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concertinas and sound

The Sandman 23 Jun 10 - 06:20 AM
Jack Campin 23 Jun 10 - 07:20 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 23 Jun 10 - 07:31 AM
The Sandman 23 Jun 10 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,Ed 23 Jun 10 - 09:06 AM
The Sandman 23 Jun 10 - 09:38 AM
Guran 23 Jun 10 - 02:58 PM
Gurney 23 Jun 10 - 03:15 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 23 Jun 10 - 04:27 PM
Aeola 23 Jun 10 - 04:44 PM
Alan Day 23 Jun 10 - 06:04 PM
GUEST 23 Jun 10 - 06:55 PM
sleepyjon 23 Jun 10 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Claire 23 Jun 10 - 07:56 PM
Guran 24 Jun 10 - 01:17 AM
Gurney 24 Jun 10 - 02:22 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 24 Jun 10 - 04:46 AM
Alan Day 24 Jun 10 - 04:59 AM
Bernard 24 Jun 10 - 07:21 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 24 Jun 10 - 07:38 AM
The Sandman 24 Jun 10 - 07:59 AM
Guran 24 Jun 10 - 11:01 AM
The Sandman 24 Jun 10 - 12:55 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 24 Jun 10 - 01:06 PM
oggie 24 Jun 10 - 04:20 PM
Guran 25 Jun 10 - 09:48 AM
The Sandman 25 Jun 10 - 10:02 AM
Guran 25 Jun 10 - 10:23 AM
Guran 25 Jun 10 - 10:47 AM
The Sandman 25 Jun 10 - 11:05 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 25 Jun 10 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Guest Selby 25 Jun 10 - 01:36 PM
Tootler 25 Jun 10 - 05:08 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Jun 10 - 09:34 PM
Guran 26 Jun 10 - 01:29 AM
Will Fly 26 Jun 10 - 03:44 AM
The Sandman 26 Jun 10 - 06:18 AM
Guran 26 Jun 10 - 08:18 AM
oggie 26 Jun 10 - 05:16 PM
Guran 27 Jun 10 - 12:18 PM
Guran 30 Jun 10 - 02:05 AM
oggie 30 Jun 10 - 05:39 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 30 Jun 10 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,Guran 30 Jun 10 - 09:03 AM
GUEST 30 Jun 10 - 09:09 AM
oggie 30 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM
Guran 04 Jul 10 - 03:05 AM
oggie 05 Jul 10 - 02:48 AM
Guran 05 Jul 10 - 04:16 AM
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Subject: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 06:20 AM

there seems to be some difference of opinion between concertina makers and players as to what is the most important contributor to acoustics as regards concertinas.
is it the steel used for the reeds or the wood that is used in the construction.
what evidence is there that steel produces different sound from concertina to concertina?
there is evidence that choice of wood used in the construction affects sound.
there is also evidence that brass reeds sound different to steel, and that wooden ends sound different to metal ends.
how important is wheatstone radial construction compared to jeffries and crabb construction?
how important is the tapered reed chambers used on wheastone concertinas.
in my opinion the best concertinas I have heard have been Wheatstones, I am curious what is responsible for their sound.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 07:20 AM

I thought the difference came from whether it was a moggy or a purebred Siamese inside?


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 07:31 AM

I agree that Wheatstones have the better sound with some (about 1 in 20?) Lachenals being their equal, but I am another who uses the concertina to accompany the voice and this may have a large influence on my opinion Dick.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 08:55 AM

yes, some lachenals sound good,but I find the action not so responsive[withthe exception of Idieophones, mind you I have to thank Steve Dickinson for that.
lachenal english concertinas often have a radial layout as well.
I also use concertina to play tunes, in fact on saturday I will be doing a gig which will be 90 percent tunes.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 09:06 AM

On saturday I will be doing a gig which will be 90 percent tunes

What will the other 10% be? Discordant noise???


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 09:38 AM

no, songs.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 02:58 PM

If you are hoping for a serious discussion on the matter Dick I surely am "in" and quite interested in the questions but I fear there are few definite answers.The documented scientific acoustic research on these matters is poor and occaisional.There does exist quite good studies on accordions and of course the results should be compatible concerning concertinas but to be absolutely shure of course some of the experiments should be carried out likewise with concertinas but this has not been done yet.I make some short replies to your issues:

1) is it the steel used for the reeds or the wood that is used in the construction.

RE:Not the "steel" per se but the qualities of *reed* is usually the most discriminating factor for the sound of free-reed instruments

2) what evidence is there that steel produces different sound from concertina to concertina?

RE: Again, the *reed* definitely, yes. The reed material definitely, yes. (differences between brass, steel and alloys)
There hs been much talk and marketing gimmicks in history regarding "hard steel" and qualities thereof. Thee truth seems to be that the spring steel used by different makers has been basically the same with very small differences. I have for instance checked with some prominent swedish steel works which have delivered "musical steel" for a century to Italy and Britain and the specifactions have not been changed at all.

3)there is evidence that choice of wood used in the construction affects sound.

RE:Very questionable. There always are other co-existing variables that may effect tone to some part as well and no really satisfactory comparisons have been made. The lab tests with accordions reveal that box materials ( like reed pans and covers) generally have *very* little effect on sound

4) there is also evidence that brass reeds sound different to steel

RE:In practise mostly yes but some makers definitely claim that it is quite possible to process a steel reed to make it sound like a brass reed. The characters regarding sound onset, amplitude/pressure relation etc might differ too

5) and that wooden ends sound different to metal ends.

RE: Not necessarily so! but co-existing differenes make "metalended" instruments mostly sounding different that "woodenended" ones.Experiments with accordions show very little or no difference but possibly the smaller measures related to concertinas may cause different conditions. A matter to investigate...

6) how important is wheatstone radial construction compared to jeffries and crabb construction?

RE: In principle there should hardly be any importance for sound but theoretically one may speculate that minor resonance conditions might influence the tone.The sice and height of the chambers have particular influences however:

7) how important is the tapered reed chambers used on wheastone concertinas.

RE: The motive for them is to allow full reed travel when vibrating.
The height of the chamber should be minimized to reduce onset time.
So - the motive for the tapering is *not* to influence the tone. Maybe it has some effect un-intentionally all the same.My own impression is that for otherwise twin-like Wheatstone trebles which I have compared the non tapered instruments might sound a bit "thinner" in the lower octave.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Gurney
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 03:15 PM

Another question I've wondered about, but only casually: Why does the sound only travel outwards through the ends, despite the reed position in the pan and the direction of air travel? I'd expect half the sound to be coming through the bellows, but it doesn't.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 04:27 PM

The sound certainly reaches the interior of the bellows OK as that is where some people have placed their pick-ups with no apparent difference in sound quality. I presume that the bellows are quite good at absorbing the sound.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Aeola
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 04:44 PM

It's the love and effort put into the construction that makes the difference!!!.... plus the feeling of the player!!


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Alan Day
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 06:04 PM

Spring steel is in itself an interesting subject it can be worked on soft and then hardened and tempered to the hardness you want it to be.If you plunge red hot Spring steel into cold water it is at it's hardest. If it is then slowly heated to a colour and then cooled it is softer. Wheatstone reeds are usually blue.Jeffries reeds are much harder to work on ,in fact you will go through many needle files trying to tune up a Jeffries, the opposite for many Lachenal, reeds that are quite soft to file. From memory the steel when heated goes from
Pale Yellow(or straw) ,Yellow, light Brown, Blue and Black.
Sound can also be affected by the force of air through the bellows.
My favourite Concertina sound is the one owned by Noel Hill ,a wooden ended Wheatstone Linota.
Al


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 06:55 PM

While not wishing to intrude on this thread I'd be grateful for links to the parallel discussion related to acccordions (Guran's post above) please.

Thanks

SJ


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: sleepyjon
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 06:58 PM

That was me - thought I was logged in!

SJ


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST,Claire
Date: 23 Jun 10 - 07:56 PM

Generally, any instrument works by having a source of initial driving vibration, which has a resonance pattern. In stringed instruments, this vibration is usually small enough that it requires amplification, which is done by geometric coupling to a larger vibrating surface. During this process, the body of the instrument either dampens or enhances vibration at certain frequencies.

In reed instruments, I don't think amplification is not so much a consideration. But I think the tone generator - the reed - produces a sawcut rather than a sine wave, and of course the mass and flexibility of the material will affect the initial overtones. Bottom line -- yes, brass and normal steel sound different, and yes, it may be possible to make a steel with properties close to brass, if you try. But I think it will take an effort.

Since you already have a loud tone, the question as to other materials is how much damping occurs and at what frequencies. Again, this is a matter of mass and flexibility, and probably to a lesser extent geometry. So type of wood, metal v wood ends, bellows material, pan geometry -- all have an effect.

The real question is whether the effect is important to the final perceived sound. For instance, I'm sure balsa wood (high damping) would sound very different from mahogany. But whether most people could tell the difference between mahogany and maple, I don't know. Similarly, while I'm sure there IS a difference in sound created by different pan geometries, I suspect it's so small that it's overwhelmed by other factors - Iand may not be anything most people could hear anyway. Sounds like a research project to me.

I know I haven't actually answered the question at all. But I thought it might be useful to toss about the actual mechanism of sound production.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 01:17 AM

RE to Alan Day: Yes the "hardness" of steel (measured according to Rockwell etc) as you say is a factor by itself and has also been an issue of marketing business - sometimes it seems more talk than substance.George Jones for instance advertised using extra hard steel while from subjective experience when filing reeds for tuning it rather seems to me the hardness was less than common Wheatstone reeds!According to Geoffrey Crabb the reeds made for Jeffries by his great grandfather probably were retempered between initial processing and final tuning with the attempt to achieve a more powerful sound. According to reports by players this seems to have succeded.The effects on *tone* itself may be something else and generally speaking the ability to articulate the tone is counteracted by procedures increasing the amplitude - so the end effect usually is that you have to choose, either a mellow/sensitive soft instrument or a rough but powerful one.

RE to Claire:A free reed itself produces a pattern with up to some 20 overtones,some "harmonics" but most of them not having harmonic/regular relation to the fundamental tone. What happens with the *tone* on the way to the ear from a free reed instrument mainly is result of filtering/absorption from materials and compartments.
Claire:"So type of wood, metal v wood ends, bellows material, pan geometry -- all have an effect".
Yes - this is an issue for speculation as long as not being properly investigated lab-wise but some experiments have been done so we better stick to those for the time being (as you say too)and there seems to be very little substance supporting importance of pan material. One important 'knowledge' is that experiments with accordins have concluded that contrary to much historic belief there is NO "resonance" of acoustic importance from the reed pan.

"Materials" of various kinds do have *effect* - hard to specify what- one curious detail: I have subjectively noticed that button type definitely seems to affect the tone character BUT one very important
issue is THIS: The subtle tonal qualities we perceive as *players* of the instrument are to the greates part a result from the *higher quantum of overtones* which are lost very soon by air absorption and the *tone* is perceived entirely differntly by the audience at 5+ meters away ! This is one reason that the difference between a metal end and a wooden end may be eliminated at audience location.It may be contrariy obvious and important when making recording when choosing microphone set-up.

RE SJ: Some of the major (avaiable) accordion research has been done and published by prof Gotthard Richter, Zwota, Germany


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Gurney
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 02:22 AM

BBCW, my thought was that, yes, the sound in part goes into the bellows, but is damped there by the corrugations, which act as a baffle. That shape is similar to a gun silencer.
What puzzled me is that on both suck and blow, the volume produced by similar-sized reeds is about the same, regardless of which side of the reed pan and which way the wind is going. I can only think that the reeds produce just equal volume on both sides of the operating air hole, and that doesn't seem reasonable.
Must be the bumble-bee-aerodynamics factor.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 04:46 AM

Remember it's not the sound of the reed vibrating that we hear - it's how it cuts off the flow of air and then lets it through in pulses, rather like a air raid siren!
I presume that the slight differences in the way that the reed flexes along its length and width will determine exactly which harmonics are emphasised and reduced.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Alan Day
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 04:59 AM

Guran nice posting.
It seems obvious to me that hardened steel should be softened (Red heat and then slowly cool ) to allow the work to be done on them and then re hardened for finishing. Hats off to George Case for making it a Sales Point for promotion.
Gurney The Bumble Bee effect is only when playing the drone !!
Al


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Bernard
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 07:21 AM

Wheastone's 'Mayfair' range used accordion reeds, and sounded like it! It was an attempt to boost sales, but they were cheap and nasty.

So I wondered why accordion reeds sound wrong in a concertina, and it looks as if there is a simple explanation...

When seen from above, accordion reeds have a widthways taper to them, narrowing a little from the rivetted end to the free tip. Concertina reeds are near enough parallel.

All reeds (apart from weighted low basses) tend to be thinner towards the tip, but this is more to do with tuning.

So does this taper affect the way the reed flexes along its length? Would the taper make the reed progressively stiffer (logarithmic) with the parallel reed being more linear?


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 07:38 AM

There are "clarinet" reeded concertinas where the reed gets wider as it goes from the fixed end to the free end and this produces an even more mellow tone. You don't come across many of them, I expect that it is easier to fine tune a parallel sided reed.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 07:59 AM

I am not convinced by the arguments put forward re steel,affecting sound, it reminds me of strings on a guitar.
of course new strings on a guitar sound better than old, but what is of paramount importance[as regards acoustics on a guitar] is the wood used for the top,on this basis I put forward the idea that the wood used inside a concertina and on the end plates , is more important than the steel that is used for the reeds,
of course accordion reeds are flimsier than concertina reeds, but the design of the reed chambers[radial or straight] and the english construction is in my opinion going to have an effect on the sound as will the tapered reed chambers.
why go to the extra work of tapered reed chambers, and radial design if it does not affect the sound?
if wood is of no importance why not make concertinas using cheaper plywood?simple, because plywood deadens the sound.
however has anyone experimented yet with using mfi.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 11:01 AM

Dick, some comments:
- "what is of paramount importance[as regards acoustics on a guitar] is the wood used for the top,on this basis I put forward the idea that the wood used inside a concertina and on the end plates , is more important than the steel that is used for the reeds"

RE:I´m afraid no. The squeezeboxes shall not be compared to string instruments in any respect! a)the soundsource reed vs string works entirely differently (caterpillar mentioned that above) b) there is NO resonator in squeezeboxes as in most string instruments

- "the design of the reed chambers[radial or straight] and the english construction is in my opinion going to have an effect on the sound as will the tapered reed chambers"

RE: As said, *maybe* some *slight* difference but NOT intentional!

- "why go to the extra work of tapered reed chambers, and radial design if it does not affect the sound"

RE: As said, the tapered reed chambers are specifically intended to improve sound onset while keeping the chambers as small (height) as can be to allow full vibration amplitude by the reed tongue
There is NO evidence that the radial design( as introduced by Wheatstones it seems) was meant for anything else than to make the "english" construction as compct as possible in a shape imitating a circle and possibly for using the rotary reed pan cutting machinery in combination with dove-tailed reed works. In combination a fairly neat technical(processing) outfit but hardly of any (or just minor) importance for the acoustics of the instruments

- "if wood is of no importance why not make concertinas using cheaper plywood?simple, because plywood deadens the sound"

RE: This has been done and works pretty well! I recall Neville Crabb said for instance they have used plywood for "instruments going to tropical climate". Late Wheatstones at least have laminated box frames. No evidence of negative effects on sound! There is much superstition around with materials. I made new ends for one instrument out of Masonite once and the instrument became one of the nicest sounding ones I have ever come across just by accident...


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 12:55 PM

Guran ,I am sorry but I disagree, I think there is a negative impact on sound in late Wheatstones,
I owned a Crabb made by Neville Crabb it played well as regards action, it had metal ends[so difficult to compare with my wooden ended wheatstone],but i preferred the sound of all my wooden ended Wheatstones.
The Crabb was bright,but had none of the subtleties of the Wheatstone.
furthermore I had a conversation on this topic, 2 weeks ago with Steve Dickinson, he said to me that the wood used inside the concertina was in his opinion more important than the steel.
Dickinson was scathing about the use of plywood.
with the greatest respect Guran, I know whose opinion I value more, however I do know another maker who thinks that the steel used for the reeds is more important, so there seems to be differences of opinion between makers.
but since I have always found Dickinsons work and his concertinas to be the best that I have heard, until someone can prove to me that it is the steel,I remain unconvinced , I suspect that it might be both the steel and the wood.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 01:06 PM

I have two comparable 40 button Wheatstones, one G/D from about 1910 and one C/G from about 1962. There is a world of difference between the sound quality. However, I have had a play on an eight sided C/G from about 1961 and that was lovely.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: oggie
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 04:20 PM

I'm not sure any of this matters, surely what matters is that concertinas sound different (for whatever reason) and we all have our own preferences. I suspect that very few of us will ever be able to afford to go to a builder and hand over a complete specification for our dream box so it ecomes a matter of playing as many you can and picking the one that works for you.

Steve


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 09:48 AM

Dick,if we wish to separate knowledge from opinion a little bit we better stick to what actually has been fairly well investigated and what hasn't.It is in this respect not all that important what he or she subjectively "means" might be of importance but rather what factors that have
in a systematic "laboratory" way and if these results one way or other may be objectively documented.The major sound qualities of free reed instruments can objectively be relaated to the characters of the free reed itself as a sound source.This sound for sure may be modified to some (mínor) part from conditions on it passage to the ear and of course these conditions are "important" if they are audible and it all depends on *what* modifying effects we are talking about.You have to isolate these factors one by one to be able to discuss acoustics properly otherwise we end up in personal judgements like "this sounds better than that"


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 10:02 AM

Guran, I disagree.
what scientific tests have you made with steel, have you made any concertinas or any musical instruments?.
if I want expert advice on plastering ,i ask a plasterer , if i want advice on musical instruments I ask a maker.from two different makers I have had different opinions,one thought the wood was more important the other the steel, so common sense suggests it could be both.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 10:23 AM

Caterpillar,
Like I said to Dick, it is not very meaningful ( apart for yourself of course - or for me speaking for myself) to make these comparisons since there are so many factors involved. When comparing old or new or later made instruments just THAT makes a great difference itself.We are talking about mechanical gadgets victimized to wear and tear.My own experience has been that many of those later made instruments in real have been a lot better for musical performance than even more originally exclusive ones.Being a Wheatstone fan I have for instance been able to compare quite a few Aeolas from the "golden era" pre WW1 with usually demeaned models from 1940s or later and I can not agree concerning the assumed superiority of the earlier, either because they have been violated by later processing or have needed a complete reconditioning to even up to the standard of a later product.You have to compare real "twin" instruments and I have been lucky enough to have had half a dozen of different twins to compare ( some with consecutive or near so serial numbers)and some which have been seemingly exacly alike have sounded differently.
This you come across even with new made pianos etc.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 10:47 AM

Dick, I mentioned before that the "steel" itself has been misvalued in many discussions since in the absolutely greatest part major accordion/concertina makers have been using the *same steel* for a century. The tongue *material* has a know importance though and *mostly* steel reeds, iron alloy reeds and brass reeds sound differently but differences may be reduced by processing methods.

No question - as I tried to say - the *free reed* (frame + tongue)in free reed instruments IS the most important factor for sound qualities. This has been evaluated labwise and is supported by massive maker judgements but naturally when instrument makers market their own products they often(always..) try to promote other factors, particularly those they regard as "their own" - sometimes patented substantial qualities,sometimes minor marketing lies etc

You said initially: "what is the most important contributor to acoustics as regards concertinas - is it the steel used for the reeds or the wood that is used in the construction".

As a consequence of what I have said it is in real an impossible question since it is NEITHER the steel NOR the wood! - but IF you insist on one answer it will be this: In principle it firstly is the *free reed* (tongue+frame) qualities - secondly ALL qualities from compartments and materials may be of minor or major importance..but that is not a very meaningful answer either since you learn very little from it. IF we wish to learn something we simply have to check the tests which have been carried out and do some more to get further...


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 11:05 AM

fair enough Guran, I will go along with that.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 12:05 PM

What I meant to say was that although my own 1960s Wheatstone has very different qualities (not saying better or worse), I have come across a 1960s one with an almost identical sound to my earlier one.
I wish I knew more about the construction materials of this other newer one!


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST,Guest Selby
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 01:36 PM

I always sound was a personal thing because you have the sound of the machine whatever that may be, the player then makes his /her own interpretations of the tune extended note grace note bellow control and now you have the sound i like my sound you may not.Or have i got it wrong?


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Tootler
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 05:08 PM

I suspect that Guran is right about the reeds being the most important factor in the tone of a concertina.

When I bought mine (A Morse Anglo) I was able to try several instruments in the general price range and all had accordion reeds except one, a Connor which was a new box but fitted with recovered Lachenal concertina reeds. All the accordion reeded instruments were much of a muchness in tone, but the Connor was different, The best way to describe it was more mellow. I liked it but rejected it because the reeds were somewhat slow speaking, especially at the low end; to get the bottom C reed to speak at all needed something of a "shove" on the bellows. This is clearly not a fully rigorous trial but, to me, it is indicative that the reeds are a major factor in the tone of a concertina.

I eventually bought the Morse in part because it was lighter than any of the others and was generally easier to play. I also liked the tone and people who have heard it have almost all been complimentary about the tone.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 09:34 PM

Related - about P/As comments...

I have several boxes - from very expensive all singing/dancing high end ones to very cheap simple ones.

My favourite - but not useful except in a few keys - is the 32 Bass Settimo Soprani - it is much relatively louder than most of the other boxes. Well I had a good peek inside - the reeds are ok - but there is much more wood relative in weight to the construction of the other bigger boxes. The wood is good quality too. I have been known to refer to this box as "Blondie" - she's a real screamer! :-)

I have a little 8 bass 2 reeder 'Hero' Chinese one, and it is very mellow in tone, but very useful for certain things. It has a very low proportion of wood to its weight.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 26 Jun 10 - 01:29 AM

Foolestroupe,
This kind of anecdotes may be interesting one way or other but I'm afraid we learn nothing from them concerning the real matters.IF you would like to learn a bit more you would have to make 4 new boxes simulating your two in these combinations:
S/M, S/L, H/M, H/L ( S stands for Soprani, H for Hero, M for much wood, L for little)
Then you have to compare the sound while using the reed works from your Soprani and Hero respectively in all four boxes - 8 experiments all together, and better have some dozens of listeners comparing them behind a curtain, and at the very best additionally testing them in an acoustic lab.
It can be a little bit easier with concertinas since with *some* models the reed pans,bellows and endplates, even the whole reed works, are fairly easily interchangeable.As I said I have had half a dozen of such matching pairs to experiment with and a little can be learnt from that. In the labs of the "Institut für Instrumentenbau" Zwota where prof Gotthard Richter has carried out the research on accordions systematic comparisons of this kind have been executed.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Jun 10 - 03:44 AM

A couple of questions slightly to one side of the main topic:

1. If I were to buy two brand new concertinas of the same style and make (what particular style and make doesn't matter for the moment), would it be likely that I would get instruments identical in playability, volume, tone, etc.?

2. Is there a discernible difference in quality between concertinas which are mainly factory mass produced and those which are the products of individual "craft" makers?

I ask the question because, in the case of guitars (for example), two hand crafted guitars from the same maker, using the same woods and materials, may have subtle differences in playability and sound. Even mainly factory made quality guitars, such as Martin, Larrivée, etc., can vary quite considerably in tone. Wood is a very variable material from "set" to "set" and, as guitars' main composition is wood, this is to be expected. I've just been choosing woods for a new guitar I've commissioned a luthier to make for me, and the differences in resonance between spruce face boards cut from the same block can be astonishingly different.

On the Concertina.net discussion board, I often read posts by members announcing the arrival of their new concertina - "been waiting for several months and now it's arrived!" - etc. Presumably their expectation was that, having chosen a maker and model, their purchase would be of a given and unvarying standard. Or are there some variations in identical models from the same producer?

A bit of a rambling question (from a very amateur concertina player)!


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jun 10 - 06:18 AM

there are a lot of variations from the same maker, i own three ebony ended wheatstones from the same period, two of them are aeolas[they are louder than the other one], but thay are all very different in sound, they all have steel reeds [i assume made by the same man] they all use syacamore to resonate the sound.
if you ordered a concertina it is unlikely that it would sound the same as the previous concertina from the same maker.
1 .do aeolas have longer reeds?
2.is there a difference between swedish steel and japanese steel[as regards acoustics, or is it some special treatment of the reed that improves the sound?.
one concertina maker said to me steel is steel it is the wood that is more important, now this seems believable we know that wood on other musical instruments makes a big difference, but what do we know about steel?.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 26 Jun 10 - 08:18 AM

What I said about pianos Will said about guitars and Dick about concertinas - musical instruments assumed being "the same" may sound differently and we do not know the causes.
This is one reason that for my own part I would never get the idea ordering a new instrument hoping for a particular sound or a tone I did not find anywhere else, I'd rather pick an existing instrument. I might however order a new instrument for a particular purpose if there were not one to find to any or comparable cost.
Will, there is NO acoustical resonance from ANY wooden parts in squeezeboxes, forget that! so there is no reason comparing with your guitars! Your question No2 is an "impossible one" but a simple answer is YES but not necessarily dependng on what "qualities" you select.

Dick,some comments to quotes:

- "they all have steel reeds [i assume made by the same man]"

RE: That's a daring question, if they are oldish Wheatstones likely had more than one man processing reeds and quite a few tuning them.If very late it might have been "the same man"...

- " they all use syacamore to resonate the sound".

RE:Like I said to Will - there is NO acoustical resonance whatsoever by the wooden parts in squeezeboxes.There is an old misunderstanding that since the parts may vibrate they also cause resonant sound

- "1 .do aeolas have longer reeds?"

RE: Mostly Aeolas have somewhat longer reed scale but I have come across extended range ones seemingly using contemporary standard scale also used for sixsided

- "2.is there a difference between swedish steel and japanese steel[as regards acoustics, or is it some special treatment of the reed that improves the sound?".

RE: We will not know unless making a proper metallurgic analysis but even so there will be doubts regarding the hardening process which may differ more or less.Summing up, as I mentioned regarding the delivered steel from Swedish steel works, the raw steel specifications seem to have been basically identical it is the treatment/processing of the *reed* itself frame AND tongue done by each producer that is responsible for tonal differences

- "one concertina maker said to me steel is steel it is the wood that is more important, now this seems believable we know that wood on other musical instruments makes a big difference, but what do we know about steel?"

RE:The steel effects seem to have been pretty well studied, the "treatment menthods" as well, effects from high precision processing accuracy too - all important for sound qualities.
The effects from various reed block material, "sound board"(accordions=reed pan(concertinas) and general box materials have been studied by Richter and effects seem to be very small if any.
Geoffrey Crabb has told me that Crabbs experimented in the 1970s with sycamore,beech, beech ply, balsa,aluminium and moulded materials like resin for pans, and they found no significant differences.Richter had made similar tests with similar negative results.

The conclusion for the time being seems to be that the reed remains being the most important sound quality factor (but it IS important to separate specific reed qualities!)and (specific) wood seems to be misunderstood as being important( often from unjustified comparisons with string instruments). There are lots of wooden parts in a squeezobox however and these, along with the measures of related compartments, may have acoustic effects modifying the original reed tone. One such effect is the volume underneath the cover/end plate.
The larger it is the more mellow the tone it seems. The more or less covered area is important one way or other.It may have a general damping effect (taking firstly high overtones out) possibly it may (theoreticaly) have some "formant resonance" effect i e similar to the trachea and throat for the human voice. That means it might add a "flavour" to the emitted sound (by the harmonic resonant frequences related to the measures of the compartment between action board and end plate).When I picked up some tone spectrums 20 years ago I could not detect ANY resonance effects in the concertinas at all however!!
The differences in tone spectrums seemed to be related merely to absorption/filtering and consequent reduction of components in the higher spectrum but the experiments should have been continued and improved to know more.
The "fretwork" also has got influence mainly related to the degree of openness but I have a guess that the amount/length of edges in the fretwork might have some effect, meaning that the more elaborate it is but with the same total opening area more filtering/absorption of high frequences might take place. This should be easy to check lab-wise.
So called "baffles" ( which do not act as common acoustical loudspeaker *baffles*) - wooden or cardboard covers underneath the end plate do have a dampening effect.
I have experimented with asphalt materials covering surfaces underneath the endplate to absorb high frequences. I have a very subjective opinion the effect might be greater than with cardboard.
Lab test are always necessary to evaluate all such trials.I do use various "baffles" in most of my instruments


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: oggie
Date: 26 Jun 10 - 05:16 PM

In the Bandoneon world the "Holy Grail" is Zinc reed beds and proper reeds, which means pre 1945. Thereafter they used accordion reeds and that distinctive sound went. There are now a couple of makers who have gone back to traditional bandoneon reeds and zinc plates (and charge a lot for them) but most post war bandoneons (even though they look traditional and everything else is the same) don't sound like Bandoneons should.

Steve (pre War Alfred Arnold)


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 27 Jun 10 - 12:18 PM

oggie,
Of course I don't question your report that for Bandoneons too the reed qualities are crucial but at the same time we have to be aware - just as with "our" concertinas - that there may be several other co-existing factors that may differ between traditional and new products - "even though they look traditional and everything else is the same" .
A couple of details: I don't know exactly the routines for "trad" tuning of bandoneons.You do have two reed sets one octave apart but has there been any routine having a slight pitch difference as well?
= s c "Wet tuning"? The trad (Arnold for instance) bandoneon boxes I have had did have a rather large space between action board and end construction.This as sid before has acoustic effect. Are there any differences in this respect concerning late products?


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 02:05 AM

From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler - PM
Date: 24 Jun 10 - 04:46 AM
"I presume that the slight differences in the way that the reed flexes along its length and width will determine exactly which harmonics are emphasised and reduced".

RE:The present scientific approach to the matter is not such as that!The tonal spectrum (overtone distribution) from a free reed itself is fairly even and the overtone content may be explained by the effects from the clipping of the airstream itself and NO interferrence from how "reed flexes along its length and width" is neccessary to explain the ovetone pattern.
When the sound is analysed outside the reed chamber a different pattern is noticable with an uneven (sloping)gradual reduction of amplitudes towards the higher frequences and this pattern may also be influenced from damping by other structures along he passage to the ear. Amplification ("emphasized") however does NOT occur since - as I said before - there is no resonator present in squeezeboxes.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: oggie
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 05:39 AM

RE bandoneon tuning. They are always totally dry, perfectly on the octave. My box is about to go away for retuning as a few of the notes are now out.

Re Later boxes - the plans/dimensions of the traditionally shaped boxes didn't change but the materials did.

Steve


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 07:33 AM

Will a reed always cut off the flow of air completely (as near as clearances allow)at an instant, which would happen if the reed was straight, or will it be curved relative to the surface of the reed block and cut off the flow progressively towards the tip of the reed?
If the later case is true would this affect the amplitudes of the harmonics.
For comparison I suppose that you could try a siren with holes on the fixed part that were the same shape as the moving part and one where the holes on the moving part were tapered?

I don't know who's going to try out these thought experiments:)


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST,Guran
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 09:03 AM

Caterpillar,
The cutting of the airflow creates a complex pattern of pressure variations due to specific profile and bending of the tongue and its changing positions in the frame. The pressure gradient over the slot between tongue and frame is subject to forces acting in the same and also in the opposite direction of the tongue travel and furthermore small tongues never pass through the thickness of the frame while large (bass) tongues always do so.Since s you mentioned yourself the *sound* created by a free reed is only created by the pressure changes we get a) a fundamental pitch caused directly by the "external" or "primary" ( I don't know proper expressions) swinging by the tongue at a certain frequence and b) a complex overtone pattern caused by "internal" or "secondary" pressure changes linked to the tongue/frame complex.


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 09:09 AM

From: oggie
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 05:39 AM
"RE bandoneon tuning. They are always totally dry, perfectly on the octave".

RE:Well - I don't disagree, but are you dead sure? Have you checked or have tuners/makers sworn that is so? :-)
I ask since the trad Bandoneon sound may sound somewhat "wet" even though no tremolo is detected while the "Bandoenon" sound from accordions - also assumed having same pitch reed tunings one octave apart usually in my experience tend to sound more "dry".


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: oggie
Date: 30 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM

OK - The traditional bandoneon sound is dry (no I haven't checcked with everyone but the modern handmade instruments I have played are also dry). It is possible to make it sound slightly "wet", that is one of the skills of a topnotch bandoneon player, it's all to do with manipulation of air etc.

Steve


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 03:05 AM

Oggie,
OK. There IS something hidden in this that puzzles me a bit and it exemplifies how difficult it can be judging sounds or "tones" (= nuances of sound).
There har been much talk about the possible difference between tone from reed tongues in a singular frame compared to those mounted in a common plate like with harmonicas. Some bandoneons use the later variant but not all.Some 20 key German style sixsided concertinas also do.Sometimes these instruments with multitongue frames have that kind of "wet" tone but not always.Same with harmonicas. Not all of them have a "wet" tone but some may ( even single reeded ("Richter" type ones ).Theoretically there should be no influence on "tone" from the frame but some importance seems to be present all the same and it has to be thoroughly explored and documented whether there is a compulsory effect from the multiple frame compared to the singular frame type of reed arrangement.There may other confounding co-existing factors around it seems to me. The experience from harmonicas definitely speaks for that in my view. I have had quite a few an it happens that in the same instrument one or two notes only come out being different from the others concerning "wetness" or "dryness" . To some extent this quality also may be modified by method of playing .


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: oggie
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 02:48 AM

Hm, just speculating but I wonder whether having banks of reeds set in a comunal frame increases sympathetic vibration and that the material of that frame either enhances or deadens the effect.

Steve


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Subject: RE: concertinas and sound
From: Guran
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 04:16 AM

I have been thinking about that and just keep on being puzzled...
- There is a fairly generally accepted opinion that for instance brass reed frames and aluminium ones for english concertinas sound differently but one must bear in mind that they have to be *exactly* them same otherwise to be comapred properly and THAT se hardly ever have. Geoff Crabb has told med that if/when processed properly alike he can't say there is any difference.
- Bandoneons as German concertinas with common reed frames/plates use zinc so there is another factor to consider
- I simply can't understand theoretically how any kind of vibration of the reed plate itself might influence the tone since there can be no audible resonance around.Then i should be by speculative transmission of vibrations from the (common) reed plate influenceingthe swinging pattern of the tongues introducing another kind of overtone pattern than the tongue produces if mounted in a singular frame. Does that make any kind of sense?? I doubt that but it has to be tested laboratory-wise...


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