Traditional Anglo Concertinas
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About Our Instruments
The highest quality materials and attention to detail go into the making of our instruments. Every instrument is made to order and extreme care is taken to get every detail just right.
The reeds in a concertina are often thought of as the soul of the instrument. Although many factors contribute to the particular tone and playability of an instrument, the reeds certainly play an enormous role in both regards. From a manufacturing standpoint, because of the incredibly tight tolerances and the various angles that need to be machined into the reed shoes, they also present the biggest challenge to the concertina maker. In our instruments, we only use what are known as "Traditional Concertina Reeds" which we manufacture ourselves. As in the vintage instruments, our reed shoes are made from brass and the tongues are made from blue tempered spring steel. The tongues are carefully profiled using sophisticated grinding machines followed up by intensive hand filing. Our reeds are closely modeled on the reeds from a 1914 Wheatstone Linota.
The action consists of the buttons, lever assembly, springs and the pads.
Buttons: The buttons are a combination of two parts: a plastic stem and a metal cap (brass, nickel silver or stainless steel). Using a plastic stem greatly reduces the weight of the instrument and is consistent with the practice of the earlier makers who often used either wood or plastic stems under metal caps.
Lever assembly: The lever arms are cut from stainless steel sheets and are attached to the lever post with an adjustable screw. Vintage makers, Wheatstone and Jeffries, used crushed rivets to attach the lever arms to the posts. This system provides a more stable and therefore quieter and faster mechanism than some of the alternatives but it still has a problem in that over time as the parts wear a noticeable clicking sound develops (similar to a typewriter). It is sometimes possible to recrush the rivet a little to eliminate the clicking but it is very difficult to not go too far thereby causing the lever to permanently seize. After making several dozen instruments using riveted actions, we developed our own adjustable action which allows the owner to tighten the action the required amount in order to eliminate the clicking. We designed our own threaded rivet for this purpose and have it manufactured to an extremely close tolerance. It has the advantage in that if it is overtightened, the procedure can easily be reversed giving the owner endless attempts to get it right without causing any permanent damage.
Pads and Springs: We manufacture our pads using a sandwich of cardboard, felt and leather and we make our springs out of stainless steel wire.
The bellows is made up of over 300 pieces of leather, linen, and cardstock. The leather that covers the outside of the bellows is a high quality bookbinder's goatskin with an embossed 'cross hatch' texture similar to that found on vintage Wheatstone and Lachenal bellows. The bellows are available in solid black or with decorative papers.
The Finish Coats
The finishing step is the most time intensive part of the operation and considerable effort has been put into researching and perfecting this stage of the process. We have experimented with just about every kind of finish available (several kinds of lacquer, french polishing, various types of varnish) and have settled on what we feel are the two best products for our instruments. Depending on the wood selection, we use either a high quality lacquer or a proprietary hand rubbed finish which has all the visual qualities of french polish but is considerably more durable. We put at least 20 hours into the finishing of each of our instruments and on many occasions twice this amount of time has been put in to get the finish to where we are satisfied.
Basic cases are made in shop. Cases requiring more customization are made by Greg Jowaisas. Here is the case he built for instrument #6:
If you are in the market for a new case, I highly recommend Greg's work. Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org