Newer vs vintage piano accordions
#1
I currently own a couple vintage accordions;
An Excelsiola 612M, a Ferrari, and a Guerrini & Sons; all of which are 41 key / 120 bass. manufactured
in the 1960's.
My starter a few years ago was the used Ferrari, then I  found the Guerrini, and finally the Excelsiola.
I  find the Excelsiola is the best balanced, and most pleasurable to play from a "feel" and confort standpoint,
but by far the Guerrini has the very best tone quality.
I'm happy, but not fully satisfied with my current accordions, so I  am considering another box in the not too
distant future--I  hope.
My question: What are your opinions on a vintage good make 4/5 reed accordion  vs  a newer accordion like a Beltuna.
I'm concerned with playability, comfort, and tone quality.
I  understand that my questions can have different answers form different players with different needs, but I'm interested in comments.
Thank you, JERRY
Reply
#2
Hi Jerry,

In my experience, it's more difficult to find a vintage accordion with the sound and playability of a new one, especially if you are unable to test it in person. Many people, however have had terrific luck with purchasing a used one. So, you're right, there is no easy answer as each method has its ups and downs. Just my 2 cents worth.
Reply
#3
Hey Jerry. I asked the same question in a few threads because the members of this forum have so much experience and common sense.
To sum up what they said:
1. Always try before you buy.
2. Buy from a reputable dealer, whether you buy new or old.
3. If money is no object, buy new.
4. Finding a used accordion that is 10 years old or less can save you a lot of money and repair and tuning costs.
5. If you find a classic accordion, as listed in one of the threads here, it may still cost you as much eventually as a new one, but it may have “something” the new ones don’t. I just played an 1896 Steinway concert grand that was completely souped up with a new action, new strings, etc. etc., so that it was as easy to play as a new Yamaha. It had a vintage sound that made me smile, but I would probably still choose a new Yamaha CFX because it is much more versatile in sounding great with any repertoire or style. Maybe the vastly better and more experienced accordionists on this forum would say the same about new vs. vintage?
5. Have fun no matter what instrument you play!

Here’s one of those threads. There are more. All the best.

https://www.accordionists.info/showthread.php?tid=5608
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
Reply
#4
the 50's and 60's Shand Morino is still highly sought after  and is preferred by most British Chromatic  players  in preference toof the current very good boxes.  It has frequently been said that it would be too expensive to start making them again. The proper Hohner made shand morino's are instantly recognisable by the squared off bass (105 or 117).   The most recent ones were made by excelsior and whilst good were nothing like as good as the originals.they are recognisable by the normal 120 bass layout.

There is a very interesting youtube vid about the Shand MOrino construction --youtube owen woods inside and out part 6


george
Reply
#5
(12-07-2019, 05:49 PM)Chickers Wrote: ... My question: What are your opinions on a vintage good make 4/5 reed accordion  vs  a newer accordion like a Beltuna. I'm concerned with playability, comfort, and tone quality. I  understand that my questions can have different answers form different players with different needs, but I'm interested in comments...

Hi Jerry,

I do not overestimate the technical possibilities of old instruments, but I have also no illusions about the quality of new accordions. We are currently living in a time of reduced interest in this instrument. The golden times of the accordion were after the Wolrd War II, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  In the late 1980s, a gradual decline in interest in the instrument began. Nowadays, the market is saturated with lots of old accordions from the golden age. If you are lucky, you can find a great instrument among them, technically as well as acoustically. The current global production capacities of accordions are considerably oversized in relation to demand. China also has an increasing share of this development. In the case of European producers, nowadays it is presented mostly stagnation, or in worse scenario bankrupt (Dallapé, Borsini,…). New Italian companies are also emerging (Siwa Figli), however, it is questionable how much they will stand in brutal competition in the future. Nowadays, the price of labor has risen significantly and inflation (temporarily hidden) continues. Therefore, the cost of new accordions is often expensive. You must give the whole property for a new good instrument. In the case of an old instrument, its reparation and renovation from a purely economic point of view is not worthwhile. However, if we understand this money as an investment in ourselves, it’s worth it surely. Accordion is a commodity such as e.g. car.  When purchasing them, it is necessary to carefully select and consider all possibilities and models if the purchase is to be meaningful. From this perspective, it does not matter whether it is a new or used accordion.

Best regards, Vladimír
Reply
#6
There are good and bad accordions on both sides of the vintage/new fence, and truth to be told if one is not knowledgeable about them, unless the gauge of the amount of money is used, one will have a challenge of telling the difference.

A bit of knowledge goes a long way. That, along with a healthy budget, is going be the two factors in finding the accordion of your desires. An older accordion in relatively good shape is going to be able to be restored, re-tuned and in most cases, even a brand new accordion is going to have to have some budget put aside for fixing/tuning and touching up the small things that the factory forgot to do in their haste, believe it or not.

If I had the budget and was looking for an accordion today, I would be looking at 5-digit new ones. Since I own a wonderful accordion that is pretty high-end and in very good shape, I am looking more at maintenance than anything else in my future. Where you are in your musical path is also a big factor. I am on the downside of the slope and as much as I would love it, a new Hohner Gola would be a waste of money on me (haha), but if I was 13 again and starting over, I know exactly what I would be playing in terms of style of music and what instrument I would be wearing. Smile
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
Reply
#7
Jerry said, " I am on the downside of the slope and as much as I would love it, a new Hohner Gola would be a waste of money on me (haha), but if I was 13 again and starting over, I know exactly what I would be playing in terms of style of music and what instrument I would be wearing."
To quote Satchel Paige, "If ya didn't know how old ya was, how old would ya be?"
I really think it's more about money and health rather than age, Jerry. My point is, at the age of 13, if you knew you were going to live 3 more years, would you stop doing everything you love? Would your parents not buy you that Gola if they knew that's the very thing you wanted? Why would you stop that at the age of say, 72, unless you're physically feeble or don't have the money?
Buy the best instrument you can afford is a pretty good start. After that, just enjoy it, whether it cost $250 or $12,000. Right? Innit?
Just wanted to add this: I had my Tiger accordion tuned a bit by John Schaff in Billings, MT. He's in his 80s, has a lot of accordion stories, but recently suffered a stroke. Still, his Excelsior is his pride and joy. He said, "I wish I could take it with me."
He's the only accordion technician either of us know of in a 4-state area about the size of Europe. (a bit of an exaggeration, but not much). When he's gone, who will step in?
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
Reply
#8
(16-07-2019, 05:44 AM)Eddy Yates Wrote: I really think it's more about money and health rather than age, Jerry. My point is, at the age of 13, if you knew you were going to live 3 more years, would you stop doing everything you love? Would your parents not buy you that Gola if they knew that's the very thing you wanted? Why would you stop that at the age of say, 72, unless you're physically feeble or don't have the money?
Buy the best instrument you can afford is a pretty good start. After that, just enjoy it, whether it cost $250 or $12,000. Right? Innit?
Just wanted to add this:  I had my Tiger accordion tuned a bit by John Schaff in Billings, MT. He's in his 80s, has a lot of accordion stories, but recently suffered a stroke. Still, his Excelsior is his pride and joy. He said, "I wish I could take it with me."
He's the only accordion technician either of us know of in a 4-state area about the size of Europe. (a bit of an exaggeration, but not much). When he's gone, who will step in?

When I was 13, my parents had made the order for a Gola for me.  Hohner made the mistake and misplaced the order, this resulted in me getting a Morino instead.  At that age, I would have been able to do it justice like I did with the Morino.  Smile

Money and health is a big factor of course, but today even if I live another 20 years and had the money, a new Gola would be wasted money on me, I could not bring out 5% of what that accordion is capable of.  It is a matter of being realistic, I suppose.  Getting what you can afford is a fair statement, however.

"I wish I could take it with me"

If they can bury a man with his Mercedes, making a coffin big enough to accommodate an accordion should be no great challenge.

I had an uncle that took his button accordion with him, but it was a much smaller box and since he was a shorter man, there was room at his feet for the instrument.  Indeed, he took his with him as was his request.  Taking my Hohner Morino VI N with me might be a challenge... lol

When John Schaff passes, it sounds like indeed it will be a bad day for all accordionists in that 4-state area.  Let's hope that someone sees this as an opportunity on many levels and steps up to accept the challenge.
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
Reply
#9
Hi Folks:
I love, and appreciate all the commentary, and thoughts regarding the purchase a new or vintage accordion.
My accordion love, and my playing experience started at a "senior" level, so I  don't have the benefit of many years
playing, and the experience of trying many different accordions.
That being said, I stuck to a real budget in my accordion purchases. Unfortunately---or maybe fortunately,---I  found
truth in the old adage---"you only get what you pay for". I was fortunate in that I found a 1960's Excelsiola is "almost new condition".
It's a handsome accordion, comfortable, plays well, and after investing $500 in a professional tuning, along with a few  reed
replacements, I  do have an enjoyable instrument, BUT, it's dry-tuned, and my ear loves to hear a wetness, maybe some musette,
whatever, something isn't quite there.
I certainly can't justify (based on my expected musical achievement) a new Beltuna, or Petosa, and the likes,
but they sure sound sweet, but again, I've not had the experience of playing one of these better accordions.
So I  try to keep a keen eye out for my next acquisition. Whatever that may be.
Thanks again for your comments, I enjoy reading them, and hearing what you all have gone through.
JERRY G
Reply
#10
Hi Jerry,


Some of us spend most of our lives looking for that elusive accordion that suits all of our requirements. A generation or two back the task was a lot easier, but these days we often just have to make do with what we can find. 

You must have thought the accordion you had tuned was worth the investment, but I do understand a desire to have an instrument that is tuned differently. 

Whether musette tuning is a must have is entirely at the player's discretion. It all depends on the type of music you want to play. Whilst it is essential for some genres, it isn't really desirable for most others worldwide.

If you feel that your dry tuned accordion is too tame, try making a simple recording of yourself playing on a laptop or similar device, and listen to the result. You may be surprised to hear how different the sound coming out of the front is compared to what you are hearing on top. 

I have a top of the range Cavagnolo CBA with swing tuning and it sounds as though it is being played through a muffle, to the point where I wish it had a bit more bite. However, when you hear it "from the front" it has an entirely different sound altogether, and I now realise why it is tuned the way it is. Whilst it is an old and consequently desirable instrument, it has seen more clubs than a tribe of cavemen, and the reeds are a bit tired. 

Something else to consider about older instruments. In days gone by the reeds and internal mechanics would all get clogged up with nicotine over the years, and I'm not sure whether it was more economical to try and clean them or just place them gently in what you call a dumpster from the tenth floor of the nearest building. A lot of instruments for sale on Ebay and such places will have smoked 60 a day for at least part of their lives. That Cavagnolo of mine smells as though it is now down to about 5 a day, but I wouldn't part with it. I sometimes used to smoke a pipe while playing, and caused damage to the top casing, when the ash fell onto it and burned it. Emile Prud'homme, Tony Fallone, and Johnny Meijer did the same, but they made enough money out of playing not to worry. In those days when they made them well, it took a good few years for holes to go right through the casing. Reckon I could burn through one of those new carbon fibre jobs in a month or two.

I stopped smoking the pipe about 10 years ago, and rarely play the accordion nowadays. It's boring without the lacquer going on fire in the middle of a tune.  

Once you get playing a bit and get a feel for the instrument you have, you might have more idea of what you're looking for.
Reply
#11
(17-07-2019, 10:15 AM)maugein96 Wrote: If you feel that your dry tuned accordion is too tame, try making a simple recording of yourself playing on a laptop or similar device, and listen to the result. You may be surprised to hear how different the sound coming out of the front is compared to what you are hearing on top. 

This is very true. I think that one must always record and then listen to oneself as a learning tool. I was shocked the first time I recorded myself and then listened to the playback of me playing. If you listen to it with a critical ear, it can lead to improvement. One simply can not hear or even be aware all of the problems you are having playing. That's one reason a teacher is important but a recording of your playing can also point some these things out.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
Reply
#12
To me the sound of a particular accordion is a crucial factor in making a choice irrespective of price, age or whatever. I you buy one you don't like the sound(tuning ) of you are unlikely to grow into it so to speak.


all my boxes are wet or even wetter tuned because I really don't like the sound of a 'dry' tuned box and the two dry tuned boxes I bought because they were 'bargains' were fairly soon got rid of.

Neither wet or dry tuning is 'better' than t'other both have there adherents and detractors , its just down to personal choice but better to make that choice before trying and buying an instrument than change your mind later

george
Reply
#13
Here’s a very interesting accordion that gives you a choice between wet and dry (or musette and concert tunings). I love my Bugari and I know some big Bugari fans are on this site. I’d love to play this one a bit.
https://www.accordiongallery.com/bugari-silver-plus.htm
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
Reply
#14
(17-07-2019, 01:09 PM)george garside Wrote: To me the sound of a particular accordion is a crucial factor...

Hi George. I go a step further. Sound is THE crucial factor. What does it matter if you’ve got an otherwise perfect accordion and you hate its sound?

In my quest for a lighter, smaller accordion, I recently tested a Chinese one. Perfect weight, size, range and price. However it sounded horrible. I didn’t buy it.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
Reply


Forum Jump: