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Cheap Chinese accordion reeds

Ben-jammin

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I was curious about how bad a new cheap Chinese accordion could be and I purchased a 37/96 3/4 LMM unit from Thomann. Total price after shipping to the US was around 650$.

I had reasonable expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s basically ok, and for the price a bit better than I expected. With that said I have found some negatives about it. The mussette isn’t very even, the volume is less than most of my other accordions, notes are a bit slower to respond and the bass notes seem to use more air than I’m used to. But on the good side of things compression is pretty good and the mechanics are playable. It sounds ok and from some spot testing the dry reeds are dead on for tuning.

I am thinking of doing some work on it in an effort to make it more responsive. Some of the reed valves are plastic and some are leather. I guess my question is about whether the stock reeds can be reasonable improved by re-valving or should I just replace the reeds with better ones and be done with. I have a complete set of Reeds from an old Scandalli that I could use.
 

debra

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I would suggest to buy a complete new set of reeds (or as you suggest, reeds "borrowed" from a good but older accordion). The way to make reeds cheap is to have more tolerance, meaning a wider gap between the reed and the hole in the reed plate it passes through. The extra room there prevents the reed from not fitting properly (touching the side walls) but it wastes air. The other way to make accordion production cheap is to not do proper voicing. The proper voicing makes reeds respond faster, but as the steel is also rubbish the reeds would likely choke when you play with a bit of "attack".
A combination of leather valves for larger reeds and plastic valves for smaller reeds (and no valves for even smaller reeds) is perfectly normal and nowadays done by most Italian manufacturers as well. (Experience has shown that leather valves for really small reeds are not so reliably consistent over a longer time, so plastic is better for about the highest octave that still has valves.)
 

Ben-jammin

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Thanks Paul, that’s what I was suspecting, but wanted to verify before I threw out the baby with the bath water.
 

debra

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Before you put in all this work you should check whether the mechanics are all fine. Chinese accordions can have an uneven keyboard, requiring considerably more force to press black versus white keys (or first versus third row on a CBA). Maybe you can also check whether you can move the springs from the old Scandalli to the Chinese accordion, because Chinese springs are made out of rubbish steel and tend to break early on in life (of the accordion)...
 

Ben-jammin

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Wise thought Paul. While the keyboard isn’t as nice as on my SEM or Titano, it’s still playable for me. I’ll look at what swapping the springs entails, but for me this issue is secondary to reed response/efficiency.
 

Dingo40

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Just thinking: wouldn't it be better to fix up your donor Scandalli instead?
From what I've heard here and there, the older Italian machines tend to stay "fixed" while the "consumer grade" Chinese models not so much?🤔
Still, as Kramer said on one of the California episodes of Seinfeld, perhaps you weren't "looking for a long-term relationship "?😄
 
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Ben-jammin

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Unless I can magic up half of an accordion, fixing that Scandalli is a non starter. I purchased the reeds in a basket case with no bass mechanism (had it had the bass section it also has too narrow of a keyboard for me to play comfortably). the way I plan to use the instrument would be a risk for even a better made instrument. In this instance my goal is having the best functioning instrument that I’m also not worried about potentially writing off. The fact that it may need to be fixed more frequently is a minor concern for me, because it might just get killed before it would have died of natural causes.
 

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