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Chinese Accordion Manufacturer.

Stephen Hawkins

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It is difficult to gauge how useful this thread will be, but I have seen several mentions of Chinese made instruments on other threads.

My research into the Pearl River company has thrown up a few interesting facts, not least of which is that they are the biggest piano manufacturer in the World.

Pearl River also make violins, guitars, drum kits and a whole host of other instruments. It may surprise you to learn that they also make three models of Steinway & Sons pianos. (two grand pianos and one upright)

Other manufacturers of renown also have their instruments made by Pearl River, including Yamaha. The list is too long to publish here, but the upshot is that you may purchase an instrument bearing the name of a respected manufacturer, only to find that it was actually made by Pearl River.

I have read a few "snippy" comments about the quality of Chinese manufactured instruments but, having heard one or two Chanson and Pearl River accordions being played, I am left wondering how much of a part elitism plays in this criticism.

As I have said elsewhere on this site, practically every electrical gadget I have purchased over the last five years has been made in China. This includes both of our DELL laptops, and they are as good as any made in Europe or the US.

If I ever decided to buy a bigger instrument, I would have no qualms about looking at a Chanson or Pearl River accordion.

Kind Regards,

Stephen Hawkins.
 

debra

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There are quite a number of YouTube movies made by Chinese people playing nicely sounding Chinese accordions.
The main problem is with the quality of the construction (i.e. the reliability). They are not all the same but there are some horror videos on YouTube as well, for instance about "Golden Cup" accordions.
The top players from China I have seen on videos play on Bugari or Pigini.
 

Matt Butcher

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Just a couple of observations from personal experience. I certainly have no preconception against the quality of Chinese-made goods – I have a Behringer mixer that I’ve used for 10 years and it’s been fantastic value for money. Anyway, here’s what I’ve found.

When the mrs introduced accordion lessons into Birmingham schools she had to source some children’s/beginner’s boxes. With the funds available they were going to be Chinese. She tried various brands – some were almost unplayable, one brand in particular. I don’t mean that they wouldn’t be suitable for a virtuoso, I mean that they weren't suitable for anyone: they were stiff, hard to press the keys, very small bellows so you would have to constantly change bellows – poor instruments that would probably put potential players off. Other brands were OK, a bit flimsy so they needed repairs quite often, but the price reflects that. These other brands were absolutely fine as starter instruments.

I think that the brand that was terrible has probably cleaned up its act since then, but instruments like that did a lot of damage to the reputation of Chinese accordions and I think it will take time to overcome this.

I have a Chinese-made one-row melodeon. It sounds nice, but there are a few problems with the build quality, the two basses are the wrong way round and one of the notes tends to stick so that you have to flick the pallet shut while you’re playing. So for what I paid for it, I’m happy enough, but it has its limitations.

Hohner started outsourcing to China, I think in the 1980s, and from various reports I have heard they may not have invested enough in quality control when they first started outsourcing. I tried a Chinese-made Hohner bass accordion from the 1980s and it was not of the same standard as an older Hohner bass accordion. The keyboard response was slow and the sound changed half way up the instrument, in other words it met the spec on paper but not enough effort had gone into finishing the product. Hohner was going through hard times and perhaps they cut costs too far to maintain quality.

Black Diamond sell Chinese instruments with the promise of greater investment in quality control and many people think these are good value for money, I haven’t tried one myself.

Finally the slightly larger Chinese-made boxes I’ve heard (e.g. Chanson 48-bass) tend to have a bit of an “average” sound – which perhaps makes sense for a mass-market “budget” instrument. But for me, the sound means a lot and I might prefer a second hand older instrument with a more personal sound for the same price. Sound is a very personal thing though.

Of course, try a Chanson and form your own opinion. If you can try some second-hand instruments for a similar price then it might be worth trying them too, see what you prefer.

Obviously there is no reason why great instruments could not be made in China. I think it comes down to money though, a low-priced instrument has to be low-priced for a reason and the Chinese involvement in the accordion market is not yet as mature and does not have such a large target market as their work on keyboards, drums, electronics etc.. What I have seen suggests that as well as having lower labour costs, the low price of some Chinese-made accordions may be (or may have been) reflected in less durable build, or in reduced quality control and hence more variability between good and bad examples of the same brand.

It would be narrow-minded of me to assume that the same would apply to all Chinese-made instruments for the rest of eternity. Will the Chinese makers invest more to further improve the product? I can think of one barrier to investing in the budget and mid-price accordion market, which is the huge number of old accordions out there knocking around waiting for someone to play them.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hello Matt,

I thank you for your knowledgeable input, and for sharing your considerable experience so generously. I am always prepared to learn from people such as yourself, and to rethink my perceptions in light of new and trustworthy information.

Prior to purchasing my own accordion, I had been totally confused and frustrated by the conflicting advice I received from a variety of sources. In the end I just picked the accordion I thought would be best for me.

One of my sources (a very experienced accordion player) told me that Chinese instruments are now much better than they once were,but that they still suffer from a reputation that they no longer deserve. He reckoned that the smaller instruments were not all that good, but the full sized ones are perfectly alright.

I feel sure that, as I gain experience, I will be able to discern these things for myself. In the meantime, I rely on the experience of others to guide me in the right direction. I will pay particular attention to your thoughts.

Kind Regards,

Stephen Hawkins.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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I have just been on a Chinese Trade Directory website. This is what I learned:

China has 98 different manufacturers of piano accordions, many of which manufacture a wide range of musical instruments.

The cheapest one I saw was a child's 2 Bass accordion priced at $7.20 , though I didn't bother to go through all of the many thousands of accordions listed.

Prices of mid-range and full size accordions vary between factories, but they all cost only a fraction of what you would expect to pay for a European made instrument.

Build and material quality seems okay (according to the blurb) and I wonder if the very low prices could be explained by the low cost of labour.

Just a thought.

Kind Regards,

Stephen Hawkins.
 

JIM D.

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The low cost of the China boxes we see exported on both sides of the pond are just prices for low quality products.
There have been and still quality made Chinese accordions but, they are not offered for export beyond their communist border's.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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JIM D.

I am no big fan of communism myself, but would never allow my personal feelings to cloud my judgement in relation to the ability of a country or its people to produce goods of decent quality. Ascribing poor quality to a nation's political regime is no way to measure such things, especially when European makers are outsourcing their production with the full knowledge of China's political and human rights issues.

China will be as keen as mustard to market instruments which people like. It is obvious that Chinese manufacturers have turned out some lemons, but I'm equally sure that the regime will wish to address and reverse any negative feelings about Chinese products.

Since it was you (again) who brought up the subject of politics, I feel entitled to respond in some way. My suggestion involves consideration of the etymology of the word "democracy", and comparing it with your own political system.

So as not to break the rules of this forum, I suggest that this debate be moved to a more appropriate location. I am perfectly happy for you to message me in order to debate your political ideology, and may then acquaint you with my own involvement in founding and editing a political forum.

Kind Regards,

Stephen Hawkins.
 

JIM D.

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My comment was not intended to be political. Or any motive to start a debate. Just a statement of fact - A Communist country has communist borders - A Democratic country has democratic borders.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Jim D,

Borders are not defined by the political colour of a nation, but by International Law. Your description of "communist" & "democratic" borders have amused me no end, and I would seriously like to know what you perceive as being a democratic country.

Really !

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Stephen Hawkins.
 

JIM D.

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Steve; I'm afraid you've got way out of thread here . :roll: {} This thread is on the subject of accordion manufacturers. {}
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Thank you for your latest post, Jim.

I have no intention of using this site for political debate, and will stick as closely as I can to the subject under discussion.

Having spent very many years as a professional investigator, I suppose it has become second nature for me to research any topic I become interested in.

My methods have changed little over the years, and I still apply the same principles to any research I conduct. The gathering and collation of information is my starting point, followed by forensic appraisal and prioritisation of evidence. A bit like Columbo, but I'm better dressed.

Anyway, Chinese made accordions seem to vary considerably. Many are made for American and European markets, and are the result of Western makers farming out production to take advantage of much cheaper labour/manufacturing costs.

This may raise, in many minds, the guilt of knowing that health & safety and human rights are sacrificed for the sake of profit margins. My own view does not matter at all, as I believe that the individual must make a conscious decision based on their personal attitude.

To summarise, many Chinese instruments may well be a bit dodgy, but the better made ones appear to be good value for money. In my previous posts on this thread, I have mentioned Chanson & Pearl River instruments. These two makers, though undoubtedly not as good as European producers, nevertheless deserve consideration by those who cannot afford the relatively high cost of Italian or German made instruments.

I promise that I have no ulterior motive, and that I have no financial ties with any accordion maker or retailer. My only goal is a better and clearer understanding of what is available to people on a finite budget. (i.e. old age pensioners such as myself)

Kind Regards,

Stephen Hawkins.
 

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