is what you mention yourself Sandy, THINK TWICE, before choosing the location of new topic AND before sending any messages at all....

or....just say: "I start a new topic at:xxxx on yyy"

 

*We* are now doing 'wrong' here also of course...since this 'policy discussion' should be relocated to another forum too...but then you can't follow it backwards...unless clearly indicated in the first new line where it came from....

Suggestions? Shall we continue somewhere else and try to agree on some proposals to Paul about more forums??? or just a couple more specific rules?

 

Sandy:Of course there is no way of enforcing restrictions on comments and I would never encourage such enforcement.

 

Goran:I don't know...it is useless of course if there is no supervision of it. Smooth social life needs 'restrictions' more or less however, does it not?? so why can we not find out some not so aggressive practical guidelines?

Why not sending a private message to anyone who obviously goes astray? 'Private' comments in public messages really could be spared and regarding 'loosing the thread' we are supposed to fail more or less all of us.

 

Goran Rahm

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