Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

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Abraxas
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Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Abraxas » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:26 am

Greetings. I have a house full of accordions and only one is in tune. All of these others that are supposed to be wet tuned are not. They vary from a little student size Salanti, up to a 60 bass Frontalini and then a Hohner Atlantic 4. I can't afford to ship these off to far away places for tuning. I'm quite good with tools and have a diploma in electronics so counting hertz is not a challenge. It seems no tuner has ever committed him or herself to sharing their secrets. I might also add that I'm not sure if perhaps all these boxes need is reed cleaning but I don't know how to do that either ??? A tooth brush and alcohol ?? Any suggestions ??

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:36 am

I learned the basics of tuning from an old local accordion repairman who was committed to sharing the "secrets". There is now also a series of courses taught in Castelfidardo that are about accordion repair in general. The first two modules are necessary to be able to do the most commonly needed repairs, including tuning, but there is then further specialization in repair and a special module on the finer secrets of tuning. It is a longish and expensive undertaking to take these courses...
Old boxes often do need reed cleaning and also valve and wax replacement. A complete job is a major undertaking: remove reed plates, remove valves, soak reed plates in naphta (not alcohol) overnight, then clean off the reeds (a tooth brush sounds like a good idea, but a paper towel will do as well), remove all wax from reed blocks, put valves on the inside of the reed plates (the side without a diagonal corner stripe), put reed plates on the reed blocks (in the correct position), wax them in place (an intricate skill in itself), remove any spilled wax with naphta, put valves on the outside of the reed plates, then WAIT for THREE WEEKS, then do tuning. The whole process takes at least 5 weeks (including the waiting time) on a smallish accordion, 7 weeks on a really large box...
If you count working hours then this job is almost always more expensive than the economic value of any really old box.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by colinm » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:15 am

Abraxas wrote:Greetings. I have a house full of accordions and only one is in tune. All of these others that are supposed to be wet tuned are not. They vary from a little student size Salanti, up to a 60 bass Frontalini and then a Hohner Atlantic 4. I can't afford to ship these off to far away places for tuning. I'm quite good with tools and have a diploma in electronics so counting hertz is not a challenge. It seems no tuner has ever committed him or herself to sharing their secrets. I might also add that I'm not sure if perhaps all these boxes need is reed cleaning but I don't know how to do that either ??? A tooth brush and alcohol ?? Any suggestions ??
The process is explained in “Accordion Revival” the more you do, the better you will become.
E


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Colinm, vignoni 37/96 double cassotto,

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Abraxas » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:37 am

Thanks. I'm obviously not moving to italy to take any courses. I'm now starting to see some instructional videos on Youtube. I'm surprised there aren't more. Any recommendations ? As far as wet tuning goes, can I use a microphone and oscilloscope to measure frequencies and tune against a chart ? I looked up the meaning of a cent and wound up more confused than when I Googled it. It sounds non-linear. If I have more than one reed sounding a note, which one is nominal and which gets detuned and is that detuned reed above or below nominal and by how many cents ?

I found Accordion Revival to be of limited value as I did not see any thorough videos ...indeed I didn't see any videos at all.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:55 am

For measuring, download an app like DaTuner Lite (free, for Android) and it will show you the frequency and deviation in cent. Everything becomes immediately clear with such an app.
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by TomBR » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:20 pm

Abraxas wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:37 am
I looked up the meaning of a cent and wound up more confused than when I Googled it. It sounds non-linear.
You've got to try harder then! :D It's not too hard.
Abraxas wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:37 am
If I have more than one reed sounding a note, which one is nominal and which gets detuned and is that detuned reed above or below nominal and by how many cents ?
If the accordion has a solo reed coupler setting think what you want that to sound like.

The relationship between cents and Hz will clarify the offset needed for a certain sound.

At a price you might find this helpful, but it's not essential and it's not a substitute for understanding.
https://www.dirksprojects.nl/index.php? ... ner_22.php

I'm not being unhelpful or negative, but there will be a thousand questions along the (very enjoyable) way, and finding the answers is part of the fun.
Good luck!
Tom

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Abraxas » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:19 pm

Well I would have thought a cent is the frequency difference between two adjacent notes divided by 100, but apparently it's not that straight forward and is non-linear. I don't have any settings on the two boxes I'm trying to get tuned. There are no registers. They are wet tuned. I'm trying to find out what reed gets the nominal and what gets detuned and by how much and on what side of the nominal.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:03 pm

Abraxas wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:19 pm
Well I would have thought a cent is the frequency difference between two adjacent notes divided by 100, but apparently it's not that straight forward and is non-linear. I don't have any settings on the two boxes I'm trying to get tuned. There are no registers. They are wet tuned. I'm trying to find out what reed gets the nominal and what gets detuned and by how much and on what side of the nominal.
This is correct: a cent is the frequency difference between two adjacent notes (half tone) divided by 100. But around A=440 the difference in frequency to the next half tone is only half of what it is one octave higher and double of what it is one octave lower. A beating frequency (between two reeds that are "the same note") of 1 Hz is around 4 cents at A=440. But 1 Hz beating one octave higher is only 2 cents and an octave lower it is 8 cents.
When an accordion is wet tuned the difference in cents goes down as the notes go higher, but not by a factor of 2 for every octave. As a result, the beating is faster one octave higher but not twice as fast... It is a matter of taste how many cents of tremolo you want for each note. There are theories about what is ideal to the ear. (I do not know the theory. I tune tremolo by ear.)
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by wirralaccordion » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:25 pm

I would like to know if there is any way of simply measuring the difference in pitch between two reeds in situ, i.e. without removing anything from inside an accordion, as my ear isn't sufficiently sensitive to know the extent of wetness in terms of cents by listening only.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:05 pm

wirralaccordion wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:25 pm
I would like to know if there is any way of simply measuring the difference in pitch between two reeds in situ, i.e. without removing anything from inside an accordion, as my ear isn't sufficiently sensitive to know the extent of wetness in terms of cents by listening only.
To measure the tremolo of an MM register I know of one program that does this and does it well: Dirk's Accordion Tuner. Not cheap though, and only available for Windows afaik. But when you need to measure MM or LM in situ, this is the best option.
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by wirralaccordion » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:56 pm

To measure the tremolo of an MM register I know of one program that does this and does it well: Dirk's Accordion Tuner. Not cheap though, and only available for Windows afaik. But when you need to measure MM or LM in situ, this is the best option.
Hi Paul,
Would you happen to know whether or not the trial version v2.3 ( free for a limited period ) will measure it. It seems that the main ( paid for ) programme will also actually measure three reeds simultaneously!
Phil

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:15 pm

As far as I know the trial version does everything but only for a few notes. So you can experience what the program can do, but you cannot measure every note, only a few notes are available.
Yes, Dirk's tuner can measure three reeds simultaneously. It doesn't always work very well, that depends on the amount of tremolo. When you have two (or three) reeds that are supposed to have no tremolo but are 1 or 2 cents apart the tuner may not notice that there are multiple reeds. But for tremolo over about 5 cents it works very well.
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Abraxas » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:15 am

I used to have a list of different manufacturers and their reed intervals. Lost it. If anyone has that link .....

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Glug » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:53 pm

There's also a windows program called Instrument Tuner (www.instrument-tuner.com) which I've used to get an idea of the musette tuning. It has a frequency display marked in cents, so play a steady note and see how far apart the two peaks are, obviously it's not the best way of doing it but it does work without opening the box (and it's free)

Later I made an accurate reading by putting masking tape under each reed block in turn and taking frequency readings using DaTuner, then a spreadsheet can calculate the current tuning for you.

And here's a list of tuning names I found on melodeon.net

name cents
dry 0
giusto 5
american 10
celeste 12
japan 13
german 14
italian 16
french 20
scotish 23.5
irish 26

It matches the Italian and German boxes I've got, a very small sample I know.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Morne » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:40 pm

wirralaccordion wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:25 pm
I would like to know if there is any way of simply measuring the difference in pitch between two reeds in situ, i.e. without removing anything from inside an accordion, as my ear isn't sufficiently sensitive to know the extent of wetness in terms of cents by listening only.
I would recommend Bill Farmer's Tuner. He's got versions for Android, Windows, Mac and Linux. I've used the Linux and Android versions since January to tune a little 25/12 MM and a 34/80 LMM. The tuner is capable of detecting multiple reeds, including MMM, octaves and chords. I prefer checking single reeds (e.g. by taping off the other reed set) as far as possible and only using the multiple reed option when I know the individual reeds are very close. Then you can do the final checking with multiple reeds at the same time. A spreadsheet will come in handy to keep track of all your measurements.

All versions are free and are fully functioning (no trials or demos), although some options are perhaps not as obvious.

You can get the Android version here:
https://f-droid.org/packages/org.billthefarmer.tuner/
(Open on your phone and click the first Download APK link)

You can read about the Windows/Mac/Linux versions here:
https://github.com/billthefarmer/c-tuner
And get the latest downloads here:
https://github.com/billthefarmer/c-tune ... /tag/v1.05
(exe for Windows, dmg for Mac and if you want the Linux version you'll have to compile it yourself)

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Morne » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:56 pm

Abraxas wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:26 am
Greetings. I have a house full of accordions and only one is in tune. All of these others that are supposed to be wet tuned are not. They vary from a little student size Salanti, up to a 60 bass Frontalini and then a Hohner Atlantic 4. I can't afford to ship these off to far away places for tuning. I'm quite good with tools and have a diploma in electronics so counting hertz is not a challenge. It seems no tuner has ever committed him or herself to sharing their secrets.
I don't have any secrets, but I basically learnt by applying what I read and saw on the internet (this forum and elsewhere) and in some German books (by Toni Schwall and Wolf Linde). I watched a local tuner do some minor tuning with a rotary tool, but ultimately I had to learn the file and scraper method by putting those tools to reeds where I was willing to risk damage (although it turned out fine).
Abraxas wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:26 am
I might also add that I'm not sure if perhaps all these boxes need is reed cleaning but I don't know how to do that either ??? A tooth brush and alcohol ?? Any suggestions ??
If you're going to replace all the valves, and especially if you're going to rewax everything, then you should definitely clean all the reeds while they're loose. So far I've been putting the uncleaned reeds in lacquer thinner for a few minutes and then removed any remaining debris with a toothbrush. But I wouldn't do that when the reeds are on a block, and I only do this outside. When the reeds are on the block I use (lighter fluid) naphta.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by debra » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:34 pm

Whichever tuner you use, don't forget to pay close attention to the note it shows.
The microphone in a phone or laptop isn't very high quality, and there are lots of overtones coming from an accordion and as a result the tuner software may show the wrong note and therefore also the wrong deviation. This happens mostly with high notes. My phone for instance has trouble with D6, and the datuner on my phone and tablet cannot detect C#8. (It does detect C8 just fine, but not C#8 which is the highest reed available in 99.9% of the largest Italian boxes. (Note that Dirk's tuner on my laptop does detect and measure C#8 so that's yet another case where it pays off to have bought it.)
I have also installed Cleartune (as an Android app, not free) and it often indicates the wrong octave, like measuring C4 and Cleartune says the note is C3...).
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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Morne » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:07 am

Yes, it helps to know which note/octave you are looking for. In those cases where one of the overtones is stronger, you can lock it to a specific note letter and octave in Bill's Tuner.

Also it is possible to plug a USB microphone into an Android phone using an OTG cable. So if you have a better microphone, but still want to use your phone, then that's an alternative. I've tried this with a Zoom H2n.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by Abraxas » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:03 am

I have a very nice studio mic that is flat across the audio spectrum. Fortunately I have acquired some skills in my life that loan themselves to this sort of work , namely a licensed machinist and graduate electronics tech. When I look at the cost of some of this software, the word on my tongue is "nuts", simply for the fact that I can pick up good used spectrum analyzers that will do a better job. I do however appreciate the convenience and compactness of software solutions. I asked earlier, but didn't hear back as to whether anyone knew where my link to manufacturer associated wet tuning charts was ? I lost it. It listed how many cents were found for various manufacturers. I did stumble on some more info here though: http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php?topic=2306.0 . I can't believe nobody has put together a more organized instructional for this issue. I'm getting crumbs from various sources and methinks a consolidation is in order.

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Re: Where/How To Learn Reed Tuning ??

Post by geoff45789 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:08 am

I attended an excellent accordion repair course in Teddington presented by Paul Flannery. It includes reed tuning. Course is organised by Peter Le Geyt at plg@plgmarketing.com

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