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Compact Folk CBA boxes

CC_PDX

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Hi, all.

I'm learning so much from these forums. I am a lifelong pianist who has fallen head over heels for accordion the last few years and made the switch from PA to CBA (C-griff) this year. I have two at my disposal and find myself frankly loving the form factor of the Roland FR-1x. My Zero Sette 61 has a gorgeous tone, buttery action and quality reeds, but I'm feeling drawn to a smaller folk box for the kind of music I am playing -- Irish, Breton, French, Bal, and Americana Folk / Indie and even classical. The bigger boxes feel like overkill for sessions and the weight and size are not ideal.

I'm looking to buy a "lifetime" acoustic box and have started researching -- I will likely not be able to play most of these in person to make a fair comparison, but here are my general requirements:

1) Minimum 72 bass, but 80 or 96 preferred with at least a basic bass coupler to be able to dial back the sound. This rules out the Saltarelle Bourrouche, but the Saltarelle Arcadia might be an option
2) Relatively compact size / weight under 20Lbs / 9 kg
3) Open to 4 or 5 rows in RH
4) Open to 5 or 6 rows in LH
5) Swing Tuning or something in the range of 4 to 9 cents
6) LMM as a minimum
7) I prefer the look of the natural wood, but this is not a deciding factor.
8) Quality reeds - TAM or higher.

Some of the ones currently in the running:

PAOLO SOPRANI SWING WOOD 96
Petosa Artista
Saltarelle Arcadia
CASTAGNARI MAGICA 3° BUTTON ACCORDION

Any others to consider - models by Maugein, Delicia, Ballone, Serenelli, Beltuna? Any experience with any of these to eliminate / bolster?

Thanks for any input!
 

losthobos

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If you've access to cash thethe Magica is lovely... I played once after dismissing as "one of them pretty folky things", how ignorant of me, turned out to be a beautiful thing, great tone, superb action and playability... Pity about price tag and I'd just bought a piermaria week before or i would have been tempted big time...
I play a Maugein now but only MM but still a lovely small box 4 row, 80 bass..and again just begs to be played... Though if id bought from new I'd have gone for the LM model...
Don't dismiss giving Emilio Allodi a ring and asking the price to get Vignoni to custom built what you actually want. You'll be surprised that the cost is no where near as prohibitive as you may imagine...
Ps that Zero Sette sounds pretty... ?
 

CC_PDX

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If you've access to cash thethe Magica is lovely... I played once after dismissing as "one of them pretty folky things", how ignorant of me, turned out to be a beautiful thing, great tone, superb action and playability... Pity about price tag and I'd just bought a piermaria week before or i would have been tempted big time...
I play a Maugein now but only MM but still a lovely small box 4 row, 80 bass..and again just begs to be played... Though if id bought from new I'd have gone for the LM model...
Don't dismiss giving Emilio Allodi a ring and asking the price to get Vignoni to custom built what you actually want. You'll be surprised that the cost is no where near as prohibitive as you may imagine...
Ps that Zero Sette sounds pretty... ?
Thanks for the insights. I would be paying for it a long time, but coming from the world of grand pianos like Steinway and Bosendorfer makes even the higher end options for accordions seem downright “affordable” in comparison.
 

NickC

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I like smaller instruments too. This Beltuna might be too wide of a tuning for your needs, but it sure is tempting me:
 

SteveBox

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Here is another choice if you want a truly small CBA. This may be too minimal for some, but I think it is great for folk music.

This is the "Petit Chroma" from the Bernard Loffet Workshop. It is the size and weight of a three row diatonic melodeon, but is fully chromatic and unisonic. I recently purchased one primarily for use at Irish sessions, where it fits right in.

Le Graet e Breizh Chromatique – Atelier Loffet (diato.org)

(Note: The current model now has 36 treble buttons, rather than the 35 in the description, and 24 bass buttons. You may find references to an older version of this accordion, which had 20 bass buttons in a different arrangement.)

Loffet primarily makes diatonic accordions, but they have this one chromatic. These instruments are hand-made to order, in a variety of wood cabinets, and can be customized to any CBA system and your choice of tunings. This is a simple 3-row MM accordion with no registers, so it has just one sound, and may not be what you want if it is your only accordion, but this is as compact as they get.

One of the secrets of the small size and weight is that it replaces the Stradella bass typically found on a CBA with a simple and clever 24-button system that offers 12 single bass notes and 12 open chords (root and fifth only). I think this system was popularized by accordion maker Marc Serafinni and is sometimes called the "Darwin" system. It is also used on diatonic accordions. The open chords can substitute for major, minor, or 7th chords. They have a simpler harmonic sound, but work well for folk music.

As I suggested, this may not be what you want if it is your only accordion. I also have a Castagnari Magica LMM, and I miss having the option of the lower reed on the Loffet. However, this is somewhat compensated for by having a lower range. The standard Loffet model goes down to E below middle C, which allows one to play most folk tunes an octave lower for variety.

The cost is about 3100 euros, not including any taxes or shipping. Gautier and Pol, who run the shop, communicate in good English.
 

CC_PDX

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Here is another choice if you want a truly small CBA. This may be too minimal for some, but I think it is great for folk music.

This is the "Petit Chroma" from the Bernard Loffet Workshop. It is the size and weight of a three row diatonic melodeon, but is fully chromatic and unisonic. I recently purchased one primarily for use at Irish sessions, where it fits right in.

Le Graet e Breizh Chromatique – Atelier Loffet (diato.org)

(Note: The current model now has 36 treble buttons, rather than the 35 in the description, and 24 bass buttons. You may find references to an older version of this accordion, which had 20 bass buttons in a different arrangement.)

Loffet primarily makes diatonic accordions, but they have this one chromatic. These instruments are hand-made to order, in a variety of wood cabinets, and can be customized to any CBA system and your choice of tunings. This is a simple 3-row MM accordion with no registers, so it has just one sound, and may not be what you want if it is your only accordion, but this is as compact as they get.

One of the secrets of the small size and weight is that it replaces the Stradella bass typically found on a CBA with a simple and clever 24-button system that offers 12 single bass notes and 12 open chords (root and fifth only). I think this system was popularized by accordion maker Marc Serafinni and is sometimes called the "Darwin" system. It is also used on diatonic accordions. The open chords can substitute for major, minor, or 7th chords. They have a simpler harmonic sound, but work well for folk music.

As I suggested, this may not be what you want if it is your only accordion. I also have a Castagnari Magica LMM, and I miss having the option of the lower reed on the Loffet. However, this is somewhat compensated for by having a lower range. The standard Loffet model goes down to E below middle C, which allows one to play most folk tunes an octave lower for variety.

The cost is about 3100 euros, not including any taxes or shipping. Gautier and Pol, who run the shop, communicate in good English.
Thanks . I really like that option, I think it overshoots the minimalist effort just a bit too far for my needs. I’m no purist but I like to bring a folk /trad vibe to a wider repertoire. I would love one of these in addition to my eventual selection. I can see how people end up with dozens of boxes, with all the convenience, weight, range, flexibility, sonic, aesthetic and engineering tradeoffs.
 

CC_PDX

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I like smaller instruments too. This Beltuna might be too wide of a tuning for your needs, but it sure is tempting me:
That is gorgeous. My Zero Sette has even slightly wider +15 tuning, which is perfect for some stuff, but I think I need a little more restrained tuning for my next purchase.
 

CC_PDX

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A quick update. The guys at Squeezebox Marketplace were great to work with and shipped it out ASAP. UPS screwed up multiple times once it was stateside, including customs and redirects, which added another 10 days to the journey, but I finally have it. It is absolutely everything I was looking for. I want to play it day and night and almost can't bear to put it down. Both the sound and feel are extraordinary. It is not particularly heavy, It feels both compact and dense, but is very balanced. This is a truly expressive box and *should* have me covered for years to come.1CFA0CF6-57A3-4668-8600-2A25AE9390E1.jpeg
 
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Ffingers

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A quick update. The guys at Squeezebox Marketplace were great to work with and shipped it out ASAP. UPS screwed up multiple times once it was stateside, including customs and redirects, which added another 10 days to the journey, but I finally have it. It is absolutely everything I was looking for. I want to play it day and night and almost can't bear to put it down. Both the sound and feel are extraordinary. It is not particularly heavy, It feels both compact and dense, but is very balanced. This is a truly expressive box and *should* have me covered for years to come.1CFA0CF6-57A3-4668-8600-2A25AE9390E1.jpeg
What a beauty.
You say it sounds great, too. I'm jealous ;-)
 

SteveBox

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The website given earlier for the Atelier (Bernard) Loffet "Petit Chroma" has changed. If anyone is interested in this very small CBA, you will find the information here:


It is no longer called by old name. It is now presented as a configurable chromatic or diatonic 3 row box with the chromatic 24 bass system.
 
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Just wondering, where did you find a used Magica? I’m currently looking for a compact CBA myself, between a Magica, Saltarelle Chaville, and a Brandoni. However, I can’t find any used anywhere, basically just brand new from Liberty Bellows. Is there a good place to look for these?
 

Corinto

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Just wondering, where did you find a used Magica? I’m currently looking for a compact CBA myself, between a Magica, Saltarelle Chaville, and a Brandoni. However, I can’t find any used anywhere, basically just brand new from Liberty Bellows. Is there a good place to look for these?

A Google search for SQUEEZEBOX MARKETPLACE gives this link = https://www.squeezeboxmarketplace.com/
 

CC_PDX

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I’m guessing there aren’t a ton of them made, as it is a pretty niche market. So, It was a total fluke / twist of fate that one popped up on Squeezebox marketplace while I was researching and I made the snap decision to go for it. It was absolutely the right choice for me (life-changing, if I’m honest). If anything ever happened to this one, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a brand new one.
 

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