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Advice on Buying My Second Accordion

Philatelius

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Late last year, I purchased a basic used 120-bass Ancona (Italian) PA (3/4 LMM, 1 treble register, 1 bass register) from Liberty Bellows. I'd tinkered around on guitar over the years, and took piano lessons back when I was a teenager, but for whatever reason I wanted to try the accordion. And I love it--would gladly sit and play for two or three hours at a time if life permitted! To this point, it has been strictly for my own enjoyment; I'm not opposed to playing for others at some point, but still need a lot of practice.

While I'm enjoying the Ancona, there is some buzzing and the odd unexpected squeak when certain bass notes are played, so I'm pretty sure it needs to be serviced. I don't mind putting the money into doing that, but I don't know of anyone in the San Antonio area proper who works on accordions, and if I have to ship it somewhere, I don't want to be without an accordion while it's being serviced. With that background, I'm thinking of purchasing a second accordion, preferably an upgrade.

There are not to my knowledge any accordion shops in this area--just guitar shops that sell entry-level (Chinese-made) Hohners. From what I've read, I would prefer to go Italian- or German-manufactured. I'm working with a maximum budget of around $2,000.

I'm well aware that the best option would be to go to an actual accordion shop and try different models in person, but like I said, I'm not aware of any dealers specializing in accordions around these parts.

With that background, which of the following would you recommend?
  1. Purchase another used piano accordion from Liberty Bellows or another accordion dealer and have it shipped to me. (If so, any recommendations on a particular model?)
  2. Purchase a new Weltmeister Achat 72-bass and have it shipped to me. While I like my 120-bass, a 72-bass would be sufficient for anything I'm playing or expect to play in the near future. The plus here would, I think, be the factory warranty.
  3. Keep an eye on Craigslist and hope something local turns up that I can try in person.
Thank you in advance for your feedback!
 

debra

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With your budget it should be possible to find a good Italian accordion, in good condition, and I would recommend option 3: wait until something local turns up that you can try in person. You may then still need to find a repairer who can fix any minor issues and do tuning... and good repairers/tuners are far and few between...
 

Scuromondo

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Late last year, I purchased a basic used 120-bass Ancona (Italian) PA (3/4 LMM, 1 treble register, 1 bass register) from Liberty Bellows. I'd tinkered around on guitar over the years, and took piano lessons back when I was a teenager, but for whatever reason I wanted to try the accordion. And I love it--would gladly sit and play for two or three hours at a time if life permitted! To this point, it has been strictly for my own enjoyment; I'm not opposed to playing for others at some point, but still need a lot of practice.

While I'm enjoying the Ancona, there is some buzzing and the odd unexpected squeak when certain bass notes are played, so I'm pretty sure it needs to be serviced. I don't mind putting the money into doing that, but I don't know of anyone in the San Antonio area proper who works on accordions, and if I have to ship it somewhere, I don't want to be without an accordion while it's being serviced. With that background, I'm thinking of purchasing a second accordion, preferably an upgrade.

There are not to my knowledge any accordion shops in this area--just guitar shops that sell entry-level (Chinese-made) Hohners. From what I've read, I would prefer to go Italian- or German-manufactured. I'm working with a maximum budget of around $2,000.

I'm well aware that the best option would be to go to an actual accordion shop and try different models in person, but like I said, I'm not aware of any dealers specializing in accordions around these parts.

With that background, which of the following would you recommend?
  1. Purchase another used piano accordion from Liberty Bellows or another accordion dealer and have it shipped to me. (If so, any recommendations on a particular model?)
  2. Purchase a new Weltmeister Achat 72-bass and have it shipped to me. While I like my 120-bass, a 72-bass would be sufficient for anything I'm playing or expect to play in the near future. The plus here would, I think, be the factory warranty.
  3. Keep an eye on Craigslist and hope something local turns up that I can try in person.
Thank you in advance for your feedback!
Liberty Bellows is a very good source. I would trust them, but in my opinion their prices are generally high. Still , I noticed that they still have some new Castiglione accordions in your price range. I do not know who actually makes them, but I am fairly sure they are truly an Italian-made accordion. I would personally rather spend $2k on a new Castiglione than on a new Weltmeister. But if you find a good used accordion, you should be able to get something even much better.
 

pentaprism

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May I suggest a second-hand FR-3x or FR-4x Roland V-Accordion.

I realize that it's a different kind of instrument, and that is the exact reason why I suggest it. To me, it's opened a lot of new doors.

Unfortunately, if you can find one, its price likely exceeds your budget. The FR-1x is within your budget, but its keyboard has only 2 octaves (this is a case in which CBA has an advantage - the CBA version has 3 octaves).

In any case, I'd wait until the "right" accordion shows up. I think a $2000 new accordion will be disappointing.
 

Philatelius

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@debra + @pentaprism - thank you both for your input. I would very much prefer to try before I buy, so I may put up with the squeaks and buzzes (for now) and see what might turn up locally.

@Scuromondo - I'm obviously still rather new to the world of accordions. Any particular reason you would recommend a Castiglione over a Weltmeister? Sound, overall quality?

@davidplaysaccordion - thanks for that information. I'm going to try emailing the contact listed for the San Antonio club. Who knows--maybe they'll know of someone local who could bring what I currently have up to full working order.
 

Scuromondo

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While I do have experience trying and buying several accordions in your price range, I am an amateur player and will certainly defer to the professionals here.

That said, I bought a Hohner Amica once (which is actually a little more expensive than your price range) and returned it after a week. The mechanics and balance actually felt very good, but the overall tone, especially the low-end, was weak and tinny. It was frustrating because it was a good looking accordion and I had no budget to spend any more, so I really wanted to like it. Anyway, the Amica is a German brand that is built in China. I think the same is true for the lower-priced Weltmeisters. So, while I have no direct experience owning a Weltmeister, I think there is good reason to believe that their performance would be comparable.

My understanding of the Castiglione accordions is that they are fully made by one of the Italian builders. I think that, over the years, they were manufactured by various builders but always Italian. So even though I never played one, I would be inclined to think they would be a better value—that is, offer better performance for the price. …Obviously everyone has unique tastes and needs, and generally (as with my experience with the Amica) one needs to spend time playing an instrument before one can decide for oneself.

On the other hand, if you put a good effort into the search and are patient, I am sure you can find an excellent choice of used accordions in the $1500-2500 range, especially if you do not require a cassotto or amplification. An old Italian accordion that has been well maintained will, hands-down, be a better instrument than a new one at the same price.
 

NickC

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I don't know where the Castiglione accordions were made, but I did know John Catiglione and he always seemed interested in quality. I've also dealt with Liberty Bellows a few times and have been happy.

The register switches and grill pattern on those particular instruments remind me of some Delicia accordions that I've seen. Though, that is based on my untrained eye.

I think the San Antonio Accordion Club is a good place to start. Maybe a member has an instrument that they are looking to sell.
 

olivigus

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@Philatelius The accordion revival website has a list of professional accordion repair people by state (www.accordionrevival.com) and there is someone in Ft. Worth. (I realize Texas is BIG and that might be quite a long drive...) Are you by any chance a stamp collector in addition to a budding accordionist?
 

Philatelius

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@olivigus The contact for the San Antonio club was able to recommend a repairer in the Dallas area. A bit of a drive considering I'm a little short on time off from work right now, but may be able to ship my instrument to him.

And yes, I've been collecting stamps for 25-30 years now. That's a much quieter hobby!
 

Chickers

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PHILATELIUS:
My thoughts; FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH (not an expert)
I can appreciate your quest, and frustration.
I went through similar experiences a couple years back, and unfortunately, I bought a couple real disappointments.
Buying on e-bay, or other remote source, especially a musical instrument like an accordion is a real "crap-shoot".
Far too many questions, and the need to understand, makes it a real challenge.
After a few mistakes, and long searching, I found a vintage, acoustic, Italian made accordion that fits the bill --for me.
They're out there, and available, but it takes some searching.
Another thought, I found a place in Sun City Arizona that does a pretty good job with accordions. Crown Music, Sun City is a dealer
for Roland, does "some" minor repair work too. They also have a listing of used accordions, some of which may fit your needs..
As a suggestion, you may want to try various accordions to get a good handle on what your looking for.
I made a very costly error by buying a Roland FR-4x, which I since have sold. "to me", in my opinion, the Roland electronic instrument
isn't a "real" accordion---just like a keyboard is not a real piano. It's an electronic synthesizer of sorts. The Roland is perfect for certain
musicians, but for me as a beginner---it was not. I think Dingo on the Forum had a good expression regarding Roland, and other
electronic instruments-----If you want to "play" an accordion--buy an acoustic---If you want to "play-around" buy a electronic. ( with gadgets,owners manuals, electronic circuitry, cables, connections, buttons, screens etc)
Good luck in your quest, keep playing
Any questions, give a shout.
CHICKERS
 

John M

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. . . I made a very costly error by buying a Roland FR-4x, which I since have sold. . .
I hope you tried the Richard Noel User Program sound sets before you sold it. They make the accordion "come alive". I don't know what Roland had in mind with the basic sound sets they deliver with their accordions. They make the accordion sound so "bland".

With the accordion reed combinations, many orchestral sounds, and the organ drawbar, vibrato, and percussion settings of a Hammond B3, that are available, this is a versatile instrument. Roland just gets you to :first base with their factory settings. The accordion has much more sound/tonal capability that needs to be unleashed. Crown Music (Sun City, Arizona) realized the factory Roland sounds were so bad they sell their Roland accordions with the Dale Mathis sound sets included free of charge.

John M.
 

Glug

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I realise you said you're short on free time, but if it was me I'd try to find something used that maybe needs a bit of fixing and
learn how to do simple accordion repair. Then when you've got a working 2nd accordion you could fix the first one yourself.

My main accordion is a Hohner Lucia IV P (LMMH 96 bass for £230) that I've fixed quite a lot and is now near perfect.
"some buzzing and the odd unexpected squeak" is probably quite easy to fix when you know how.
 

donn

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Actually, I believe Philatelius already bought a new accordion, during the months that this thread lay inactive.
 

Alan Sharkis

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May I suggest a second-hand FR-3x or FR-4x Roland V-Accordion.

I realize that it's a different kind of instrument, and that is the exact reason why I suggest it. To me, it's opened a lot of new doors.

Unfortunately, if you can find one, its price likely exceeds your budget. The FR-1x is within your budget, but its keyboard has only 2 octaves (this is a case in which CBA has an advantage - the CBA version has 3 octaves).

In any case, I'd wait until the "right" accordion shows up. I think a $2000 new accordion will be disappointing.
As an owner of a Roland FR-4x, may I suggest that digital accordions are not the solution to every problem, wherher they are new or used? In this case, I wouldn’t suggest it — there’s just too much packed into a digital that way could be distracting.
 

Chickers

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I hope you tried the Richard Noel User Program sound sets before you sold it. They make the accordion "come alive". I don't know what Roland had in mind with the basic sound sets they deliver with their accordions. They make the accordion sound so "bland".

With the accordion reed combinations, many orchestral sounds, and the organ drawbar, vibrato, and percussion settings of a Hammond B3, that are available, this is a versatile instrument. Roland just gets you to :first base with their factory settings. The accordion has much more sound/tonal capability that needs to be unleashed. Crown Music (Sun City, Arizona) realized the factory Roland sounds were so bad they sell their Roland accordions with the Dale Mathis sound sets included free of charge.

John M.
JOHN M.
Yep, good comments on the Roland. In the right hands they are fantastic, I just couldn't get the hang-of-it (technologically challenged ??)
Take care,
CHICKERS
 

John M

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JOHN M.
Yep, good comments on the Roland. In the right hands they are fantastic, I just couldn't get the hang-of-it (technologically challenged ??)
Take care,
CHICKERS
Chickers,

I think Roland made it w-w-a-a-y-y too difficult to make changes from the "on screen" editor that comes with the accordion. And, "out of the box", I think it sounds terrible (that was my FR-8X). I believe two things are an absolute must--a user program sound set and the PC editor to make changes to the Roland. I bought the Richard Noel sound sets and that was a great improvement. His detailed instructions are fantastic. I had a few small questions and he replied immediately. What I can't believe is that Richard created all those sound sets from the Roland "on screen editor" many years ago. He did this before Roland came out with the PC editor! He must have an extreme amount of patience and endurance--unbelievable! Now, I can "fine tune" the sets to my liking, which is easy with the PC editor.

I know you will not have much interest in my reply above since you sold your FR-4X. The only reason I did this reply is that maybe it will help someone on this forum that has an interest in this topic. I have received so much information that has helped me on this forum.

John M.
 

Chickers

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Chickers,

I think Roland made it w-w-a-a-y-y too difficult to make changes from the "on screen" editor that comes with the accordion. And, "out of the box", I think it sounds terrible (that was my FR-8X). I believe two things are an absolute must--a user program sound set and the PC editor to make changes to the Roland. I bought the Richard Noel sound sets and that was a great improvement. His detailed instructions are fantastic. I had a few small questions and he replied immediately. What I can't believe is that Richard created all those sound sets from the Roland "on screen editor" many years ago. He did this before Roland came out with the PC editor! He must have an extreme amount of patience and endurance--unbelievable! Now, I can "fine tune" the sets to my liking, which is easy with the PC editor.

I know you will not have much interest in my reply above since you sold your FR-4X. The only reason I did this reply is that maybe it will help someone on this forum that has an interest in this topic. I have received so much information that has helped me on this forum.

John M.
JOHN M.
I very much interested in your reply, even though I became impatient, and frustrated with my Roland. Thank you.
That was "my" experience at the time--who know what the future holds.
CHICKERS
 

Philatelius

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@donn is correct. I had my Ancona serviced and purchased a used Princetti Magna. That required a bit of a drive but I was able to pick up the instrument personally rather than having it shipped.

The Princetti is definitely an upgrade: it's LMMH (my daughter loves it when my accordion "toots" when I use the higher registers), feels more solid, sounds fuller, etc. Just having more registers to work with has been an adventure as I've been able to start figuring out which voices sound good for different songs and even occasionally changing voices in the middle of a tune--not particularly skillfully at this point, but it gives me something to work toward.

I don't get to spend nearly enough time with my instrument--I'm not sure what "enough" would be but I don't think I've achieved it in a single sitting just yet--but I've been practicing songs from a church hymnal to sort of force me away from C, F, and G. Db major, anyone? There are also some more popular songs that I've tackled by ear, and I'm always pleased when despite my sour notes my wife recognizes what I'm playing and sings along for a couple of bars.

I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I consider myself good at it, but I'm enjoy playing whenever I get the opportunity, and once again I appreciate those who weighed in following my initial post.
 

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