• If you haven't done so already, please add a location to your profile. This helps when people are trying to assist you, suggest resources, etc. Thanks

Beginner CBA with Free Base

Jim2010

Active member
Site Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2015
Messages
136
Reaction score
10
Location
Florida, USA
I am a longtime musician (classical guitar, lite, viols) looking to buy/rent an accordian.

Here is my thinking so far:

French/musette music is what is attracting me to the instrument. (C system?)

Guitar and lute involve similar finger movements in the various keys (chromatic accordian?)

My left hand is used to forming chords/playing scales (Free bass mirroring C system?)

I would prefer a lighter instrument to heavier one.

Any suggestions appreciated. I am in USA.
 
D

Don Roberts

Guest
You might consider a Hohner Nova, small not expensive, with a free bass, check ebay or buttonbox.com
 
D

Deleted member 48

Guest
The Hohner nova I 49 is a good starter for free bass, only 4,4 kg, 1-voice. Its made in China, but there is a reasonable price/quality ratio.

The Borsini Etude II is a convertor (standard bass + free bass), 2-voices, 5 kg, see details:
http://www.borsiniaccordions.it/clas10.php#

The Borsini Etude I is a convertor, 4,3 kg, 1-voice

If you have the opportunity, you can go to a shop where they have different models and brands in the store. So you can compare the sounds in the shop.
 
R

Russ

Guest
Where in the US are you?

I play a converter and love my free bass - right now I am using a Pigini peter pan - BUT

I think if you are looking at French Musette you should start with a stradella bass or if you have the money with a small converter (both stradella and free bass). Do not go with just a free bass like the Hohner Nova for the following reasons

1. Stradella will be easier to learn to start
2. If you are playing the chords and melody although the notes are the same on each side with a FB your finger positions will not be the same
3. Most Musette uses stradella
4. Most first free bass converter beginner boxes are one reed only (like my Peter Pan or the Borsini above) - not the best for musette
5. Converters are heavier than just a FB or just a stradella
6. Second hand converters are much harder to find, almost impossible in the US
7. converters are much more expensive

So basically my advice would be - to buy an accordion with 3 reeds in the treble (LMM) and a stradella bass, if you want a lighter weight you can buy a 72 or 96 bass rather than a 120 bass. Or if you must have a FB make sure you buy a converter that has both the stradella and the FB, Dont buy just a free bass box.
 

TomBR

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
992
Reaction score
53
Location
SE. Gloucestershire UK
Apologies for a bit of drift, but if your mind is boggling at the thought of a converter mechanism, heres a video showing it cycled many times.
The bass mech is tilted so that the pistons disengage from one set of levers and engage another. So simple! :lol:
 

Glenn

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Messages
2,545
Reaction score
16
Location
Netherlands
Indeed, it's a mechanism not for the faint hearted.
 

donn

Prolific poster
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
13
Location
Seattle, Washington
Where in the US are you?

I personally am a little dubious about the logic you're using to arrive at this configuration. Not so much because there's any giant flaw in the logic per se, it's more about the premises, which all come from a very superficial appreciation of the issues -- naturally, since you don't play accordion.

The classic French musette (and Portuguese) configuration (in my estimation anyway) is C griff CBA, but as you probably know it has a stradella bass. The stradella layout is unusual in that there's an extra bass row, and the outside row is dominant 7 but voiced so that it can serve as a diminished as well. The bass reeds may be a little heartier, too - you can really hear French and Portuguese players pounding out bass lines on these accordions, maybe just because that's how they like it, don't know. My accordion is one of these - very rare in the US - and it sure has a heavy, resonant bass.

Anyway, my take on your decision tree:
- piano or button? You'll find a lot more good piano accordions for reasonable prices, and a half hour survey of online videos should convince you that piano keyboard is no handicap for virtuosity. Sadly, to my knowledge, none come with the French style 3/3 stradella layout, all the usual 2/4. Any sensible person would go for piano. You don't have to be sensible, though, since even an accordion player is technically an artist. When my accordion fails, I reckon I will book a vacation to Europe to get another, seriously.

- C or B button? I like C and it's about as common as B. There may actually be some technical reasons why some music is easier on C or B, but don't put too much weight on these notions - it's like the button vs piano debate, but with even less to it.

- Stradella vs. free bass? Free bass is cool if you're going to play piano and organ music, and of course it's versatile, but it isn't entirely just out of inertia that so many accordions come with stradella bass. Used to chords? Do you know what "IV" chord means? Stradella is all about that, including the bass rows - the columns are III VI II V I IV and of course eminently "movable". And it has a lot to do with what makes accordions sound like they do, so if you find accordion music per se appealing, stradella bass is what you're hearing.

- Common 2/4 vs. French 3/3? Alas, unless you like the idea of a trip to Europe any time you want to look at accordions, it's probably better to stick with 2/4. It has its merits, apparently, though they are in my opinion outweighed by the obvious advantage of the extra bass row.
 

Jim2010

Active member
Site Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2015
Messages
136
Reaction score
10
Location
Florida, USA
I live in Florida.

Donn, can you suggest one or more accordians that match your configuration for classic French musette (and Portuguese) configuration --C griff CBA with stradella bass that might be suitable for a beginner? How about Weltmeister Romance 602?
 

donn

Prolific poster
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
13
Location
Seattle, Washington
Nope! I mean, I just dont know anything about it. Really would have to go to Europe myself, to sort this out. To get started, I just kind of picked some old used thing at random and had it mailed to me, across the ocean. Im not sure about this as a course of action - its one way to go, anyway - but Im sure not going to pick something else at random for you, that will be your privilege.

A couple more notes about the French thing.

- Its a little crazy to go that way because of the rarity.

- The French Chromatic 4 Row Cooperfisa at Liberty Bellows appears to have common 2/4 stradella, and in the video it sounds kind of feeble anyway. Theres an SEM on ebay in a rather flamboyant green and yellow color scheme that is likely very nice, but rather costly.

- Another advantage typically found in this category is nailed reeds. An accordion reed is fastened to a small metal block, and the block is mounted over a channel in the wood reed bank - typically cemented by beeswax, or alternatively nailed. An accordion has to get pretty hot before the beeswax melts, but it apparently can happen and the result is very deleterious. Nailed construction normally uses a layer of leather that serves as a gasket, so its reasonably air tight. I dont know how technicians feel about working on nailed accordion reeds, but the French seem to like playing them. Its nice not to have any real worries about your accordion falling apart because it got too warm. No guarantee, you have to get the accordion open and see to be sure.

- I dont think its universal, but somewhat common for them to have the bassoon reeds buried in a tone chamber (cassotto), which makes them less strident. There will be one set of these low reeds, and three sets of middle reeds, each tuned differently to create the musette difference beat. That means some weight.

- I dont think the French or Portuguese ever play German-made accordions. There have been a few French ones - Cavagnolo, Maugein, a couple others - and the Italians make them, like Piermaria/SEM, Beltuna ... Im probably leaving some important surviving manufacturers out. That said, I have wondered about the Hohner Rivieras, like theres a Riviera III on ebay at the moment, maybe one of the models that used Italian reeds?

-- You could arguably get a lot more for your money in a piano accordion.
 
R

Russ

Guest
My own opinion just get a regular C system CBA (or piano if you want) with regular stradella bass. (worry about more expensive harder to find gear after you have played a while, it is not cheap believe me).

No matter what type or system you choose, the real question everything else depends on is 1. HOW MUCH MONEY are you willing to spend.

2. How many Basses 72 or a 96 or a 120 bass. 3. HOW MANY TREBLE REEDS 1, 2,3, or 4 and in what combination do you want them. (LMM, MMM, LMMM, LMMH)

If you can answer these questions it is time to start shopping and people can point you in the right direction.

there is a guy in Florida Juan Santos who plays cba and often has one or two he might sell. You might be able to reach him through the Reyes forum

Check out the pictures and descriptions at these two sites:
http://www.buttonbox.com/new-piano-chromatic.html#60cba
http://www.castiglioneaccordions.com/
 

donn

Prolific poster
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
13
Location
Seattle, Washington
Good points, but as usual I'd try to emphasize the treble range, before the number of bass buttons unless you feel that there's really a huge practical difference between 96, 100 etc.
 
R

Russ

Guest
I agree treble reeds and configuration are very important. He states he wants an accordion that does not weigh too much - Basses make a big difference in size and weight.
 

donn

Prolific poster
Joined
Apr 30, 2013
Messages
1,335
Reaction score
13
Location
Seattle, Washington
Well, I don't know - maybe the relative compactness of the CBA keyboard gives the bass count more influence on the size, and the larger body will indeed weigh something, but there's also an illusion here - I mean, the extra buttons aren't connected to extra reeds. Once you get to 72, you're carrying around the same number of reeds in any larger configuration - a bigger box with more connecting rods, but same reeds. Like the extra 2 rows on a 5 row CBA. On the other hand, since the smaller right and left hand sizes usually come together, it's a somewhat moot point - and my theory is that the smaller treble range is more likely to turn into an issue.
 

TomBR

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
992
Reaction score
53
Location
SE. Gloucestershire UK
donn said:
Well, I dont know - maybe the relative compactness of the CBA keyboard gives the bass count more influence on the size, and the larger body will indeed weigh something, but theres also an illusion here - I mean, the extra buttons arent connected to extra reeds. Once you get to 72, youre carrying around the same number of reeds in any larger configuration - a bigger box with more connecting rods, but same reeds. Like the extra 2 rows on a 5 row CBA. On the other hand, since the smaller right and left hand sizes usually come together, its a somewhat moot point - and my theory is that the smaller treble range is more likely to turn into an issue.
Indeed. It goes further, an 8X6 48 bass will have the same number of reeds as a 72 or even a 120, given the same voices.
 

BobM

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
May 2, 2013
Messages
712
Reaction score
0
Knowing what I know now after playing PA for 4 years, I would have gone down this route.. http://www.saltarelle.com/accordion_bourroche.htm

My little knowledge of the Piano keyboard (used mainly as support) hasnt helped me much, and I really like the idea of an extra bass row.
 
P

Pat S.

Guest
One option is a Roland FR-1xb. You get to try B or C system CBA, stradella or several FB options, and lots of voices. It is a flexible introduction.
 

TomBR

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
992
Reaction score
53
Location
SE. Gloucestershire UK
BobM said:
Knowing what I know now after playing PA for 4 years,.....
Your signature is very relevant there Bob!
Its the unknown unknowns that mean the choices we make before we get into something are highly likely to be wrong!
Id suggest the two crucial things are, get started with something, so you can start to learn what you want, and consider resale/trade as one of the most important factors in what you buy. Some good instrument dealers will offer some sort of guaranteed trade in value, particularly on second hand instruments of course.

(Even if youre dedicated to going the CBA route if you can borrow a PA you can start learning Stradella basses.)
 

BobM

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
May 2, 2013
Messages
712
Reaction score
0
I'm too far down the PA route, in terms of age, time and money now. I've always been able to hack out a tune on a Piano keyboard and have used one to help with my main instruments, Trombone and D/Bass, BGtr, and I assumed that this would give me a little beginners edge on the PA, hence my choice.

In reality, it's not helped as much as I'd hoped, and my LH has raced away in comparison to my RH, this may be due in part to the musical experience gained from my main instruments, but I think it's really due to the fact that the Stradella is pattern based like the Trombone, BGtr CBA etc.

Had I studied the CBA chart at length and printed it out, as I did with the Stradella, I might have have gone CBA.

So on balance, it's going to take me longer to get to where I want to be, but as I really enjoy practicing, I'm ok with it. :)

BobM.
 

Jim2010

Active member
Site Supporter
Joined
Apr 13, 2015
Messages
136
Reaction score
10
Location
Florida, USA

Anyanka

Prolific poster
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
1,455
Reaction score
8
Location
Reigate, Surrey, UK
Probably a reasonable beginner's instrument... however: I borrowed a friend's Weltmeister - possibly the same model as that - last year for Sidmouth Folk Week. It was perfectly serviceable for workshops and for participating in the festival orchestra, but I really didn't like the bass sound: it was too heavy, unpleasantly tuned and drowned out the right hand. This year, I'm taking my Morris box, the 3-row Hohner Amati instead, although I find it harder to pick up tunes quickly on 3 rows (my main accordion is a 5-row).

I also tried a Black Diamond CBA at Sidmouth; I preferred the sound of it over the Weltmeister - esp the bass - but it had one massive design fault, in that the treble couplers were way too close to the top row of buttons. I got my fingers caught under the edge of the couplers every time I used a middle E or G.
 

Similar threads

Top