Balance of bass over treble
#1
I have a recurring issue and don't know if it's something that all accordions do, or whether mine is tired and knackered inside.

For example, one simple piece I play has, for the final two bars (3/4 time),  a G sustained over all six beats and which I like to play diminuendo. The bass is C chord chord, G chord chord. By the time I am playing the bass G, there is pretty much no sound coming out the treble side, particularly as I am pushing the bellows to their final close.

Common sense tells me that more air is being pushed through the bass chords, so maybe there isn't sufficient to sustain the single treble note. Should there be some sort of equalizing mechanism that prevents that from happening, but mine isn't working? Or is it down to a technique I don't know. Is it normal or not?
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#2
This balance is always a delicate issue. The bass side plays 3 to 5 reeds for each bass note, and the chords have 3 notes with 2 or 3 reeds per note. So a lot of air goes to that. The treble side can have 1 to 4 or 5 reeds playing per note. Each accordion has a different volume balance. Some accordions will have the bass sounding fine with a single reed on the treble side but a relatively weak bass when together with a treble chord on master (4 or 5 reed) register. Other accordions will have a bass that seriously overpowers a single treble reed but is well balanced when the treble is on master register and a chord being played.
As an example my experience is that Pigini has the balance a bit more towards the treble side and Bugari more towards the bass side. You could also state this as Pigini having a weaker bass side and Bugari a strong bass side. Every brand and model of accordion will have a somewhat different balance.
When performing for an audience you can shift the balance a bit by turning your body+accordion more with the treble side towards the audience or more with the bass side. When you are just playing for yourself in a room turning your body will not have much of an effect.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#3
Thank you for that. It will be useful to take that into consideration if/when I change my instrument. However, in this particular instance, I would say that the treble can't be heard at all - (as though the bass chords are robbing the air from the treble side), rather than the bass just being louder. From what you have described, I might guess that it is a bass 'heavy' accordion that also needs a good overhaul.

I have mentioned elsewhere that it was bought for me as a gift, second-hand, so not tried beforehand. As a new player, I don't always know what is normal and to be worked around, and what is potentially years of neglect.
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#4
(03-01-2020, 12:05 AM)Bella Wrote: Thank you for that. It will be useful to take that into consideration if/when I change my instrument. However, in this particular instance, I would say that the treble can't be heard at all - (as though the bass chords are robbing the air from the treble side), rather than the bass just being louder. From what you have described, I might guess that it is a bass 'heavy' accordion that also needs a good overhaul.

I have mentioned elsewhere that it was bought for me as a gift, second-hand, so not tried beforehand. As a new player, I don't always know what is normal and to be worked around, and what is potentially years of neglect.

Not necessarily "years of neglect". Apart from the bass being softer or louder on different accordions there are huge differences in the amount of air consumption. Here's the deal: The vibrating reed has to go up and down through a hole in the reed plate and that should be a "tight fit". If the hole is wider than the reed air is wasted through that space. Also, the reed sits "just above" the reed plate in its resting position. If it sits too low there will be very little air loss but the reed will choke when you pull or push with an accent. If it sits too high the reed will be slow to start, it will not choke, but it will waste more air. If it is about right the reed will still start well enough and sound loud and waste little air.
A cheap accordion will have machine-made reeds that are not a very tight fit and waste more air. So indeed you may be using a lot of air and hardly hear anything. An expensive accordion will have hand-made reeds that are a very tight fit, sound nice and waste almost no air. You can play these reeds (also the lowest bass reeds) very softly, using little air, still leaving enough pressure to get the treble side to play. There is sometimes also a difference in how hard the steel of the reeds is. Hard steel means the reed can sit lower, wasting less air and still not choke. The bass response of an accordion that uses reeds made of a harder steel is therefore better. This is the case with Russian bayans, as compared to Italian accordions (using less hard steel).
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#5
(03-01-2020, 12:39 PM)debra Wrote: If it sits too high the reed will be slow to start, it will not choke, but it will waste more air.......
A cheap accordion will have machine-made reeds that are not a very tight fit and waste more air. So indeed you may be using a lot of air and hardly hear anything.

What an absolutely brilliant explanation, thank you. The quote from your post above is exactly how my instrument behaves - slow to start amongst other things.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'm in the market for something better. Obviously there are things like how it sounds and plays that are very personal. Are there some standard checks I should do when trying out other accordions (both visual and playing checks). If this has been covered elsewhere on the forum, just say and I'll go look.
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#6
(03-01-2020, 01:58 PM)Bella Wrote: I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'm in the market for something better. Obviously there are things like how it sounds and plays that are very personal. Are there some standard checks I should do when trying out other accordions (both visual and playing checks). If this has been covered elsewhere on the forum, just say and I'll go look.

Impossible to name all the checks you can do without opening up the instrument. Something to try is to slowly play each note in the middle (the center 20 notes or so) in different 2 reed registers (LM, MM, MH, LH if available), paying attention to how the notes start. Both reeds should start simultaneously. If one sounds before the other then the voicing is off. (Voicing is how far the reed rests above the reed plate.) If you hear any tremolo on an LM or LH register then the tuning is bad. If you can hear a flopping sound then the valves inside may not be closing properly. This is best heard with lower notes (but on the lowest notes this is normal and cannot be avoided so it's not a flaw there). Then you try pushing on the bellows a normal fortissimo pressure, with different registers, to check whether no note starts sounding. Another check is whether when you pull or push the bellows with the same force it opens and closes at approximately the same rate. (You don't want to be playing three measures pull, then one measure push to be back where you started.)
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#7
Thank you for that. I've stashed that info away for when the time comes.
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#8
(04-01-2020, 12:20 AM)Bella Wrote: Thank you for that. I've stashed that info away for when the time comes.

Why wait?
Try it out on your current accordion! Smile
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#9
Yes - I thought that after I had posted. A good opportunity to know what I am trying to find out (if that makes sense).
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#10
My two ¢: When I brought one of my accordions to a master technician, he actually placed a pad of felt over the bass vents in order to muffle the sound and thus create a better balance in the accordion. You may want to try that.
Good luck!
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#11
Mmm yes, that's a thought. Although it would presumably make no difference to the fact that the bass seems to physically rob air from the treble side, which then loses its sound completely in some passages.
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#12
Just a thought: have you checked for air leaks ?
It might be that you're using air too fast and thus getting low on pressure.
There's a test in http://accordionrevival.com/ACCORDION_RE...#Air_Leaks which starts at

"To find out if your leak is internal or external, measure the
amount of time it takes the bellows to close under its own weight
from the full open position with all valves closed."
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#13
I'll look at that, thank you. Generally though, the bellows won't open or close with using the air release button or sounding a note. I will do further tests when I have read that post you referred to, though Paul De bra's excellent explanation further back on this thread is currently making most sense. Not sure my accordion is specifically faulty, but rather the way, and from what, it has been made. I have no intention of spending money on it - would rather put funds towards something I like better.
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#14
Each instrument will have a slightly different balance, a quick solution is to regulate the depth you are pressing the notes and ensuring there is enough compression of the bellows to supply the air.

A button or key only needs to be pressed to the depth that all the reeds (in the register used) open at the same time.  Lower reeds, in general will take more air and will be slower to respond.  Each instrument will also have different sensitivity with the keys and buttons, play around to find yours and see if that helps the air usage problem.
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#15
Here the late Bernard Loffet has a trick that may, or may not, be interesting, ...
link = http://diato.org/trucs/dimbass.htm#1
ymmv
Carpe diem, C.
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