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Tech: Concertina button design

Guran 19 Jul 12 - 03:04 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 12 - 03:53 PM
Ross Campbell 19 Jul 12 - 10:20 PM
Guran 20 Jul 12 - 03:22 AM
Guran 20 Jul 12 - 03:52 AM
Howard Jones 20 Jul 12 - 08:02 AM
Guran 20 Jul 12 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Jonathan Taylor 20 Jul 12 - 02:46 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 12 - 04:08 PM
Guran 21 Jul 12 - 02:45 AM
Guran 21 Jul 12 - 03:11 AM
Paul Davenport 21 Jul 12 - 03:43 AM
Gurney 21 Jul 12 - 04:12 AM
Guran 21 Jul 12 - 07:01 AM
Guran 21 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Jul 12 - 04:44 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Jul 12 - 04:50 PM
Guran 22 Jul 12 - 02:22 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 12 - 01:55 PM
Guran 23 Jul 12 - 01:10 AM
Richard Mellish 23 Jul 12 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,chris 23 Jul 12 - 06:57 AM
Guran 23 Jul 12 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,chris 23 Jul 12 - 11:31 AM
Guran 23 Jul 12 - 01:42 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 02 Aug 12 - 04:24 PM
Paul Davenport 02 Aug 12 - 05:34 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Aug 12 - 01:59 PM
Paul Davenport 04 Aug 12 - 08:18 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Aug 12 - 01:33 PM
Guran 05 Aug 12 - 01:52 AM
Guran 05 Aug 12 - 02:12 AM
Tootler 05 Aug 12 - 04:41 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 05 Aug 12 - 05:23 PM
Guran 06 Aug 12 - 02:22 AM
Guran 06 Aug 12 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,Gaffer 11 Aug 12 - 09:29 PM
Guran 12 Aug 12 - 02:28 AM
Richard Mellish 09 Mar 14 - 02:05 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Mar 14 - 03:49 PM
Guran 11 Mar 14 - 03:06 PM
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Subject: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 03:04 PM

The question whether flat or domed buttons are preferable has popped up again at the concertina.net forum. Some individual testimonies have been presented for and against various designs and naturally individual playing habits may influence the preference but the most important matter is avoided as usual, namely that seemingly pure conservatism obstructs a healthy reformation of the keyboard measures and a number of design features including button diameter and profile.
The British origin concertinas traditionally have had 4-6mm diam buttons while German origin ones have had 7-13mm diam.
For other keyboard devices like typewriters, computers, telephones, calculators etc prefered button size usually is 10-15mm with a flat or concave design which no doubt is more comfortable than the small traditional British style concertina buttons.
The general instrument construction sets some limits but minor construction modifications would make application of more functional keyboard sizes possible as well. I find it a bit sad that so little is done to improve the playing conditions for the concertina which no doubt has a potential for being one of the most "user-friendly" of all musical instruments.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 03:53 PM

The only advantage I can see for having a low button diameter is for the speed merchants. Having the keys closer together and minimum finger contact allows for much greater speed of course.(and also more buttons, more keys) For playing chords and slower numbers yes big buttons would be useful as on accordeons/melodeons.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 10:20 PM

Its not just "pure conservatism" that determines how makers produce concertinas. Both Anglo and English patterns evolved to provide settings both economical in space and convenient to the hands. The continued use of these layouts is a tribute to the success of the designs.

The kind of buttons you describe may be found on Chemnitzer concertinas and bandoneons, but those instruments, besides being much bulkier and heavier, don't sound like concertinas and they don't play like concertinas. The same could be said of the accordion-reeded, large buttoned concertinas that were made (possibly still are?) in East Germany and Italy. There is perfectly good music to be made on all of these, but it isn't what I want to play.

The fact that these instruments remain rare suggests that the customer is (still) always right. But if you think you can make a better instrument, by all means do. If you're right, people will beat a path to your door. You can't prove this point by talking (or writing) about it.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 03:22 AM

Steve/Date: 19 Jul 12 - 03:53 PM
"Having the keys closer together and minimum finger contact allows for much greater speed of course.(and also more buttons, more keys) For playing chords and slower numbers yes big buttons would be useful as on accordeons/melodeons".

The trad transversal c-c distance between buttons with the English is 12,6mm, with Anglo/Duet 16mm, and full size typewriter/computer ca 18,3mm.Professional "playing" when typing is at least as fast as with any concertina.The c-c distance for the English is so small that for all adults there is jamming between fingers which obstructs speed. The typewriter standard above is more anatomically adequate which promotes maximal speed.
Up to a reasonable practical limit I see no major disadvantages from a) increasing the measures of the English keyboard at least making it analogous to Anglo/Duet
b) incresing button diameter for all models to at least 7mm. For 30k Anglos 9-10mm is fully practicable.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 03:52 AM

Ross/Date: 19 Jul 12 - 10:20 PM
"Its not just "pure conservatism" that determines how makers produce concertinas".

RE: I have asked most of the present makers and the most common answer is that they would make what users ask for in these respects.
There are some constructional restrictions but many of these are surmountable but to some cost of course.

"Both Anglo and English patterns evolved to provide settings both economical in space and convenient to the hands. The continued use of these layouts is a tribute to the success of the designs".

RE: "Economical in space" - YES. "Convenient to the hands" - definitely NO. The ergonomic knowledge of today was basically non-existing 1830 - an epoque when technical innovation "explosion" flooded the general market with devices that were NOT tried by the users.

".. may be found on Chemnitzer concertinas and bandoneons, but those instruments, besides being much bulkier and heavier, don't sound like concertinas and they don't play like concertinas".

RE: This is a potential subject for another debate but they all are concertinas or Konzertinas according to common use of the terms.Even small 6 or 8 sided German Konzertinas with the common 20 key layout like British style 20k "Anglos" by tradition have 6+mm diam buttons.

"The fact that these instruments remain rare suggests that the customer is (still) always right".

RE: An attractive thought but history prooves the opposite.The producer mostly makes something which seems cost-effective and hopes to sell it by marketing *some* usefulness. This NEVER means that the initial product is ideal or even optimal.Can find any tool which has not been subject to some kind of improvement during history?? Why should British style concertinas be exceptions?

"But if you think you can make a better instrument, by all means do. If you're right, people will beat a path to your door. You can't prove this point by talking (or writing) about it".

RE: A minor example but still: 30 years ago I met about 30 former concertina players who had stopped playing because of age or health related problems to manage their instruments. About 20 of them started playing again after modifications of their instruments.6 of them specifically after changing from 5mm domed buttons to 6mm flat ones with slightly rounded edges.All together I have changed buttons and modified the handles on 20+ different size and model instruments -Anglos, Duets and Englishes.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 08:02 AM

I have a 40-key anglo. I cannot see how this layout could accommodate large buttons unless the whole instrument was made considerably bigger. If that's what you want you might as well get a chemnitzer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 10:44 AM

Howard/Date: 20 Jul 12 - 08:02 AM
"I have a 40-key anglo. I cannot see how this layout could accommodate large buttons unless the whole instrument was made considerably bigger. If that's what you want you might as well get a chemnitzer".

Please don't mix the button issue with features which engage the whole box construction! I have tried up to 10mm diam buttons with 36k Anglos so I know "the layout can accomodate" those.A 40-key is no big difference in principle but the top row truly is terribly tricky as it is and technically speaking squeezing that lot of notes into a "normal" size Anglo is not very attractive anyway.

Now - when using 9mm buttons on an Anglo you get just about analogous conditions as when using 6mm buttons on an English - and that does work - and if you use 8mm Anglo buttons you get almost exactly the same conditions as with the standard English having 5mm buttons. Since "all" English players by tradition seem to accept that, why shouldn't Anglo players be able to do the same??

Concerning general size British style concertinas (6 1/4" - 6 1/2" ) are too small generally speaking. They present several compromised technical solutions and ergonomically they can't offer ideal conditions for most adult hands.But as I said - that is another issue.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: GUEST,Jonathan Taylor
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 02:46 PM

Speaking as one of those speed merchants, increasing the diameter of the buttons on an English is a really bad idea. It makes them much easier to hit. Increasing the size of the keyboard to compensate is also a bad idea, since it makes some of the buttons more difficult to reach, especially for people with smaller hands and/or shorter fingers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 04:08 PM

Guran
You are talking like a manufacturer. Why not make some experimental models and let us try them out at festivals? There seems to be several issues, pros and cons. Is there any increase in weight for instance? Some of the bigger models like mine are already beginning to feel heavy as I get older.

Off topic, have you seen that awesome Koot edeophone anglo fropm South Africa being sold in Canada on ebay? Drool...drool...drool. I'd be tempted to swap my Wheatstone Special for one of those, regardless of button size.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 02:45 AM

Jonathan/Date: 20 Jul 12 - 02:46 PM
".. increasing the diameter of the buttons on an English is a really bad idea. It makes them much easier to hit".

RE:?? I guess you mean that an increased diameter with preserved c-c distance between buttons makes *adjacent* buttons "easier to hit"(?).
Well - all buttons are easier to hit if wider, but jamming IS a potential drawback with wider ones. With the trad English keyboard measures maybe 6mm diam is a limit with key travel up to 4mm. I have put 6mm buttons on instruments for players with rather chubby fingers and they were satisfied still.With increased c-c distance and/or less key travel - compare computer keyboards - you get a completely different situation.

"Increasing the size of the keyboard to compensate is also a bad idea, since it makes some of the buttons more difficult to reach, especially for people with smaller hands and/or shorter fingers".

RE:For the English the transversal measures may be increased up to the standard for Anglo/Duet without any negative effects at all in that respect.The trad c-c measure 12,3mm is a complete mystery since it may only suit a child.
The longitudinal c-c measure naturally may become a problem if increased but this in turn may be taken care of ( within limits of course) by using more functional handles.

Again we have to face some general conditions regarding the concertina concept itself.Pick the common 48 key treble English when used for single note folk tunes.Skip 8 keys at the top and 40 keys would be sufficient for all.32 keys probably for more than 90% of the tunes.A 32 key English with the trad size can be made with a lot better general ergonomy than the 1844 patent illustrates.

There is no need to compare with Chemnitzers or Bandoneons concerning general size.With common accordion construction they can be made smaller than they usually are, while British style concertinas with accordion reeds tend to become bigger than the trad models...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 03:11 AM

Steve/Date: 20 Jul 12 - 04:08 PM
" Why not make some experimental models and let us try them out at festivals?"

RE: As soon as I get some opportunity again I will visit some meeting ( maybe Witney in sept..) and at least bring some modified instruments along.

"There seems to be several issues, pros and cons. Is there any increase in weight for instance? Some of the bigger models like mine are already beginning to feel heavy as I get older".

Increased size/weight of buttons themselves doesn't need to be a problem at all.The handles I use which are from solid wood ( which is unnecessary since lighter materials may be used) increase the weight by 150-200g which means ca 10% for most instruments and this in real is non-important even though many(most..!) players un-rightfully fear "heaviness" - particularly of the bigger models.

I have to comment this issue once again:
*Weight* of concertinas has NO importance for playing effort itself - but ONLY for carrying the instrument ( unless you swing the instrument about when playing of course...)
IF/WHEN weight IS a problem it can always be dealt with by suitable suspension.
*Size* (= diameter of end plate/bellows ) is *the* factor (along with air flow parameters, handle efficiency, button pressure) determines true playing effort and the perceived extra effort when playing a big concertina actually depends firstly on needed greater pumping force.

"Off topic, have you seen that awesome Koot edeophone anglo from South Africa being sold in Canada on ebay?"

RE: No I haven't but I get curious.Please give a hint where to see it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 03:43 AM

*Weight* of concertinas has NO importance for playing effort itself

I beg to differ. The weight of a concertina determines the playing position. Personally I can't play my instrument standing up but need to rest it on one knee at all times. It's not a huge one but with 114 reed beds in it, it's a tad on the weighty side. I'm sure other people have similar problems.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 04:12 AM

In 1974 I laid my my greedy paws on a Lachenal Aeolian. I've never forgotten it, but the owner wouldn't sell for anything that I could offer. The buttons were spaced and sized seemingly identically to my cheap Lachenal, but the way my playing instantly improved was remarkable.
It may have been a product of the way the polished metal buttons seemed to be identically balanced, and it was like climbing out of a Mini and into a Jaguar.
I think every 'hexagon zombie' should at least try to try a high-end instrument.

I have wondered, in the past, about encasing the (roughly turned) ivory buttons on my instrument in brass tubes, or lining the button holes in the wooden end-plates with brass to act as bearings, but somehow never got around to it!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 07:01 AM

Paul/ 21 Jul 12 - 03:43 AM
*Weight* of concertinas has NO importance for playing effort itself
"I beg to differ. The weight of a concertina determines the playing position... I can't play my instrument standing up but need to rest it on one knee at all times... I'm sure other people have similar problems".

RE: Dear Paul you basically confirm what I said: *Weight* is a concern for *carrying* the instrument - not for *playing* it.Please do not pick nits in the terminology now - of course by "playing" you may mean everything you do meanwhile, even stamp your feet or spin your head or whatever, but the activities which are *necessary* for making music are 1)fingering the buttons and 2)pumping the bellows.
The weight/carrying problem - if there is one - can be managed by playing seated or using some suspension like neck strap or shoulder strap or hanging the instrument from the ceiling for that part :-)

One of my favourite instruments is a 64k 2800g baritonetreble. I use shoulderstrap(s) and a reformed handle and experience no weight problem of any kind.I have for example played it standing and intensively for 2+ hours without a break.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM

Gurney/21 Jul 12 - 04:12 AM
"...It may have been a product of the way the polished metal buttons seemed to be identically balanced...I think every 'hexagon zombie' should at least try to try a high-end instrument".

RE:There may be some friction differences from materials but probably of not significant practical importance. There are other mechanical factors involved making the instrument mechanism/"action" more or less smooth and precise and surely general quality is important but that mostly is a reed quality matter.Mechanism itself is sruprisingly equal when comparing low and high end models.The actual wear and related standard may differ very much though.I like all metal buttons too but they probably contribute to more noise, particularly if bushings are worn(probably one reason for the misunderstanding and common saying that "Lachenal action is noisier than Wheatstone action"

"I have wondered, in the past, about encasing the (roughly turned) ivory buttons on my instrument in brass tubes, or lining the button holes in the wooden end-plates with brass to act as bearings, but somehow never got around to it!"

RE: I would suggest you put metal caps on your buttons instead ( if you find some..)or replace them with well polished new PVC ones and put in new felt bushings in the end-plate holes.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 04:44 PM

Paul,
Have you inherited one of Gav's boxes? Is it a 57k anglo or a duet? My 61K special would seemingly be similar. Is it hex or aeola? I can still stand for quite a while and play without neck straps but I've had it for about 40 years so I'm used to it. I could perhaps get a lighter aluminium case. It's currently in a very sturdy plywood one I made myself.

Guran, will get the Koot details in a mo.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 04:50 PM

The Koot Brits. If you just enter 'Koot' in the Ebay box it's at the very top currently. But anyhow it's 130734130663. It's a 40k and what a beast! Paul, don't let Gav see it unless he's just won the lottery.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 02:22 AM

Steve/21 Jul 12 - 04:50 PM
"The Koot Brits".

RE: Many thanks for the reference.Looks nice but what is particular about it? Personally I do prefer 8 sides to 6 for anglo since I get a better resting position at the knee as the wrists come into a more relaxed neutral position.12 sides do not add anything to that issue - they rather make the resting position less stable. I have never been so keen on 12 sides for that reason. The only positive thing about 12 sides as I see it is if/when it offers more space and regular box arrangements and it actually seems as if there is plenty of room in the reed chambers in this model.This however usually is not as much of a problem with anglos as with too compact englishes or duets.With anglos the major jamming problem mostly occurs with the top row mechanism but the action board is not shown on the ebay presentation.
Buttons and handles seem to be the traditional - in my opinion severly dysfunctional - models...:-)
Conclusion for my part: Why bother to produce such a very nice new instrument when it is so profoundly wrong anyway and might have been improved by so simple and not very costly measures.For a maker who is working with drawings,materials, methods and templates which are already available you may understand the unwillingness to change but for a maker who starts "fresh" why not try to stimulate progress? The reasons may be:Either the conservative customer insists to have an obsolete trad instrument from Nostalgia OR the maker is obsessed by ambition to produce "according to old tradition" OR the maker hasn't managed to convince the customer that some details might be improved.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 01:55 PM

What about the aesthetics? It's the first edeophone anglo I've seen.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 01:10 AM

"What about the aesthetics? It's the first edeophone anglo I've seen"

As I said - it looks nice - but what is the importance of aestetics for a technical/practical device if function is suffering? It is not primarily a piece of art but something meant to be used for music making and features aiming to facilitate that object ought to have greater impact on design.This doesn't mean that looks is unimportant but it may be significant that hobby musicians are more particular about how an instrument looks than how it sounds...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 05:10 AM

As my main instrument for many years has been a Wheatstone-layout 40-key Anglo, I was very interested to read about the Koot Brit. US$3000 (even with the addition of postage and import tariff) seems too good to be true for a fairly new, good quality, 40-key Anglo, but I've taken a chance and bought it.

Ironically, it is only a few months since I bought a Wheatstone C-G from Chris Algar, so I'll see how I get on with the Koot when it arrives and possibly then sell one or the other.

I have much respect for Guran's ideas about ergonomics. But on the other hand I have been playing concertinas with the conventional small buttons for more than 40 years, so that's what my fingers expect to find. If a Wheatstone-layout 40-key Anglo with large buttons existed, and I had a chance to try it, I would certainly be very interested to do so; but I am not motivated to try modifying one of mine.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 06:57 AM

I think Richard Mellish really sums it up - it's very unlikely that any player with any experience is going to change to different keys now, as they will be used to the existing layout - so Guran is really only likely to influence new players IF they haven't already decided to go with the majority of experienced players. It would also limit their choice of instrument dramatically, even if they could find a concertina with the larger buttons, as I don't see any of the current makers adopting his ideas on button size etc - no matter how much ergonomic sense they may make. and it makes no economic sense to try to convert any of the traditional concertinas.
I think this has become argument for arguments sake
chris


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 10:37 AM

Chris/23 Jul 12 - 06:57 AM
I may partly agree on a couple of points but strongly object to others:

" - it's very unlikely that any player with any experience is going to change to different keys now, as they will be used to the existing layout - "

RE: Habituation ( "experience") certainly is an obstacle to any change in life - I prefer to call this conservatism.It may be "wise" to some part but also restricted, narrowminded or simply cowardly depending on the situation. Positive result ( also "experience") from brave action or simple curiosity may stimulate the willingness to try novelties.People are different in this respect and we are all complex in ourselves - open or restricted in different situations.
There may be a greater resistance to changing use of a musical instrument than changing use of a pencil or hammer or similar tool since learning to master the musical instrument often is a more strenuous procedure.

You always need inspiration and a motive to make changes.Those players who had given up playing because of finger discomfort and got larger buttons allowing them to take up playing again had a very good motive of course.Inspiration for the change might come from wish to copy an idol (whether rational or not) or from comprehension that a change might be advantageous or copy-cat behaviour which occurs when "everybody else" has already made the transition.

"- so Guran is really only likely to influence new players IF they haven't already decided to go with the majority of experienced players".

RE: This is an important point.New players mostly are more openminded and got most to gain by starting fresh with an improved instrument or technique.A definite problem here IS that "experienced players" - particularly so called "authorities" of and old "school" - have most to loose from a change and often are the most hardheaded opponents to any renewing.In any field we usually find that novelties are established when the defenders of the past have literally died out...

"- It would also limit their choice of instrument dramatically, even if they could find a concertina with the larger buttons, as I don't see any of the current makers adopting his ideas on button size etc - no matter how much ergonomic sense they may make".

RE: Well founded changes always come sooner or later. The exact causes of some progress sometimes are difficult to see. It happens "when time has come" but one very important factor is the presence of an idol.If some performance "star" starts using a technique or a tool "everybody" will follow at once without hesitation

"- and it makes no economic sense to try to convert any of the traditional concertinas".

RE: That really is disputable.For an instrument which costs £2000+ is it sensible or not spending a couple of hours of own work or £100 to achieve a modification that might mean so much progress or enjoyment that you would never even think of going back to the past again...??

" -I think this has become argument for arguments sake"

RE: I'm afraid this kind of comment belongs to the most restrictive ones. Like "it has been the same for 150 years so it must be good as it is" which likely is the oldest argument of all against progress...
I can imagine the inventor of the wheel showing it to his tribesmen and they all shouted in unison: "We don't need that - we have done well without that for a million years..."


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 11:31 AM

" which likely is the oldest argument of all against progress...

Is it progress or is it just 'different'? Does being different make it better?

I would be interested to know how many players have done as you advocate - modify a £2000+ concertina with no certainty of an improvement.

I suggest that you get a maker to make a concertina to your 'design' and see how many it sells - this would be the ultimate test of your theories.

Bear in mind that what suits you, ergonomically, may not suit the next man or woman - their hands may be of different size to yours.

A 'standard' format may not be a total answer and a number of players will fall outside the format (and they may have to work a bit harder) - but an awful lot will fit into the 'standard' and be quite happy with Wheatstone's original layout
This is an issue that you have to take into account.
chris


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 01:42 PM

Chris/23 Jul 12 - 11:31 AM
G:" which likely is the oldest argument of all against progress..."
Chris:"Is it progress or is it just 'different'? Does being different make it better?"

RE:Every novelty - 'different' article - of course needs to be evaluated one way or other to deserve being seen as "progress".Time tells.Even progressive novelties mostly pass three phases - being ridiculed, being resisted, being self-evident...

Chris:I would be interested to know how many players have done as you advocate - modify a £2000+ concertina with no certainty of an improvement.

RE:I have no idea.Not very many but those who have likely don't dare to report publicly knowing they will be ridiculed..:-)
I have modified about 20 for others and maybe 25 for myself.No complaints from anyone so far..:-)

Chris:I suggest that you get a maker to make a concertina to your 'design' and see how many it sells - this would be the ultimate test of your theories.

RE: We all know that the concertina "market" doesn't work that way.

Chris:Bear in mind that what suits you, ergonomically, may not suit the next man or woman - their hands may be of different size to yours.

RE:A general problem with trad compact concertinas ( 6 1/4" - 6 1/2" across) is that they are not adaptable enough for any one... :-)
The ergonomic features I am talking about firstly - balance,buttons, handle and suspension/support - concern general qualities which are NOT related to individual differences but conditions regarding common mechanics, anatomy and physiology.I am talking about established *facts* in these respects and from the outlook of a physician and ergonomist - and some "experience" as concertina player:-)

Chris: A 'standard' format may not be a total answer and a number of players will fall outside the format (and they may have to work a bit harder) - but an awful lot will fit into the 'standard' and be quite happy with Wheatstone's original layout
This is an issue that you have to take into account.

RE: I don't see what you mean here.The "Wheatstone original layout" really is *the* 'standard' and you mean those for whom it does not fit "may have to work a bit harder" ( and be happy with that I suppose you mean also - isn't that a bit cynical?)Your argument above was that *my" modifications might not suit "the next man or woman" while they in real aim for a wider suitability than the "Wheatstone standard", better adaptation to the average anthropometric data, and thus allow more functionality than the trad design....

Now, talking about "standard", ergonomics in general deals a lot with this issue and I mentioned before that both button size and keyboard measures have been subject to rather intensive studies and a process of standardization. The Wheatstone "English" keyboard is so deeply in conflict with such standards both regarding button design and keyboard measures that it may be regarded as fairly absurd..
"This is (indeed) an issue that you have to take into account"...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 04:24 PM

The Wheatstone "English" keyboard is so deeply in conflict with such standards both regarding button design and keyboard measures that it may be regarded as fairly absurd..
it suits me,all it requires like most instruments is practice, and a bit of musicality/


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 05:34 PM

I have two 58 key Wheatstone duets. One with domed keys and the other with flat ones. I play the domed keyed one with ease, the other (identical0 instrument is more difficult. Just an observation.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 01:59 PM

What the hell is that edeophone monstrosity in pieces on Ebay at the moment? Is it an experimental box? I can't make out the system of the buttons. It must have been an expensive instrument when it was in one piece.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 04 Aug 12 - 08:18 AM

Steve, no, neither of mine are from Gav. I have a 58 key ebony ended MacCann duet and an almost identical one that belonged to Keith Marsden but which has 8 fold bellows. I find the latter very hard to play whilst the ebony one is a dream. As stated earlier they do have different type buttons.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Aug 12 - 01:33 PM

Richard,
Has the Koot arrived yet?
Can we have a review please?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 01:52 AM

Dick: 02 Aug 12 - 04:24 PM
G:"The Wheatstone "English" keyboard is so deeply in conflict with such standards both regarding button design and keyboard measures that it may be regarded as fairly absurd.."
D:"it suits me,all it requires like most instruments is practice, and a bit of musicality"

RE:Do you have size 5 hands ( at the most) or equal those of a 10-12 year old child?? Again - compare the transversal c-c button distance of your English with that of an Anglo or Duet and seriously compare the touch comfort "playing" your computer keyboard with playing your concertina.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 02:12 AM

Paul:02 Aug 12 - 05:34 PM
"I have two 58 key Wheatstone duets. One with domed keys and the other with flat ones. I play the domed keyed one with ease, the other (identical0 instrument is more difficult. Just an observation".

RE:To make your observation more valid please tell us exactly 1)what the keys are respectively... their size, material and top profile? and 2)*what* is more easy?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 04:41 PM

I can't help feeling that Guran is making something of a mountain out of a molehill over this.

True the spacing and size of concertina buttons may be ergonomically less than ideal, but like all design, it is a compromise. In this case, the instrument is small and it is going to be impractical to fit buttons of the size and spacing he is advocating. There simply is not room and the fretting of the ends would such as to leave them very weak and prone to damage.

More important in my view is having an action that is light, so little pressure is needed on the buttons but firm so that they spring back when released. If you get that right, you don't need a lot of pressure to depress the buttons when playing so the size of the button then becomes much less important. When I bought my Anglo, I tried several and none of them required excessive pressure to depress the keys, so the size of the buttons would not have been a problem. I ended up with a Morse which has slightly larger than average buttons and a nice light action so the kind of problems he envisages simply have not arisen. Admittedly I have small hands for a man so spacing is not an issue either.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 05:23 PM

Guran, its not the size of what you have got,but what you do with it, as the actress said to the bishop


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 02:22 AM

Tootler/ 05 Aug 12 - 04:41 PM
T:"True the spacing and size of concertina buttons may be ergonomically less than ideal, but like all design, it is a compromise".

RE: If we agree on that point it might be possible to see better compromises..right?

T:"In this case, the instrument is small and it is going to be impractical to fit buttons of the size and spacing he is advocating. There simply is not room and the fretting of the ends would such as to leave them very weak and prone to damage".

RE: No...as I have said before I have used up to 7mm buttons on englishes and up to 10mm on anglos and that works technically.Up to 6mm and 9mm respectively I see no problems at all.The fretting of old instruments of course may cause risks if reforming them but that is another issue.The most important one is starting to practise better "compromises" when producing new instruments.The most common size 6 1/4" to 6 1/2" is technically and ergonomically dysfunctional anyway so increasing the sizes a little would mean a lot for practical music making.The concertina IS very handy - why then make it so small that it looses essential performance qualities??

T:"More important in my view is having an action that is light, so little pressure is needed on the buttons but firm so that they spring back when released. If you get that right, you don't need a lot of pressure to depress the buttons when playing so the size of the button then becomes much less important".

RE:Correct of course to some part - in theory.In practise however you really need to reform the whole construction since the common springed button force of 50-80(100)gr can NOT be reduced much on a specific instrument.
If you pick a "domed" ( semicircular profile) 5mm button the effective touch diam is say 3mm.The touch *area* ( and the related perceived touch "pressure")however is then less than 1/2 compared to a flat 5mm flat one, and less than 1/3 compared to a 6mm flat one ! A button change CAN be arranged with most instruments, but reducing the spring tension to 1/3 is impossible.

T:" I ended up with a Morse which has slightly larger than average buttons and a nice light action so the kind of problems he envisages simply have not arisen".

RE: I discussed this a lot with Richard Morse and he is one of the makers who has positively adopted the views on the matter which I have presented.(There usually is more conservative resistance among players than makers...even on technical matters..!).Can you tell what diameter and profile your buttons have and what the springed button force is?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 02:45 AM

Dick/05 Aug 12 - 05:23 PM
"... its not the size of what you have got,but what you do with it "

RE: Come on!...try chopping wood with a pen knife if you like...
Have you ever *tried* playing an English with 6-7mm buttons so you know what you are talking about? Or one with more adequate spacing - like Anglos for example? Can you type as fast ( and correct) on a mobile phone keyboard as a full size typewriter/computer keyboard?

Lacking a good tool, any master will be disabled. Whatever skill you may have, wouldn't you appreciate being able to do the same things with greater ease or doing difficult things that you can not because your instrument sets the limit?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: GUEST,Gaffer
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 09:29 PM

If you separate the issues of button spacing and button size, it should be fairly easy to prototype a variety of button top diameters by using the mushroom shape used in some of the bigger boxes, either in one piece or by putting a thread on the end of cylindrical buttons which would remove the need for retooling for a new fretboard with bigger button-holes. The Roland button V-accordions have removable/swappable caps as they can be configured to B or C systems - they are all the same diameter and vary in colour and texture. I appreciate that there is not as much wiggle-room on an English and the racket created by catching 2 buttons at once is less pleasant than on an anglo. A further advantage is that melodeon keys give an opportunity to repeat the same note rapidly by using 2 fingers alternately on the same button. I suspect that the English layout is a congenital ergonomic disaster because the thumb-loop and pinkie-plate really limit the options for spacing within the four rows, but I agree that the rows could certainly be separated more widely. There is also the manicure problem - a bit of fingernail makes small buttons easier to use but bigger ones harder.
I'm not sure that I agree with your weight theory though, I reckon that the inertia on an anglo bellows direction change does relate to the weight and can lead to gaps of up to a fortnight between notes with some of the heavier models!
Thanks for the thread

Gaffer


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 02:28 AM

Gaffer/11 Aug 12 - 09:29 PM
Thanks for your constructive message!

G:".. it should be fairly easy to prototype a variety of button top diameters by using the mushroom shape ...

RE:Absolutely!I have done that when experimenting by just pressing wider caps onto the tops of the original buttons.Similarly, screwed on wider caps were used on some early concertinas.Simple access to the interior of the instrument then makes it necessary to make the ends in two pieces (a separate one keeping the buttons in place)and this was practised also with some early models.A very good idea in any case.

G:" A further advantage is that melodeon keys give an opportunity to repeat the same note rapidly by using 2 fingers alternately on the same button".

RE: Yes,jamming between fingers of the average built adult player no doubt obstructs fast single note playing with the English.I see only one advantage with the compact keyboard - the option pressing 2-4 buttons with the same finger for some chords, but that does not compensate for the general mess..

G:" I suspect that the English layout is a congenital ergonomic disaster because the thumb-loop and pinkie-plate really limit the options for spacing within the four rows"

RE:There is no sensible reason even with the traditional design having the thumb-loop so close to the buttons. I have relocated it 10-15mm laterally without noticing any disadvantage - it only feels more relaxed.
As I have said before I believe the trad arrangement (thumb strap and finger rest ) came up by copying the measures of the Symphonium and without much practical consideration at all except that IF playing with just 1st and 2nd fingers as C Wheatstone recommended the transversal spacing can not be much wider.

G:"I'm not sure that I agree with your weight theory though, I reckon that the inertia on an anglo bellows direction change does relate to the weight..."

RE:I'm afraid this is a common misunderstanding! There is NO inertia present whatsoever when working the bellows since you are constantly working to overcome a pressure! Because of that I use to say that the only importance of *weight* is for *carrying* the instrument - NOT for *playing* it! Exception : If you are shaking the instrument when bellowsing or turning it about as sometimes practised to create a Doppler effect then the *weight* IS of some importance of course


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Mar 14 - 02:05 PM

Having just happened to come back to this old thread, I see that, back in August 2012, Steve Gardham asked
Has the Koot arrived yet?
Can we have a review please?

As regards the subject of this thread, the Koot Brit is not significantly different from my other concertinas. Buttons 5.4 mm diameter as against 4.8 mm on my Wheatstone C-G and 5.0 mm on my G-D, all with domed ends.

In other respects it's not as good as the Wheatstone C-G.

The buttons rattle, the bushes in the holes in the ends being ineffective. Possibly they have compressed since it was made. I am intending to send or take it to Steve Dickinson, when I get round to it, for him to re-bush the holes, which should sort out that problem.

The reeds use considerably more air than those in the Wheatstone for the same amount of sound. That may be due to larger than necessary gaps between the reeds and the frames, in which case the only remedy would be all new reeds, at great expense. But I would not consider that justified, as the instrument is perfectly playable as it is.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Mar 14 - 03:49 PM

Thanks, Richard.
As I occasionally like to play fast (Irish session for instance) it probably wouldn't suit me. As you say rebushing is just a minor thing.

Guran,
Your ideas generally excite me. I'm all for experimentation and progress and I wish you well with your project. Let us know how you are getting on. If you're ever in my neck of the woods (Hull) or at Whitby Festival please let me know as I'd like to see some of your efforts.

Weight does mean a lot to me, not just for carrying as I often stand up to play, but I do a lot of swinging about and 'bellowsing'. I have also considered getting padded straps like those on the Chemnitzers.

As for different systems. If I was starting out I would probably go for a duet of some sort, McCann or Hayden, but I'm too used to push/pull now and too old to change.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Concertina button design
From: Guran
Date: 11 Mar 14 - 03:06 PM

Hello Guys! For some funny intuitive reason I looked in at Mudcat for the first time in more than a year and found this old thread been awakened so I just have to say a few words!

Richard, of course bad endplate bushings are a nuisance causing rattle but as you certainly know to get a safe cure of the problem all parts have to be fit. That means: good endplate bushings, good button hole bushings and washers, correct tolerance between guiding pin and action board holes,no friction or hooking between lever and post AND suitable materials! I have noticed for example that all metal buttons make more noise in general than wood, bone or plastic buttons. This being one of the causes of the often misunderstood "noisy" action of Lachenals vs Wheatstone instruments.
The trad action construction of concertinas might be a lot improved by several means. It seems as if most makers have looked for some kind of compromise between acceptable quality and simple processing and assembly. Not surprising in any way.
I use 6mm diam buttons on all my instruments but this is a compromise also due to general keyboard measures. If possible I would prefer 10-13mm diam

Steve, Very pleased to hear about your interest in experimentation.I would certainly like demonstrating my modifications if some suitable occasion comes up. Concerning weight...despite my general approach tnat ´"concertina weight mostly does not matter" I admit of course that it certainly may matter unless you handle the issue in a constructive way! IF you DO - by using efficient handles and some individually proper way supporting the instrument particularly when playing standing - then the weight "problem" should be eliminated.


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