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Another recruit to the Digital Dark Side🪗

Chrisrayner

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Been toying with the idea of giving a Roland a whirl for some time. Mainly inhibited by the expense. Then I discovered a Roland F–4x button instrument on the internet. It didn’t sell, so I have offered the vendor a modest sum, and he has accepted. Payment has now gone through, and I’m picking it up on Monday. Excited.

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OldSqueezer

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Coo! Lucky you. Not surprised you’re excited. Didn’t see any PA 4xs similarly languishing around the UK while you were looking, did you? No, probably too much to hope for... Will you be adding Richard Noel’s programming, or are you strictly an accordion sounds only man? Look forward to hearing your views from the dark side.
Doug
 

Chrisrayner

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It’s already got Richard Noel’s stuff on it. I didn’t see any FR4 PAs. But then I wasn’t really looking for them. I have also enquired of Michael Bridge if his sounds for the FR8 will fit. Sadly not, but he says he will be sorting some out for the FR4 in the near future.
 
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As a recent new owner of a 4x PA I think the best way to approach the instrument is to accept that it is NOT an accordion. Sure, you play it like one and it looks like one but it's really just a controller. Think of it more like a synth with a bucket load of on board sounds. I played a farmer's market this morning, did three hours and probably only use the accordion sounds for about a third of that time, either on their own or in conjunction with other sounds.
I also played it through my PA (QSC K10), more to help fill out the bass that for any need for volume and it sounded great. Of course, tying yourself to a PA sort of defeats the point of an accordion but I am not waking anywhere too far these days with, or without, an accordion due to bad knees so it works for me.
Playing a senior folks home next week, same setup I think but I am taking the 'real' accordion as well for that. I think the polkas just sound better on the real thing.
 

Alan Sharkis

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Been toying with the idea of giving a Roland a whirl for some time. Mainly inhibited by the expense. Then I discovered a Roland F–4x button instrument on the internet. It didn’t sell, so I have offered the vendor a modest sum, and he has accepted. Payment has now gone through, and I’m picking it up on Monday. Excited.

1618068556663.png
Best of luck with your new FR-4xb. I've had my 4x (piano version) for more than two years now, and I haven't finished exploring it yet. Once you get used to playing it as it comes, there's a whole lot more you can experiment with. But do yourself a favor and download all of the manuals on Roland's website, and also get and install the editor.
 

Valski

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Congratulations on your new accordion. I've owned the Fr8x for about five years now and absolutely love it. They're essentially the same instrument and the similarities outweigh the differences. At first you'll have some difficulty adjusting to the different feel and playing styles but you'll find that soon enough you'll use your acoustic accordion less and less.

I agree that you should be sure to get the manuals and that the set editor is also great to have. The Richard Noel sets are also very well prepared so you might end up using them often, although I use the non accordion sounds less and less. When compared to a brand new acoustic model, I find them no more expensive and the versatility more than compensates for the price. ENJOY!
 

Chrisrayner

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Best of luck with your new FR-4xb. I've had my 4x (piano version) for more than two years now, and I haven't finished exploring it yet. Once you get used to playing it as it comes, there's a whole lot more you can experiment with. But do yourself a favor and download all of the manuals on Roland's website, and also get and install the editor.
Indeed. The technical aspects of this device are...... immense.🤔. I’ve printed off the Reference Manual, the manual for the PC editor, the list of orchestral and percussion voices etc. I’ve enquired of Michael Bridge about his set of sound profiles for the FR-8x, and he tells me that he will be setting up a similar set of UPSs for FR-4 which he will tell me about when they go on sale.
The change in physical behaviour from an acoustic accordion to the FR4x is somewhat more than I had bargained for, but I’m getting to grips with it. It’s odd to have no change in resistance from the bellows with the increase in numbers of reeds sounding, but then not really surprising. Also the linked buttons from rows 1&2 to rows 4&5 naturally are not physically linked which is also not surprising, but a slight source of cognitive dissonance.
 

Valski

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I also struggled with the bellows resistance and eventually set it to something that was easy-to-use but also gradually have come to the realization that you're not pushing air through them to increase the sound level but for dynamics. With an acoustic accordion you need to vigorously move the bellows to produce sound and dynamics but with the digital Fr8x (Fr4x) you don't need to work them as hard.

There are also speakers built into the left hand side adding to the weight which makes it more of a workout playing as if it's an acoustic accordion which is not the case. That's why you have a volume control. Once I realized that it became much easier.

I'm not trying to oversimplify the process, but by relaxing and playing you'll probably come to a similar conclusion. Best of luck.
 

OldSqueezer

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I think it was Leon in one of his Roxy's videos who suggested that many people found the bellows on a digital accordion more difficult than need be because they set the volume of the instrument too low. His advice was to set it high and then play (most of the time) gently. But you probably knew that.
Doug
 

dan

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Indeed. The technical aspects of this device are...... immense.🤔. I’ve printed off the Reference Manual, the manual for the PC editor, the list of orchestral and percussion voices etc.
Yes, I got my 1xb yesterday and it’s clear that I’ll need to study the manual. there’s lots of interesting possibilities (including different bass button configurations, adjusting expression controls, and loading additional sound sets) but even picking which of the many accordion sounds to use is a big task. Chris, any updates?
 

Valski

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Yes, I got my 1xb yesterday and it’s clear that I’ll need to study the manual. there’s lots of interesting possibilities (including different bass button configurations, adjusting expression controls, and loading additional sound sets) but even picking which of the many accordion sounds to use is a big task. Chris, any updates?
Congratulations, I know that you will really enjoy your new accordion.

I'm not an IT professional however I have worked with technology for the past 25 years and consider myself to be more technical than the population at large. That said, the manuals can be quite a chore to digest and not being very patient I tend to give up before fully understanding the instructions contained in the books. What seems to work much better for me is to consult with YouTube by searching for a video explaining the steps required to get the results that I need. By all means also use the printed material because it contains all that you need but the video instructions will save you time and grey hair by getting you closer to understanding how to do something.

There is also the fr1x set editor software that makes the process easier for most to manage their Roland sets where you can save the sounds that you like.

The manuals on their own seem to be written in a form of English with which I am unfamiliar. Perhaps they've been written in another language before being translated, so they can be a challenge. Good luck!
 

JerryPH

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The problem on top of that, is that what the Roland manuals contain in general is about 10% useful. A big chunk of that will come from one of 2 places:
- if you have someone with experience to speak to and/or learn from.
- yourself and your own practices, experiences and a big amount of time that you put in.

I'd have to say that 80% of what I know about the 8X comes from myself, 10% from the manual and 10% comes from questions that I asked and had others help me with.

The digital accordion really takes about double the time to get good on, because your time is split in getting to know the electronics and how it works and the other half is spent on playing it as an accordion.

The end result, though, is what makes it all worth it IMHO... I love accordions, but an acoustic accordion will never have the sonic varieties and possibilities. The important part is that one chooses and plays on the instrument that gives them what they want from it, be is pure acoustic sonic purity, or an amazing range of near endless possibilities.
 

Dingo40

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Jerry ,
"I love accordions, but an acoustic accordion will never have the sonic varieties and possibilities."


This reminds me of a parallel development in domestic sewing machines.
Originally, domestic sewing machines offered only a straight stitch.
With time, elaborations were added (button hole stitch, zigzag stitch, etc)
Eventually, the sewing machines become so elaborate that, having programmed quite a complicated pattern of embroidery, the operator could sit back with a cup of tea and biscuits, while the machine got on with the job.
The problem was, not all owners could cope mentally with their manuals, the programming, even the increased weight of the machines themselves.
Consequently, many of these you beaut testimonials to technical ingenuity often remained unused, on the shelf, their owners bitterly lamenting the loss of their old user-friendly predecessors 😕
There's now quite a demand for quality ( eg the Elna Lotus ), simple to use second hand sewing machines.🙂
 
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The trouble with most manuals is that they are not task oriented. They tell you what each button does but not how to achieve a result that requires anything more than a single button press. Programmers should not be let anywhere near a user guide!
 

OldSqueezer

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the manuals can be quite a chore to digest and not being very patient I tend to give up before fully understanding the instructions contained in the books. What seems to work much better for me is to consult with YouTube
I guess the fact is we are all different in the way we best assimilate information. Personally, I love reading a manual, and generally, I find the Roland ones pretty understandable. It would have taken me a long time to work out how to adjust the many FR-1x parameters just through trial and error. (There would be a lot more of the latter, for sure!) Like anything complex based on software you can get so far using your own past experience, but further understanding is helped by the clues the manual offers to the way the programmer has provided various capabilities. But as always, it is horses for courses. Each to his or her preference.
Doug
 

Chrisrayner

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Yes, I got my 1xb yesterday and it’s clear that I’ll need to study the manual. there’s lots of interesting possibilities (including different bass button configurations, adjusting expression controls, and loading additional sound sets) but even picking which of the many accordion sounds to use is a big task. Chris, any updates?
Well, I’m still soldiering on. Having some difficulty with the bellows, which do not mimic a proper accordion action well.
 

Valski

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Well, I’m still soldiering on. Having some difficulty with the bellows, which do not mimic a proper accordion action well.
Hi Chris,

Good for you. Enjoy the process of learning your new accordion.

I also struggled with the bellows, wanting them to work just like on an acoustic but after watching videos of great players like Richard Noel, I noticed that they didn't seem to pump the bellows to any degree. Now after a few months struggling to play the digital just like an acoustic I unconsciously switched to a more relaxed style of articulation. It saves a lot of wear and tear on my right arm, wrist and shoulder.

If you learned to drive a standard transmission, when switching to an automatic transmission there is still the reflexive search for the missing clutch pedal. It is annoying but soon enough you adjust. When you learned to play the acoustic, especially a smaller model you were required to really move those bellows to generate sound and it's a difficult habit to break. By all means adjust the bellows resistance to something comfortable but the digital will never be exactly like your acoustic accordions.
 

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