Possible Roland FR-8X purchase
#1
Got a call from my friend at local music store that they are getting in a Roland Fr-8X on a trade.   They really do not carry accordions normally.    Have some questions when I go to look at it.   I am going to do some looking around to try to figure out a decent price for an Fr-8X used but if some one has suggestions for USA, I would appreciate them.   

Also looking for suggestions on what I should do to test that it is operating properly.   I only played a FR-7 once and I did not enjoy it because the bellows were not very responsive.   Some people suggested it had not been set up properly.  I have no idea how to set up the bellows but bellows action is very important to me and my style of playing.   Presently I have two Giulietti accordions.   May consider trading or selling the continental model as the free bass on it is the additional three rows, where as the one I learned on was the convertor style with the free bass overlaying the stradella bass.   This is easier for me to play.

Does the FR-8X have the ability to convert the bass buttons to a free bass system?

What manuals and software should come with it?

I know how to test an acoustic accordion, need help with the digital style.   BTW, I do have digital keyboards already so familiar with the concepts.   Lots of crazy things to learn though on the workstation I own that I have not mastered yet.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#2
Hello Mike,

I don’t own or play a Roland Fr-8X however, one suggestion I have is to download and read the owners manual. They are available for free on Roland.com, under support. 

Try searching this forum, for the Roland Fr-8X is occasionally talked about. From what I’ve gathered from previous posts about electronic accordions I’m assuming the Roland V accordions are actually electronic sound synthesizers that happen to have an accordion shape and that the bellows are not really like an acoustic accordion, however they are popular.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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#3
I downloaded the 128 page manual but have only started to glance at it. The bellows are way different. No air flowing to reeds but somehow they are supposed to simulate the action of real bellows. Not necessary to use the bellows but to me the only way you can play accordion sounds.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#4
Sure, you can convert the bass mechanism electronically to any number of free bass systems. As the previous user recommended, download the manual. Everything is in there - including charts of all of the available conversions.

I've had an FR-8X for around 5 years now. I love it. Use it a couple hours every day. Not a single problem with it. Best accordion I've ever owned and my two acoustics sit in their cases and get played once a month.

I think new through a Roland dealer I paid something like $5K out the door. I would expect to pay anywhere from $US 3500-4500 for it depending on age and condition.

Good luck!

Mike - You posted again as I was writing my initial response.

The bellows take getting used to - all of about 15 minutes! I can get just as much emotion and nuance out of the FR-8X as I can my acoustics - maybe even more!

Numerous bellow curves for resistance really affect your playing. You'll have to find what works for you best. I have two pet peeves with the accordion as a player for the past 40+ years:

1) People that "play" the accordions in bands and don't even have their left hand on the bass. They hold the accordion with the left hand through the bass strap with their fingers straight out. That's not playing the accordion to me. That's a person with a Keytar. Right hand only. I mean the sound is still there and it's nice they have an accordion but I really dislike when somebody will say "this is my friend Roger - he plays accordion in this band you have to hear" and then I see the above. No, he plays piano or keyboard and picked up an accordion and it playing the right half of it.

2) People that play digital accordions and never move the bellows. I just hate it. It looks bad. It sounds bad because they are only using the key velocity sensitivity to provide sound control, and it just doesn't look like a person playing the accordion. In my opinion you have to move the bellows - electronic or not.
Current Accordions:

2003 Excelsior 960 Custom Magnante 5/5 - Hand Made Reeds
Excelsior 930 Van Damme Jazz Accordion - Hand Made Reeds
Roland FR-8X Digital Accordion - No Reeds
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#5
Appears it has a variety of Free Bass options. The Giulietti system appears to be what they call minor 3rds.

(13-07-2019, 01:24 AM)Thomas N Wrote: Sure, you can convert the bass mechanism electronically to any number of free bass systems. As the previous user recommended, download the manual. Everything is in there - including charts of all of the available conversions.

I've had an FR-8X for around 5 years now. I love it. Use it a couple hours every day. Not a single problem with it. Best accordion I've ever owned and my two acoustics sit in their cases and get played once a month.

I think new through a Roland dealer I paid something like $5K out the door. I would expect to pay anywhere from $US 3500-4500 for it depending on age and condition.

Good luck!

Mike - You posted again as I was writing my initial response.

The bellows take getting used to - all of about 15 minutes! I can get just as much emotion and nuance out of the FR-8X as I can my acoustics - maybe even more!

Numerous bellow curves for resistance really affect your playing. You'll have to find what works for you best.  I have two pet peeves with the accordion as a player for the past 40+ years:

1) People that "play" the accordions in bands and don't even have their left hand on the bass.  They hold the accordion with the left hand through the bass strap with their fingers straight out.  That's not playing the accordion to me. That's a person with a Keytar. Right hand only.  I mean the sound is still there and it's nice they have an accordion but I really dislike when somebody will say "this is my friend Roger - he plays accordion in this band you have to hear" and then I see the above.  No, he plays piano or keyboard and picked up an accordion and it playing the right half of it.

2) People that play digital accordions and never move the bellows.  I just hate it. It looks bad. It sounds bad because they are only using the key velocity sensitivity to provide sound control, and it just doesn't look like a person playing the accordion. In my opinion you have to move the bellows - electronic or not.

Thanks for your response.   I was hoping I could get it in the $3000 - $3500 range.   That appears to be reasonable.   

I agree with you on the "accordion" Players.   We have a big folk festival annually in Richmond and there are usually a couple bands with accordions.   Typically they do not use the left hand at all.   not accordionist!.   Usually it is more cajun or zydeco type stuff.    My goal is to get on stage there and play real accordion music.   I have to get some good videos made first in order to accomplish that.   

As for the bellows, it is not an accordion without the expression on the bellows.   more of an organ that is hanging from your neck at that point.   My problem likely is I am TOO expressive with the bellows.   I have busted several reeds.   Probably due to my teacher demanding triple forte when we were playing in the accordion orchestra or on competition pieces.   My original Giulietti is still hanging in there.   Hoping it does not need to get a rewax job.   It is over 50 years old.   

Any known issues I should look for?
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#6
As a consideration, my 8X was less than 2 months old and had less than 8 hours of total use (basically still new!), it was still on it's first charge when I picked it up.

Let me repost something that I wrote after about a week of me owning the 8X:

**********************************

A friend of mine was asking me certain questions, and I am actually going to reuse a lot of what I said to him.
Here are my impressions of the Roland FR-8x after 1 week of using it:

The first few days were a technical nightmare, it was very complex, but it gets better with time.

The treble key action of the 8x: Compared to my Hohner Morino VI N (an accordion that has likely the most perfect keyboard ever made), I am really spoiled and compared to the Roland… bad case of weak sauce.  Same thing for the bass side. The Hohner’s spacing is perfect for speed and accuracy, especially the Free Bass.

The treble key presses of the 8x are deeper and the action feels slower.  I cannot get the fast runs on the 8x as well as I can on any of my other accordions. That said, people like Cory Pesaturo or Michael Bridge have no troubles playing like a maniac on an 8x, so it’s just something that likely needs to get used to. It does take more work to get fast runs out of it, though, but it is definitely doable.  I believe that the big reason the depth is increased is likely for the velocity key effect (hit light, quiet notes, hit hard, loud notes).  There are no levers or rods to move, so the feel is different from a real acoustic accordion… sometimes a touch distracting.  I wish the depth of the right hand key presses was at least 30-40% less.

What drives me bonkers nuts is the left hand, specifically the spacing of the bass buttons.  They are in reality just a tiny bit further apart, but it feels like a canyon in between each button for me! Probably not much further apart than other accordions, but they are wider than on my Hohner and Elka.  This makes mistakes quite easy, and you can COMPLETELY FORGET about playing the Free Bass.  First I never played a converter instrument, but the spacing is nothing short of horrible for me.  If I try to play Free Bass for 10 minutes on the FR-8x, my fingers painfully cramp up badly, something I don’t and indeed, never felt on the Hohner.  And yet again, people like Uwe Steger and Michael Bridge have no issues moving amazingly fast on the8x’s Free Bass buttons, so who am I to complain… lol.   I do wish the spacing of the left hand buttons matched my Hohner’s layout.

The bellows, that is another thing.  I read about initially how stiff they were supposed to be, and wow, are they ever! When playing, I pull further and much harder than I should when I play, just to help break them in, as they normally will do in a few months for other people, but it is another minor annoyance. One that hopefully disappears in time, so not too bad, but it is annoying and again distracting.  One guy hung his 8x accordion up by the straps and left the bellows dangling in a fully opened position overnight.  Initially this sounded really silly to me when I first read it, but now I am seriously considering doing the very same thing.

Overall, playing the FR-8x is a huge transition moving over from an acoustic accordion. The 8x is not a standard accordion, it is a computer with accordion looks and ergonomics with quirks added in. Incredibly complex, difficult to play initially, but damn, so much fun and **so** many musical possibilities!  It is all these possibilities and the enjoyment one gets in playing this instrument that pretty much overcomes all the obstacles I mention above.
**********************************
I wrote that November of 2016, and things just get better every time that I use it.  

known issues:
^^^^^^^^^

1. Now, the one thing that I am going to add is that if your accordion is more than 3-4 years old, and that battery was not properly maintained, expect it to start to display faster/shorter charge times, shorter playing times and shortly after the battery dies.  Replace it BEFORE it becomes critical.  Just recently, my battery died and when it did, it took out the MAIN and JACK boards with it, so just get a new one... or better yet, get an aftermarket one (visit my website and search for "Custom Battery for my FR-8X" and "FR-8X Surgury" for details).  An OEM Roland battery is stupid expensive ($460 Canadian) and takes around a week or two to get.

2. DO NOT charge and play the accordion at the same time, it will overheat certain components on the internals and burn out the MAIN board ($680 just for that one part!)

3. The audio jacks at the bottom of the accordion is a known weak area.  They are made out of plastic and weakly hold the plug in place.  Good thing because the plug pulls out easily without damaging the JACK board for the most part, bad because overtime they can cause connection issues.  Some owners with good soldering capabilities remove them and replace them with metal ones for better reliability.  My JACK board was recently replaced and feels as loose as the original one, but I loop my wires through the straps and hold them with Velcro strapping for strain relief and since I am not a professional don't plug them in under demanding circumstances all that often (maybe 10-20 times a year at most).

Things to look at when you first see it:
1. Play it for about an hour or so, watch the battery life before and after.  If it drops from green to red... assume a bad battery
2. Look for the usual signs of a hard life... scratches, dings, wiggly-loose plugs in the headphone and output jacks, wear around the MIDI connectors
3. Uneven feel from the middle out (up or down) on the keyboard
4. Notes cutting out while you are playing or worse, notes that "stick" after you let go, particularly on the left hand side
5. When turning it on, take note of what firmware version it has. The latest is v.2.51. This is important as it points to how meticulous the owner was about maintaining it and keeping it up to date.

After a while, you will learn how to program it by yourself.  In the meantime, don't hesitate to invest in the Richard Noel sets.  IMHO, this is how the accordion SHOULD have come from the factory, they are amazing and give you even more ideas of how to later modify your accordion.

Go to YouTube, look for JerryPH and "FR-8X Mild to Wild", this is a first in a series of educational videos that I hope to continue (getting ready for #2 to come out soon!).  This will help you get introduced to the 8X faster.

That's about it for me. I love my 8X, it is a keeper and gives me SO MUCH pleasure when I use it. I like it enough that if the accordion died or was stolen, I'd immediately start to look for another one!

Hope that helps!
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#7
A useless tip from me is to take a pair of headphones and plug them in to listen to the quality of the 8x. It’s a real joy.


Best regards, Glenn
1) Ballone Burini 46C (4+5) cassotto (LMMH) 3/3 PA; 2) Accordiola Piano V (5+5) cassotto (LMMMH) 3/3 PA;
3) Roland FR8X; 4) Hohner Vox 4k (LMMH) 3/3 CBA
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#8
(13-07-2019, 04:24 PM)Glenn Wrote: A useless tip from me is to take a pair of headphones and plug them in to listen to the quality of the 8x. It’s a real joy.


Best regards, Glenn

Glenn!  That's not a useless tip!
It's true that you won't hear how good it really sounds until you hear it over a good sound system or a good pair of headphones.   Big Grin

Oh... make sure the volume is turned down to 50% or less at the start.  Depending on the headphones used, it can get VERY loud, and don't pull the bellows too hard that first few seconds until you know where you are volume-wise!
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#9
Thank you everyone. Supposedly it is coming in today but I may not get there till next week. Playing jobs tonight and tomorrow and tied up this weekend with family stuff. He told me they want $4500 for the USED instrument....Sounds too high and I told him that. It will at least give me a chance to play with one. If I like it I can get one in Pittsburgh area, I drive by there a couple times a year, dealer there has new ones. Nothing new in Richmond VA area. closest would be Philadelphia that I am aware of. Do not think there are any in DC even..

Interesting about the bass buttons. I play some free bass and have a converter I learned on. I also have a Guilietti Continental with the three extra rows, which is really awkward for me to play. Nice instrument, but I do not like the left hand. Would sell that one if I get a FR-8X.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#10
Mike, new ones are not going to go for $4500, just to let you know. Also, when they said used, how old is it? 1 year old? 4? Used professionally or by an older gent at his home twice a month? Makes a difference as new ones go for about a touch more than double that plus tax US. Smile

Any Roland dealer can get you one once you have decided, if that decision ever arrives.

Here you can find all available dealers in the regions you want by zip code.
https://www.roland.com/us/dealer_locator/
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#11
I think at that price it is simply too expensive. The seller is not being realistic.

Nevertheless, try it anyway as if you like it but cannot reach a sensible price you will at least be armed with the information and enthusiasm you need to research another.
1) Ballone Burini 46C (4+5) cassotto (LMMH) 3/3 PA; 2) Accordiola Piano V (5+5) cassotto (LMMMH) 3/3 PA;
3) Roland FR8X; 4) Hohner Vox 4k (LMMH) 3/3 CBA
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#12
(18-07-2019, 10:43 PM)JerryPH Wrote: Mike, new ones are not going to go for $4500, just to let you know.  Also, when they said used, how old is it?  1 year old?  4?  Used professionally or by an older gent at his home twice a month?  Makes a difference as new ones go for about a touch more than double that plus tax US.  Smile

Any Roland dealer can get you one once you have decided, if that decision ever arrives.  

Here you can find all available dealers in the regions you want by zip code.
https://www.roland.com/us/dealer_locator/

Not sure how good that list is?   It showed two in the DC area, Chuck Levin and Busso Music.   Chuck Levin website only had an Fr-3X.   Busso Music links to Roland web site.   I contacted them again but they seem like "duds".   They have never responded to a message I have ever sent them.   If you go to the address on google maps, it appears to be more of a small warehouse area, not a commercial store area.   no sign on any building identifying Busso Music.

Next one for me would be Carnegie Music in Pittsburgh area.   They do carry them and I have talked to owner in emails but never stopped in.

What do you think new ones go for?   No one lists prices....guess Roland won't let them.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#13
Hi Mike,

Have you checked out Liberty Bellows in Philadelphia? I understand it is farther for you to travel, but they are active and I have purchased some things from there. Seem like good people. Good luck!

https://www.libertybellows.com/shop/c/p/...170518.htm
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#14
(19-07-2019, 03:57 PM)Tom Wrote: Hi Mike,

Have you checked out Liberty Bellows in Philadelphia?  I understand it is farther for you to travel, but they are active and I have purchased some things from there.  Seem like good people.  Good luck!

https://www.libertybellows.com/shop/c/p/...170518.htm




I do not like big cities and downtown philly is not where I really want to go.   I drive by Pittsburgh when I go to my home town, Erie, usually about twice a year.   So easier for me to stop there.  

Talked to them on the phone once, that is all.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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#15
Email Kevin Solecki at Carnegie Accordion, Carnegie, Pa.  (a suburb of Pittsburgh). His store is only open by appointment. He’s very knowledgeable and responds quickly to emails. He sells new Roland and some used. 

https://www.carnegieaccordion.com/
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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#16
Probably the biggest V-Accordion dealer by volume is likely Roxy's Music in Batavia New York.  Before I found my 8X, that is where I was going to go to look at the 8X.  BTW, if you think that $4500 is a lot, I believe that the list price of a new 8X is just under $8000.  Like anything, any used accordion has whatever value the purchaser is ready to pay for it.  I feel that $4500 is not highway robbery, but it is a bit too high as well.

Currently of the 3-4 8X's that have sold internationally (UK and USA for me), they were in the $3800-$4500 range, which is not that big a difference, so that is where the market currently stands.  Sure some people like me get lucky and circumstances permit a great deal, but I can recognize it and acknowledge that I was very lucky to get the perfect "as new" condition 8X for a very good price.

Best thing I can suggest is to have your budget set aside and not rush things, and keep your eyes open by looking in all the right places for someone wanting to drop their 8X (Roland 8X Facebook pages, Roland 8X Yahoo groups, staying in contact with music groups where 8X members are participating, let as many Roland dealers know that you are looking and waiting for a good price), and... have you taken the time to contact Paul Ramunni at the New England Accordion Connection and Museum company?  Last year I saw that he had 2 black ones and a red one there... but as I said, that was a good while ago.  Call him up (860-833-1374) and see what he has available!
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#17
Ok, I just looked mine up. Purchased in 2015 brand new in the box. $5350 delivered. Black, Piano Accordion. This included the 8% State sales tax in California.

I ordered from a Roland dealer that is local. I used to purchase a lot of keyboard and sound equipment from them over the years but in no way would be considered a "regular" customer. They had no experience with accordions, didn't have one to try, and offered no services. But I had had a reedless accordion previously and am savvy enough with tech to not really need any hand-holding. Basically I needed somebody that was authorized to just sell me the box new and it had to have the factory warranty.

I'll shoot you the name over in a PM. You might just want to call your local music store that is an authorized Roland dealer. This worked for me but I didn't need all of the support and "extras". If you are new to the accordion, or want to try one first, or have them help you with it I would pay the extra and buy from an accordion-specific shop.

Mine has been flawless for the past four years. I also have the luxury of living within 30 miles of the actual Roland facility that does all of the V-accordion repairs so if something happens I can literally drive it over.
Current Accordions:

2003 Excelsior 960 Custom Magnante 5/5 - Hand Made Reeds
Excelsior 930 Van Damme Jazz Accordion - Hand Made Reeds
Roland FR-8X Digital Accordion - No Reeds
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#18
(20-07-2019, 06:36 PM)Thomas N Wrote: Ok, I just looked mine up.  Purchased in 2015 brand new in the box.  $5350 delivered. Black, Piano Accordion. This included the 8% State sales tax in California.
Wow, they sure went up in the last 4 years!
I see Roxy's lists the MSRP of an 8X at $7999:
[Image: 8xprice.jpg]

Another factor... and I don't know how important that is, is to buy from someone that will introduce the features to you, if you are less technical.  I would consider myself very tech-savvy and the first week with the 8X drove me nuts, but that went away fast after that... but I was very determined at the time to learn all I could and spent an easy 5-6 hours a day that first week just working out the details of it, but that was because I was wanting to perform with it a few weeks later and that's a lot of pressure to get to performance level in a few weeks after not performing for several decades.

The factory manual is just that, and all it does is describe available features, not how to use it, not what the caveats are, absolutely nothing else.  So if you need to learn how to plug it in, the manual is fine, anything else is a tech feature that is described in a straight-forward technical manner, and no clear explanation as to how to use it or where/when.  Basically... read it once, and toss it.  Nothing beats personal experience.

The best thing would be to get together with an experienced 8X user that could walk you through the basics... I am sure that would have saved me a week at the very least!   Confused   Smile
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#19
I think YouTube has changed a lot of that Gerry. People like you have invested time to make very high quality videos teaching not only the basics, but several advanced concepts - all done completely altruistically. It's a really great feature of the Internet.

I hesitated putting the price on this forum. It's akin to purchasing something right from Amazon or Walmart. It was an easy sale for my guy. He didn't have to seek me out, explain anything to me, fine-tune my order, etc. He basically picked up the phone and gave me a quote. So it's a win-win for both him and me.

There are several small stores that really care about the V-accordion and their users. If somebody is new to the tech or the instrument this is so valuable and I highly recommend going with them. I sent out emails requesting quotes and they were all significantly higher. They added extras like tutorial videos, custom sound sets, upgrades to the latest firmware among others. None of these were of interest to me.

My usage case is also different. I don't use any of the bells, and marimbas and what-not. I usually use four main accordions - a master, bassoon, clarinet and musette. I layer an organ under some of them - sometimes. And that's it. I use the BK-7M for backing and that was the most simple thing to connect and be up and running in 5 minutes.

I predominantly play jazz and hence the bassoon and clarinet. For those that play ethnic pieces or split the keyboard and use multiple sound sets throughout a single song it gets more complex. I have found that the recent editor has made even that pretty straight-forward. It was a pain when it wasn't around.

I had a Petosa Millennium reedless prior to the FR-8X. Separate tone generator and unique controls. It was ancient technology compared to the Roland. When I made the switch it was refreshingly easy to set up the FR-8X compared to the older Millennium.

Just to reiterate - if you are new to digital accordions, haven't ever programmed workstation keyboards (I have tinkered with this since 1985) and want customized sound sets I would buy from one of the kind people you'll see on this and other sites.

If you know that you're doing and what you want - and you want to purchase new - buy from an authorized Roland dealer you trust and go forward on your own from there.
Current Accordions:

2003 Excelsior 960 Custom Magnante 5/5 - Hand Made Reeds
Excelsior 930 Van Damme Jazz Accordion - Hand Made Reeds
Roland FR-8X Digital Accordion - No Reeds
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#20
(20-07-2019, 06:36 PM)Thomas N Wrote: Ok, I just looked mine up.  Purchased in 2015 brand new in the box.  $5350 delivered. Black, Piano Accordion. This included the 8% State sales tax in California.

I ordered from a Roland dealer that is local.  I used to purchase a lot of keyboard and sound equipment from them over the years but in no way would be considered a "regular" customer.  They had no experience with accordions, didn't have one to try, and offered no services.  But I had had a reedless accordion previously and am savvy enough with tech to not really need any hand-holding.  Basically I needed somebody that was authorized to just sell me the box new and it had to have the factory warranty.

I'll shoot you the name over in a PM.  You might just want to call your local music store that is an authorized Roland dealer.  This worked for me but I didn't need all of the support and "extras".  If you are new to the accordion, or want to try one first, or have them help you with it I would pay the extra and buy from an accordion-specific shop.

Mine has been flawless for the past four years.  I also have the luxury of living within 30 miles of the actual Roland facility that does all of the V-accordion repairs so if something happens I can literally drive it over.

I normally buy from Sam Ash in Richmond VA.   They are an authorized Roland dealer but they could not get the FR-8X, they could get the smaller one if I remember correctly.   Must be something contractual in the way Roland works.
Mike Klemen
Richmond, VA USA
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