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And it's hello from me in Cornwall

OldSqueezer

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First, let me declare myself: I am a 77 year old dilettante, a jack of all trades, who likes nothing better than to read a good manual. Sad, but there it is. Lived in London (UK), Montreal, and now Cornwall. Naturally, as a JOAT, I have various instruments, all of which I play badly, but which provide me with tremendous enjoyment. Played drums as a teenager (sometimes for money!) but always wanted to be a pianist. Am now a poor player. Built my own 12 string guitar at 16, since I couldn't afford one. And when I say 'built', I mean 'built' - it probably weighed as much as a 120 bass accordion. I think I was a bit too enthusiastic with the internal bracing...

Accordions came into the picture when I was working in Montreal. A trip to Vienna saw me bringing back a new Hohner Student 96 bass, which I still have. I made the mistake of transporting it in the aircraft hold where the cold (I assume) did it a power of no good. So initially, instead of playing it, I had to dismantle it and replace various plastic parts which had become brittle and broke.
 

OldSqueezer

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Hallo, my finger must have trembled there - didn't mean to post yet...Still, I'll make the rest of it short. Progressed through a Russian 48 bass PA (for lightness and mobility) to a Roland FR-1, which I subsequently traded up to an FR-1x. Yes the 2 octave keyboard can limiting, which causes me to think that the 4x might be just the thing to see me out! But I cannot justify that purchase to myself unless and until I improve my playing. Richard Noel is my inspiration!
Doug
 

OldSqueezer

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And I managed to post my first message a second time! So, to those who understand this forum's workings, when I spot such an error and the message is awaiting the moderator's ok before it becomes available to all, is there some way I can delete or cancel it?
Doug
 

Chrisrayner

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Very few of us are completely satisfied with our playing. It’s a fact of life. Irritating, but it’s the spur to practice and hence improvement.
 

OldSqueezer

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Very few of us are completely satisfied with our playing. It’s a fact of life. Irritating, but it’s the spur to practice and hence improvement.
Certainly is. And in my case I've added the incentive of a possible upgrade to the FR-4x - a sort of Virtual carrot, you might say...
 
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As I sit here typing I am awaiting delivery of a 4x. I probably spent about a year trying to decide to do it or not before dropping the $ on it. As for playing ability, for me it's a matter of being at peace with wherever you are and just enjoying playing the stuff you can play while striving to learn new stuff and improve ones playing, but without the latter becoming a chore. That's why I switched from piano, getting to the level I wanted to be at was just too frustrating. The accordion is much more fun. Plus, keyboard/piano players a 'almost' as common a guitar players but turn up at a jam with an accordion and everyone runs screaming, no wait, that's wrong, people are interested because it's so different these days.
 

OldSqueezer

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As for playing ability, for me it's a matter of being at peace with wherever you are and just enjoying playing the stuff you can play while striving to learn new stuff and improve ones playing, but without the latter becoming a chore.

I can relate to this. I remember a few years ago sitting in the sun with my FR-1x outside a friend's house in the Brittany countryside, bees buzzing somnolently in the honeysuckle round the doorway, and me noodling away on whatever tunes came to mind (mostly in musette register - it was France after all), and thinking, "Life don't get a lot better than this..." Actually, it did - my wife brought me out a gin and tonic. Not very French, I know, but it hit the spot.
 

Valski

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Congratulations and welcome. I hope that the new Fr4x is exactly what you need, if you can use the word need when describing a new accordion upgrade. I also agonized about upgrading before purchasing my FR8X. I might have purchased the smaller accordion however a couple of factors had to be analyzed first. I'm not small at 6'4" so a compact model fits and looks awkward. The larger model has more features and it is louder which can be important in a larger room.

I also have the tendency of carefully analyzing what works best as I can't afford to constantly upgrade to the next better model. I guess that those of us who have the finances can own several accordions.

A friend, who is self trained and plays by ear, tells me that in most cases you're a better accordionist than anyone else in the room and therefore you should not be self conscious about your playing. I think that's the right attitude and if you buy the best accordion that you can afford you will have a lot of incentive to play more and playing more is practice which makes you a better musician.

Life is short so throw caution to the wind and make yourself happy. With the Roland you can always use a headset to spare those around you from any unnecessary pain.
 

OldSqueezer

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Another reason for buying the best you can afford is that it's definitely you that's the limiting factor not the instrument. At least tha's what I told the other half ;)
Did that rationale work?! My other half is more of the Enid Blyton persuasion - you know: when you've done your chores, you have earned some playtime. Which in this context would translate into: when you're good enough it might be worth spending all that money on a more sophisticated instrument... But I mustn't misrepresent her. She has always been, and remains, a great encourager of my.... what's the word? Oh yes, at a stretch, 'progress'!
Doug
 

dunlustin

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Apart from more octaves/volume you do not say why you would like a bigger Roland.
Two reasons might be silent practice and all those other sounds.
If the 1X volume is a problem the unamplified 4X is likely to still be so.
You can get a lot of acoustic accordion for the price of a 4X.
You might find a halfway house at S West Accordions (no connection) up the road from you - and he could tune it how you like and fix it when it broke...??
 

Tom

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Welcome Old Squeezer, I hope everything goes well for you!
 

OldSqueezer

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@dunlustin
Ah, your username says it all, really. I just haven't done lustin'. I've always been a gadget freak, as well as seeking the holy grail of a credible sounding one man band. That has taken me through an electronic organ in the 70s, via MIDI keyboards, synthesizers, and Band-In-A-Box, to current electric guitars and ukuleles connected to a BeatBuddy and a looper. Of course, I recognise, as Jeremyh said, that I am the limiting factor, rather than the equipment, and I have long since grown out of the belief that another bit of kit is all that is needed make the crucial difference. But what it does do is provide new challenges (or a new way of approaching the old challenges) and sustain interest and incentive.
Why not just stick to my arranger keyboard, which can do pretty much everything? Mainly because it is not essentially portable, which the accordion is, and perhaps because it is a bit too predigested, playing it being in some ways like mixing your own CD on the fly. So despite the particular skills needed to produce music from it, I feel like more of a musical fraud. Much less so with even a digital accordion.
Why aspire to an FR-4x? Well, I like and enjoy my 1x, but I do find 26 treble keys leave me short on occasion. I know I would find trying to play a chromatic button keyboard terminally frustrating, so that is not an answer to the problem for me. I am not looking for more volume, and my 1x provides silent practice. But it cannot be wanting just an extra 11 keys... they'd be coming out at some hundreds of pounds each! So it must be the infinite extra possibilities that the 4x offers over the 1x. I've read the 4x manual already. But would I ever use them?
No, it just comes down to lust. To quote 'Oliver!', I think I'd better think it out again!
Sorry for the ramble - I can sometimes be more coherent... Meanwhile, back to fun with the 1x.
Doug
 

Jeremyh

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Did that rationale work?! My other half is more of the Enid Blyton persuasion - you know: when you've done your chores, you have earned some playtime. Which in this context would translate into: when you're good enough it might be worth spending all that money on a more sophisticated instrument... But I mustn't misrepresent her. She has always been, and remains, a great encourager of my.... what's the word? Oh yes, at a stretch, 'progress'!
Doug
Well, it's only an excuse I use when I get caught!

It does work well with me being naturally tight, so I won't spend a lot of money until I know I am going to keep going with an instrument, which is why I am playing a £200 accordion at the moment. It's been a few months now though and it's coming along pretty well, and we will be allowed back in the shops soon......
 

OldSqueezer

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Today I thought I would pull my 96 bass Hohner Student acoustic PA out from under the stairs and make a simple comparison with my FR-1x. It was interesting. The Hohner is about 5kg heavier, which feels a lot when you heft it by the straps in one hand, but a lot less different once it is strapped on. I suspect the additional weight would nevertheless reduce the time I could play it standing up, compared with the lighter one. What was really helpful was reminding myself what acoustic bellows feel like. A lot more movement than I had been using on the 1x, especially when lots of the Hohner reeds are being used, and a lot less resistance to that movement. I had been finding the 1x hard work, particularly on the closing. (Gravity helped a fair bit on the opening.) I immediately opened up the air setting to the last notch but one. What a difference! Still not as easy as the acoustic but so much less pressure needed from the arm, in both directions. The Hohner is pretty loud and strident, generally with more lower pitched reeds than the Roland accordion sets I have been using, which seem to have sounds on the upper registers which vie with a mouse’s squeak, they are so high. I must spend some more time researching the Roland sets - perhaps the Dallapé sounds would suit me better. And single lock down registers on the Hohner are more positive than multiple taps on the 1x’s buttons, checked against the minimally informative screen. But of course the Roland has less space and more to be controlled.

My conclusion? I need to do some more adjustment of the 1x to get it nearer to the good points of the Hohner, but overall the 1x suits my needs better, and unless and until the 4x comes my way, I am very happy to persevere with it.
 

OldSqueezer

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I’m still not sure what bellows air setting suits me on the FR-1X. Yes, it’s a lot easier on the triceps when the air is whooshing back and forth producing very little resistance, but I find that with the greater arm movement comes a constantly changing angle of my left hand, which makes it more difficult comfortably to hit the correct chord buttons. But that may have been exacerbated by my having adjusted my shoulder straps to move the accordion a lot further to my left (piano keyboard under the chin), and perhaps having the bass hand strap too tight. I have made those adjustments less extreme, now, and reduced the airflow a bit, too. Time to strap in and go for another proving flight... I know - why don’t I just play my acoustic and stop whinging?! (For answer, see above.)
Doug
 

dan

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I’m still not sure what bellows air setting suits me on the FR-1X. Yes, it’s a lot easier on the triceps when the air is whooshing back and forth producing very little resistance, but I find that with the greater arm movement comes a constantly changing angle of my left hand, which makes it more difficult comfortably to hit the correct chord buttons.
Agree. I experimented with mine last week and ended up going with heavy response curve and bellows mostly closed. Figure I’m not going to be able to duplicate bellows behavior to practice direction shifts I’d use on acoustic. Arm gets less tired if you turn up volume and get used to mezzo forte being less pressure than you think you need
 
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