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Borsini CBAs

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maugein96

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A year or so back I became interested in obtaining a used CBA without a typical French sound to it and began to look around. I live in Scotland, and after a few months of futile searching I declared the exercise as mission impossible. 

I had trawled the internet looking for sound samples of various makes. Ideally Id have been looking for an LMMH, but this is what I discovered on Liberty Bellows You Tube channel.

The demonstrator is clearly unfamiliar with the instrument, a Vienna K10 model, but bravely goes through its capabilities. He describes it as being slightly dry tuned. 

You Tube sound quality is notoriously dodgy so I donned my equally dodgy wireless earphones to get some idea of what it sounded like. The difference between register sounds is often negligible, which was a disappointment even in a straight tuned box, but my jaw dropped when the demonstrator told us that the box had 92 buttons, giving 46 notes? A French box with that many buttons would have 55 notes, so thats one hell of a lot of dummy buttons. I knew that some Italian CBAs had dummy buttons, and I had a Guerrini with some, but only two or three. 

I have a little Maugein accordion that wont even be 3/4 of the size of the one in the clip, yet it has 49 treble notes. The very top button in row 4 is a dummy, which is unusual in a French box, and annoys me when I move onto it from my bigger instrument. I was wondering if the double tone chamber might be the reason why the Borsini is so big, but dont know enough about how accordions are constructed (OK, I dont know much about how theyre played either!).

Dont think I could cope with a box that fired so may blanks. 

My question is, Does anybody know why the box has to be that size? Its not a monster by PA standards, but its pretty big for a CBA that can only produce 46 treble notes. 

 

debra

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There is a simple reason why "the box has to be that size": this is essentially a PA with a CBA keyboard, and as such it has the same size box as the corresponding PA. Such an instrument has 2 reed blocks in cassotto and 2 outsize of cassotto (3 outside if it is 5 voices). Each reed block can accommodate 23 reeds, so it has room for 46 notes. The PA version only uses 41 out of these 46 slots so it has empty slots on the reed blocks.
Other brands do exactly the same, producing a PA and a CBA of the same size, and such a CBA is then automatically limited to 46 notes.
 

Geoff de Limousin

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maugein96 pid=63662 dateline=1548858165 said:
A year or so back I became interested in obtaining a used CBA without a typical French sound to it and began to look around. I live in Scotland, and after a few months of futile searching I declared the exercise as mission impossible. 

I had trawled the internet looking for sound samples of various makes. Ideally Id have been looking for an LMMH, but this is what I discovered on Liberty Bellows You Tube channel.

The demonstrator is clearly unfamiliar with the instrument, a Vienna K10 model, but bravely goes through its capabilities. He describes it as being slightly dry tuned. 

You Tube sound quality is notoriously dodgy so I donned my equally dodgy wireless earphones to get some idea of what it sounded like. The difference between register sounds is often negligible, which was a disappointment even in a straight tuned box, but my jaw dropped when the demonstrator told us that the box had 92 buttons, giving 46 notes? A French box with that many buttons would have 55 notes, so thats one hell of a lot of dummy buttons. I knew that some Italian CBAs had dummy buttons, and I had a Guerrini with some, but only two or three. 

I have a little Maugein accordion that wont even be 3/4 of the size of the one in the clip, yet it has 49 treble notes. The very top button in row 3 is a dummy, which is unusual in a French box, and annoys me when I move onto it from my bigger instrument. I was wondering if the double tone chamber might be the reason why the Borsini is so big, but dont know enough about how accordions are constructed (OK, I dont know much about how theyre played either!).

Dont think I could cope with a box that fired so may blanks. 

My question is, Does anybody know why the box has to be that size? Its not a monster by PA standards, but its pretty big for a CBA that can only produce 46 treble notes. 


I  too had wondered  about the  small compass  of some of these  instruments , and being a smaller than average  fellow  the height  of the  box  is  of some concern.   It is  the  use of  a Piano Accordion  style  reed  set up  that makes these  instruments, which normally  also have the register switches on the  front  side, so tall.  Looking  at  this  dealer  site  www.jjaccordeons.wordpress.com  he has a nice internal photo of a Zero Sette, showing  three double sided  reed banks  for a three  voice (LMH)  CBA...  now a French style  CBA would have  four double sided  and one single sided    reed banks  for  a three voice (ie nine lines of reeds)...  thus  the international (or PA ) type  reed banks need to be longer, thus a longer box is needed   so they fill up the  otherwise empty space  with  more buttons... makes the thing look more impressive. Paul explained this well, a couple of years back. Note also that jjmusic says his Zero Sette uses two rows of soupapes ( Pads) where a french style CBA has a row of Pads for each of the first three rows... as well as others for cassoto and Peigne arrière systems.
 

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Indeed, to fit more notes the standard approach is to use 3+3 reed blocks (3 in cassotto, 3 outside) for an LMMH instrument. I have a Bugari 540/ARS/C which haw 52 notes and is only 41 or 42 cm (depends on whether you count the room taken up by the chin switches). My bayan is 46 cm and has 64 notes. A drawback of this approach is that you can hear the difference between the timbre of the first, second and third row of buttons, especially in the M register. On an accordion with only 2 blocks in cassotto the difference is negligible.
I do have a Hohner (Artiste XS) with 56 notes and only 2 reed blocks in cassotto. This means 27 reeds per block, 4 more than normal. The accordion uses extra narrow reed plates. But it fits a lot of notes in exactly the same case as a Morino VI.
So it is not just the French models that have 3 + 3 reed blocks. The Bugari 540 sounds very much like the "normal" Bugari ARS accordions. Despite being a 3 + 3 setup it does not sound at all like a French style CBA.
 
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maugein96

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Thanks for that Paul, and Geoff.


I seem to remember Paul explaining this before, but my memory isn't what it was. 

The internal workings of an accordion will always represent the same challenge to me as actually trying to play one!

I now know that I need to look out for huge CBAs with only 46 notes, and leave them well alone!

The clincher was when he said there are 46 notes starting from E, and the E that he hit was in the third row down! At that point I deleted Borsini from my wants list. 

Some French spec boxes have their lowest note that can only be played on the highest button in the fourth row. The button looks as though it would be a dummy, as 49 notes is more common than 50, but they stick that extra note in somehow. I had a Cavagnolo Bal Musette box which was configured like that, and I've played a Piermaria which had that "extra" button with corresponding note. It could come in handy in some situations.
 

debra

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maugein96 said:
...

The clincher was when he said there are 46 notes starting from E, and the E that he hit was in the third row down! At that point I deleted Borsini from my wants list. 

Some French spec boxes have their lowest note that can only be played on the highest button in the fourth row. The button looks as though it would be a dummy, as 49 notes is more common than 50, but they stick that extra note in somehow. I had a Cavagnolo Bal Musette box which was configured like that, and I've played a Piermaria which had that "extra" button with corresponding note. It could come in handy in some situations.

46 notes starting from E is normal, but in both C and B system the E is on the second row. When the E is in the third row it can be a (mostly Belgian) Do2 system, meaning C is in the second row. I can fully understand that you don't want that.
These "huge" boxes with only 46 notes not only have dummy buttons, they also have larger buttons which makes mixing and matching accordions when you play a bit tricky. (My bass accordion has the same type of larger buttons.)

As for that 50'th note or a dummy button in its place: when you want to make the accordion keyboard look symmetrical (n buttons on rows 1-3-5 and n+1 on 2-4) the first button on the 4rd row would be a note that has no button on the first row. My Morino Artiste XS has a low A as its lowest note and it only exists on the 4rd row.

By the way the YouTube movie linked to by the OP is a standard C system, not the accordion referred to that has E on the third row.
 
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maugein96

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Hi Paul,


I should have said that he hit E on the third row down from the top, and I've confused the issue unnecessarily. The E button in the clip is on the second playing row and it is a C system as you've pointed out. I've never seen a Do2 with black and white buttons, although I dare say they do exist. 

It wasn't so much the system, as the fact that there were so many "redundant" buttons.
 

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maugein96 said:
I should have said that he hit E on the third row down from the top, and I've confused the issue unnecessarily. The E button in the clip is on the second playing row and it is a C system as you've pointed out. I've never seen a Do2 with black and white buttons, although I dare say they do exist. 

It wasn't so much the system, as the fact that there were so many "redundant" buttons.

Ah, ok. that figures. Well, it is "normal" for these accordions to have so many "redundant" buttons because it makes the keyboard look "fuller".
It doesn't seem to bother too many people because a lot of these accordions are still being sold and they all have both large buttons and redundant buttons.
Even Richard Galliano's accordion has large and redundant buttons. My bass accordion also has redundant buttons. The smallish Bugari 540/ARS/C convertor accordion has 52 notes and only 1 dummy button: what could have been a low C (existing only on the 4rd row) is actually a dummy button and exists just to make the keyboard look symmetrical.
 
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