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Limits of retuning

KLR

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I've another question about my old Hohner LMMM 3 row diatonic box, which is how far can the reeds be retuned before their performance is compromised? It's in Scottish musette, I don't know how wet but typical for that sound, definitely over 20 cents. I HATE wet tuning in the first place and have simply played this box for years as LM, with two of the blocks taped off; but am finally giving up on that as it's harder to play that way; I'll just stuff cotton in my ears and keep practicing until my newish B/C/C# has its new a mano reeds installed.

Could the Hohner's reeds be set to unison with the others? Or how about just flattening the sharper set? Then I'd tape off the flat block and have a nice sounding LMM. Putting solder on tongues' tips and scratching the base of reeds seems much less drastic.
 

Sebastian Bravo

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it's possible to tune it with less tremolo, but you have to be very careful with the scratching process. Tuning them to 8 cents would be a good idea and not that harmful to the reeds. I recieved once a Hohner Concerto III (LMM) with EVERY REED tuned down to 436Hz... that was weird, and the reeds were scratched a lot in their base and middle (with an italian scratcher) and the tuning was correct. So, tuning down that tremolo is possible, even tuning all the three M reeds in unison. What you don't have to do is to tune them again to 20 cents, that would be only damage (most of the harmonics are made in the tip of the reed, and the sound quality lowers when you scratch the tip so much)
 

Ventura

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i would not try and mess with reeds for that drastic a tuning issue...
what a colossal amount of time would be needed !

order new reeds for those 2 reedblocks and replace them
or
find another one on Ebay or Craigslist that's maybe even a junker
but with good reeds and salvage them then swap those reeds in

ciao

Ventura
 

TomBR

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If the reeds are still in factory condition and haven't been mucked about with in the meantime then bringing the upper set down to something acceptable would be no big deal.

Hohner LMMM B/C/C# - what is it? ;)
 

Ventura

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my feeling is, lowering a reed THAT MUCH means removing
(comparatively) a lot of mass at slightly below
the flex point which is hard to do perfectly so how
much loss of metal will you end up with near the
Flex point and is it worth the risk of increasing the Snap factor
which it will
 

TomBR

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You mean removing stiffness?
I've tuned plenty of reeds down by 20 cents or so without problems. Up is trickier as mentioned above.
 
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Ventura

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that is interesting...

for me, tuning up is more comfortable as i can support
the reed fully from any stress being sent to the wrong spot,
and i can use many different tools that will not leave a scratch
or gouge at all but merely polish a tiny bit of mass off near the tip

i do know of a professional factory tuning setup in Italy that
uses a diamond belt (and computer sampling) to lower pitch
which also is like polishing the reed rather than gouging it

perhaps scratching makes no difference in reed longevity or strength,
but i "feel" like it does

years ago i made myself a tuning table out of an old
Farfisa air blower reeded table organ.. you see them under many brands
even sears on Ebay from time to time... 4 skinny legs and a small
stradella type section...

anyhow, this allowed me to "see" reeds more clearly as they flex
and it gave me a lot of respect for how strong and flexible
Steel can actually be

but just like Clock Coil springs and Victrola motor springs, there
is a finite limit to how many times a piece of metal can flex before it cracks
or otherwise fails

but this is just my personal feeling

surely every one of us in our beginner attempts learning reed-tuning
have snapped a reed or two right off !

ciao

Ventura
 

Sebastian Bravo

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I use sandpaper glued to a wooden flat stick (ice cream sticks). That way, the metal removing process is flat and does less damage to the reed. I use 180 grit sandpaper to lower the pitch of the bassoon and clarinet reeds, higher octaves i use 400grit or even 800grit for the highest piccolo reeds. After you get the reeds to a near pitch, you have to change the sandpaper to higher grit, to polish the surface and get them perfectly tuned. The scratches won't be visible, and the tuning will last longer. Scratching with these "scratcher" tools looks horrible and the scratched zones can be covered in rust or dirt and the tuning will change. The reeds will break if the material removing process is "focused" in the flexible zone, so be gentle while sanding.

I am so sad because i am currently working on a Hohner Gola that was serviced somewhere in Germany with a dremel tool, and it ruined most of the reeds :(
 

Ventura

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you can get diamond grit bits in many shapes and sizes and
affordably priced too, but i only use them in a pin vise holder
or in a pinch held in my dremel (but not turned on !!!)

i feel there is less chance of any grit being dislodged from these,
though the glued fine sandpaper on sticks is a method my friend
also swears by and is certainly tried and true

there are also fine diamond grit fingernail files available

yes.. sad to hear those gola reeds were so mistreated...
they only existed for a short time comparatively, and will
never be made again as the secrets have died with the builders
 

KLR

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Hohner LMMM B/C/C# - what is it? ;)

Sounds like you know already!

Hohner Gaelic IVS

144505.jpg

I'm spending so much on having those a mano reeds installed that working on this box will be down the road, anyway. It needs the buttons lowered too. The wetness on the low G of the C row is almost comically atonal, like something from an avant garde composition.
 

TomBR

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Sounds like you know already!

Hohner Gaelic IVS
I had an idea but wasn't sure which one! Nice box.

As a CBA player I like Jimmy Shand Junior's playing but the tuning of the box on the recording I have makes it unlistenable!

All reed tuning is "destructive" to some degree but Sebastian's tuning method is very kind to the reeds.
I use fine files or abrasives whenever I can, scratching only when necessary.
 

debra

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As Tom already said accordion tuning is "destructive". There is a huge difference between reed makes and types as to how much filing and scratching they can take. Some reeds are more delicate, apparently made out of softer or thinner steel, and other reeds are more robust, thicker or from tougher steel. I'm currently working on a nice (almost brand new) Pigini accordion that appears to have quite soft (hand-made) reeds without any markings as to the brand, and a while ago I worked on an older Guerrini with Taborrov reeds which were the very best and strongest reeds I ever encountered. Strong reeds can certainly handle quite a bit of tuning, and especially the bit of tuning needed to change the tremolo. They could even withstand a change in pitch of a whole accordion from 442 down to 440 (or vice versa), when done just once. (That is actually just 8 cents difference around the standard A.) But with old instruments that have been tuned many times already... it's best to be very careful.
 

KLR

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I've read over at melodeon.net that the Gaelic belonged to a line of accordions - Amatona and Primatona were others - which were apparently Swiss constructed, to one degree or other. Not sure if similar piano accordion or CBAs were built. I suppose this might have some bearing on the quality of the reeds.

My tuner does excellent work so I'll ask him about him about this when I get a chance. I've gone back to just playing LM too - I can only handle all that wetness for a day or two. It's something that's fun to hear on occasion; if I had the proverbial crowded floor of dancers to be heard over I'd want something that cut, too.

I've also read of Irish players who've had instruments retuned a whole semitone. One of them has been playing the same very old Hohner for about 40 years now.
 
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