Spink Comhaltas

From the blog

Taking care of your concertina

A concertina is quite a complicated instrument from a mechanical perspective.  If you are playing an old concertina, e.g. a Lachenal, the age of the concertina may be 80 years and older.  If maintained properly, the concertina will continue to perform very well.  Some of the following guides should be helpful.

  1. Have a hard storage case for your concertina if possible.  Also, the concertina should be stored in a horizontal position rather than a vertical position i.e. the same way that you play it, rather than have it sitting on one end

  2. Do not leave your concertina in the car overnight as it will go out of tune.

  3. Do not leave it in an excessively hot or cold places as the concertina will begin to go out of tune.

  4. Dust the concertina regularly – dust can get in through the metal or wooden panels on the outside and affect your inner reed pan

  5. Do not play in turf smoke environments – the smoke can also affect your reeds also

  6. Do not play your concertina with dirty hands for the same reasons above. Also, dirty hands can start to turn metal panels a very unattractive green colour.

  7. Keep your concertina dry – wet or damp will damage the bellows, or cause the reeds to rust.

  8. Never lift your concertina by the strap – should the strap snap you’ll end up with the concertina on the floor or worse!

  9. Don’t force your bellows out – it is the number 1 way of breaking them.  If you notice air leaking from the concertina (either at the end or out of the bellows) then you need to get this seen to immediately.

  10. Should you notice a button not working, a button beginning to stick or vibrate or a squeak you feel shouldn’t be there, it may be time to get your concertina serviced as they can be one of the highest maintenance instruments in the traditional music scene. Do not fear, there are many reputable concertina repair specialists throughout the country and finding one is not too hard.  Spink Comhaltas can recommend a few for you.

  11. It is recommended that you consider attending Consairtín – the National Concertina Convention.  It is on in Ennis every year just after Easter.  In addition to music workshops and concerts, there is usually a workshop on concertina maintenance.  Even if you decide not to maintain your own concertina, it is very helpful (and interesting!) to understand the moving parts and how the concertina works.

  12. And last, but not least, keep playing your instrument regularly, at least every second day as the levers and springs can begin to seize up and the reeds can slip out of tune as a result so just keep on playing as best you can.

Ciara Mackessy

“Title photo courtesy of McNeela Music www.mcneelamusic.com.”