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Compression - Hand made Reeds - Wood Finish Questions

McSqueeze

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Greetings All,

I have several full size accordions that I have acquired over the years that I've been happy with but since I'm not getting any younger (read wearing out) I'm planning to buy a brand new compact lighter accordion that will be 3 voice MMM.

I have some questions and I would welcome some feedback.

I expect the compression may not be as good as a big box so would an extra bellows fold, or 2, compensate to some degree?

Is there much value in hand made reeds with MMM fairly wide Scottish tuning?

I like the look of some of the wood boxes but are they more mellow than normal celluloid finish, considering for Musette?

Cheers John.
 

debra

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When you are concerned about your physical abilities then my guess is that extra bellows folds will not be useful because they only allow you to open the bellows further, for which you need to be able to really stretch your left arm very wide while continuing to play the bass side.
In MMM there is little benefit of hand made reeds, but there is always a benefit of getting tipo-a-mano over machine reeds, for better sound and lower air consumption. I still have an old Crucianelli accordion for instance which is LMMM with quite a bit of tremolo (not Scottish though) and it came fitted with tipo-a-mano reeds that are still going strong after over 50 years.
As for the "pure wood" boxes, I doubt there is a significant difference in sound. After all, accordions with celluloid finish have essentially the same wooden box, just with less "carefully selected" wood needed for a nice finish. The move towards "pure wood" is more a marketing issue in my opinion (of course accordion makers will dispute that) and it is a cautionary move towards eliminating the use of celluloid, which may become banned by governments in the future (mainly because it is highly flammable and needs to be processed using acetone).
 

Gonk

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Paul, I mostly agree, but am also thinking back to our recent conversation about TAM vs. AM reeds. When some makers use AM grades to refer to (or include) a different hardness, thickness, or shape of reed tongue, it could make a difference even in the tone of Mezzo reeds. Not all makers list the material properties and tolerances of the gaps, so it's a frustratingly un-scientific endeavor to say anything definite. In my case, I have ended up (thus far) preferring Binci reeds, and since Binci offers only one grade (AM) it is hard to say whether it's the handmade aspect that makes them sound as they do. I think the differences between reeds of different eras and makers are likely to come down to the combination of many factors that far exceed the scope of the "M vs AM vs TAM" question. For example, reedmakers don't seem generally to discuss the composition and tempering of their steel (maybe these are trade secrets).

I'm waiting for Mr. Titlbach to get back to me about an order, and I hope I can compare the Bincis with some of his Dix and A Mano Super grade reeds within the month.

Anyway, the reed question runs directly into a rabbit hole, which may not interest the OP so much. Sorry, McSqueeze. To answer your questions: smaller bellows offer a good trade-off in my opinion, similar to trading amperage for current: your air volume per pound of squeeze might be slightly lower, but the lower weight makes them slightly easier to move, so you are able to apply that pound of squeeze with less effort. Compression depends mightily on how efficient your reeds are and how airtight your box is. When you have smaller bellows, it's even more important to have responsive, efficient reeds - so I'd only use higher-end choices, though as suggested above, "TAM" vs "AM" probably isn't the most crucial factor. Box material and surface finish makes almost no difference, compared with the all-important reeds and valves.
 

Alan Sharkis

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Paul.you hit rhe nail on the head re: celluloid. Flammability is one issue, but breathing that stuff in a factory setting can’t be overlooked as a health issue. Natural wood finishes are great — as long as you don’t scratch them. But what I see a lot of manufacturer’s websites showing, but not pushing as hard as natural wood, are the great effects available with painted finishes. Taking a cue from the automotive industry, such finishes can be achieved without dangerous solvents and can be customized in ways not achievable with celluloid. Painted finishes may cost more now because of the skill required to make them customized, but if they become more popular that cost will come down.
 

Ventura

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first: 20 years ago FisItalia painted an accordion for a customer to match his Ferrari,
and they have been offering custom paint jobs ever since
(they even did a Mustard colored one to match that famous Asterix cartoon
in Europe on their smallest button box for the MusicMesse)

FisItalia came into their own AFTER Italian Law put the risky acetone/celluloid
setups that caused so may Factory Fires and Cancer Victims firmly out of existance...
the Black Hand (as regards Accordionmaking) is a thing of the past
and so their original setup is a thoroughly modern paint shop

there are special additives used in such Paint that allows for extra flex
(needed on the painted Bumpers, and of course Wooden accordion bodies)

many others have followed suit

second: while extra bellows folds allow a longer stretch which can mean
less back and forth which can mean a bit more comfort, the larger improvement
comes with a DEEPER bellows corner/fold and that is only accomplished
in the overall design of the accordion
(you need the clearance inside to allow normal motion without touching inside)

to explain this, consider the insides of a 3/4 size accordion, and the ways they
fit everything in but still have 41 keys and 120 bass... the reedblocks are shorter
in both dimension as well as action mechanism compromises

take those inside specs and build a full size accordion body around them and
you then have room for a much deeper bellows corner

get the idea ?

as far as the wood accordions, of course the outside makes no tonal difference, and
the insides are wood on most accordions anyway
(excepting for aluminum used as keybeds vs wood pretty much)

the inside wood that is finished (Varnished) is more stable, and reflects sound for the most part.
inside wood that is raw is more susceptible to Insects, Moisture, and of course can color the sound
to a small degree through absorption as well as more angles in reflection

there is no appreciable resonant factor in any accordion, though it feels nice to
have the vibrations reach our fingers and chest

if you can find an MMM that was engineered with that in mind you will have an easier squeeze

some of the very old pre-WW2 art style accordions used Tin plates under the keyboard
and have metal grillework which results in them having a noticeably brighter tone...
some of these were also delightfully lightweight and can occasionally still be found
and still worth refurbishing, though not all were 41/120

AND a few were MMM

(we have a club member who loves these old Tin Pan accordions to death...
he also loves his old IORIO AccOrgan to death so take that with a grain of salt)

ciao

Ventura
 

Gonk

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I love prewar lightweight MMM/LMMM accordions. Absolutely a good choice if refurbished, and the keybed padded (they usually had far more key travel than is now usual).
 

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