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Dry and Wet Tuning--Terminology Question

John M

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From reading posts on this forum, it seems accordions fall into only two tuning classes; "dry" or "wet" tuned. I think I understand the difference between a dry and wet tuned three reed accordion. If an accordion has 5 treble reeds LMMMH and it has register switches for dry tones (LMH) and it also has reed switch settings for musette (MMM) or tremolo settings (M M) do you call this a "dry" and "wet" tuned accordion.

Just wondering . . .
John M.
 

StargazerTony

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:x Not quite. MM and MMM reeds can be tuned to various degrees of wetness. or dryness. That difference is expressed in "cents". There are 100 cents in every half step. So, if one M reed block is tuned say 10 cents higher than the other, you will hear a warble or tremelo. That sound is called wetness/dryness. 5 cents is quite dry and 25 cents is quite wet. One can get them tuned to whatever wetness/dryness they like
 

wirralaccordion

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What is wrong with this theory? - If you have a LMMM accordion you can have it both dry and wet tuned at the same time, i.e. if the lower and middle reeds are tuned at say 0 cents and the upper one is tuned at +20 cents then playing the two lower reeds together ( violin ) gives a dry tuning and playing the two upper reeds together ( celeste ) gives a wet tuning.
Or, to be really clever, if you tuned at say -5 cents, 0 cents, +15 cents you could choose between a slighty wet ( 5 cents tremolo ) tuning and a quite wet ( 15 cents tremolo ) tuning on the same accordion.
What puzzles me more however is at which note do you define the set tuning? e.g. A3?
 

StargazerTony

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A=440 is the standard tuning frequency, however sometimes its A=441 or A=442. Everything else is tuned relative to those.
 

Morne

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wirralaccordion said:
What puzzles me more however is at which note do you define the set tuning? e.g. A3?

Those numbers are usually given for A4. But it actually gets a bit more complicated than that. In the simplest case you can have +20 cents for every note. Or you can gradually decrease the cent deviation to temper the higher notes a bit. Here are some examples based on specifying the beats (Hertz) at A4 and A5. To get 20 cents I used 5 Hz which results in 19.6 but is close enough.

(1) +20 cents on every note
A4 = 5 Hz, A5 = 10 Hz
5-8.png

(2) +20 cents at A4, +17.5 cents at A5
A4 = 5Hz, A5 = 9 Hz
5-9.png

(3) +20 cents at A4, +15.5 cents at A5
A4 = 5Hz, A5 = 8 Hz
5-10.png

If you put all that together and round the cent deviations to a more humanly possible 1 cent accuracy, you get the following:
All.png

What the above shows is that a simple statement like "+20 cents at A4" could mean different things depending on how you draw the tuning curve (i.e. how you want the tuning to sound at at least 1 other point besides A4). As for how easily distinguishable those are, I cannot say as I haven't been playing with tuning long enough. But I imagine that they will have a different character, at least to somebody with a trained ear.
 
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Of course there is a complicated technical answer to the question about 'dry' and 'wet'. But the easiest explanation is to use your ears. If there is lots of tremolo or 'beats' when a note sounds, it is wet. As the tremolo/beats decrease, it gets less wet. 'Dry' tends to have very little tremolo, just a gentle beat once a second (or more slowly than that). But views vary on the definition of dry. Sometimes no beats at all would be described as dry. I’d just say (if there are two or more reeds) it’s in unison. Accordions with three MMM reeds often have switches to allow you to select any combination of those reeds, so you can get a variety of degrees of wetness.
 

John M

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Thanks to all for the information. Originally, I thought dry meant no tremolo at all. Now, I see dry can mean a minimal amount of tremolo.

I just received a book yesterday--"Piano Accordion Owner's Manual and Buying Guide" by George Bachich. He seems to use wet and dry to refer to various degrees of tremolo. When he wants to describe real dry (no tremolo) he uses the term "concert pitch". He also has information on this at his "accordion revival" website in his three articles Accordion Repair 1, Accordion Repair 2, and Accordion Repair 3.

John M.
 
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