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Salvage reeds from older boxes?

Soulsaver

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Modern materials and production techniques produce mostly better products than days gone by. Is this true of accordion reeds?

How do modern reed manufacture compare with say 60 or 100 years ago?

Metal age hardens & also work hardens. So how are reed tongues affected?

I assume there was a time when all reeds were hand made? When did machine made reeds come into use?

Are hand made reeds from the early accordions better than modern m/c made reeds?

Should we be looking to rescue hand made reeds from 'antique' accordions? Or will they be not worth the trouble?
 
D

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Talking about accordion reed sets, basically there are 2 parts in one set:
there's the reed, and then you have the little plate the reed is fixed too (riveted or pinned or ....).

You can say all accordion reed sets are handmade, because all reeds have to be fixed on the plate by hand.
The separate reeds and separate plates are all machine / computer / ... made.
But the assembly was traditionally done by hand.

I heard someone saying the cheapest export reeds are drilled a hole for fixation , the remaining grease from the machines is removed, and then the reed is riveted. Finished.
The more expensive reeds have extra fine filing by hand, there is more time put in the checking of the tolerance degree (opening between the plate/frame and the reed), much more control and quality check.

However Hohner says it's Hohner Blues MS mouth harp (modular system mouth harp) is made entirely in a robotised automatic production line. I have one, and it still sounds great after 10 years . I even almost never clean the thing (foodrests...), maybe once a year.

So, this robotised reed production may also be possible for accordions, but I don't have info on this kind op technology.

Harmonikas Louny in Czech has some info on their website of the spark erosion technology they use in modern reed production.

I think modern reeds can be as good as the best older reeds.

By the way, never throw away your old reeds. They can be cleaned and may sound just fine. The rust can be removed.
 

Glenn

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It must be an issue of money that will determine the quality of a modern reed if machine made.
Modern technology can fashion a reed of near perfect qualities if needs be but such an item and manufacturing process will be costly.
Without economy of scale it will never be done.
What can be done is manufacture blanks that are close to excellent, all of a similar standard (quality assurance) and need hand fitting and finishing.
However, throw a few million at it and I'm sure someone can make a machine to do it.
Anyone got deep pockets?
 
D

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Here are some pics of their machinery, spark erosion technology for reed production:
http://www.harmonikas.cz/en/other-production/spark-erosion-technology#obsah

But as I read in a book Harmonicas, harps and heavy breathers, a Hohner reed technician once said, only human hand work can put a soul into a metal free reed, and this is handwork.
You can file and make subtle changes to the reed

Today people are still looking for ways to tune reeds, make new reeds, experiment with acoustics:

Method for adjusting the vibration frequency range of a sound producing device with vibrating tongues
US 20140366705 A1
https://www.google.com/patents/US20140366705
 

Soulsaver

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Soulsaver said:
Should we be looking to rescue hand made reeds from antique accordions? Or will they be not worth the trouble?
Clearly it wouldnt make commercial sense to buy new hand made reeds for this, but could a fettler replace m/c made reeds in a more modern box with scavenged antique hand made reeds and achieve better tone & responsiveness, for example?
 

TomBR

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I recently refurbished a 1930s-40s Italian box. Lovely reeds, very responsive, easy to set and a lovely sound. If I see a box from that maker going at a "salvage" price I'll be tempted.
Trouble is, you just don't know. On an older accordion, many reeds can be great, but some are just a pain and are past it.

I'd be surprised if anyone feels there was a "golden age" in accordion reeds. I'd have thought advances in metallurgy and manufacturing techniques would outweigh reduction in handwork.
 

nagant27

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I agree with saving them- I bought a"real fixer upper" off ebay a little while ago where most of the bass reeds and some of the treble ones were "rolling around" when you moved the accordion. When I opened the accordion I found a pile of reeds, wax, and a real mess. About 15 treble reeds were off and most of the bass ones were off the blocks. The accordion functionally was acceptable and has a tone chamber and a cool vibrato feature, so to me was worth giving it a try to fix it. I managed to figure which reeds were which and where they went to I cleaned them all with alcohol and rewaxed everything. My rewaxing looks pretty rough, but in the end they were all there and sound good. I did a little tuning but for the most part the reeds were still in tune. Most of the leathers were also shot. This was my fist time undertaking such a big project and it took me close to 6 months to do it, and I learned a lot. I am shocked at how the reeds looked like trash, but with some work and time really turned out to be fully functional. Anyway that's why I think its always worth saving them all. It seems to me a lot of the older accordions really have a good singing tone to them, a lot of newer accordions sound more dull(not sure if its the right word). I would keep them.
 
N

Nuuksu

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Older accordions have their personal sound. I like old Hohner accordions from 30-50 because of their sound. My grandfather told me that Hohner had their own secret materials for reeds and reed plates I don't know is it true or not but their sound is different. Maybe it is related to fact that these early days different countries had their prefference of sound. I don't know but maybe there were also accordion builders who build their reeds in other countires than Italy and so their sound was different.
 

kimric

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If you look at a batch of random reeds you will notice a difference between them. Some are tapered a lot from base to tip, some are nearly square, a rare few are wider at the tip(high reeds only) some have the surface of the reed rounded like a aircraft wing, others less so ,some not at all. Some reeds will be wider than others even if the note is the same. You will see large rivets and small ones, most will be steel and a rare rivet will be brass, the rivet area will be big and square to hardly wider than the reed. Some plates will be thinner or wider than others of the same octave, while a few bass reed plates will be almost twice as thick at the reed tip end.
I suspect all these things have an effect on the sound and at the high point of manufacturing in the fifties a maker had a lot of choices to select from to get the tone he wanted, not so much now days.
This does not even get into some other things I have seen like holes drilled through the sides of bass reed plates to boost the reeds, or plates made of magnesium to cut weight of bass reeds (bell accordions).
 
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Nuuksu

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I think that choice isn't so big nowdays anymore because many players want standard sound. I have mentioned in some topic that I like Accordiola sound because it is mellow but most players in Estona prefer Excelsior or Pigini. I think I'm only one in Estonia who plays Accordiola. Why it is so? I think because Excelsior and Pigini are quite standard choice for accordion sound ofcourse they are good accordions but I still personally dislike their sound. I haven't heard such kind musette and cassotto sound that Accordiola has from no Excelsior and Pigini. I supose that folk players still wish to find instruments with personal sound.
 

nagant27

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Talking about the diiferent reed shapes and designs, and I am wondering anyone know how they make these now or back in the day? Were the reeds cut with a saw? snips? stamped? and then riveted in the plate. Is the steel one solid piece that they are all cut from? I would imagine before when doing all this by hand, it must have taken forever.
 

JIM D.

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Yesterday just as today the reed tongues are stamped out from rolls of tempered spring steel. The reed plates were stamped out of plates of soft steel, zinc, brass, and aluminum. Today the plates are made from aluminum, brass, or titanium. With the advent of todays CNC machines some of todays machine made reeds will rival hand made reeds of years ago. You may like this --
 

nagant27

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Thanks Jim, very cool video. I love all the filing shavings when he is tuning!! Must have done thousands of reeds. Really makes you appreciate what goes into each and every reed.
 
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psc945

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What does it tke to remove bad rust without causing too much retuning.
 

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JIM D.

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Well some more bad news. The reeds in your pic's are not salvageable. The amount of rust they have has weekend them to the point were even cleaning and tuning will be akin to beating a dead horse. The metal has been subject to oxidation and will never stay in tune and will break with heavy air pressure.
But I must also say I respect your endurance and attempts to revive an old box that was DOA in the first place. :tup:
 

nagant27

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Those look pretty rough. Is that a really old accordion? I noticed the round holes in the reed blocks, and now they are always(?) square. Did they used to do it this way?
 

JIM D.

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The reed block holes you speak of will vary by manufacturer. In old and new boxes the air passage holes can be found to be square, rectangular and round depending on make and model.
 
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psc945

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I agree they do look terminally ill.
Will see how many decent ones left.
I noticed you can buy reeds from £6 up depending on supplier and quality.
Not sure how to work out note yet, to possibly replace, then it may be down to dimensions of the new reed to fit this sound box.
I was told it was around 1940 to 1950 period, it is a Settimo Soprani - Lido
 

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TomBR

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Dear psc945,
Don't do it! With reeds and bellows like that, that accordion should be allowed to retire gracefully! You could put a huge amount of work and quite a bit of money into it, and still not have something that's nice to play.
Start with something that's got a better chance of succeeding. Preferably smaller so that each job doesn't involve a huge amount of repetition.
If you want to tackle an accordion of that era I'd suggest a 34/48 (4x12) There are a good few about.

You will need to learn reed tuning. It's fundamental, but it's interesting and not hard.

I'm speaking from my own experience.
All the best
Tom
 

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