4 row c system wanted
#1
Hi all, 
I'm on the lookout for a 4 row (stepped keyboard), ideally 3 voice, 80 standard bass, c system accordion at a realist price. That pretty much rules out handbuilt French one-offs but included such good un's as the Paolo Soprani model and the like.
Ideally in good cosmetic order with no issues as to tuning.
If you have one lying around and would consider selling please get in touch.
Not much chance I know, but if one doesn't ask...
UK based.
Thanks for looking
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#2
(04-06-2019, 06:23 PM)Orma Wrote: Hi all, 
I'm on the lookout for a 4 row (stepped keyboard), ideally 3 voice, 80 standard bass, c system accordion at a realist price. That pretty much rules out handbuilt French one-offs but included such good un's as the Paolo Soprani model and the like.
Ideally in good cosmetic order with no issues as to tuning.
If you have one lying around and would consider selling please get in touch.
Not much chance I know, but if one doesn't ask...
UK based.
Thanks for looking

Hi,

Mission Impossible may have been a better heading for your thread. As you are based in the UK I would seriously consider a car trip to France to pick up a C system 4 row with 80 basses. They aren't very cheap, new or used, but you'll have a much better choice there than anywhere else in the world. 

You'll struggle to find a 3 voice with 80 bass, as most 3 voice boxes have 96 or 100 basses. The only really cheap instruments available in France are the ubiquitous Chinese made Hohners that are also available elsewhere, although they do make one or two models with rear mounted treble couplers specifically for the French market. 

If you're lucky you could find an older box in reasonable condition. You don't mention tuning preference, and you may be surprised to find that three voice musette boxes are surprisingly few and far between. Usual set up is LMM, with the MM reeds tuned "americain", which is swing with a bit of vibrato. 

"Standard" bass usually translates as "international" which means that the basses will be of the push in peg type as found on most piano accordions. These are pretty rare in France where the bass buttons are typically stepped and are of the "mushroom" type.

You won't get much decent below about €1000, and you could wait for a very long time to find such a box in the UK, where the cheapest one I've seen in recent years, a Cavagnolo Junior MM 80 bass, was about £650. It was for sale in Essex on Gumtree recently.   

As to makes, most of the French and Italian made boxes to French spec are pretty sound. You may encounter "weird" makes like Royson, Paul Beuscher, Savoia (looks like Favola the way the logo is written), Perle d'Or, Fratelli Crosio, and several others. However, all of those makes are good quality boxes that were made in Italy for the French market, and are very worthy of consideration. 

I gave up playing in earnest some years ago, but wouldn't part with any of the boxes I currently have, as I occasionally still fancy myself as an accordionist and have a go on them. My main instrument for the last 55 years has been the electric guitar. I only have two serviceable boxes left out of four. The two playable ones are 5 row, and the scrappers are 4 row. Neither of the 4 row models would be of any use to you in their current state. I've been told that one is beyond economical refurbishment, and the other isn't worth the shilling I paid for it. 

I wouldn't discount a 5 row if one of those appears, as all you need to do is ignore the 5th row and get on with playing it the French way. 4 row certainly looks more "French authentic", but I'd be willing to bet that 99.9997% of Brits wouldn't even notice how many rows the box had, the make, or how many fingers and toes you use to play it with. 

Good luck with your quest. When I was younger and keener I could probably have steered you towards a suitable box in the UK, but French boxes have never been popular here, and when they do turn up the vendors usually want Antiques Road Show prices for them. Some dealers used to import them in small batches, but after the mid 80s the novelty sort of wore off, and they were afforded the same popularity as the most unreliable French cars. Finding a UK repairer who is confident enough to work on them can also be a bit of an issue. 

The Galliano wannabes are now going for big Italian boxes with a decidedly un-French look, and it is worth noting that most of the creators of the "new musette" in the 90s were Italian French players who often shunned the French makes. If ever I was to buy another instrument for playing French musette, it would have "Made in Italy" stamped on it somewhere.

Mengascini, and other Italian makers, manufacture boxes to French spec at prices that are far lower than the big two of Cavagnolo and Maugein. They use the same construction methods with reeds pinned on cork or leather, and that very method, including rear mounted treble couplers and stepped mushroom bass buttons, was taken from the Piedmonte area of Italy by the Cavagnolo family to Lyon, where it became the normal configuration for the "French" accordion.

Present day CBA players in several parts of northern Italy still play "French" looking (and sounding) accordions, but the most common type of C system in Italy is the "Internazionale", which can be 4 or 5 row with grille mounted buttons and peg bass buttons on a flat keyboard.

If you can get your hands on one of these with "francese" tuning you'll have one of the best C system boxes available. They do make them with monocolour treble buttons. They also have rear mounted couplers and the only non French characteristics are the grille and the bellows straps, which I would personally just detach and throw away, as if the compression is adequate you don't need them.

   
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#3
Hi  Maugein96,

thank you for your comprehensive  reply.
Perhaps I should have made it clear I'm not looking for a French made box, but 4 row spec.

You are indeed right that they are a rare thing but I have seen 3 voice (LMM) 80 bass, combinations new such as Giustozzi, but as a 5 row.
I have no problem with 5 row (and have owned such CBA's) but I'm looking for 'my ideal' before settling for such.

Maybe I will have to reconsider, but I'm in no rush and, as I spend up to 5 months a year on the continent, I may well see the perfect fit.

Cost isn't really the overriding factor either, so I won't be buying junk, I'll just wait until I see what works for me.


Thanks for taking to time to reply.
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#4
Hi Orma,

Sorry if I burst the ball. My interest has obviously waned over the years, and these days I try and stay off the forum for that reason, but the heading of your thread caught my eye. Four row C system CBA is or was definitely not a popular choice of instrument in the UK.

I lived, slept and ate French and Italian accordions for many years, and was once as keen as anybody out there, but when it finally dawned on me that my ambition far exceeded my ability the novelty began to wear off. I obviously maintain a passing interest, but the sparks of enthusiasm disappeared some time ago. I still love the music but prefer it when somebody else is playing it.

Your best bet would be a private sale in the country or countries you spend time in. There are thousands of decent C system CBAs in Portugal at far keener prices than in France, although 4 rows are a bit scarce there as well. I'm frightened to leave the UK these days, as I'm dual nationality and am terrified they won't let me back in.

I'm sure you'll find something suitable, but possibly not in a shop window if you're looking for a bargain.
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#5
I'm sure I will find 'my' box, either here or abroad Maugein96.

Thank you for your knowledge and experience on the subject.
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#6
Leboncoin is a good place to start if you are in France as there are dozens advertised every day, including many by professional dealers.
I bought a very nice Paulo Soprani 4 row LMM for a very reasonable price which I am very happy with over there. The only problem I have found is that, although the choice is very good, the ones you are interested always seem to be at the opposite end of the country to where you are. 
Good luck with your search. I'm sure you will find your ideal box. It's out there waiting for you, but you may have to travel a long way to find it.
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#7
Thanks for the advice Pipemajor
I'll have a look at it when I'm next in France.
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#8
Photo 
   
This is the sort of thing I'm looking for.
A 3 voice, 4 row, 80 bass (Crucianelli in this case).
I already have a 2 voice, 3 row, 80 bass Crucianelli which has excellent sound and good construction.
Unfortunately this one is untested, in Italy, and probably overpriced for a punt...
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#9
Orma,

This link was posted a while ago by a member from the US, whose user ID now escapes me.

The site is nominally Portuguese, but it appears they also have an interest in Switzerland, as there are two telephone numbers involved, one for each country.

Whilst I cannot recommend the site owners as I don't know them, the site gives you some sort of idea what's available on the used market in Europe at the moment, and there are some prices listed. Portuguese prices are far lower than those in France, and believe it or not used Swiss boxes are not very expensive compared with UK prices. FWIW new Beltunas with tone chambers are now listed at around €16,000 in Portugal. Some Portuguese people don't earn that amount in a year.

The makes "Nicole & Jacky", "Bernard", and "Gallinari" are well respected accordions made in Italy to French spec for the Swiss market, and are usually found in the French speaking cantons there. Nicole Thomet and her brother Jacky are a Swiss duet and she had accordions commissioned in her own name which have mainly found their way onto the Swiss market. I do believe they are still being made, although Nicole is mainly involved with teaching these days. At one time I could have told you who actually made her accordions, but I never wrote it down. Bernard also made CBA accordions with the more usual flat treble keyboards found in the German speaking parts of Switzerland, with their flagship model being the "Super Bernard" (not St Bernard!), and I believe they are now out of business, as are Gallinari.

Plenty to look at, but getting hold of them could be difficult, unless you can speak fluent Portuguese or French on the telephone.

http://www.musicalianorte.pt/index.php/quem-somos
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#10
This looks just the job, Maugein96.
I can converse in Portuguese and have many Portuguese friends as I spend 4-5 months each winter out there. I know they would help with talking to potential sellers. Really, really useful link.
Thanks again
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#11
Hello again,

Finally worked out that it was HiTechBiniou, a Canadian member, who originally posted the Portuguese link, and it might be worth sending him a PM. I believe he knows and/or has dealt with the site owners, as he recommended them.

I never realised that there were so many 4 row, 80 bass boxes in Portugal. I don't know where the site owners are based, but I believe US member Donn, who is into Portuguese accordion, is aware of their location.

Hope it turns out OK,

John W
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#12
I think I'll be able to start looking with all your steers John.
I'm not in any particular hurry but I'll know it when I see it.
I prefer older CBA's to the new and for me it has to be 'right'. With this in mind I'll just keep looking until I find 'my' box. After all the fun is its the journey, not the destination...
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#13
Hi, Maugein96,

I've sent you a PM.

Thanks
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#14
I recently bought a Maugein Export second hand.
4 row 80 base pinned reeds of fabulous sound quality. exceptional base sound. Lite and maneuverable at 7 kilos.
A loud but delicate instrument which I can play with ease for hours on end. even the single reed is enough for me sounds beautiful. also the 2 reeds provide slight musette probable swing or American tuning. Nice Parisian sounds to my ear but I am not educated in there matters just gut feelings.
It however has its foibels.
All white keys on treble side present a challenge as I still do not know where the note are after 6 months of intense playing.
I love its tonal quality.
Godgie
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#15
Hi all,

Thanks for the steers, suggestions, and expert knowledge and experience on this subject.


I'll be sticking with my excellent 3 row, 80 bass, Crucianelli for now.

If I see something to better it in the 4 row, 80 bass format; and something that plays as well, I'll be delighted.

If you do have a box that fits my requirements and are considering selling, then by all means get in touch.

Orma
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#16
I second Godgi's opinion on Maugein accordions. The Export model is available in either MM with "vibration" tuning to the player's specification (default americain around 8 cents, but can be taken down to swing or pushed up to about 20 cents), or straight tuned LM. Very loud for their size with excellent tonal qualities. Some people reckon they are too loud and leave them alone. Most Maugein accordions only have 4 voice in the bass side. Monocolour buttons present no trouble at all after you get used to the instrument, although you will even see pro players have a "test" run before playing to ensure they are starting on the right treble button(s). After that it's all done by touch and memory, and very few pros play live from dots. Most CBA players tend to use dual coloured buttons, as it is easier to navigate, particularly with a 5 row. Purists say never look down, but if you watch a lot of pro players some of them do precisely that. If you do fall down an open drain cover when you're not looking down, the box should stop your whole torso disappearing down the shaft (providing you are wearing the straps in the approved manner).
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#17
Found.

Managed to get the dream box at a very good price from France.


C system 4 row, 3 voice (mmm), musette tuned, 80 mushroom bass, in a very playable condition.

Fantastic quality and very good cosmetically.

Thanks to everybody for the comments and sound advice.

Very happy.


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
   
A long road travelled-made easier by carrying a box.
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#18
(06-06-2019, 10:14 AM)Orma Wrote: ... but 4 row spec..

Cost isn't really the overriding factor either, so I won't be buying junk, I'll just wait until I see what works for me.

There are several references to manufacturers on this site. If do find an instrument that meets your requirements, please post a picture or website link. I am always on the lookout for 4-row's as a starting point for beginner CBA students.
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#19
(05-09-2019, 01:05 PM)Orma Wrote: Found.

Managed to get the dream box at a very good price from France.


C system 4 row, 3 voice (mmm), musette tuned, 80 mushroom bass, in a very playable condition.

Fantastic quality and very good cosmetically.

Thanks to everybody for the comments and sound advice.

Very happy.

Paolo Soprani boxes of that era (looks to be 50s or 60s) were built like tanks, so that little box should last a lifetime. 

Haven't seen an MMM that size before. You did well to find it, as most boxes that size are only MM. 

Does it have couplers on the rear to switch to M and/or MM, or is it MMM only? 

If it ever needs tuning, or other work, that would be the time to think about having that second bottom button on the outside row put back into alignment with the rest (but only if it's an issue for you).  It's a very common foible with CBAs of all makes, and is usually caused by the button getting caught on something, possibly the shoulder strap. Best not try and straighten it yourself, as all sorts of bad things can happen if the exercise goes wrong! 

Thanks for posting the pic.
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#20
The buttons on these Paolos just screw in to the post. It could be that it is "cross threaded" and could easily be straightened.
I have a similar one although it is LMM and 100 bass but quite a few of my buttons were a bit wonky and all straightened up by unscrewing them and refitting.
On a totally different track, I've noticed that on Le Bon Coin and French E-Bay, Paolo Soprani accordions are invariably much cheaper that other Italian and French makes. I can understand the French makes being more expensive as the French do like to buy their own home products, but I don't understand why the Paolos should be cheaper than an equivalent model other Italian accordion.
I also have an 80 bass 3 row MM Maugein which is of far inferior quality of construction to the Paolo so I don't think it is a quality problem.
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