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Converter (Bass) - Needed ? Must ? Better ?

A

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Hi
I`ve heard people saying I should seek an accordion with a convertible Bass option,
especially to play classic music (Bach etc).

1) Correct ? Must have ? Recommended ?
2) Does it make the accordion thicker on the left side ? (harder to reach with the fingers)

Thanks
 

JerryPH

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1 - It depends on the person.

2 - It depends on the accordion.

Sorry, dont mean to be a smart-ass, but it really does depend. Converter instruments are biased more towards classical music, that is true, but thats because what people most use them for, it doesnt mean that this is what YOU use it for. Michael Bridge uses the Free Bass on his Roland 8X to play pretty much anything from classical to the theme from James Bond, Harry Potter, Rome all the way to the Chicken Dance. The answer is... it plays what YOU want it to play. It adds amazing versatility and ability to play piano music.

Free Bass or a converter can make the accordion heavier and slightly wider... double Cassotto makes it much thicker and a lot of these higher end Free Bass accordions use single or double Cassotto.

http://syner-g.asuscomm.com/mymusic/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/equipment-1.jpg>
equipment-1.jpg


For me, I love the concept of Free Bass, but dont play/use it as much as I used to. In my conservatory days it was 90% Free Bass and 10% Stradella and later it went 90% Stradella and 10% Free Bass. Today it is so far 95% Stradella, but that is because of the style of music I am currently preparing to play. I will add Free Bass to my music later, because it does make it a more special sounding piece for me, but that is 100% totally personal opinion, of course. :)

Bottom line... dont listen to what people tell YOU to play... YOU decide what YOU want and need, and then get it and enjoy it!
 
H

Howie

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Since you mention Bach... perhaps if you compare how a familiar work sounds on stradella vs free bass, that can help you decide.

Acon, a forum member here, posted his wonderful performance of Bachs D-minor Toccata.
Part of the discussion later on (third page) posted some other performances, a couple with free bass, and one without. You can really hear the difference when comparing:
http://www.accordionists.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4228

And then for a rather different take on Bach, by one of the finest free bass players, theres this:
<YOUTUBE id=cWD9NnI0W0k url=></YOUTUBE>
 

debra

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I did a little bit of convertor in my youth (on a Hohner Polyphonic 400) but then nothing until just over 10 years ago, shortly before also switching to CBA. For polyphonic classical music it is very good to have.
The only thing it does to is make the accordion a bit heavier because you are adding the extra mechanism, and often the bass notes also go down lower than on an equivalent instrument that only has Stradella.
Having a convertor bass side does not necessarily change anything else to the size/weight. Jerry's picture is a bit misleading because he is showing his Morino VI N which is thicker because it is 5 reed. Hohner made very similar instruments that were 4 reed and these were not thicker than another 4 reed instrument without melody bass.
My wife plays and loves a Bugari 508/ARS/C (4 reed, cassotto, convertor) and she loves it for its size, especially for it not being thicker than a 4 reed instrument without convertor.
Many convertor instruments are a bit thicker because they have more notes (and thus reed banks) on the lefthand side. A Stradella 5-reed bass side requires 2 1/2 reed banks and a convertor instrument has at least 3 whole reed banks. (Larger ones like the Gola even have 4 whole reed banks.) There also needs to be enough room around the reed banks so that the leathers that open can never get caught in the bellows no matter how you move the lefthand side around while playing.
 
A

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Well,
I will never reach the level of the top players,
I`m in doubt I will reach any level to be called `professional`.

My goal is to play different types of music (Folk - Russian, Caucasus, Balkan, Military Marches, and just some classical).
It`d be nice to have a converter, but from my understanding, it won`t serve me much except for the last mentioned style.
The main reason is to be able to play the left hand on different octaves, right ?
 
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debra post_id=48313 time=1499411378 user_id=605 said:
My wife plays and loves a Bugari 508/ARS/C (4 reed, cassotto, convertor) and she loves it for its size, especially for it not being thicker than a 4 reed instrument without convertor.
Does it apply to older Bugari models, fe. from the 90`s ?
(and particularly I mean the CBA)
 
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debra post_id=48313 time=1499411378 user_id=605 said:
My wife plays and loves a Bugari 508/ARS/C (4 reed, cassotto, convertor) and she loves it for its size, especially for it not being thicker than a 4 reed instrument without convertor.

I checked on Bugari`s site :
A converter adds 1 kg & 2-3 cm width & 2-3 cm height.
Maybe it`s because the width depends on the number of notes too ?

(508) 46 notes (no converter) : width 19.5 cm, height 40.5, - 11.5 kg [Double Cassotto]
(540) 52 notes (49 bass notes) : width 22.3 cm , height 43.5, - 12.4 kg [Double Cassotto]
(504) 58 notes (55 bass notes) : width 24.6 , height 42.2 , - 12.6 kg [No Cassotto]

Last time I tried to play a 24 cm width instrument, it demanded a greater effort to reach the bass buttons (it also was a 5-voice one, 13.5 kg)
 

debra

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Auser post_id=48349 time=1499442634 user_id=1943 said:
...

I checked on Bugari`s site :
A converter adds 1 kg & 2-3 cm width & 2-3 cm height.
Maybe it`s because the width depends on the number of notes too ?

(508) 46 notes (no converter) : width 19.5 cm, height 40.5, - 11.5 kg [Double Cassotto]
(540) 52 notes (49 bass notes) : width 22.3 cm , height 43.5, - 12.4 kg [Double Cassotto]
(504) 58 notes (55 bass notes) : width 24.6 , height 42.2 , - 12.6 kg [No Cassotto]

Last time I tried to play a 24 cm width instrument, it demanded a greater effort to reach the bass buttons (it also was a 5-voice one, 13.5 kg)

The Bugari instruments without convertor only have 46 notes, which fits on 2+2 reed blocks. This is most instrumental in keeping the width under control.
The 508/ARS/C my wife plays is about 10 years old. My wifes 508/ARS/C is actually smaller than a new one you can now order but which is not in any Bugari catalog. (I have actually seen the ew 508/ARS/C and it is like a normal 508/ARS but a bit thicker. It has the same large buttons as a 508/ARS.) My wifes 508 has smaller buttons, but it is about 21.5cm wide.
The 540/ARS/C is about 1 cm wider, so that matches what you list. The 540 ARS/C is wider because it has 3 reed blocks in cassotto and 3 outside cassotto. The 540 has a clever space-saving construction so it isnt wider than it is. But 52 notes do not fit on 2 reed blocks unless the accordion is very long. It now requires only 17 or 18 reeds per block so the instrument is not as long as the others.
The 504 is an instrument I also know (have worked on that too). Because it has no cassotto it required 6 reed blocks side by side and that makes it very wide. (Three blocks side by side are wider than the height of a reed block + the width of the cassotto.)
The 504 is not a very nice instrument to play: it is in deed very wide and this class of instrument actually begs for a cassotto and the 504 does not have one.
 
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debra post_id=48363 time=1499455131 user_id=605 said:
My wifes 508 has smaller buttons, but it is about 21.5cm wide.

It`s still extra 2 cm, does it bother her ? Do you get used to it easily ?

1) So, I have an option buying a Stradella Artist, seems to be in very good condition.
But, should I progress and be able to Bach on it, what then ?
On the other hand the Conservatory Bayans cost about twice.

2) Is there a way to add a converter ?
 
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debra post_id=48363 time=1499455131 user_id=605 said:
The Bugari instruments without convertor only have 46 notes, which fits on 2+2 reed blocks. This is most instrumental in keeping the width under control.

And when I say, adding a converter, I have in mind that those accs have 5 voice in the bass (takes lots of space & weight) , but they can`t play so many notes as in a converter, so what if I`d like the internals be changed to reeds that accommodate the reed blocks as in free bass. If required, even making it a Free Bass only.
 

debra

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Auser post_id=48409 time=1499541868 user_id=1943 said:
debra post_id=48363 time=1499455131 user_id=605 said:
My wifes 508 has smaller buttons, but it is about 21.5cm wide.

It`s still extra 2 cm, does it bother her ? Do you get used to it easily ?

1) So, I have an option buying a Stradella Artist, seems to be in very good condition.
But, should I progress and be able to Bach on it, what then ?
On the other hand the Conservatory Bayans cost about twice.

2) Is there a way to add a converter ?

You cannot add a converter to an accordion without it.
My wife played a Bugari 285/ARS before switch to CBA. That 285 is a 5 reed accordion and thicker than the 4 reed 508/ARS/C she then moved to. So she actually went to a thinner accordion.

You can play quite a bit of classical (or baroque) music just having Stradella. Its only when you get into the real truly melodic polyphonic stuff that it becomes limiting.

Whether price is an issue depends on how patient you can be to find a good used instrument. Prices can really be all over the place. I bought the 540/ARS/C through an auction for a killer price (it was essentially new and priced like a 15 to 20 year old instrument without convertor, whereas the 540 has more notes, 4 reeds, cassotto and convertor.)
 

JerryPH

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Paul voiced some very good points.

1. Being patient is important. If you are not in a rush, and are diligent in your search and research, you will find what you want and can afford.

2. Start saving now. I am a firm believer of never going in to debt for anything (except perhaps a home), and that goes times 10 for a non-essential. As much as we love the... accordions are non-essential. The more you save up now, the more options you have when you do decide it is time to make that step in to the wild world of Free Bass. :)

3. Being in the right place at the right time is hard to do on purpose, but a little luck never hurts and often opens doors for you that will surprise you.
 
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JerryPH post_id=48467 time=1499641595 user_id=1475 said:
Paul voiced some very good points.
2. Start saving now
3. Being in the right place at the right time is hard to do on purpose, but a little luck never hurts and often opens doors for you that will surprise you.
Yeah, I agree.
I have the money to buy something very good, but you know, it`s not that I`m overflowing. I can use it for other things.
I`m not sure it won`t be too ridiculous for a beginner like me, to buy a 5,000 euros Artist Cassoto conservatory converter.
It`ll be at least 5 (?) or 10 (?) years until I`ll be able to play Tocatta and Fuga in way that wouldn`t put the accordion to shame. Am I right ?

So I`m in doubt, maybe I should buy an older (but heavier) CBA, and then in let`s say 5-10 years, if I reach the appropriate level, I can look for those Best accs.
And perhaps till that time, those used 540s will drop from 5,000-7,000 euros to 4,000-5,000 ?
(although maybe they`ll be in less good shape ?)

In this case, should I look for a Converter or not ? because they are harder to find and are large & heavy.
Even the old non-converters are larger, the Bugari Artist of the early 90`s is 47 cm high (19.5 cm wide) and weights 13 kg with straps.
While the newer Conservatory models (Paul and I mentioned) are ~12.4 (with straps) and 42-44.5 cm high.

I`m afraid to buy a super Large accordion. I`m 1.75 m high & physically apt to control it well, but maybe it`ll slow down my progress ?
 

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There is a better priced 580 Conservatory Bugari (on www.leboncoin.fr) for sale in Bruxelles. It has a crack in the bodywork around the chin switches but being offered at 3000 euros! It could be worth a look ?

Ive been thinking about it myself but, perhaps it is a wee bit big for me.
 
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Geoff de Limousin post_id=48499 time=1499697283 user_id=1371 said:
There is a better priced 580 Conservatory Bugari (on www.leboncoin.fr) for sale in Bruxelles. It has a crack in the bodywork around the chin switches but being offered at 3000 euros! It could be worth a look ?

Ive been thinking about it myself but, perhaps it is a wee bit big for me.

Thanks, those kind of deals are my favorite.
In this case there are 2 problems :
1. 580 is the heaviest model (13.7 kg) compared to 12.4 kg of a 540 (1.3 kg difference), and extra 3.5 cm to the height.
2. My orientation is B-system, this I believe is C-system (I couldn`t find the post on the site, but I assume so)

But apart from that, it`s a great deal indeed, for those who want such an instrument.
 

debra

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In the Netherlands we have "marktplaats.nl" and the vast majority of CBA instruments offered there are B system.
But when you are considering a B system accordion with convertor you should think carefully whether you are looking for melody bass that is "European" as in mirrored from the right hand, lower notes at the top, or "Russian", lower notes at the bottom. But of course you should first of all consider whether you want melody bass or not.
 
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debra post_id=48507 time=1499715364 user_id=605 said:
But when you are considering a B system accordion with convertor you should think carefully whether you are looking for melody bass that is European as in mirrored from the right hand, lower notes at the top, or Russian, lower notes at the bottom. But of course you should first of all consider whether you want melody bass or not.

I have so many preferences, and a hard time finding anyway, so that I think I`ll settle for both mirror or Russian.
I`ve noticed that Bugari`s `Bayan` models contain more notes (up to 64, compared to 52 in ARS 540) and weight up to almost 15 kg ! (Just like the Russian Jupiter and Italian Pigini)
Why do that ? Aren`t Artists enough ?
And also many play 15 regs Artist, isn`t size & weight an issue ?
 

debra

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Auser post_id=48513 time=1499719326 user_id=1943 said:
...
I have so many preferences, and a hard time finding anyway, so that I think I`ll settle for both mirror or Russian.
I`ve noticed that Bugari`s `Bayan` models contain more notes (up to 64, compared to 52 in ARS 540) and weight up to almost 15 kg ! (Just like the Russian Jupiter and Italian Pigini)
Why do that ? Aren`t Artists enough ?
And also many play 15 regs Artist, isn`t size & weight an issue ?

A complicating factor here is that preferences are shifting from mirror to Russian. So now you can probably find a mirror bass system rather easily and in the long run that will become more difficult (for used instruments).
For a lot of music the standard 46 notes (like on a non-convertor Bugari) are enough (often 41 is enough as that is standard on PA, and if more is needed then 45 is often enough as that is standard on convertor PA).
The 52 notes on a 540 are often enough for me. I wished it would have been 53, going from C to E instead of C# to E.
58 used to be common in all but the largest CBA instruments, like the Bugari 580 or the Beltuna Prestige Paris IV. But nowadays these instruments are moving towards 61 notes (G to G instead of G to E). A new 580 has that and so does an AKKO Maestro. But then the step towards 64 is small (E to G). Every note you add adds a bit of weight. So its not a choice between say 12kg and 16kg but everything in between exists too.

Why would you want 64 notes? Its a matter of tone variations more than of range. On say a 46 note instrument to go low you must use the L reed. With L and M in cassotto you need LM down to E and cannot do the same with MH (H not in cassotto). But with 64 notes you can go just as low with MH (and an extra octave lower with LM). Similarly you can play with L and M in cassotto in much higher notes than when you only have 46 notes. So its not how high or low you can go but how high or low you can go with a certain timbre, and you can go from lower to higher without the need to change registers to get enough range.

Note that additional weight of more registers is negligible. A cassotto instrument needs more registers than a non-cassotto one because you can combine an M in cassotto with L and/or H and an M outside of cassotto with L and/or H whereas without a cassotto these would sound the same. (If the instrument has trouble some combinations you would not want at all.) People tend to not use all registers, which explains why you can almost always get away with 7 or 8 chin switches even though you may have 15 registers.

Its all a matter of too much choice. The choice does simply evaporate once you start looking for a used instrument...
 
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debra post_id=48536 time=1499759273 user_id=605 said:
A complicating factor here is that preferences are shifting from mirror to Russian. So now you can probably find a mirror bass system rather easily and in the long run that will become more difficult (for used instruments).
So what`s better/different in Russian or mirror, does it offer any playing advantages ?

I mentioned the note amount of the bass side, though it also means there are more notes on the right side too.

I found a 580 for about 5,000 euros in Poland, which is the cheapest relatively new Artist I found, but considering the extra 3.5 cm height and extra 1.3 kg compared to the 540, I`m thinking it won`t be the best option for me spending so much.
My first Accordion budget was 250 euros :) and I thought it wont exceed a 1,000 in the next 5 years, but after hearing the difference and feeling controllability (it was in PA)...

I also found another one for 4,500 euros, he doesn`t know the model but it has 11 regs, 21.5 cm thick and weights 12 kg (so he claims). As long as I know, Bugari cassotto models usually don`t come in 11 regs, but with 13, 14, 15 (13 or 15 in Conservatory CBA).
The label states Conservatory, the owner claims it has a Cassotto but he is an amateur himself and I don`t trust what he says anyway. I suspect it`s a Cassotto-less 504, he said he`ll send me pics of the inside in the next days, I`ll post here.
 

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