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Accordion sellers in France

Windstrel

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Bonjour!

We are heading to France in July in our camper and with our bicycles and among other things would quite like to checkout the possibility of buying an acoustic accordion. Can anybody suggest shops or other opportunities?

Our accordion experience has so far been on a Rowland FR3 XB which we have set to the C system with 3 plus 3 bass (hope I've used the correct terminology here... we're new to accordion playing after playing sax and fiddle for decades).

Our thinking about buying in France is that there may be more choice. The C system button accordion is not very available in the UK we've discovered but we love it.

Thanks ?
 

Corsaire

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Windstrel said:
Bonjour!

We are heading to France in July in our camper and with our bicycles and among other things would quite like to checkout the possibility of buying an acoustic accordion. Can anybody suggest shops or other opportunities?

Our accordion experience has so far been on a Rowland FR3 XB which we have set to the C system with 3 plus 3 bass (hope I've used the correct terminology here... we're new to accordion playing after playing sax and fiddle for decades).

Our thinking about buying in France is that there may be more choice. The C system button accordion is not very available in the UK we've discovered but we love it.

Thanks ?


Hi Windstrel
If you come to Brittany, there's a brilliant shop just to the west of Rennes called La Piano à Bretelles (a play on words "the piano with braces" !).  They are really helpful and enthusiastic.
 

Corsaire

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Hi Windstrel

If you come to Brittany, there's a brilliant shop just to the west of Rennes called La Piano à Bretelles (a play on words "the piano with braces" !).  They are really helpful and enthusiastic.
 

Giovanni

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donn said:
Are you ready to go all the way to the Riviera?  I hear there's a big one in Nice.

Hi donn ,,,,,,do you know the address  and any web site ?
 

debra

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The formerly Italian brands of Fisart and Vignoni have left Castelfidardo and are now in Rennes. See fisart.fr for more info. These accordions are really good (at least they were really good when made in Castelfidardo and I don't know how good they are now).
 

Windstrel

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Many thanks for all the helpful suggestions. I've had a look at the websites and we'll try to fit in a visit in person if we can while we are over in France.

The prices, where they are shown, do look a bit scary, though ☹️

Based in our campervan we'll be travelling via Roscoff through Brittany and then on to explore the euro velo routes on our bikes further south so we have plenty of scope for diversions of a musical kind.

Again many thanks  :)
 
M

maugein96

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Hi,


Youll be lucky to find a decent used acoustic accordion anywhere in Europe for less than the price of a new Roland FR1XB.

Im led to believe that the situation in France is, even although a box has been sitting on a dealers shelf for some considerable time, it is unlikely that youll be offered much discount, if at all. 

Ive never been to France for a long time, although it seems likely you may pick up an accordion in an ordinary music shop in Brittany, which doesnt necessarily specialise in CBA accordions.

This link is to a shop in Brittany which specialises in diatonic accordions, which are probably slightly more popular there than CBA. The box is a 1950s Fratelli Crosio, which would likely have been assembled in Paris from parts made in Italy. Those boxes are built like tanks, so its not one you would want to carry whilst strolling around. Probably weighs about 11 or even 12kg. From memory that box, or one very like it, has been languishing in the shop concerned for quite a while. 

Judging by the coupler arrangement on the rear of the treble side it looks to be a three voice LMM, and youd need to hear it to establish whether you like the tuning. Chances are the MM reeds will be tuned americain, which is essentially swing tuned with a bit of vibration. The dealer could probably retune it for you, but not in the timescale of a short holiday. 

Not suggesting you should buy it, but the price is typical of what youll need to pay in a French dealers shop. Fratelli Crosio was one of the most sought after brands in the French accordion heyday, but like all good old things they tend to disappear.

€1500 might sound like an awful lot for a plain looking 60 or 70 year old accordion, but youll never get quality and craftsmanship like that these days from any maker. Crosio never made them very pretty, but the sound quality is (or should be) superb.

Might be worth a look if you are near the Quimper area. You never know, he might have something else that isnt advertised on the internet, or be able to point you towards another place where you could find one. 

http://www.atelierdelaccordeon.com/produit/fratelli/  

Only caveat is that relatively few UK repairers (if you can find one these days) are keen to work on French spec boxes. The reeds are nailed in rather than waxed, which gives them that French sound.  

Good luck in your quest. I have never driven to France for many years, as I live in Scotland and got sick and tired of roadworks running for 20 miles at a time with temporary speed restrictions on the M6. Found that more scary than French accordion prices, and I drove professionally for over 30 years!
 

OuijaBoard

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If you know enough to vet the instrument yourself, you might consider Frances rough equivalent to Craiglist---there are a lot of accordeons listed at https://www.leboincoin.fr.

To search France at large and see what comes up in what areas, click on any of the geographic areas listed in the right on the home page. That will then take you to another page with a geographic drop-down. The drop-down choices include Toute la France. Then use keywords to look for items. Youll need some French words, or maybe try maker names. If you see something interesting near an area convenient to your itinerary/route, you might arrange to see it . . .


There is also:

https://www.paruvendu.fr/

https://www.paruvendu.fr/annonces/accordeon/
 

hais1273

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There used to be a an Instrument shop in the main square of Guingamp in Northern Brittany, I can't remember what it was called though. I do remember they had Chromatic and Piano accordions on the shelf.  In the center of St Brieuc, again in Northern Britanny was a music shop called Saint Cecille, my wife bought a diato there several years ago. I'm sure a web search would reveal more details...

Guingamp is worth a short visit just cos it's there. St Brieuc has a lovely old port, the town itself is less lovely and the by-pass is not for the faint hearted  especially in the rush hour.
 

Windstrel

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Merci a tous!

We'll be landing at Roscoff so Brittany music shops are a real possibility. I remember St Brieuc and think I might have been to Guingamp previously in French travels and another visit would be great.

Not sure about buying through private sellers. Our knowledge isn't sufficient, I suspect but it's a good suggestion and worth considering if the price was right and seller seemed ok.

On a slightly different tack, my UK researches have led to Allodi Accordions of Lewisham, London. I've no idea if he sells C system CBAs with 3 + 3 bass (to which we are now committed, although barely proficient enough to exploit but determined to improve). Unfortunately, on the day I was going to phone and find out, I discovered he'd gone on holiday...

It will be really nice to get an acoustic CBA. Playing the other night at our local session, I started a tune that is locally popular because it was the a tune played by a sadly departed local folk band well remembered and loved (Log Cabin). Within a couple of bars everybody had joined in with gusto and the only way I could know I was pressing the right keys was that I couldn't hear any wrong notes on my Roland FR3 XB, the combined sound was so loud from the other musicians... Whereas hearing myself has never been a problem over the many years I've played flute and soprano sax in similar pub sessions.

Learning our CBA has been a wonderful adventure and I'm sure somewhere there is the ideal acoustic instrument waiting for it's new and caring owners and we appreciate all who are providing helpful suggestions to find it  :)
 

OuijaBoard

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No idea what the status would be at present, but when I spoke with the very informative and likeable Mr. Allodi of Allodi Accordions about a year ago, he said there was so little interest in CBA among his customer base that he had none in stock.

I see a couple of like-new Beltuna Studio III 96bass C sytem CBAs on German Ebay at present, the first priced a bit less than the 2nd:


https://www.ebay.de/itm/BELTUNA-STU...266246?hash=item2159d84446:g:UwcAAOSw8yFc0BBr


https://www.ebay.de/itm/AKKORDEON-B...446286?hash=item3b30d6aece:g:US4AAOSwcBhWas5C
 
M

maugein96

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OuijaBoard said:
No idea what the status would be at present, but when I spoke with the very informative and likeable Mr. Allodi of Allodi Accordions about a year ago, he said there was so little interest in CBA among his customer base that he had none in stock.
I spoke with Emilio Allodi about 30 years ago and he advised me that he wasn't handling many CBAs, even then.

Most CBAs imported into the UK ended up in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where they have grown old gracefully along with their owners. 

Here's wishing the OP happy hunting in Brittany, and at least he won't have to pay import duty and VAT on anything he buys whilst we're still dangling on the EU string.
 

donn

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Windstrel said:
Within a couple of bars everybody had joined in with gusto and the only way I could know I was pressing the right keys was that I couldn't hear any wrong notes on my Roland FR3 XB, the combined sound was so loud from the other musicians... Whereas hearing myself has never been a problem over the many years I've played flute and soprano sax in similar pub sessions.

Not that I don't heartily approve of your decision - I'm sure you won't regret getting the real thing - but in my experience this is just a basic problem with the accordion. They get lost in the mix, and the sound is produced a little farther from your ear. The only thing that can play unamplified with band instruments, in my experience, is band instruments.

OuijaBoard said:
I see a couple of like-new Beltuna Studio III 96bass C sytem CBAs on German Ebay at present, the first priced a bit less than the 2nd:

I bet those are 2/4, not 3/3 bass. Of course there's no really reliable way to tell from a photo, and sellers usually are oblivious. I'm just guessing that the 3/3 bass will commonly be offered on a French style model, which will also have register controls on the back and fungo mushroom-shaped bass buttons. So when I see straight piston bass buttons, it seems to me a safe bet that they're 2/6.

Also note that 3/3 layouts differ. I doubt this would be an issue in France, but it seems that in other northern European countries there is some confusion about the principle, and the 1st row is offset by one. It's certainly confusing enough to explain, but ... briefly, 3rd row is the primary bass; 2nd row is a major 3rd up from primary, and a half step down from the next primary. The 1st row follows the very same pattern, it's a major 3rd up from the 2nd row and a half step down along the diagonal. But because of that diagonal, your finger will more easily find the 1st row button from the next column, which is a useful minor 3rd from the primary. I suppose that when the Belgians did this with their square bass layout, of course they needed to pull the 1st row over one column, and then they carried that arrangement to diagonal layouts as well. Who knows. At any rate, playing the thing will reveal all, so it's no great worry here.
 
M

maugein96

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On some accordions it is possible to tell whether 2/4 or 3/3 if you can see the indentation on the C button and/or the other marked buttons in the row. 

Ive seen quite a few accordions offered for sale in France with mushroom bass buttons that are 2/4, and a professional vendor usually stipulates that arrangement. French spec CBA accordions supplied to the French speaking cantons of Switzerland are also often 2/4, and again Swiss vendors will normally highlight what the bass arrangement is on such accordions. 

3/3 bass accordions are occasionally made with the International peg buttons just to confuse the issue, and Ive seen one or two of those in the UK. 

Ive never owned a 3/3 bass accordion, as most French boxes imported by UK dealers (when we had more then two or three of those) have been 2/4. 

The Belgian system appears to have been introduced there by Italian accordionists who went to work in the Belgian coalmines and brought their modenese bass accordions with them. As far as Im aware the Belgian system is a direct lift from the modenese system.

Same thing goes for French rear mounted couplers and mushroom bass buttons. Accordions with that configuration were being made in Emilia Romagna and Piemonte before the instrument became popular in France. The Cavagnolo family took the north Italian CBA construction method to Lyon in 1904, and it seems that Maugein simply copied their construction methods in 1919 when they too began making them. The end result was what most people refer to as the typical French spec accordion. Truth was they were a style of accordion that was popular in the north of Italy, and accordions are still made like that in Stradella by Stocco and others. Only difference from French is most of them have bi coloured treble buttons. Carlo Venturi from Bologna played accordions of various makes that had 4 rows of white treble buttons, rear couplers, and mushroom bass buttons, the lot. Gigi Stok from Parma was probably the best known exponent of the bassi modenese, playing mainly Crosio and Crucianelli accordions, often with 7 rows of modenese basses to include the dim7 row. 

As usual, I am full of useless information, and modenese bass will probably now be extinct. Only recording artist I know of who uses it is Daniele Donadelli.

 

Where did he get that French sound from? Im not getting involved in that one. Take whatever guess you like. French and Italian guys who play swing type waltzes have a very similar sound (and accordions). The Italian playing style comes through in this one, though. Dont think hed manage those register changes with rear mounted French couplers.

It is perhaps slightly unfortunate that most pro Italian players are keen to demonstrate their virtuosity, rather than entertain us with lighter offerings, and most tunes end up being played to the limits of the players ability. The players of Filuzzi from Bologna are a bit steadier and possibly easier listening.


Just entertain them with your hair, Massimo. The box is a carry over from the organetto bolognese, which never had any basses. Tune is An Evening in Paris (the way they might imagine it in Bologna).

More typical of Italian playing in the style of Carlo Venturi (bass side is really difficult), with a typical Italian tuned box.

 

Windstrel

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Well at last we are at the ferry sitting in the campervan and waiting to board. My OH is at the front playing the Roland FR3 XB trying out a new tune she heard when we were playing fiddle and sax with a Morris Dancing side at All Things Morris last weekend in Ilfracombe.

Thanks again for all the helpful information. I'll give Allodi a ring when we get back if we are not successful finding our ideal accordion in France but it sounds from the comments that I shouldn't rely on an outcome there.

While we were sessioning in a pub at Upton on Severn folk festival some weeks ago, we chatted briefly to a chap that was playing a CBA C system and he said he had ordered it via a UK supplier to be built according to his spec. I can't remember where he said he got it from. So I was wondering if there are any uk suppliers that have links to accordion makers who will do this.

But how to know what accordion would suit us? Which made me wonder if a decent c system accordion could be rented?

As I've said before, this is an exciting adventure ...even if it is a frustrating one at times ?
 
M

maugein96

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Several UK dealers will order a CBA for you, so long as they are official distributors for the make you are interested in. Most of them deal with one or two Italian manufacturers, and they should be able to offer you access to catalogues of the available models. Emilio Allodi used to deal with Fantini, but Im not sure if he still has any business with them. Best ask him if you need to.  

You pick the colour and the button configurations and thats about it. You are usually required to leave a deposit with the dealer, and all being well you should have your accordion in a few months. You may get a surprise at the price of a brand new accordion, and dont forget the UK dealer needs a mark up to make it worth his/her while. 

Nothing beats try before you buy, which obviously wouldnt be an option with an order placed via a dealer. There is a caveat with ordering unseen and unplayed as well. If for any reason the deal falls through, or the instrument turns out not to be to your liking, you are in a bit of a dilemma. If you attempt to recover the cost of any money you have paid, beware that if you are having the instrument specially constructed to your own specification, the Bank or credit card company is entitled to claim that the accordion was custom built, and as such will not pay out. Basically, you couldnt source the instrument in the UK, so were obliged to place a special one off custom order. Remember they will be trying to sell the unwanted instrument to minimise their loss, and custom built is a term they love to hit you with in the event of any claim. The time required to construct an accordion is also against you, as most claims have to be submitted within 90 days of placing the order. Youll probably know that legal advice in anybodys country isnt cheap. 

If you are happy to run the risks involved then by all means use that method, but there have been one or two horror stories on here about similar situations. A lot of people have ordered by precisely the same means with no trouble at all, but I am one of lifes unlucky buyers, and my experience was enough for me never to trust any third party to order a musical instrument on my behalf. If its not in the shop, Im not interested.  

Personally, Id try and source a half decent used box in Brittany. Youll get to see, hear, and play it first, and most French retailers offer a minimum guarantee of one year. Might give you an excuse to re-visit Brittany if something needs fixing.

Renting is something which is possible in France, and may even be possible in the UK, although I doubt whether many people in the UK would have a CBA for rent.

As Donn says, the main issue with the accordion is what you hear from behind isnt the same as what an audience will pick up. If you record yourselves playing you should get the drift.

If you get the chance in Brittany, try and listen to an accordionist accompanying one of the local mouth blown wind instruments. If you can hear the accordionist at all over the bombarde then youll be doing very well indeed. How the players know what is coming out of the front of the instrument is beyond me.


The accordionist gets a break every now and then when the bombarde player runs out of puff. Bad enough when its just a duet, but in a full blown band with flutes, fiddles, drums, and all sorts of other loud gadgets, then the accordionist would be as well just taking the reeds out and miming.

Maybe the above clip wasnt a very good example of what I meant.

When it all gets going in the Auvergne the accordionist is little more than a stage decoration. Bass and chords might get through occasionally, but you could play any melody you wanted and nobody would know the difference:-


Devotees of the music will tell you they can hear the accordions, but they know what to listen for. To me it just all gets lost in the mix. Left Stage - 6 Right Stage (accordionists) - 1. The one point is for the time hes beating with his sabots. The lady with the diatonic appears to be playing Silent Night.

I know Ill probably get stick for those comments from lovers of French folk, and perhaps I have exaggerated the situation. Occasionally the accordionists get to play a solo or two, but hopefully the second clip will serve to illustrate the plight of the accordion in such a line up. Accordions can be pretty loud, but up against a bagpipe and a hurdy gurdy, unless you have the constitution of Desperate Dan (a UK comic character of immense physical strength), then you might as well save the back ache and get the paper and comb out.
 

flatstanley

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Only just seen this thread, so it may be too late!
If you're still in Brittany, there's a music shop in Gourin (south of Carhaix) with a good range of CBAs. Also in St Nicholas du Pelem there's an accordion repair shop that sometimes has accordions for sale and also rents them out at a reasonable rate. I can supply more details if interested.
 

Windstrel

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Well we are back in England again, sadly without achieving an accordion purchase in France. Massive thanks to all who suggested places to look which were extremely helpful and we visited many of the suggested shops.

Probably we now have a better idea of how much an acoustic CBA costs with 3/3 bass and couldn't bring ourselves to spend that amount of money.

However, we saw a lot of nice accordions and played a few to try them out. Plus we cycled about 400 miles along beautul EuroVelo cycle routes of Brittany and the Loire valley in lovely weather.

Fortunately, we have our Roland CBA which is set to C system and 3/3 bass so we can keep practicing and making progress playing this wonderfully musical instrument.

Thanks again for all your helpful suggestions ?
 

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