It is said that the reeds in a concertina
represent 60% of its value. They are like the engine in a car.
Reeds determine aspects of both sound and playability. besides
choice of materials, the fit of the parts, design of the reed frame,
and curve (shape) of the reed ultimately determine the quality of
All reeds used in Wakker concertinas are designed
and made in our own studio. Our reed designs are unique and only
used in Wakker concertinas.
How it works..
When activated by an air column, the steel (or brass) reed mounted in
the brass frame will cut the airflow in small sections. This
produces the sound of the instrument. The better the fit of the reed
in the frame, the 'cleaner' the cut and the more energy it will
generate. The frequency is determined by the length of the
tongue. The longer the reed, the lower the note it produces.
The movement (amplitude) of the reed is partly determined by the material used and its shape. Shaping the reed by means of
grinding and bending tension in it, is called voicing. Voicing
determines the scope of the harmonics the reed produces, and how
well it reacts to the air flow.
Making reeds is a lengthy process which includes
both the latest computerized machines as well as lots of hand work
and years of training. We have developed unique high-tech machines for the production of our frames and reeds which assure
extreme close tolerances. After the reeds are assembled, they are individually voiced and
tuned by hand. Voicing is the process of matching the sound of the
reeds that are to be used in the same instrument by changing the
shape of the reed. Voicing can take anywhere from 2-5 days,
depending on the number of reeds and the total compass of the
A reed does not have to produce only one note. The pitch of
the reed can be changed by filing at the tip or base. Normally
one reed size produces 2-7 different notes in a concertina. Because the necessary filing of the reeds to produce the required
notes changes the uniformity of the sound, it is always preferable
to have as few notes per reed as possible. Some vintage
concertinas have as few as 7 reed frame sizes for almost 3 octaves
compass. However, most instruments have between 12 and 14 frame
sizes. Wakker concertinas have up to 30 different sizes.
On the other hand, reeds with considerable differences in length can
all produce the same pitch. The different lengths and shapes will
affect the quality and spectrum of the sound. Different types
of instruments, and different types of music require a different
balance and sound quality. The process of selecting the length and
shape of the reeds is called scaling.
Scaling determines the balance, depth and speed of an instrument.
Wakker concertinas are unique in the fact that we offer 3 different
reed scalings in our instruments. Our reed scalings are under
constant evaluation and development, a process in which we've
invested over 800 hours so far.