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Disappointing brand new Verdi II

JerryPH

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Today I had a chance to play around with a "new" Hohner Verdi II... and I am going to apologize in advance if I am about to hurt any feelings here... but wow, what a piece of garbage.

Visually, it looks quite nice... but that is where the good ends.
They keys are plastic, the CASE is plastic, the pallets just above the thin pads are plastic and clack LOUD. The registers were sticky and the MM register jammed access to the other registers and did not rise back up unless you hooked a fingernail under it. There were 8 keys across the entire keyboard that were so sticky that when pressed, they stayed down an extra 1-5 seconds. Basically, it was unplayable. The grill hid screws covered in what looked like clear hot glue to keep from leaking... it didn't help all that much.

I know little about workmanship, but I do know when I see a complete lack of any, and this box had NONE.

It was my uncle's and according to him it was a 100% brand new box that just shipped to him 2 days ago. I asked him to strongly consider shipping it back and getting one that WORKED properly... or better yet, choose another model from another manufacturer.

Is this what the industry has come to? I've played an old 60's Verdi II, and it was pretty impressive... what happened???
Truly, a disappointment. :(
 
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Dingo40

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Jerry,
Yes, disappointing.😐
Advise your uncle to go for a 1960's Verdi+overhaul (assuming you have an accessible technician nearby)🙂
 

debra

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Today I had a chance to play around with a "new" Hohner Verdi II... and I am going to apologize in advance if I am about to hurt any feelings here... but wow, what a piece of garbage.

Visually, it looks quite nice... but that is where the good ends.
They keys are plastic, the CASE is plastic, the pallets just above the thin pads are plastic and clack LOUD. The registers were sticky and the MM register jammed access to the other registers and did not rise back up unless you hooked a fingernail under it. There were 8 keys across the entire keyboard that were so sticky that when pressed, they stayed down an extra 1-5 seconds. Basically, it was unplayable. The grill hid screws covered in what looked like clear hot glue to keep from leaking... it didn't help all that much.

I know little about workmanship, but I do know when I see a complete lack of any, and this box had NONE.

It was my uncle's and according to him it was a 100% brand new box that just shipped to him 2 days ago. I asked him to strongly consider shipping it back and getting one that WORKED properly... or better yet, choose another model from another manufacturer.

Is this what the industry has come to? I've played an old 60's Verdi II, and it was pretty impressive... what happened???
Truly, a disappointment. :(
That is what happens when companies focus entirely 100% on maximizing profit and don't care whether what they sell can actually serve any purpose at all. The old Verdi was nice (we had one for many years and I worked on several others) but then Hohner moved production to China, meaning using all Chinese parts and labor, cutting costs where possible, and selling for German prices. The result may temporarily be a financial success but the accordions themselves are nothing short of a disaster.
There are still people who like the Hohner brand for accordions, but frankly I do not understand at all why that is: the lower end accordions are rubbish made in China and the higher end accordions are quality instruments made in Italy, so why not get the same quality Italian accordions with an Italian manufacturer's name on them and not pay the premium that Hohner charges on top of what these instruments are worth?
It is as Dingo40 said earlier: it's the "con" in "economy"...
 

dunlustin

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Just to add:
'then Hohner moved production' - I believe Hohner was bought by a Chinese concern.

Accepting Jim's criticism of the build, where is the retailer responsibility?
What is the shop's mark-up on the price paid to the maker?
I believe there are importers/retailers who try to offer a fairly priced instrument with acceptable quality control. Everyone can't afford a Rolls Royce of the accordion world.
Quality control problems are not limited to the Far East - contributors here have their own stories to tell of disappointing work from Italy.

When Enfield India m/bikes were first imported to the UK, the importer did the upgrades necessary.
I know a local m/bike dealer who routinely swaps out the brake lines on Chinese imports as he is unhappy with the quality.

Aside: In the 1960s I had to save up to buy a toaster made in the UK. For the last 30 years I have bought rubbish toasters that don't toast and fail with a smell of smouldering insulation. We finally tried a Chinese branded toaster - it toasts and even has a cute blue-lit countdown on the timer.
What happened to the requirement for a product to be of 'merchantable quality?'

In the 1980s I believed in my bank manager - leather patches on his sports jacket, he was the man who signed the back of my passport photo.
I didn't notice that everyone became a manager - read target-driven Flash Harry - desperately trying to meet his sales quotas.
Thirty years on we have the Ambulance Chasers offering to get you compensation if you bought a pension from a bank in the 1980s.
It's not new and it's ( almost ) everywhere and it makes me sad.
 

debra

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Just to add:
'then Hohner moved production' - I believe Hohner was bought by a Chinese concern.

Accepting Jim's criticism of the build, where is the retailer responsibility?
What is the shop's mark-up on the price paid to the maker?
I believe there are importers/retailers who try to offer a fairly priced instrument with acceptable quality control. Everyone can't afford a Rolls Royce of the accordion world.
Quality control problems are not limited to the Far East - contributors here have their own stories to tell of disappointing work from Italy.

...
I thought it was a Taiwanese investment firm. (And the Taiwanese are still trying to NOT be a part of China for as long as they can.) An investment firm does not often get involved in major production decisions, but just want to maximize the profit on their investment.

As for quality control problems also with Italian accordions I can only confirm that I have seen many. They are not often major things but they are signs of 1) cutting corners and 2) trying to work too fast and making errors in the process. Let me give you some examples:
- In some accordions the largest bass block comes too close to the bellow folds and as a result the leathers could get caught between two folds and then curled up or torn off. Companies like Excelsior solved this problem with strips of paper (of bellows tape) running from top to bottom over the leathers, giving them room to open but not to get caught in between bellows folds. Not using such strips is what I would call "cutting corners".
- Sometimes valves on the inside are left just a bit too long (0,5mm can already be important) and touch the top of the resonance chamber. As a result the valve does not open smoothly at low force so the note is out of tune when you start softly and comes into tune when you play louder and the valve opens fully. (This is a case of working fast, and not checking.)
- Sometimes a reed plate is positioned just a bit too far to the right so the valve scrapes the side wall of the resonance chamber and the note will give a softer hoarse sound. (This is another case of working fast, and not checking.)
- Sometimes the voicing is a bit off, causing some notes to start slowly but once they start they sound louder than other notes. This gets caught in quality control by playing scales but again... not checking saves time and thus money...
I heard from a local distributer for a major accordion brand that when accordions arrive from the factory (even high-end ones) it is not uncommon to need to fix up to 50 smaller or sometimes larger issues not caused by transport but actually manufacturing or quality control problems.
 

dunlustin

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Always happy to learn:
In 1997 Kunz-Holding sold most of its stake in Hohner to HS Investment Group, Inc., a Virgin Islands-based arm of K.H.S. Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan. K.H.S., ( with ) factories in Japan, Taiwan, China,
( from https://www.company-histories.com/Matth-Hohner-AG-Company-History.html )

I was trying ( badly? ) to make the point that by this time, Hohner had lost control of its production and therefore its reputation.
Other factors can be more important than country of manufacture ( see the iPhone etc ) and I would include the priorities of the retailer.
In the end I noticed the bank manager had lost the leather elbow patches and acquired a Porsche.
 

debra

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Always happy to learn:
In 1997 Kunz-Holding sold most of its stake in Hohner to HS Investment Group, Inc., a Virgin Islands-based arm of K.H.S. Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan. K.H.S., ( with ) factories in Japan, Taiwan, China,
( from https://www.company-histories.com/Matth-Hohner-AG-Company-History.html )

I was trying ( badly? ) to make the point that by this time, Hohner had lost control of its production and therefore its reputation.
Other factors can be more important than country of manufacture ( see the iPhone etc ) and I would include the priorities of the retailer.
In the end I noticed the bank manager had lost the leather elbow patches and acquired a Porsche.
So I was right about Taiwan...
As for what kind of "control" the "stakeholders" (share holders) exert on a company that's always unclear. What is clear that the focus has certainly shifted from making reasonable quality and highly usable accordions to making as much money as possible. A sad coincidence was that shortly after this 1997 event Pigini acquired Excelsior and that meant that Hohner lost its manufacturer of the Morino series. Soon new Morino models came to market, made by Pigini. And while these were good quality they only retained the looks of the Morino (the typical grille) but not the sound. So the higher-end models didn't suffer as much from the change in ownership of the Hohner company than the lower-end models.
 

boxplayer4000

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As a Hohner enthusiast I am confused by some of this thread.
The thread suggests that Hohner is now Chinese owned/controlled. Is this true for all models or just for the lower end products? Is the Hohner website with the .de address German or Chinese?
A number of year ago Hohner transferred some of their production to China but to the best of my knowledge quality control remained under German supervision. I have seen, worked on, repaired, modified some of those products and have not had a problem. To ignore or dismiss the Chinese technological advances is a bit of ‘head in the sand’ situation and the West needs to wake up to the challenges.
P.S. I own and like my Morino 1VM.
 

JerryPH

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Well, I do not know exactly what the line is but I know that the Gola is still made in Trossingen. The Morino used to be made there but that was moved to Italy in the 70's. The Verdi II is a lower model today where some were made in Germany and now the latest ones being made in China. According to Kieth Anderson from Anderson's Accordion sales and repair in Burlington Ontario, that was a fairly recent change.

I'm a bit of a wired duck... I shoot with a Nikon, not Canon. I talk on a Samsung, not Apple and I tend to gravitate towards German instead of Italian accordions...lol

That Verdi just kinda shocked me at how bad it was. It was sent back and now my uncle is really rethinking his choice. :)
 

debra

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As a Hohner enthusiast I am confused by some of this thread.
The thread suggests that Hohner is now Chinese owned/controlled. Is this true for all models or just for the lower end products? Is the Hohner website with the .de address German or Chinese?
A number of year ago Hohner transferred some of their production to China but to the best of my knowledge quality control remained under German supervision. I have seen, worked on, repaired, modified some of those products and have not had a problem. To ignore or dismiss the Chinese technological advances is a bit of ‘head in the sand’ situation and the West needs to wake up to the challenges.
P.S. I own and like my Morino 1VM.
Hohner is Taiwanese owned. That does not mean the day to day operation is controlled by them, but major strategic decisions may be controlled when they influence the potential profitability (what shareholders care about).
The Chinese are indeed technologically advanced (no head in the sand here) but that is mostly in high-tech, not lower tech / craftsmanship required to produce good quality acoustic accordions.
Hold on to your Morino IVM. It is still a real "Made in Germany" accordion with fabulous sound (prefered over that of the N or S series by the real connaisseurs). Still, Italian influence already started back then: earlier IVM accordions had Hohner Artiste reeds and later IVM accordions were fitted with (Italian) Bugari reeds. That was a silent move. You have to look inside to find out which is which.

As for the quest for a good Verdi II... the solution is really to find an older one and have it checked/repaired. The Verdi II is an ideal accordion when you are happy with just 37 notes / 96 basses and an LMM setup, which many people are happy with. The reality is that to get your hands on a German-made Verdi II you have to wait for a Verdi owner to die...
 

boxplayer4000

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JerryPH: What a disappointment to receive an accordion in this state. At this distance it seems the accordion may have been stored for a long time under less than ideal conditions (ie. cool and well ventilated). To the best of my knowledge distributors were/are responsible for making a final check on the state of the instrument by a suitably skilled person before being passed to the customer. Much of what you describe as faults (sticking parts) are simply a result of what I’ve described above but are normally easy to put right. The plastic parts you describe are fairly common throughout accordion construction these days. My feelings are that most of the fault lay with the distributor. A major distributor here in the UK was selling off some of their Chinese accordion stock at greatly discounted prices because they were not being ‘checked’. The accordions were quite playable for a person in their early stages.

PaulDebra: Thanks for your explanation on Hohner ownership. My understanding is Taiwan is not ‘China’ as such (but they (China) would like it to be). The fact that Germany have allowed Hohner ‘to go’ may be a statement on the whole accordion industry ie. too many accordions and not enough buyers. When Japan started sending their products to the West the quality was questionable. Long after car suspension systems had gone over to coil springs Japan were still using leaf springs. However over the years they’ve mostly caught up, and maybe overtaken in some areas, with brands such as Lexus and Yamaha pianos as examples.


 

debra

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JerryPH: What a disappointment to receive an accordion in this state. At this distance it seems the accordion may have been stored for a long time under less than ideal conditions (ie. cool and well ventilated). To the best of my knowledge distributors were/are responsible for making a final check on the state of the instrument by a suitably skilled person before being passed to the customer. ...
As far as I know the manufacturer of a product is responsible for delivering the product without any defects.
Even Amazon is selling (Hohner) accordions right now. I'm sure nobody believes that Amazon can do any type of quality control on the accordions before shipping them to the customer... (Amazon is of course just a "gateway" for another company really selling the accordions.)
What I do know is that what I call a "real" Verdi accordion has metal pallets, a wooden case and really nice reed blocks of good quality wood (better than the wood used in the Atlantic). I have not yet looked inside the Chinese rubbish being sold as a Hohner Verdi nowadays, but I have heard one next to an old one, and I can definitely recommend ONLY buying an older Verdi.
 

boxplayer4000

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Paul,
Thanks again. Point taken. Of course the manufacturer is ultimately responsible but after, maybe months of travel and storage even the best need a check; all cars do as well.
 

debra

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FYI, there's a 'real' one on Ebay at the moment (16 hours left on auction):


Or looking closer that might be a III.
That's indeed a Verdi III but other than being 41/120 it's the same as a II which is 37/96 and thus smaller. Good quality instrument. I got a Verdi II in for minor keyboard repair earlier this year (som sluggish keys) and this was of similar age. This is the generation Verdi Jerry should be looking for. The telltale signs that you have the right generation are the number and location of the "gold" stripes on the grille.
 

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