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Build and sound quality of new Paolo Soprani & Excelsior accordions

Scuromondo

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Greetings,

I am, as this thread suggests, "New on Here."

I am an amateur accordion player. I currently have two used accordions I have purchased over the last 15 years--one is a 45 year old full-sized LMMH Paolo Soprani, the other is a relatively new (probably 10 years old) Excelsior LMM 37/96 instrument . Both were satisfying purchases. I have no complaints about either of them. However, more recently I have been thinking about purchasing a new accordion. I am in a better financial situation than I have been in the past, and while my budget is not unlimited, I may for the first time actually be able to afford a new instrument.

My question has to do with build quality and sound quality. Since my familiarity with accordions has been limited to the two that I currently own, I have been looking online at new Paolo Soprani and Excelsior accordions. Does anyone have any information they could offer about the quality of these accordion brands right now? I know they are both very "storied" brands, but it is not clear to me how good their instruments are right now. Are they a good value? I recently tried a Hohner Amica IV for a week and was very disappointed in it. I did not like it nearly as well as my two older accordions. It was very bright, and the mechanics were quieter and the keyboard had a better feel than the old Paolo Soprani, but the sound had little body to it and a very unsatisfying low-end. If I purchase a new accordion, I definitely don't want to end up with an accordion of that build and sound quality; I would rather just stay with the instruments I have!

If anyone has any relevant information or an informed opinion, I would greatly appreciate if they would kindly share it with me. Thank you! Best regards,
Paul
 

Dingo40

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Hi Scuromondo and welcome!🙂

I may be wrong, but I imagine there would be at least one or two accordion dealers in the National Capital?🤔
If so, I would suggest you spend some time in them, playing around with as many instruments as you can lay your hands on and forming your own impressions of what's available.🙂
Not having done this myself, I'm afraid I'm not any use at all in this regard 😕
 

embers

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Welcome to the conversation, Scuromondo. You are in a "good place" to be looking for a new accordion. Especially having two accordions, which you are pleased with. Dingo is correct. Spending time trying new accordions will be enjoyable and well worth it. You will obtain helpful, thought-through opinions here, but your ears and hands will take you to the right instrument. Best in your search.
 

JIM D.

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The recommendations you look for here will most likely come from owners that feel the box they own (whatever make) is there perfect
"CUP O' TEA". Most all accordion owners will favor one of the different makes & models, sizes, weights, and the many bells & whistles
they feature. And of course there is the purchase price to consider.
And also some makers today sell their products with the badges of older well known accordions, (Pigini is a good example.)
By all means visit one or more dealers offering accordions an get a hands on experience.
 
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Dingo40

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Scuromondo,
Remember price isn't always proportional to satisfaction.
I'm reminded of a member who posted here, recently, of his considerable dissatisfaction with an expensive Pigini(?) which he was ultimately forced to return. Fortunately he was able to do so🙂

The more I think about it, the more I feel the appropriate criterion is " fit for purpose ".🤔
So, make sure you have your purpose worked out first!🙂

Unfortunately, the brand names mean little or nothing these days. Even if they happen to be the same continuous commercial entity (very rare), the staff and owners are no longer the same individuals and most likely have entirely different outlooks, attitudes and levels of skill to the crowd who built your 45 year old vintage instrument: they are long retired if not actually deceased!

(A comparison with the current political party line up illustrates the point perfectly. The current Republicans are well to the left of the 50s Democrats who themselves would be considered left of the communists of that era.😄)

Always try before you buy, and never buy unseen!🙂
 
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Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Scuromondo,

The sensible option is to deliberate for a long time before reaching any decision. You hint at sticking with the instruments you already own, rather than buy a new but inferior instrument. It sounds to me as if you have already figured out the potential pitfalls.

Welcome To The Forum,

Stephen.
 

JerryPH

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My opinion (and that's all it is), is that over the years the sound of the accordion has not drastically improved in the face of technology (digital accordions NOT included)... after all, there is only so much that reeds can do, irrespective of cost and/or hand made or not.

Where they have made some nice improvements in is weight. lighter woods and metals and even Carbon Fiber technologies and solenoids instead of mechanical levers are the "New Black" today, with possibly as much as 25-30% drops in weight and an appropriate rise in cost.
 

Scuromondo

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Thank you all for your kind advice. I will take it, indeed have taken it.

There really is only one small accordion dealer in the DC area. I have tried a few new accordions there, as well as at a more extensive store located in Philadelphia (about 3 hour drive). I was also able to sample some of the lower-end models of the two brands I mentioned (Excelsior and Paolo Sorprani). Unfortunately, neither of these dealers had in stock the exact models I would like to see and try. But even based on those lower-end models I think either would be an excellent "fit" for where I am in terms of my enjoyment, budget, as well as my skill-level. (I tried a couple of Titanos and Weltmeisters, for example, and I was not quite keen on either, though the Titano was very good.)

But my question was actually meant to be more of a quality/reliability question rather than one of playabiliy or personal preference: while I realize that these brands no longer may have the same depth of appeal they may have had during the "Golden Age" I would like to know whether, in the world of experienced players, there is any general opinion that these brands are still solid choices (in terms of sound quality and reliabiity) and if they are overall, likely to be a good value.

Best regards!
 

debra

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There are accordion brands and there are accordion manufacturers. Both Paolo Soprani and Excelsior used to be accordion manufacturers but today they are not. There are other factories that produce accordions with the Paolo Soprani and the Excelsior label but you cannot compare the quality of the older ones with the new ones as they are not made by the same people. (This does not imply that older were better or that newer are better. It's just that they do not have the same origin.)
In general I prefer accordions from a manufacturer that puts his own name on the accordions. But there are also excellent manufacturers, like IMC for instance, that produce no accordions under their own name but only produce for others... Needless to say the complete mixup between brand names and manufacturers has complicated the choice of accordions. But this is not new. Some people still believe their Hohner Morino from the N or S series was made in Germany by Hohner whereas in fact they are (at least for the most part) made by Excelsior in Italy. When Pigini bought Excelsior the design and production of the Morino line also changed. In any case, that nicely illustrates that the same brand name and even model name can result in very different accordions (like Morino M made by Hohner, Morino N and S made by Excelsior, and Morino from after 2000 either made by Pigini or made by someone else for Pigini... I have a suspicion that the new successor to the Morino is made by IMC but I'm not sure...
In short, it's a minefield.
As you tried Titano, there too it's important to know who made them. (There is no Titano factory.) The older ones, with a lot of chrome bits on the grille, were made by Victoria. Newer ones with similar design grille but missing the chrome bits are made by Pigini... it all varies over time. Weltmeister is still the same brand an manufacturer but after 1989 they got better access to good quality Italian components so new Weltmeister accordions are worlds apart from the old ones...
The reality is that you do need access to the exact accordion you want in order to decide whether it is really what you want.
 

JIM D.

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A chronology of accordion production in Italy showing the manufacturer's that have ceased production and the ones that are still
active can be found here --
scroll to the bottom of the list to find active firms.
 

debra

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A chronology of accordion production in Italy showing the manufacturer's that have ceased production and the ones that are still
active can be found here --
scroll to the bottom of the list to find active firms.
A great resource! Thanks a lot.
 

JIM D.

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The manufacturer of Titano brand accordions was switched from Victoria to Pigini in the late 70's.
Take a read of this add --

Pigini also acquired the Excelsior badge in the same time period.
 
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Eddy Yates

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Most of the other prices are listed and I think Guenadiy is very fair. But to me, when an ad says “call” that means , “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Worth finding out. I’m looking at one of his accordions.
 

embers

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Most of the other prices are listed and I think Guenadiy is very fair. But to me, when an ad says “call” that means , “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Worth finding out. I’m looking at one of his accordions.

Coincidental comment, Eddy. During the last couple of weeks I have been looking at Guenadiy's web site, too. Also have been in phone and email contact with him as I'm considering purchase of one of his accordions. Which are you looking at?
 

embers

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The Sano. Have you done business with this shop before? Owner has been helpful in our chats.
 

Scuromondo

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Paradoxically, despite all my talk about looking at new instruments, the used Excelsior Musette accordion at the Accordion Gallery link you shared has caught my eye.

Do you think Accordion Gallery is a likely a reputable place to purchase a used instrument?
 

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