The Reed Lounge Jargon Buster

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

Term Definition
A (index)
A Mano These are the highest grade reeds, made by master reed makers, the reed tongues are cut from a ribbon of steel and you benefit from the sweetest sound, greatest response and an increased dynamic range.
Air valve or Air button A separate button to allow quick and easy release of air from the bellows.
Anglo Anglo-German or anglo for short is a diatonic concertina usually in the keys of C and G although there are many others available
B (index)
Back strap A strip of leather or material that supports between the two shoulder straps to distribute the weight of the instrument better
Bank One set of reeds on an instrument is described as a bank of reeds
Bass When used in relation to accordion or melodeon we mean the left hand buttons
Bassoon A bank of low reeds, an octave lower than the main reeds
Bellows The cardboard "lungs" in the middle of the instrument to allow you to pull and push air into the instrument. 
Bellows pins Small metal pins that secure the left and right hand to the bellows
Bisonoric Two sounds, in this case a different note when you change bellows direction.
Brass in some concertinas the reed tongue was made from brass. The sound is warm and mellow but they are much slower to sound
Bush A ring of soft material, usually felt around a concertina button to reduce mechanical noise and play
C (index)
Cajun A Cajun accordion is generally a single-row diatonic button accordion used for playing Cajun music.
Cassotto the sound of a bank of reeds is altered by passing through a wooded chamber, called a cassotto chamber. The word Cassotto is an Italian word meaning 'Box'.
Chin register A switch on the top of the right hand keyboard to easily select the combination of reeds, usually pressed with the chin
Chromatic Chromatic most often refers to structures derived from the chromatic scale, which consists of all semitones.
Commercial economy reeds, made by machine, with a soft and easy to work reed plate. Quick to manufacture and so a high value reed but suffers from a harsher sound and slower response
Compression A measure of airtightness in the instrument. Good compression means there is little air leakage. All instruments will open slowly without notes being pressed, this is normal and you should only be concerned if it becomes excessive.
Convertor A switch on the left hand to allow you to convert the button layout between Stradella to Freebass.
D (index)
Diatonic Strictly speaking diatonic refers to musical elements derived from the modes and transpositions of the "white note scale" C�D�E�F�G�A�B. In accordions it usually means an instrument that plays in predefined scales rather than playing every chromatic note.
Double Octave When an accordion has at least 3 sets of reeds, one low, one middle and one high, this is described as Double Octave.
Drone On an anglo concertina this is a button that plays the same note in both directions to allow you to support the melody
Dry describes when two reeds are tuned exactly together at the same pitch. The sound is very pure without any tremolo at all
Duet Unisonoric concertina with a number of different layouts
Dural Machine made reeds manufactured with duralumin reed plates. Duralumin (also called duraluminum, duraluminium, duralum, duralium or dural) is the trade name of one of the earliest types of age-hardened aluminium alloys. This harder material gives a better tone and response than the softer material used on Commercial reeds
E (index)
Economy See Commercial
English the concertina layout where you have the same note sound in both directions. Recognisable by the thumb straps.
F (index)
Flat keyboard The rows of buttons are all on the same plane with no difference in level between rows.
Folds The number of distinct folding sections on a set of bellows. Generally the more you have the greater the air capacity
Freebass A left hand button layout of single notes, allowing you to play melodies in the left hand.
Free reed

There are several different types of reeds used in wind instruments, probably the most common being the beating reed, as used in clarinets, saxophones, etc. These reeds are usually made from a thin piece of cane, or synthetic equivalent, fixed at one end over an opening in the flat surface of a mouthpiece. As the name suggests, the reed is slightly wider than this opening and when the player applies pressure, the reed beats against the mouthpiece and sets into motion a column of air whose pitch is determined by open finger holes, or some similar mechanism. These are often called single reeds, in contrast with the double reeds of instruments such as the oboe, where the reed is in two parts that beat against each other. In contrast a free reed is a small strip of material (most commonly of metal, but in some cases made of plastic or vegetable matter such as bamboo) also fixed at one end, but which is set in or over a slot that is fractionally wider than the reed itself. As a result, when pressure (or suction) is applied, the reed swings freely though the slot to set up a vibrating column of air that gives voice to the instrument.

G (index)
Gasket An airtight material clamped between half of the instrument and the bellows
Grill The protective screen on the right hand to cover the mechanism
Growl The sound heard at the end of a note, caused by the momentum in the reed. Usually most noticeable on low reeds that have a particularly massive weight on the reed tip, it can be heard as a vibration, rattle or �boing� just after you play the note. This is normal and part of the sound of an instrument.
H (index)
Helikon The Helikon accordion is named after the Helicon "Tuba", which evolved from ram horn trumpets, first used thousands of years ago. It is the Helikon bass reeds that give it a distinctive "Tuba" sound to the bass notes.
I (index)
Intonation Most free reed instruments are tuned using the well-tempered scale. It is often said that "Well tempered" means that the twelve notes per octave of the standard keyboard are tuned in such a way that it is possible to play music in most major or minor keys and it will not sound perceptibly out of tune to modern ears. Some instruments use a different intonation, such as Cajun melodeons are tuned to a just intonation, notably having a flattened 3rd and 7th. Intonation is a very personal thing and the subject of much heated debate in some circles.
J (index)
Jeffries Layout The layout of the Anglo concertina as generally used by Jeffries
K (index)
Keys (accordion) On the right hand keyboard �key� normally means both the white and black keys.
Keys (concertina) The key means each small button on both sides. Therefore a 48 key is the total number of buttons on both sides, but does not include the air release button.
L (index)
Lachenal Lachenal & Co. was a British firm producing concertinas from approximately 1850�1936
M (index)
Mild Swing describes when two reeds at the same pitch are tuned with a very slight difference, usually around a 4 cent gap. The sound has a fast tremolo and is quite a penetrative sound
Musette Traditionally this describes 3 reeds of the same pitch but each one slightly different. One reed will be at concert pitch, one will be sharp and one will be flat. The exact amounts vary from manufacturer and also by taste.
P (index)
Piccolo A bank of high reeds, an octave higher than the main reeds
Q (index)
Quint An extra high bank of reeds tuned a 12th, an octave and a fifth, above the main. Only ever found on larger accordions and now quite rare.
R (index)
Reed The metal tongue that makes the sound in all free-reed instruments.
Registers An automatic switch to select a combination of reeds or voices
Rotella A ridged wheel on the top of the left hand that when rotated alters the length of the left hand strap
S (index)
Steel in the better concertinas the reed tongues are made from steel. These sound brighter and have a much faster response time
Stepped keyboard The rows of buttons have a step up from the outer row to the inner row.
Stops A switch to turn an individual voice or reed bank on or off
Stradella the name of the left hand button layout on an accordion, sometimes called �Standard� bass. The system is laid out in a circle of fifths, click here to download the layout.
Swing a big difference in tuning between two reeds of the same pitch, perhaps around 10 cents. There is a significant amount of tremolo, giving a thicker sense of sound
T (index)
Thumb strap A small band of leather on the English concertina to support the instrument on the thumbs
Tipo a Mano Hand made type or hand finished these reeds use better materials than Dural but the tongue is still stamped from sheet steel. They are assembled by hand and more attention taken to the tuning. They are more responsive than dural and have a higher quality of tone
Transit clamp A strip of material placed in the left hand of an accordion during shipping to reduce any potential damage to the mechanism.
U (index)
Unisonoric One sound, in this case the same note when you change bellows direction
V (index)
Valve A flap of material on the reverse side of a reed to stop airflow. Usually made from leather or plastic, if they are old they can introduce a �flutter� into the sound.
Voices The number of independent reeds on a note. These voices can be at the pitch of the note, or an octave higher or lower
W (index)
Wet a very large difference in pitch between two reeds of the same pitch, over 12 cents.
Wheatstone Sir Charles Wheatstone (6 February 1802 � 19 October 1875), was an English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era, including the English concertina.
Wheatstone Layout The layout of the Anglo concertina as generally used by Wheatstone and Lachenal
Wrist strap A band of leather going over the wrist on either side of the Anglo or Duet concertina to support the instrument
Bellows Reviews - SiteJabber



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