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Excalibur and E.Soprani....same accordion under two names?

gerardo1000

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Please look at the two photos. The E.Soprani chromatic button accordion currently sold by Liberty Bellows in Pennsylvania looks identical up to the smallest detail to the Excalibur chromatic button accordion sold by Jim Laabs in Wisconsin... the difference is that Liberty Bellows is a reputable accordion shop, Jim Laabs is a mass market musical instrument dealer with a lot of negative reviews as well as its Excalibur accordions, that have very mixed reviews, often negative ones. Liberty Bellows says that the E.Soprani accordions are made in China but then shipped to Castelfidardo, Italy, for quality control. Jim Laabs do not mention any of it. Still, the two accordions really look like they are the same. Is this the reason why one is priced $210.00 more than the other? Is it because the quality control in Italy guarantees the standard of quality of E.Soprani accordions while the identical ones sold as Excalibur are hit or miss? Also, I wonder if any member of this forum has any experience with one of these two brands. I am in the market for an affordable CBA, that is why I am asking questions!
 

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debra

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You described it quite accurately: The E.Soprani accordion goes from China to Castelfidardo (Italy) for "quality control". That adds to the cost but it reduces the number of serious flaws that could render an accordion unusable right from the start. It's still the same accordion but at least it has the most obvious problems resolved before going to the customer. Surely people may think that an accordion maker in China should deliver a product in "good working order", but alas the reality is that the Chinese are much worse than the Italians when it comes to this. There are simply different perceptions of what is acceptable and how the condition is named. An accordion that is "playable" for some people means that all the notes play in more or less the same way and the accordion is mostly in tune whereas for some other people it means that when you pull on the bellows there are at least some buttons that produce a sound when you press them...
An accordion repairer would not buy the E.Soprani but the Excalibur and do all necessary repairs themselves. A novice non-technical accordion player would prefer the E.Soprani. But of course both are the same Chinese piece of junk that is better avoided if you can afford to pay a bit more for a used and "reconditioned and tuned" West-German or Italian accordion from between 20 and 40 years ago...
 

Tom

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Do you think it "really" goes to Italy? Maybe a stopover at Fumincino? Maybe flies over the Alps. Buyer beware!!!!
 

gerardo1000

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Do you think it "really" goes to Italy? Maybe a stopover at Fumincino? Maybe flies over the Alps. Buyer beware!!!!
If not, I would be surprised that Liberty Bellows, one of the best accordion shops here in the States, sell an accordion that is equivalent in quality and looks to Excalibur, an instrument that rarely gets favorable reviews... also, there would be no reason to pay over $200.00 more for the same product...:( E.Soprani is a real company based in Castelfidardo, my understanding is that thsi is their line of student chromatic accordions and they are built in China but under their supervision. Who knows? Quite confusing for a customer. I am in the market for an affordable CBA because I do not want to spend too much money without knowing if I will stick with this kind of instrument ,if I do I can always re-sell the cheap accordion and invest in a quality one. But I woldn't know if to spend 999 on the Excalibur or 1199 on the E. Soprani... also, Thomann in Europe sell its brand of student accordions, called Startone. An equivalent chromatic button costs just $ 678.00 plus $64.00 shipping to US. Difficult decisions !
 
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debra

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Keep in mind the "you get what you pay for" statement, at least when dealing with honest people.
The E.Soprani accordion may be the same as the Excalibur but it really goes through an extra quality control step. That said the price of these Chinese accordions is simply too low to warrant good craftsmanship and good quality materials. There is a minimum you can expect to pay for an accordion that is really usable, will work trouble-free for several years and then still have some resale value.
 

Scuromondo

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Please look at the two photos. The E.Soprani chromatic button accordion currently sold by Liberty Bellows in Pennsylvania looks identical up to the smallest detail to the Excalibur chromatic button accordion sold by Jim Laabs in Wisconsin... the difference is that Liberty Bellows is a reputable accordion shop, Jim Laabs is a mass market musical instrument dealer with a lot of negative reviews as well as its Excalibur accordions, that have very mixed reviews, often negative ones. Liberty Bellows says that the E.Soprani accordions are made in China but then shipped to Castelfidardo, Italy, for quality control. Jim Laabs do not mention any of it. Still, the two accordions really look like they are the same. Is this the reason why one is priced $210.00 more than the other? Is it because the quality control in Italy guarantees the standard of quality of E.Soprani accordions while the identical ones sold as Excalibur are hit or miss? Also, I wonder if any member of this forum has any experience with one of these two brands. I am in the market for an affordable CBA, that is why I am asking questions!
I have no experience with either accordion label but I do have experience buying from both Liberty Bellows, as well as Jim Laabs.

Jim Laabs is general-purpose seller of musical instruments, they do not specialize in the accordion. If you know exactly what you want, and you are able to communicate it in detail, they will get it on order. But if you are not knowledgeable in accordions and are looking for guidance to learn more about accordions or if you need assistance choosing between features features, tuning, sizes, brands, etc., they will not be able to help much. But they will contact manufacturers in Italy for you to answer questions, which can be helpful. Except for their own “Excalibur” store brand, they don’t stock nearly as many instruments as Liberty Bellows. In my case I had to wait an additional month or so for them to order what I wanted from Italy. For some models, the wait could be a year or more.

The buying experience at Liberty Bellows is considerably different: friendlier and much more knowledgeable and relaxed. Obviously they specialize in accordions and their selection is (since Castiglione’s closed) the best in the US. They can answer virtually any questions, and offer detailed guidance for players at all levels of experience and proficiency. They service accordions as well. So they can not only sell off-the-shelf but can also customize the tuning to suit you if you want something different.

Liberty Bellows is definitely, all-around, the better shop.The main trade off is price. Maybe it’s because they are located in the Philadelphia area, which has a higher cost of living; but, whatever the reason, the prices at Liberty Bellows are at least 10-20% higher for new products, and even more than that for used accordions. So, while Liberty Bellows is probably the better and least risky choice, if you have a tight budget, know exactly what you want (and are willing to perhaps take a bit of an increased risk!) your budget will go much further at Jim Laabs (assuming you don’t purchase a disaster that needs hours of rework before it is playable!)
 

Chickers

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Yep, you get what you pay for---very few ways to legitimately by-pass that law of commerce.
I wish to commend Jim De Bra, and Ventura especially, along with several others on the Forum for speaking up,
and calling the shots like they are. The Chinese really don't make very "good" accordions. Lots of issues. Yes money is important, but so is
confidence, and comfort is avoiding the hassles.
I don't sell accordions, or any other musical instruments, but
I have some first hand experience in selling some industrial goods that were China manufactured, and for the most part---
that stuff is junk, and questionable value as well.
Thank you for folks like Jim and Ventura, and the host of others.
Keep up the honest, and knowledge based evaluations, and hope people will see the issues.
As far as I can see, COVID-19, isthe only thing the Chinese have successfully captured the world market.
CHICKERS
 

gerardo1000

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OK. Thanks to everybody! I really love this forum and the help of its members. I talked to Mike at Liberty Bellows and finally decided to buy from them the E. Soprani chromatic button. They told me that each accordion is shipped to Castelfidardo for quality control, and on top of it, Liberty Bellows check and if needed service each accordion before shipping to make sure that there are zero issues. More over, they are always there for any repaIr or maintenance need. All things that Jim Laabs cannot offer and that, in my mind, are worth an additional cost of $200.00. if I will fall in love with the CBA, as I hope, in the future I may consider to sell the E.Soprani and purchase my dream: a Pigini Peter Pan! 🙂
 

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I hope it works out really well for you, Gerardo. Good job on the homework.
 

debra

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OK. Thanks to everybody! I really love this forum and the help of its members. I talked to Mike at Liberty Bellows and finally decided to buy from them the E. Soprani chromatic button. They told me that each accordion is shipped to Castelfidardo for quality control, and on top of it, Liberty Bellows check and if needed service each accordion before shipping to make sure that there are zero issues. More over, they are always there for any repaIr or maintenance need. All things that Jim Laabs cannot offer and that, in my mind, are worth an additional cost of $200.00. if I will fall in love with the CBA, as I hope, in the future I may consider to sell the E.Soprani and purchase my dream: a Pigini Peter Pan! 🙂
Don't be so sure that if you like the E.Soprani the step to a Pigini Peter Pan would be a step up... The Peter Pan is made for children, has a plastic body and not only uncomfortably small but also fragile. There have been a few cases of the shoulder strap lugs breaking off just by picking up the instrument by the straps.
 

NickC

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I think the extra money is well spent in this case. Liberty Bellows also has a trial period and a trade-up policy. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I'm sure it's on their site.

I don't have much experience with the Peter Pan, but one thing to keep in mind is that (if I remember correctly) it has 1 treble reed -vs- 3 in the E Soprani.
 

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With Pasco Italia’s ties to Voci Armoniche, it is possible that the E Soprani (now part of Pasco Italia) has Voci Armoniche reeds. That alone might justify the additional cost. I think it is worth asking Liberty Bellows about it.

From the Jim Laabs website it is difficult to determine what reeds are used on the Excalibur. Various models claim Swedish steel and German reeds, but nothing specific.
 

JIM D.

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Both accordions here are identical in construction and are marketed with at least 10 other names with different list prices.
All are Chinese garbage !! As far as the deceptive claims made by some dealers, Jim Laabs ranks in the top 10.
 

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Both accordions here are identical in construction and are marketed with at least 10 other names with different list prices.
All are Chinese garbage !! As far as the deceptive claims made by some dealers, Jim Laabs ranks in the top 10.
Unfortunately, I would have to agree with you. Based on my experience trying out a Hohner Amica for a week (which is probably considered among the best of the Chinese imports) I would never again sample a Chinese accordion. If I only had $1000 to spend on an accordion (which in fact was the case for me until just recently!) I would much rather buy an older used Italian box in good condition than either of these.

(Just as an aside: I am also not keen on the quasi-deceptive practice of naming an inferior product in a way that invokes a well-established one. That is, E Soprani gives an impression that is related to Paolo Soprani when it isn’t, and novices can easily confuse Excalibur with Excelsior.)
 

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I wish you success and the best of luck, Gerardo. Please let us know how you make out with the E. Hopefully it will get you far enough along to trade up to something more acceptable to all us accordion snobs on this board! 🤭🤪🥵 I am in the same camp who bought new Chinese and returned it immediately. Saved up my money and bought factory direct from old Italy. Now my accordion is better than my talent will ever require.
 

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If I wanted to spend $1000 on a CBA I would definitely NOT buy a new Chinese accordion-shaped object, even from Liberty! ;) But that's just me. Some people are happy with Parrot instruments.

Liberty always have good second-hand deals, I would look there for a western-made instrument.
 

gerardo1000

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Oldbayan, Liberty Bellows has a trade in policy. If I realize that I like learning the CBA and therefore I decide to stick with this kind of instrument (as far as today I do not know, I am just a beginner who would like to try) then in the near future I will trade it with upgraded models built in West Germany, for example they have a nice range of CBA from Weltmeister, starting at $ 2,499.00. I just did not want to spend such a considerable amount of money for what is, for the moment, just an attempt.:) I also considered the purchase of a used CBA, there are several on E Bay, from East Europe. Problem is they are big and heavy, I am 70 with back issues, I need a light and compact instrument.
 

oldbayan

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Oldbayan, Liberty Bellows has a trade in policy. If I realize that I like learning the CBA and therefore I decide to stick with this kind of instrument (as far as today I do not know, I am just a beginner who would like to try) then in the near future I will trade it with upgraded models built in West Germany, for example they have a nice range of CBA from Weltmeister, starting at $ 2,499.00. I just did not want to spend such a considerable amount of money for what is, for the moment, just an attempt.:) I also considered the purchase of a used CBA, there are several on E Bay, from East Europe. Problem is they are big and heavy, I am 70 with back issues, I need a light and compact instrument.
You can also rent an instrument, there are many stores offering that. That is what I did with my Roland FR-1xb, I rented it for a few months, then decided I liked it enough to buy it, and the store credited part of the rental toward the purchase price.
 

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