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High reed not sounding at low volume?

Tom

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So, what is the primary cause of a (relatively) high  treble reed not vibrating properly (not making any sound) at a low volume?

I have high B and C (986, 1045) in my Clarinet register that take significantly more air to play than their neighbors.  They play, but not at equally low volume.  It's not a super major issue but it is annoying to the ear. 

What could be the cause, and what could be the remedy?  Is it that same issue of the reed not being centered and air leaking out around it? I have not opened the accordion to peek at the reeds as it is new.

Thank you in advance for any advice!  Tom
 
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maugein96

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Tom pid=63794 dateline=1549337581 said:
So, what is the primary cause of a (relatively) high  treble reed not vibrating properly (not making any sound) at a low volume?

Tom,

Ive only ever owned two brand new accordions. One had been on display in the shop/store for a good while and had seen a bit of use. I bought it in person. The other one came by air freight from a little island called America. 

It was a cheap little Hohner (not sure if it was you I shared a bit of banter about it) and it had two dodgy reeds. 

At a very rough guess there may be some debris left in the inner workings of the accordion, and all it takes is a tiny particle of wood or metal to get lodged under the reed blade and the reed either refuses to sound unless you blast it with air, or it under performs like what is happening with yours. 

On the other hand the reeds might just need played in and will eventually come good. If you can put up with it for a month or so the reeds might start to settle down. At this time of year changes in ambient temperature can cause issues, and the sort of temperatures youre having in the US, if they are occurring in your area, where the accordion came from, or the areas it passed through in transit, might be a big part of the issue.   

I know nothing at all about all the science of the internal workings, and have only seen two DIY cures. The most basic one is to identify the sticky notes and repeatedly compress the bellows hard until the offending reeds free off a bit.

The other option involves taking the reed block out of the instrument and blowing through the offending reed(s) in an attempt to achieve the same result as above. The technical types will advise you against that in case you leave any moisture in the reed block, but if you consider a harmonica what would be your first thoughts if the reeds were sticky on it? Its a tough call, as even a top of the range harmonica is cheaper by a long way than a brand new accordion. 

In my case I had to resort to the second option, but I only had partial success with one of the reeds, which is also slightly out of tune. For the type of instrument it is it isnt worth taking it to a repairer, as I ended up hardly ever playing it in any case. 

The good news is Ive seen other posts on here where people have had the same issues, and Id be inclined just to play it for a while and see what happens. If youre anything like me, once those bellows pins come out its a bit of a lottery as to whats going to happen if I cant get everything to work properly.


TIP:- Youll see the guy pull out all the bellows pins and just chuck them in a dish. You should really put the same pin back in the same hole, according to what Ive read elsewhere.

Youll see from the YT comments that not everybody appreciates the video content or the background music. As there is nothing to hear instruction wise Id be inclined to douse the volume to just under zero. The word numpty translates as half-wit. At a guess the poster of the video realised it was going to be watched by non-English speakers, and I can assure you that a lot of these instruction videos are better if the person just says nothing and gets on with the job.
 

Tom

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Thanks Jazz! What is reed voicing? I thought it was tuning, but I guess not if it relates to volume.

Thanks John, I've opened pretty much all of my accordions. My other new piano accordion had an unlevel key out of the box that I had to repair. I've come across bits of material keeping a reed from playing at all but not from playing only with more air. Something to think about.

He was fortunate in that video that it was an outside reed. I'll play it a while and see if it loosens up. If not, I may take a look.
 
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maugein96

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Tom pid=63799 dateline=1549376872 said:
Thanks Jazz!  What is reed voicing?  I thought it was tuning, but I guess not if it relates to volume.

Thanks John, Ive opened pretty much all of my accordions.  My other new piano accordion had an unlevel key out of the box that I had to repair.  Ive come across bits of material keeping a reed from playing at all but not from playing only with more air.  Something to think about.

He was fortunate in that video that it was an outside reed.  Ill play it a while and see if it loosens up.  If not, I may take a look.

Tom,

Out of my comfort zone, but I believe reed voicing concerns the height the reed blade sits above the plate. This link has a video that tries to explain it, but could probably have done with just a bit more info. He is talking about concertina reeds but I believe the principle for accordions is the same. I think jozz means that your two reeds may be set slightly higher or lower than their neighbours from the base plate.

However, in the first video he tells us that the reeds need time to settle in and be able to flex properly. Yet again, I would wait a while and see what transpires, as you appear to be intent on doing. I would be very disinclined to mess about with reed voicing, especially in a brand new box.  

http://irish.cocolog-nifty.com/flute_concertina/2011/10/setting-the-ree.html

The baby tries to tell us whats wrong when the reed doesnt sound, but I couldnt understand his accent!
 

Tom

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Thanks John! That explains it very well. If it doesn't work after I while I see how I can proceed.
 

debra

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Tom said:
Thanks John!  That explains it very well.  If it doesn't work after I while I see how I can proceed.

Adjusting the voicing of a high reed is extremely delicate. The difference between the reed not sounding at all, sounding with difficulty and responding easily is minute. Also, while you can adjust the voicing of larger reeds without any noticeable effect on the frequency adjusting a high reed almost inevitably changes the frequency enough to require retuning (and retuning is likely to change the voicing again, so it becomes an iterative process).
 

Tom

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Thanks Paul! Hopefully it will work itself out. (Or I'll use a different reed set when the songs go that high. :) )
 

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Tom said:
Thanks Paul!  Hopefully it will work itself out.  (Or I'll use a different reed set when the songs go that high.  :) )

That is wishful thinking I have heard many times, mostly from ignorant players. The voicing of reeds is something that rarely changes in any significant way all by itself. It does not "work itself out". (As reeds are pulled into the hole while playing you might hope for a reed to slowly work itself to be closer and closer to the reed plate but I have never observed this in any significant way.) When a note needs voicing, it is not going to fix itself!
 

Tom

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I'm sure you're right Paul! Fortunately I'm not ignorant, only optimistic, hey, I play accordion don't I? Anyway, it's a pleasant opportunity to experiment and learn something new.....
 
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maugein96

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Tom said:
I'm sure you're right Paul!  Fortunately I'm not ignorant, only optimistic, hey, I play accordion don't I? Anyway, it's a pleasant opportunity to experiment and learn something new.....

Tom, 

Hopefully it will just be the "bedding in" issue with new reeds that was mentioned earlier in the thread. Apparently it takes them all a bit of time to flex properly, but I haven't much experience of such things at all.
 

Tom

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Thanks John, I'll play it a while and let you know. Ok to remind me!
 

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