Jump to content

Wheatstone Treble With Brass Reeds


scoopet
 Share

Recommended Posts

hi all,

I would be very grateful of some help and advice.......I would like to buy a wheatstone good period aeola , however they are expensive......2000 pounds at least. however I have been offered a brass reeded aeola for considerably less.....

Basically i would like to know what are the downsides of a brass reeded treble aeola ....will it be quiet , will it be detrimental to the reeds if I push it, will they go out of tune easily if played loudly etc etc.....

And ultimately will sometime down the road will i regret buying it and have wished I'd saved up some more money and bought a steel reeded aeola?

All help/ advice gratefully received....I'm starting to lose sleep over this decision!!!!!! :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you want to use it for? Large session? It most likely will be a bit gentle. If you push it hard there could be damage. However, if you want to sing or accompany folks you would be hard pressed to beat such an instrument if it has been well cared for and in tune. On my wish list is a 'Stone with brass reeds to sing with. I really have to pay more attention to my instrument than I would like while singing just because of the steel reeds.

Edited by Mark Evans
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A couple of months ago I had the great pleasure of playing a brass reeded Aeola treble belonging to singer Sarah Morgan, I've seldom heard such a sweet and responsive concertina. Pushing it too hard to gain volume would be catastrophic methinks. Wonderful as a solo or song accompaniment instrument it would have been overwhelmed in a session.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... I have been offered a brass reeded aeola for considerably less.....

Basically i would like to know what are the downsides of a brass reeded treble aeola ....will it be quiet , will it be detrimental to the reeds if I push it, will they go out of tune easily if played loudly etc etc.....

There are others here who are more qualified to answer your question, because they've handled far more instruments than I have, but...

I believe a brass-reeded Æola is a rare beast. An Æola is always a deluxe instrument, and I would expect even the brass of the reeds to be different from that in ordinary brass-reeded concertinas. Therefore, many of the characteristics commonly associated with brass-reeded instruments may not apply. I hope some of our experts can tell you more.

 

As for how loud it might be, I think the only way to be sure is to try it. Is it not located near enough for you to do that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have just retuned a brass rivet reed Wheatstone hex 22,000 era serial #. It is a very sweet and very responsive. It has enough volume to hold its own in a guitar, flute and fiddle quartet. I would not throw it into a full blown session where the tendency might be for everyone to play loud and fast, the resulting temptation to push the instrument might compromise the reeds.

 

I have a couple of other Wheatstone brass reed instruments on the workbench and they seem to be very responsive, quality instruments too. Lachenal could make a quality instrument with brass reeds when they had a mind to, but the majority of the brass reeded Lachenals were probably lower end instruments with stamped reed tongues, quickly assembeled, tuned, sold and forgotten.

 

My experience has been that brass reed instruments hold their tuning well if they are not asked to do what they cannot. Some, like the Wheatstones mentioned, have plenty of volume solo or in a small group. Asking them to do more, such as playing all night at full volume would be taking a risk.

 

Brass seems to be forgiving with overtones that make jangling 3rds (a big bugaboo about tuning concertinas) almost sound pleasant.

 

So if sweet and mellow is your thing by all means go for a quality brass reed instrument. If you can't live without volume and a big sound then stick with steel. If you can eventually afford two instruments; one with brass and one with steel then you may have the best of both worlds!

 

Greg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Greg, with a quality instrument like this one, wouldn't Prof Wheatstone's boys have made it able to take some punishment? Everyone's saying brass reeds can't take it, but surely the tendency of musicians to get carried away with the moment would have been taken into account when building an Aeola?

 

I just wondered whether the reputation is based on the behaviour of the budget 'boxes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thank you for the replies...you have added to my fears!!!!! that in the throes of slightly guinness related intoxication when playing down the pub i will get over excited and damage the instrument with some over zealous gusto!!! however as I play most of the time sat at home in front of the fire the fact that it should play very smoothly and with a beautiful tone is very appealing.....however still worried about hurting it?! when at the pub............

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dirge,

We need to seek the advice and experience of someone who has had a brass reeded box for sometime and who has played it in a variety of ways.

 

I have never had the desire to push one of these instruments. I would not desribe myself as a dainty player. Hornpipes, reels, O' Carolin and some gutsy accompaniment are in my repertoire. But it has always been my habit to size an instrument up as I get the layout of the keyboard and limber up the fingers. The first tune or two establishes what potential the instrument seems to have and I don't feel a need to "let's see if I can push this one over the edge". I'd be a lousy test pilot.

 

I should add that the brass reed Wheatstone I have just tuned might be a 4 or 5 on a volume scale of 1 to 10. which is healthy but not LOUD. I've got another Wheatstone with rivet steel reeds that might be a 5.5. A quieter New Model might be at 6. A decent Edeo at 7 (Now we are getting into session territory!). A healthy metal ended hex Wheatstone at 9. The anglos like a Carroll and Jeffries might be over 9.

 

I personally would not want to push the brass reeded Wheatstone to keep up with the instruments over 6. Perhaps it would do just fine and suffer no ill effects. But I don't see competition for volume as its strong point and I really wouldn't want to find out if there was even a chance that it would hurt the instrument. (Since I regularly repair and tune concertinas I suppose if "hurt" only meant freshening up a tuning that would be inconvenient but acceptable

on a once only test.)

 

Now, if you have a brass reeded box you'd like me to push and are willing to sign a damage release waver....

 

Greg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the problems with brass is that it age hardens, also that it hardens when worked on.For example a too soft brass wire for making springs can be hardened by lightly tapping with a hammer down it's length. I have repaired many brass reeded instruments in the past and many have reeds that have snapped off.

Before I touched them I hasten to add.

I agree about the lovely soft tone and absolutely ideal for singing with,but I personally would be cautious when purchasing one unless I had had a good look inside. Certainly brass reeds will not respond to heavy handed playing for the reasons mentioned.

Al

Edited by Alan Day
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I had such a thing I would of course lend it to you for such a fascinating piece of research. However I am reluctantly compelled to restrict my stable to steel tongued brutes. Sorry.

 

And perhaps these were the realities that Mr. Wheatstone faced: Most who wanted to take the trouble and spend the money probably ordered steel reeds.

 

This topic has me wondering. The Wheatstone sent to me for tuning was basically at 435 = A. Everything needed to come up to make standard. But nearly all the reeds were enough in tune with each other that I could play tunes without grimacing. Only two reeds were grossly out of tune. I'd say there is a decent chance that the other two brass reeded Wheatstones that I have are in similar circumstance; that is, no more out of tune with themselves than a lot of steel reeded concertinas. (Both are in high pitch if memory serves.)

 

I have tuned over a dozen 20b brass reed Lachenal anglos and three or four 26b and 30b brass reed Jones. Some were in terrible tune with themselves and some were very close to being in tune. I've also tuned a bunch of similar steel reeded Lachenals and Jones and my impression is that they were in no better or worse shape regarding tuning.

 

I have used several brass reeded concertinas in workshops over the past two years. Neophytes have pulled and pushed on them and most of the instruments seem to be holding standard fairly well.

 

So other than our suspicions that brass reed instruments shouldn't be over blown for fear of putting them out of tune what facts do we have that brass reed instruments do not stay in tune when played within their capabilities?

 

Greg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I had such a thing I would of course lend it to you for such a fascinating piece of research. However I am reluctantly compelled to restrict my stable to steel tongued brutes. Sorry.

 

And perhaps these were the realities that Mr. Wheatstone faced: Most who wanted to take the trouble and spend the money probably ordered steel reeds.

 

This topic has me wondering. The Wheatstone sent to me for tuning was basically at 435 = A. Everything needed to come up to make standard. But nearly all the reeds were enough in tune with each other that I could play tunes without grimacing. Only two reeds were grossly out of tune. I'd say there is a decent chance that the other two brass reeded Wheatstones that I have are in similar circumstance; that is, no more out of tune with themselves than a lot of steel reeded concertinas. (Both are in high pitch if memory serves.)

 

I have tuned over a dozen 20b brass reed Lachenal anglos and three or four 26b and 30b brass reed Jones. Some were in terrible tune with themselves and some were very close to being in tune. I've also tuned a bunch of similar steel reeded Lachenals and Jones and my impression is that they were in no better or worse shape regarding tuning.

 

I have used several brass reeded concertinas in workshops over the past two years. Neophytes have pulled and pushed on them and most of the instruments seem to be holding standard fairly well.

 

So other than our suspicions that brass reed instruments shouldn't be over blown for fear of putting them out of tune what facts do we have that brass reed instruments do not stay in tune when played within their capabilities?

 

Greg

 

Like you Greg I never had them go out of tune for playing,my fear was the reed snapping.Many reeds that were way out of tune were on the point of breaking. As most of these instruments are over 100 years of age there is every chance that the reeds are a bit brittle and like steel reeds will break along a file line if the reeds have been poorly made. I always keep the base of a snapped reed as it can be used for smaller reeds if a replacement cannot be found.At least you know the material is consistant.

I expect that you get the same pleasure Greg as I did to get a concertina working after about fifty years of it being in somebody's loft.That first play is a magic experience that only us concertina repairers have and it makes all the concentration and patience worth the effort.

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like you Greg I never had them go out of tune for playing,my fear was the reed snapping.Many reeds that were way out of tune were on the point of breaking. As most of these instruments are over 100 years of age there is every chance that the reeds are a bit brittle and like steel reeds will break along a file line if the reeds have been poorly made. I always keep the base of a snapped reed as it can be used for smaller reeds if a replacement cannot be found.At least you know the material is consistant.

I expect that you get the same pleasure Greg as I did to get a concertina working after about fifty years of it being in somebody's loft.That first play is a magic experience that only us concertina repairers have and it makes all the concentration and patience worth the effort.

Al

 

Yes, Al, there is a lot of satisfaction in getting one of the little darlings up and playing again.

 

Al, you brought up a good point in that repair people often encounter brass reed instruments with reeds broken or replaced by steel.

 

I have rebuilt several brass reed Wheatstones with what we presently consider conventional shoes, that is, with the tongue held in place by a clamp with screws. These had a number of steel replacement reeds no doubt from the original brass reed breaking. Same story with a dozen Lachenals who only used the same system of reed clamping. Curiously, the three Wheatstones with rivet held brass reeds I've seen seem to have all their original reeds intact. (This system used from about 1870 to 1890 uses a single rivet to hold the reed in place rather than a clamp and screws)

 

The rivet Wheatstones were the best playing of the brass reed concertinas I've encountered. Care was given to reed tolerances and I'm sure good materials were used. I wonder why those reeds seem to have a high survivability? The instrument I just tuned was tuned previously using the "accordion method" of removing material by scratching along the length of the reed. As Al pointed out a deep file scratch side to side can weaken a brass reed and seal its doom. Personally, I do not use tuning files on brass reed instruments prefering abrasive paper and carefully sanding along the length of the reed to remove material.

 

Any more encounters with rivet brass reeds out there?

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rivet Wheatstones were the best playing of the brass reed concertinas I've encountered. Care was given to reed tolerances and I'm sure good materials were used. I wonder why those reeds seem to have a high survivability?

Hi Greg,

 

Bearing in mind that brass is an alloy of copper/zinc, could the composition of the brass used for reed manufacture have been changed at some stage? Not sure whether anyone would have this level of historical knowledge, though.

 

Regards,

Peter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My partner Anne has played a brass reeded Wheatstone baritone for many years. It's emphatically not a session instrument, too slow, but oh that tone! It took Colin an awful lot of work and skill to get close to it with my steel-reeded Dipper baritone anglo. Lovely singers boxes.

 

Oh, and it has never caused us any problems at all in all that time.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What are the opinions of the repairers in the forum regarding tuning down brass reeds on an Aeola from old pitch to modern concert pitch?

Will brass reeds tolerate this amount of retuning?

Any effect on their long-term performance?

 

Thanks

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...