Correction of wrist position on Anglo concertina using foam pads
Or, How I was holding my concertina, and how I fixed it

A photo essay by Ken Coles, Logansport, Indiana U.S.A.
June 2000

This modification to my instrument was inspired by some health problems I was having. You can read all about it here.

Neither the author nor are giving medical advice. See a medical professional if you are having problems. Every case is different. The purpose here is to give one case study and show that how it was solved. Your problem, and solution, will likely vary.

Foam pads for Anglo handles

I got the idea to try this from the review by Chris Timson of his new Dipper baritone Anglo concertina, with raised padded handles "higher and more comfortable than the usual design." After seeing how much raised, padded handles helped me, I added this feature to my Dipper order!

Before I could do this I had to install new straps that would adjust far enough out for the foam and my small hand (equals a large man's hand if you remove the foam!). I had to repair the wood handle to take a wood screw for a new strap. You can read about that repair separately.

Here is how I got into trouble. I had just begun playing this old Lachenal. Note the multiply-patched 8-fold bellows that are too bulky to close up completely. I had loosened the straps so I could reach all the buttons (my fingers are not long). To keep control of the bellows, my wrists are flexed (bent back). This is no problem for many people, but for me it caused inflammation in the wrist that pressed on the carpal nerve. Ouch!

Here is my solution. This is insulation for domestic water pipes. The inside diameter is about 15 mm. A piece two meters long cost 89 cents U.S. at my neighborhood hardware store. Here I have cut off pieces long enough to cover the handles snugly and cut out about one quarter of the circumference with a sharp knife.

I have shaved a little extra off one end of the pad so it is lower toward the bottom of the handle.

Here, from two angles, is the foam fitting snugly over the handle. Note how the taper follows the strap to leave room for my hand. At the wider end the total padding is about 8 mm.

Compare this with the first view. My wrists are now straight and I am comfortable while playing. The foam pads are just held by friction from being slightly longer than the handle; I didn't try to attach them. Another benefit is that I can just pull them out to let someone with large hands try my instrument, or leave them in if the person has small hands. Sometimes the pads fall out, but if I ever lose one they are easily replaced.

Here is another concertina, before and after, with more typical 6-fold bellows in good repair.

Again, see the difference the foam pads make in wrist position.

Maybe I should patent the foam pad design, but I doubt it would make me rich, so as inventor I hereby dedicate the design to the public domain. Squeeze on!