How It’s Made


Ken YagelskiBob Novak and his team at Echo Concertina custom built this very special instrument. The concertina is constructed of solid cherry wood with a natural finish that has been expertly engraved, painted with fine details, and set with beautiful rhinestones. All external metal is plated in 24 karat gold. The quadruple, Salpa plate reeds are tuned to the key of C (5 Press A).

Special recognition goes to Jerry Smith, Mike Smieja and George Hebaus. Jerry is responsible for crafting the solid cherry wood pieces into a flawless case. The joints and seams are virtually invisible, making this concertina appear to have been sculpted from one solid piece of wood. Mike is the master of the concertina’s mechanics, constructing and adjusting the button and air valve mechanism until it performed extremely quick, smooth and silent. George is the genius behind the expert tuning of the Salpa plate reeds. He has the special skill to improve upon perfection, resulting in a solid sound with just enough vibrato to please my “Chicago-style” taste. These gentlemen, under Bob Novak’s leadership and direction, delivered a modern masterpiece.

If you happen to see me out and about with this Echo in-hand, please stop and ask to play it. I will gladly allow you to share in the joy of making sweet music with this special concertina. The following series of photos allow you to follow the construction of this chemnitzer concertina from start to finish. Clicking on the thumbnail image will display a larger version of the photo.


Truing-up wooden component edges with a joiner.Routing-out frame pieces to reduce weight.

The cherry wood frame pieces were literally “machined” to fine tolerances to make the joints and seams almost invisible. Frame pieces were also carefully routed-out to help reduce the weight of the instrument.

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Drilling the endcap for machine screws.Gluing endcap pieces.

After the individual wooden pieces were made, they were aligned in special jigs for component assembly and glue. Here the frames and endcaps are in-process.

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Gluing the frame pieces together.Reed block assembly.

Once the encap components were glued, holes were precisely drilled to accept the assembly hardware. The reed blocks were made to exact specificiations to make certain that the airflow to the long-plate reeds is efficient and thorough.

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Close-up of engraved frame piece.Ambrose Kodet and Bob Novak with engraved endcaps.

The solid cherry wood was ornamentally engraved, providing the traditional look of vintage instruments that were normally covered with heavy plastic laminate. Craftsman, Ambrose Kodet poses here with Bob Novak with the engraved endcaps.

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Rhinestones are set.Rhinestones are set.

Once the components were built and completely machined to accept the assembly hardware, the ornamentation work was performed. Here the endcaps and frames have been engraved, detailed painting had been finished, and the rhinestones were being set.

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Add the bellows.Tuning and testing.

The bellows were fitted, while the reed assemblies and button mechanism were installed. The gold-plated external hardware was attached, making the instrument physically complete and ready to be cleaned and polished. The final step was testing and tuning. Several musicians in the Upper Midwest were fortunate enough to put this concertina through its paces providing Bob Novak and his team with valuable feedback on what needed to be tweeked or adjusted to make certain that the concertina was perfect before delivery to the very happy customer!

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Additional information can be found by browsing the Frequently Asked Questions feature. Please see the Glossary of Terms feature for simple definitions for many chemnitzer concertina related terms. If you have other concertina related questions, please visit the community supported Facebook Group.