Accordion straps and some history
#1
Tom and Jerry (I can’t believe I just said that!)

You were kind enough to ask about my accordion straps after I had mentioned shoulder ache. I could give you the short version, but you’re gonna get the long one – so if you need a cup of tea and biscuit, now’s the time to go get it.

In my late teens I worked as an assistant at Shrewsbury Youth Hostel. The warden, a lovely man, was enthusiastic about folk music, and he collected and played vintage instruments. Amongst them, several piano accordions – that was the first time I ever laid hands on one and have wanted to play ever since.

Fast forward to about 12 years ago. Having been left some money after my father died, I spent a long time pondering on what I might spend it. My sister bought a keyboard, and that made me remember how much I had always wanted to try accordion. Decision made, I was so much looking forward to researching, going to different places to try different accordions - no hurry, just wanted to get a feel for what I was going to be buying. For me, much of the pleasure of a large purchase comes from the finding out and anticipation. My big mistake was to mention my decision to my man.

A few months later I found myself the recipient of a large, bulky Christmas present. Bless him, he was so pleased with himself and fortunately took my reaction as amazed delight. It was in fact acute disappointment. He had bought it on ebay and had researched as best he could. It was a generous gift and it seems churlish and ungrateful to feel the way I do.

His gift is the accordion I play, but I really want something else – or at least a chance to try something else. Tbh it’s not bad and everything works, though I don’t care for the sound. So my short term goal right now is to become competent enough that I can justify to him buying another instrument. What this has to do with shoulder straps is that I am reluctant to spend any money on this instrument. You may tell me that the straps are completely interchangeable between instruments (that’s what I would surmise), so it might make sense to get some new ones.  The ones already on the accordion are quite narrow, but really as I sit to play they do no more than steady the instrument on my lap. I don’t think they are the cause of the shoulder ache, but as I mentioned on Jerry’s thread, more likely a slightly dodgy post-op shoulder getting used to unaccustomed exercise.

I’ve done a bit of research this morning and find there is an accordion shop in Birmingham, and even better, potentially a teacher within reach. This information has changed the direction of my thinking and am now considering some lessons. An experienced accordionist will be able to give me some indication of whether the instrument I currently use is worth persevering with. If he told me it needs a good overhaul, I would most likely go with another instrument rather than spend money on this one. If he says it’s ok as it is, then I will play it until good enough to justify a new one (and new straps!).

Right, well if you’re still awake after that lot, any useful comments will be gratefully received and carefully considered.
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#2
You mention Birmingham, so I assume you live close by. In Longbridge there lives a chap who deals in used accordions, he trades under the name of Fairdeal Accordions. I have dealt with him on a couple of occasions and found him an honest and helpful bloke. He has a website which you will find if you google the business name. He has converted the front bedroom of his house into an accordion warehouse. Floor to ceiling shelves. If you wish to exchange your instrument for a more congenial one then he will offer you a fair part exchange and will let you have a go on those which you have under consideration.

I can’t recommend him too highly. Incidentally, I see from your other posts that you have flirted with the idea of a button accordion, he plays the c-system button accordion and usually has a few in stock. Stretches are much shorter, and the system is surprisingly simple once you have made the initial transition.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#3
Thank you for that, Chris. Mr Google tells me that Longbridge is 84 miles away, so do-able. I'm in two minds about changing to button, but will certainly check out the website you mentioned.
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#4
Thanks Bella!  We are like a cat and mouse although Jerry is way better!  Anyway, I think you are doing the right thing.  It's very possible your accordion is way bigger and heavier than you need.  If you don't aspire to professionalism, 120 basses is really overkill, you'll never use them. 72 or even 64 will suit you just fine.  Same with voices (number of reed sets, treble and bass).  Two voices that sound good are better than 5 that don't, or that are too heavy.  

I've never played a chromatic so I can't say, but there are certainly advantages to each style and it's really down to personal preference.   You'll be able to play what you want with either. One advantage of the buttons are that you can find more notes in a smaller accordion.   Of course, if you are familiar with piano notes, there's that.  

Chris's advice is really good. The more accordions you can actually see and try out the better you are, and the better to decide what  will work for you. Yes, straps should be pretty interchangeable, but if you are going to buy a new accordion anyway, you may want to wait and make sure the colors are complimentary!  

Good luck!
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#5
Ooh complimentary colours! Hadn't even given that a thought. Forgot to mention the current instrument is a 72 bass Galotta badged as Bell. I believe Bell Accordions that used to be in Surbiton used to badge things as their own.
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#6
Bella, a lovely story, and that is one thing that I think you will find binds most of us to the accordion, it's the stories and they are all worth sharing and documenting, hence why I made my own blog website, to document my musical journey with the accordion.

Your attitude and way of being show that you are a lovely caring person and I am sure that you made your man feel very proud to have been able to give you that gift... good on you for that.

I will add my strong agreement that having someone look at your instrument to see if it is worth keeping or moving up with should happen, and I am all for you going to take a look at and testing and playing as many other used accordions before seeing if you should move to another accordion is good for you.  It is so important to feel the new instrument and hear the sounds it makes before paying good money.

Chromatic... though I am very much an accordion player that is very open to the concept of moving to button accordion, for, shall we we say, adults younger than us, it is not the best move to change from piano to chromatic for everyone.  Is the button system superior to piano... technically, yes, but there is SO MUCH MORE to making the decision other than which can you play faster/easier on.

Preference is a big part of the entire experience and if a piano accordion is what you want, stick to it.  There are some good examples of experienced accordionists here that document that the process to move from piano to button took a decade to complete.  If you are in your teens or early 20's, I can see that taking *maybe* a year or two (Michael Bridge a renoun Canadian accordionist moved from playing Piano to the highest conservatory levels to piano accordion, and then to button accordion over a 3 year process and played pieces on the button accordion that he played on the piano at equal facility), however to lose a decade of potential growth and strong efforts to get back to where you were 10 years earlier for someone past 40, in my opinion, of course, is at a minimum wasteful.  Place those same efforts in growing on the piano accordion and blow away the "you" that just pretty much took 10 years to get to using the one thing that we all don't have limitless quantities of... time.  Smile

I myself am always toying with the thought of getting a button accordion just to fool around with, but know in my heart that no matter how good the button accordion can be, I will not devote the time or effort at 59 years old, to get as good on it as I am on the piano accordion.  Matter of fact, I am planning a trip to Prague in 2020 or 2021 to take my mother there, and plan on visiting the Delicia factory to pick up some small button accordion, possibly even some lower end small free bass accordion just for fun, but those are just things I am considering, nothing firm.  

Again, it's more about the story and journey than about button vs piano accordions.  Make a choice, stick with it, and enjoy the journey, that is the most important part of all of this.  Smile
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#7
Very valid points on time limitation, thank you, especially as I'm old enough to be your big sister! Despite my irritation at it being a tad smaller than a piano keyboard, I would probably stick with the same anyway, and your comments on changing over have served to reinforce that. Although very much a beginner, I have nevertheless put in a lot of hours already.

I need to take some time to mull all this over and do some more finding out - and in the meantime keep practising.
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#8
I hesitate to disagree with such an august authority as Jerry, but I would like to bring another point of view. I learned to play the guitar in my teens, becoming a reasonable player in the mid sixties. As with so many, life, career, family and so on conspired to my finding little time to play, still less practise the instrument. I took up sailing, and soon found the guitar an impractical instrument below deck on a small boat. So I decided to try a squeezebox. I bought, and taught myself to play a two row fourth apart diatonic accordion in the late nineties. I enjoyed playing this, but I found the limitations irksome. The box got laid aside for ten years or so.

My interest was revived in retirement, and I began to associate with Morris dancers, for whom I would occasionally play. I still found the limitations disagreeable, so I bought a three row twelve bass instrument to see if I could overcome them that way. The treble side is chromatic, but the basses still pretty limited, and the fingering for keys other than the two home major keys and their relative minors tortuous. If I’d started in my youth, or even middle age I think I’d’ve persevered, but in my seventieth year I feared extinction before even modest competence.

I had looked at the chromatic button accordion about twelve or fifteen years previously, and dismissed it as too difficult. A serious error. More in hope than expectation I bought a cheap old Hohner 96 bass c-griff accordion. The vendor said he’d take it back for what I paid for it less £70 if I didn’t get on with it, which seemed a reasonable punt to me. I was astonished and pleased to find that I picked up the technique fairly quickly. It was about three or four months before I returned to the vendor and part-exchanged the box for a bigger one. With my teacher’s advice and guidance I am making progress which pleases me. About an hour or so’s practice daily ensures this, and is a relaxing diversion from the petty irritations of life.

I shall never achieve more than very modest competence, but that’s fine by me. I play for my own pleasure; in truth I think that’s what most musicians of all degrees do. Once it becomes a chore or simply no longer enjoyable then it’s time to reconsider. As with so many things, if I’d thought about it forty or fifty years ago I would’ve acted differently. It is said that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is today. This is similar. As Andrew Marvell says to his coy mistress, “The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.” Even more constrained than a small boat cabin, not even an accordion could be played there. While there’s life there’s hope.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#9
Inspiring story, Chris, thanks!
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#10
(01-01-2020, 11:57 PM)Chrisrayner Wrote: I hesitate to disagree with such an august authority as Jerry, but I would like to bring another point of view.  

My interest was revived in retirement, and I began to associate with Morris dancers, for whom I would occasionally play.  I still found the limitations disagreeable, so I bought a three row twelve bass instrument to see if I could overcome them that way.  The treble side is chromatic, but the basses still pretty limited, and the fingering for keys other than the two home major keys and their relative minors tortuous.  If I’d started in my youth, or even middle age I think I’d’ve persevered, but in my seventieth year I feared extinction before even modest competence.

I had looked at the chromatic button accordion about twelve or fifteen years previously, and dismissed it as too difficult.  A serious error.  More in hope than expectation I bought a cheap old Hohner 96 bass c-griff accordion.  The vendor said he’d take it back for what I paid for it less £70 if I didn’t get on with it, which seemed a reasonable punt to me.  I was astonished and pleased to find that I picked up the technique fairly quickly.  It was about three or four months before I returned to the vendor and part-exchanged the box for a bigger one.  With my teacher’s advice and guidance I am making progress which pleases me.  About an hour or so’s practice daily ensures this, and is a relaxing diversion from the petty irritations of life.

It is said that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is today.  This is similar.  As Andrew Marvell says to his coy mistress, “The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.”  Even more constrained than a small boat cabin, not even an accordion could be played there.  While there’s life there’s hope.


Oh Good Lord, Chris, there is nothing special about me, and I was born in July (haha... ok, that was a really bad joke!) Tongue  

Adding a 2nd point of view is always good and offers options, added opinions and different points of view.
I enjoy the back and forth banter because everyone has a valid point of view.
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#11
I am glad of all points of view - and anyway Chris, I didn't see your post as any disagreement but recounting your own experience. We all learn in our own way and you obviously enjoy the challenge of mastering something new.

Sometimes you have to say something out loud to know your own mind. Yes, I have been frustrated at not being able to translate directly from piano keyboard to piano accordion keyboard, and yes I've flirted with the idea of a button accordion. So I said that out loud - and people answered - and brought up points that I hadn't considered or had glossed over. Jerry's post in no way scared me off trying a button accordion, but just gave me things to consider. And I think I have made my decision (though maybe not!).

I'm really grateful that some of you take the time and trouble to reply in a useful and meaningful way. There isn't very much that I can contribute to this forum - half the time I've no idea what people are talking about!
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#12
Hello Bella,

I hope you'll enjoy your accordion playing.


As to accordion straps, what I personally find very important is to have an extra horizontal strap at the back, to connect the 2 shoulder straps.

I have a couple of accordions, most have an extra horizontal strap at the back (with a clicking system or a hook system, to connect the vertical shoulder straps).
But I have 2 accordions with only 2 vertical shoulder straps that have no connection between them at my back.
And I have noticed my accordion is not stable enough while playing, my shoulders and muscles are actively "working" or "holding in place" the shoulder straps. To prevent the accordion straps from sliding down from my shoulders.
This way I sometimes have to struggle with the accordion.

I keep telling to myself I should go buying an extra horizontal strap to connect the shoulder straps on those 2 accordions.
Because it really helps, and I'm not sure but I think some backpain issues can be avoided by having the extra horizontal strap.

Having said this I think it's time for me to finally go to the accordion shop and buy me some extra straps.
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#13
Oh ok, thanks Stephen, that's useful to know. A bit like rucksacks have a chest strap for the same purpose. I might try experimenting with what I already have, just to see if it works for me.
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#14
Bella,
One strap, two straps, three straps, no straps at all, there's someone, somewhere doing it and thriving on it: whatever suits you! Smile

The horse, too, is optional: check out this guy! Tongue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8JWPUis0N8

A better example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKzifjOtpv8
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#15
It definitely helps to have a horse!
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#16
Priceless Dingo - but he's not touching my accordion!
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#17
(04-01-2020, 12:18 AM)Bella Wrote: Priceless Dingo - but he's not touching my accordion!

Nor mine! Tongue
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