Borne of a Victorian era mania for tiny machines, concertinas are intricate instruments with several delicate moving parts all designed to enable the production of a musical note by directing air from the bellows through the reeds.
There are innumerable moving parts in any Anglo Concertina and in order for your concertina to operate and play efficiently these parts must function optimally.
Concertinas are susceptible to changes in environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. They are also sensitive to rough handling and don’t like to be dropped!
The concertina storage tips below, courtesy of Chris Algar, will ensure your concertina stays in top condition for longer and will help maintain smooth action and playability and if your concertina should receive a knock you’ll also find some simple and easy repair instructions as well.
- When not playing your concertina, always store your concertina in its hard case with the lid fastened to prevent dust or grit getting in and affecting the intricate internal mechanism.
- Concertinas hate extremes of temperature and humidity, we recommend storing your concertina, in its hard case, in a room with an ambient temperature of at least 18C but no more than 25C. Extremes of temperature or extreme fluctuations of temperature, may cause key functioning and moveable parts of the concertina to warp, sometimes to an irreparable extent.
- Humidity must also be kept constant, anything under 40% humidity will cause the concertina to react and will likely affect the reed pan and cause other issues that may make the concertina harder to play or may prevent it from playing at all.
- In winter keep a tray of water near the radiator in the room where you store your concertina to prevent the air from drying out – those of you on the East Coast of the US, be particularly careful as your low humidity during winter may lead to internal damage to the concertina.
- When storing your concertina, make sure that you keep the bellows compressed. Firstly, ensure that you have the bellows compressed by placing a tight elastic band around the concertina, secondly, keep the concertina tightly packed in its hard case. Keeping the bellows compressed in this way prevents them from expanding and losing elasticity and means you won’t lose action on the concertina.
Sometimes rough handling in transit can dislodge or otherwise move a reed from its position. Even the slightest displacement of a reed can cause sound production faults including buzzing on the notes or no sound at all.
Should this occur follow the steps below for repairing a reed on a McNeela Concertina.
Repairing a Reed on the Wren 2 Concertina
We recommend unscrewing the cover/end, then taking off the action pan and turning it over to view the reed pan. Take a look for dust or grit around the reed pans and reed tongues and remove by blowing off gently.
Use a screwdriver, or even a knife, to loosen, and then, with your finger pop up the reed that is buzzing or not sounding (the notes will be marked on the reed).
Turn it over to test just like the video (link below), the reed may need to be moved slightly left or right and flicked out until you hear the twang. Once you hear it, the reed should now be working.
Replace and play and see what happens.
You may need to warm the wax slightly to reaffix the reed, a little blast with a hairdryer should do the job perfectly.