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Multiple things regarding tuning.

Mr Mark

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So, I have been at tuning a variety of accordions over the last couple of months, and some things that may seem mundane to the experienced tuner have come up.

Blue reed special. Why the blue and who else struggles with scratching these because they are so slippery to dig into?

Rowdy rivets. Who is in the practice of giving these a little love tap before reinstalling with fresh wax and when do you know to draw the line at either doing so or not doing so? I ask because on my own rebuild there was a significant number of loose reeds and it would have been better to hammer these out before waxing.

Fading files. How often do you go through files? A couple of accordions in and my once nice files are not so much. I clean them with a card pretty routinely but there comes a point where they aren't doing much except risk damaging the reed. I guess the same applies to scratchers but almost more so, I have a heck of a time keeping mine sharp although my stone is definitely suspect.

Bass buzz. On the inside row of the deepest bass reeds I have found that no matter what I do they are all 'buzzing' - which sounds like they aren't centered in the slot properly - but are they actually bottoming out inside the reed chamber against the rear wall hitting the wood? If so what can be done?

Bass blobs. For the deepest bass reeds with extra weights on the end, when tuning inside reeds are you tuning the blob (this only applies to sharpening the note) or are you tuning the back side of the reed as you would normally?

Bass bamboozle. The deepest bass notes I have found hardest to work with, partly because the tuners apps all have a hard time picking up the note but also because the deeper the reed, the more variance in the note depending upon bellows pressure. So much so that I have learned to tune as close as possible then test all the reeds together and adjust to taste from there. Do others do this?


The more I am doing this the more confident I get, yet still feel a fair ways away from serious competency at a professional level - although I am sure I can get there. The biggest thing I struggle with is actually getting the file or scratcher to bite...I feel I am at the reed too many times, but again, improving with experience.


Thanks for reading!
 

Glug

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Re Bass blobs, I'm finding if I push the reed up and put a feeler gauge under it to hold it up I can file the blob with a diamond needle file (600 gauge). A bit slow but it does work.
It seems reasonable to file the blob the same as you would on the outside reed, not certain that's required though.
 

debra

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Tuning is definitely something that improves with experience.
You need sharp files and scratchers. An experienced full-time tuner told me a high quality file lasts for tuning accordions for about one month, but for tuning a Russian bayan the same file is done for after finishing just one bayan... That should say enough about the difference in steel...
Regarding the blue, when steel is hardened its surface turns blue. When a reed is produced the outside is sanded and filed during the production (pre-tuning), but the inside is left alone. My experience is roughly that I need to scratch twice as many times on the blue inside than on the silvery outside for the same difference in frequency. The scratcher needs to be sharp in any case. I have a diamond-coated stone to keep the scratcher sharpened.
As for tuning the lowest bass reeds... The tuning app gives you a rough indication whether the reed is playing too low or too high. To get it in tune you first tune the second octave (other side of the same reed block) and then you play both reeds together to hear whether they sound right together. You make small adjustments to the lowest bass reeds until the lowest and second-lowest octave sound right. The very best tuning app you have is on your head: your ears! Keep in mind that when the accordion is played it's not a tuning app on a phone that tells you whether the sound (and tuning) is right. It's your ears that tell you whether it sounds right.
 

Mr Mark

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Thanks for the responses!

Interesting to note the Bayan world seems to be harder steel...I wonder why that is beyond the ol everything is tougher in the CCCP trope...unless it is :oops:

I am on the hunt for a much better stone now, it turned out I was better off sharpening my scratcher on the concrete basement floor than my stone...🤡

I am finding that in a lot of cases a very small and sharp file on edge is getting me better results than a scratcher for the inside reeds (flattening)...maybe that will change with a sharper scratcher.

As for tuning low bass reeds, yes, tuning the two lows would make more sense than all at once...for sure my own ears are the best judgement, however I have also found that instead of looking at the actual cent value to pay attention to where the needle is at and how it moves.

The mileage on my files seems to coincide with what you are saying here, so I don't feel too bad.

If there is one thing I wish I had a way to address it would be a way to remove some of the blocks while tuning to provide easier access to others (I tune entire half accordions at a timeas opposed to individual reed blocks at a time like I used to)...this is more to do with the fact that my permanently mounted bass block and the for mentioned buzz is a right PITA to sort out...every time I want to adjust the reed side to side I have to remove one of the blocks, adjust, reinstall the block, test, then repeat. I mean, I know I can tape of the holes from the other side, but I find I really want to limit removal and reinstallation of the bass mechanism as much as possible so I am disturbing the soundboard mounting holes as little as possible because they strip so easily. I am still not convinced this is the issue either so I would be interested to hear feedback on the potential for bass reeds to be physically contacting the inner (middle) wall of the reed chamber given certain conditions...do they travel that much?

I will try to upload a clip later to demonstrate. It is truly frustrating because no matter how I adjust the reeds to center on the hole they will always buzzing with a certain type of pressure but not other types of pressure...
 

Mr Mark

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Hard to hear, but the buzz occurs as the reed is ... losing pressure?. It is not at full pressure or minimal, rather somewhere in between.
 

JIM D.

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From what I can hear, It sounds like a fluttering valve. A valve plastic or leather not glued securely to the reed plate will sound
like this with small air pressure.
 

Dingo40

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Yes, it is there, but it's so minor is it even worth worrying about?
You should hear some of mine!
Actually, I've come to appreciate it as a feature!😄
(Reminds meant of the old joke: patient,
" Dr., it hurts when I do that "
Doctor, "Well, Don't do that!"
🙂
 

debra

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First regarding the scratcher.
What I use to sharpen the scratcher is https://www.knivesandtools.nl/nl/pt/-eze-lap-2x6-diamanten-slijpsteen-medium-61m.htm (from a Dutch webshop).
Then what I hear in your sound clip. First, shortly after the note starts softly there is a plop-like sound, suggesting the valve next to the reed is not holding itself closed but is sucked closed.
Then curing the clip when the note is loud there is a metallic sound, like metal on metal, which suggests that the reed is hitting a side-wall of either the reed plate or the resonance chamber. It could be that the reed does not have enough clearance from the side-wall inside the resonance chamber, either because it is shifted over too far in that direction or because it isn't laying completely flat (meaning the reed moves "diagonally" (just slightly) and starts hitting the side wall deeper inside.
I feel your pain regarding "permanently mounted reed blocks"... I have that in my Pigini C39 basson (bass accordion) where ALL the blocks are glued in.
 

Mr Mark

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Thanks again for the feedback everyone, sorry the sound quality was pretty terrible in that sample.

Indeed I finally clued in to the fact the valves weren't closing properly. This was not an issue a month or two ago when everything was first back together, so the hint was perhaps over that period of time things have started to flop - as the problem was progressively worse.

Don't ask me how or why...but the inner contrapelli's were left out. On the Terzotto reeds this is not so much of an issue as they are plastic with their own booster layers, but the Basso valves were definitely flopping around. I have added contrapelli to all of the Basso and a quick test seems to have helped immensely. I will know better tomorrow as I plan to let the glue fully dry before full on playing - I had to take the bass and pallet mechanisms all out to do this so I really would like for the glue to have a chance to hold. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for that link Paul, I will be finding an equivalent in this neck of the woods to do the trick...I'm all about sharp tools.

I feel fortunate this is only one permanent bass block. More than a few accordion factory somebodies somewhere are laughing, likely permanently 🤣
 

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Don't ask me how or why...but the inner contrapelli's were left out. ...
My first repair teacher told me inner contrapelli were sometimes left out just to cut cost. (That's mostly labor cost of course.) Leathers on the inside of a reed block have less tendency to curl up than on the outside, which doesn't mean they don't do it at all, but it takes long enough for customers not to blame the vendor (after a few decades). When contrapelli are left out (or are plastic) for the largest reeds in cassotto or in a "Winkelbaß" then they will sag and cause problems within the first decade already unless the owner always stores the accordion in the playing orientation and not on its feet.
 

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Blue steel: Bluing can be hot or cold. There are many forms of bluing that can be performed when the steel is medium-hot, or even cold, by quenching it in a special solution. This creates a thin layer of oxidized metal that prevents further rust. It doesn't itself change the metal's hardness. But the color is also produced without a solution, when tempering at much higher heat, and when this happens it's called blue-tempered steel. Blue-tempered spring steel, which is generally what our reeds are made from, is around ~RC-50 and has a higher carbon content than many steels. So it's important to have tools that are at least that hard.

Rivets: I tap to set the rivet when the reed doesn't respond to my initial filing, or if the reed tongue is swiveling at all. Loose rivets make the pitch drop. If you file a reed that isn't set, then set it, it will jump up in pitch. That said, I don't find I have to do this often.

Files: Good ones are really important. I use high quality Swiss files. They wear out, but it takes years. For cleaning, I use a brass bristled brush made for cleaning small files. I know some people favor diamond coated files -- I haven't tried them.

Blobs: I always prefer to file the blob/weight if I have the option. I don't touch the reed tongue unless I have to. The weights are made of softer metal, like brass or even solder, so I don't use good files here -- I use a $3 set from Harbor Freight.

Bass tuning: the "arc" of the note (low first, then high) is real. It exists even in the more pressure-controlled environment inside the accordion. The play style of the intended user matters. If they intend to drone softly, the most important point in the curve is the sustained mid-section. If they intend to use the bass primarily in sharp, intense bursts, the most important point is the initial (low) moment. I do the same as you, and spot tune after it's assembled.
 

Mr Mark

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Problem has more or less been solved...the F in particular may still be rubbing against the reed block end wall but everything else is much improved.

Understanding that contrapelli aren't always added was some of the reasoning for this having occurred in the first place, yes. One of those learning experiences, as for other reasons a somewhat abnormal selection of valves was used - so only one set of reeds actually required support thankfully.

I appreciate the blue steel explanations, its always great to know the actual reasons for things - another thing to go into my list of notes...

The blobs definitely plugged up my good files quick, so it was also a quick lesson to use other files.

Very good to hear referencing about tuning to the playing style, for sure this has been in the back of my head with all of this so positive reaffirmation is great to hear. I am finding a lot of learning experiences in the world of squeeze repair to be like this.
 

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