2008: Thumb strap or no thumb strap?
Initially, I had determined (= was convinced) that thumb straps were necessary. Here’s why:

Remember these?

The reason I added thumb straps was that I forgot that since the Stagi bellows are very small, the tend to deform, especially on the pull, because of my addition of plywood for the simulation of a 6 ¼” instrument. The problem disappeared with thumb straps. So.

The real straps were designed for full insertion of the thumb, to ensure minimum stress to the joint:

Now - in 2008, on the Saturday at the “Spelmansstämma” in Degeberga, Southern Sweden, I had the sudden notion that I could loosen the thumb strap screws as an easy and non-invasive way of testing how it would be to play
without straps.

I put the screws back but
never the straps – here’s how it looked on the Sunday:

I have never looked back - went right ahead and made new hand straps:

Thumb straps seem to be something of a Holy Grail for the English concertina (well, they are an integral part), but one of the main concerns of mine, since one of my reasons for building this instrument was to get away from the strain on the thumbs. The hand straps took care of most of that, but removing the thumb straps was simply wonderful.

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