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Adding a pre-amp to accordion?

Mike K

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I have noticed that my 50 year old Giulietti when playing with an amplifier REALLY needs to be turned up loud for me to get much sound out. Much louder than when I use my other keyboards. I do not remember it being that way 40 years ago but I have forgotten a lot in 40 years. It has stereo outputs with 1 pickup on left hand and 3 on right hand. I could try new pickups but they appear to be pretty pricey. Wondering if anyone has used preamps to boost the signal. With old phonographs you often had to have a pre amp before going to the amp and I still see a number of them for sale. Might work, maybe someone else has conquered this problem already and can fill me on on their suggestions.

Some background, I quit playing for about 40 years and just got back into the accordion and love it. I am just starting to play commercially so I need to get my equipment in a little better shape. I have put some of my music on Sound Cloud if you are interested in listening.

 

Mike K

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Also wondering if anyone tried guitar transducers on an accordion? Looking around, I saw this as a possibility and they appeared relatively inexpensive
 

JerryPH

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Yup, been there done that. My solution was a bit different:

http://www.accordionmemories.com/hearme/

Look about 1/2 way down. You will see that I chose an Art Tube MP Studio preamp. For me it works wonderfully and is very reasonable at a touch under $40US. Now, if you are pro and playing commercially, time to ante-up to a quality professional mic setup. Those are much more expensive, but as a paid professional, its not out of reach compared to an amateur that gets no income from their playing. :)
 

Mike K

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Well as I said....just starting. I have a few jobs lined up but not exactly pulling in large amounts of cash.

Lots of detail in your post. I looked at that exact pre amp...thought it might be worth a try. Would need two though, since mine is stereo. Thought about pre-amp for phonographs. Might have to just buy one and try it out.

Sounds like your condensor mic solution had the problem I am seeing. I have a 100 watt amp and it gets me enough sound. It is HEAVY. I wanted to use a smaller one but it just does not appear to have the volume capability for the accordion although it does fine on my piano.

I have started mostly with Farmer's Markets, playing for tips. So far the few I played were encouraging. I tried busking on the street and that was not enjoyable....tooonoisy and poor response. Might have to find different locations. I am still working full time so playing jobs late at night and getting up early for work is not going to happen. Retirement is about a year off though, so hopefully I can expand.

Accordion appears to be so far out nowadays that it is back in. Getting pretty good response from people so far. So many people have never heard one played live.
 

JerryPH

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Mike K said:
Well as I said....just starting. I have a few jobs lined up but not exactly pulling in large amounts of cash.
Gotcha. The start is always the hardest.

Mike K said:
I looked at that exact pre amp...thought it might be worth a try. Would need two though, since mine is stereo.
Are you sure you would need two? Is your amp a 2-channel stereo amplifier with 2 separate external speakers? If not, what you need instead is probably just an adapter where you tie the 2 channels in to one mono channel, place that into the preamp and the preamp outputs to the amplifier! Total cost of something like that is maybe $5 and 15 minutes with a soldering iron. ;)

Mike K said:
Sounds like your condensor mic solution had the problem I am seeing.
Yes, Electret mics last around 10 years at most, and start to slowly fail at around the 5 year mark. To replace the mics, if they are totally dead is not expensive, however, they still always put out a very low signal that the preamp boost up.

Mike K said:
I have a 100 watt amp and it gets me enough sound. It is HEAVY. I wanted to use a smaller one but it just does not appear to have the volume capability for the accordion although it does fine on my piano.
Two thoughts here, if you are at the volume you need, but the amp is at or near full volume, thats no issue. If you are not getting the full volume from the amp even at full volume, the signal is very low... that preamp is going to boost it and make it a good amount louder. That way you can probably get maximum volume at a much lower setting on the amp.

I basically have 3 systems available to me. First is my full proper setup with dual Bose 802 speakers, stands, 16 channel mixer, external reverb, two arrangers/backing modules, 500 watt amp, a ton of other things and a rack and table for it all. Its about 225-250 pounds and takes about 60-90 minutes to setup and adjust in a new location. The sound is incredible, but it is very complex, heavy and long to setup and break-down.

For the times that I need to fill a smaller room/hall for something smaller like between 100-125 people, I have (by coincidence more than design), an all Roland setup. Starts with the FR-8X V-accordion, to the Roland BK-7m backing module out to a Roland JC-160 amp with 120 watts powering 4X10 drivers... strong enough to handle this kind of environment easily enough, but I lose a bit of sound quality and I lose the stereo image. Here is what that looks like:

center>
roland_bk_pedals.jpg


It is very portable, but still quite heavy at around 75-85 pounds, but it just rolls around and takes me a whole 3 minutes to set up and start playing!

Now, the small setup that I just completed today (a few minutes ago, as a matter of fact! :lol: )... it comes from an idea that someone else has already done, and I wanted to try it out. It cost me absolutely nothing except some time to make an adapter. I had everything to make it already (solder, connectors, tape, etc.), and I just finished testing it out. This setup was brought up to me as an idea that another fellow V-accordion user had. Basically what he did was use a small 4-channel mixer and hook up to one of those computer speakers, the stronger ones with a subwoofer. I have one of those too, it cost me about $50 on special from Best Buy last year (Altec Lansing brand, so not total garbage, but not Klipsch either... lol). Because the BK-7m arranger has a stereo input, I plug the MIDI cable and the stereo cable from the 8X in to the BK and the 2 stereo outputs from the BK send everything to the stereo input of the computer speaker via my free adapter. It looks like this:

center>
smallsetup.jpg


Now, this is surprisingly good for the time and money invested. The fact that it offers a stereo sound and is actually loud enough for about a 25-40 people sized room is quite impressive. The best part is it is super portable, were talking about 25 pounds, and that includes the pedals, BK-7m and accordion! If anything, Id build a couple of small light speaker stands for the small satellites to separate them and give a better stereo image, but I was surprised at how well this worked. Imagine if I had spent something like $200 for a stronger speaker setup, this could be quite impressive and perfect for medium sized rooms and busking!

Mike K said:
I have started mostly with Farmers Markets, playing for tips. So far the few I played were encouraging. I tried busking on the street and that was not enjoyable....tooonoisy and poor response. Might have to find different locations.
Thats what they all say... its all about three things... location, location, location! :)
Thats cool that you play for tips (though Id not call that being a professional). This is a great way to make some extra beer money and have a great time in the process. At the same time, you are building relationships and over time might be able to build a nice list of clientele where you play, and get paid a more fair amount.

Mike K said:
Retirement is about a year off though, so hopefully I can expand.
What a great idea and sounds like a lot of fun too!

Mike K said:
Accordion appears to be so far out nowadays that it is back in. Getting pretty good response from people so far. So many people have never heard one played live.
You know what, every time I read about a small accordion success story, it makes me smile. Anything and everything that we can do to promote the accordion is another ounce of prevention that helps this instrument survive a little longer. Well done! :)
 

Mike K

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Wow.....you have really got the equipment. What type of places do you play? Do you have videos of some of your jobs....would be interesting to see. I have the Giulietti, Technics Piano, Yamaha Keyboard, Keyboard amp and some small Roland speakers I use with the Keyboard in the house. Even your small outfit is bigger than my BIG one. The 100 watt keyboard amp puts out PLENTY with the keyboard.....only place I would need more is outside or huge venue. With the accordion, okay but not Rock and Roll powerful.

Busking is generally just acoustic, still too much too carry if you consider the accordion, seat, music stand and music.
 

JerryPH

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Ive honestly never busked... lol But, yes I do have the hardware:

http://syner-g.asuscomm.com/mymusic/files/mess.jpg>
mess.jpg


Mike, 38 years ago, I used to be very good and played European folk music all over Canada and the US, but my main thing was classical music. I was in to Free Bass on my Hohner Morino IV N and even studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario under Glenn Sawich and for a short time, Joseph Macerollo. I quit at age 18 and just recently picked it up again... like April of last year at the age of 56, then my dad died and I played very little again, until December, that was my first performance in nearly 4 decades. Now, I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and play for my own pleasure.

Ive even joined an accordion club and once a month have fun with it. Nothing serious for me anymore, though I do want to record some more music in the future, and my friend Ed is recording some super nice videos that is really inspiring me to try that one day too. Maybe in the future. For now, the only thing I have is a short excerpt of http://www.accordionmemories.com ).

Stuff is coming, but only God knows when... lol
 

debra

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JerryPH said:
Ive honestly never busked... lol But, yes I do have the hardware:
... lol
Wow, and my wife sometimes complains that Im taking too much stuff with me, which is just a Bose L1 model II (base unit, bass box, two half poles with wide-range speakers, tonematch unit, some cables and a foot (volume) pedal). It takes me less than 10 minutes to set it all up, a bit more if Im given the opportunity to check for resonance with the floor or feedback loops.
 

JerryPH

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I know it's a lot, but I really don't mind the extra work because the return in stereo image and sound quality is excellent. In December I had a chance to hear the L1 model II as it was set up not 15 feet away from me. I have to admit, the volume can be greater (1000 watts vs 500 watts), but the sound quality was not better at all... not worse, but not better. His Beltuna was sounding excellent, but even the virtual accordion was sincerely indistinguishable from a real accordion and sounded excellent. On top of that, my sound easily filled the entire room just as well as his L1 model II and for the people on the dance floor, or people in the direction of where my speakers were pointing, had a clear left/right division of sounds and separation that added to the performance and made it sound as if more than 1 person/instrument were playing.

Another small advantage to a V-accordion... absolutely zero chance for feedback because it has no microphones... lol

I'm going to design an improved setup based on this one in the future, it will definitely be more portable, easier to move, and quicker to set up, but still retain all the qualities that I enjoy now... but for now, it's nice to have options. :)
 

debra

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Yup, no stereo with the Bose L1. In my previous ensemble we did generate stereo by means of 2 L1's (for 6 players). We always placed them behind us and for the sound volume we needed there was never a feedback issue. Vibration on a wooden stage could be an issue (and can be avoided given enough time to do the setup). The sound quality is second to none, but of course another large Bose system should be able to compete. We got comments that people were questioning whether we were using amplification because the sound was so natural, but they did realize that the volume was such that there must have been amplification.
I personally own just one L1 and mostly use it to amplify my bass accordion. I have never heard any other orchestra or ensemble with a more naturally sounding bass accordion sound. Well worth the investment! And the Tonematch engine offers multi-channel input, microphone inputs (phantom if needed), reverb, ... it really contributes a lot to the sound.
 

Mike K

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Your history is sort of like mine. I was classical accordionist studying under Basil Ronzitti in Erie PA. Competed mainly in the upstate New York competitions, but did do nationals in Detroit once.....not real well unfortunately. I knew Joe Macerello through a common relative. I have a Giulietti Free Bass. Around age 21 after graduating from college, getting married and moving I basically put my accordion in the closet for the most part. Know 40 years later it is out and I am trying to get back to somewhere near where I was.

You said you just started again last year......and you have all that equipment already.....you MUST be single. I have accumulated a few things over the years and got rid of a few because they did not age well or I thought were worthless. Now unfortunately, some of those things are collector items. saw some prices on the crappy Wurlitzer Electric Piano I gave away....unbelievable.

whereabouts are you located? In Canada or NE US?

I played in accordion symphony, accordion quartets, rock bands, marching bands, church organ, night club trios, square dances .....anything back in the 70s. made a few bucks but Engineering paid better than music. Retiring soon so trying to re-ignite my musical capabilities. Found out I am still more comfortable on accordion than piano. My free bass and classical needs a lot of work though. not sure I will ever get back to some of those competitive pieces or if I want to.
 

JerryPH

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I'm located near Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A lot of the equipment that I have *is* from the old days... lol No, I am not single, but not married. I can see that likely changing in my future as well, if you can believe that. :)

My Free Bass is very hampered by my arthritis, though I'd love to get back in to it... and I will, but it's really hard and on the Roland, even very painful. Besides, too many interesting projects coming up for me and something has to take a back seat, unfortunately.
 

Mike K

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How did you add pictures to your post? I just bought another Giulietti Accordion and I was going to post pictures but I cannot see how to do it unless it already exists somewhere on the internet. Then I guess you use the URL of that picture. Want to take an image from the computer, appears you cannot do it.....or do you inow how. COuld not just paste it into message either.
 

JerryPH

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Mike K said:
How did you add pictures to your post? I just bought another Giulietti Accordion and I was going to post pictures but I cannot see how to do it unless it already exists somewhere on the internet. Then I guess you use the URL of that picture. Want to take an image from the computer, appears you cannot do it.....or do you inow how. COuld not just paste it into message either.

Soulsaver answered you in another post. ;)
 

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