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Help identifying inherited piano accordion

CremeFraiche

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Hi everyone,

I must apologize as I do not play the accordion so please forgive my intrusion. I am hoping that someone here might be so kind as to shed some light on a piano accordion I recently inherited from my Grandfather.

My initial basic googling has led me to believe that it is a Chinese made Bai-le 'Superchampion' 120 bass accordion.
I am wondering if there is anyway that I can find out how old it is and were these any good?
From the pages I have found online it seems as if the older model Bai-le's (60's-70's) were reasonably well made though the quality dropped significantly from the 80's onward? Would anyone agree or disagree with this? I have no idea if the sources I read that from are to be respected or not so I could be wrong.
Tonality wise do people like the sound of these? And by people I mean the accordionists (is that the right term?) that use them.
I sure like the sound of it, though I have nothing to compare it to as I lack the experience.
Also, would anyone be able to tell me how many treble and bass reeds this has and how you figure it out?

I do not plan to sell it as it has sentimental value and I wouldn't mind learning to play it anyway. (I work as a sound designer and intend to spend a lot of time making a multi-sampled instrument out of this also... once I learn how to use it!) I am most curious how old it is though.
It came with a carry case that if I had to estimate it's age I would say the 70's maybe? But that's just a very uneducated guess at best.

I must say the accordion seems to have been exceptionally well looked after which is great. It's quite a beauty to look at and there seems to be not a thing wrong with it mechanically or cosmetically. It was quite a pleasant surprise to find it in my Grandfather's storage shed unassumingly tucked away under his Organ.
If anyone knows any cool tidbits about this model of piano accordion I would love to hear what you have to say.

Thank you very much for your time.
 

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dunlustin

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To start you off:
Right Hand; Each dot on the switches indicates a reed in play when selected.
So, you have 3 reeds available in the Medium section, a High and a Low set as well.
The long bar should be a Palm Master which will switch in all 5 sets of reeds
On the Left Hand you have more choices - press one, squeeze and hear what happens.
Chinese instruments are routinely dismissed as not very good. That said, if true here, that's a lot of flexibility for low quality (just a guess!)
The words 'shed' and 'accordion' are rarely a happy pairing.
Really you'll need someone competent to look inside for a real assessment ( eg valves/ wax ).
Good luck learning - worth every minute.
 

Dingo40

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Dunlustin,
Are you sure there's are three M reeds?
If so, why isn't there an MMM coupler?🤔

CremeFraiche ( Fresh cream?🤔),
Welcome!🙂👍
Personally, I think there are 4 treble reeds in total: LMMH.
The couplers give you 11 combinations in all, with three combinations repeated, including the palm coupler repeating the "master " combination (This repetition, I believe to be a marketing ploy, commonly found through the trade).
There does seem to be some predjudice against Chinese made instruments, but they were quite popular in the seventies (this probably being of that era) due to a considerable price advantage.
I've looked inside several such and been quite impressed by the finish, but some accordion technicians do consider them to be troublesome .
I'm sure more knowledgeable members will soon set things straight! 🙂
Melbourne is quite a centre for accordion players and would have several accordion dealers, teachers and repairers available.
Including this:
You could take your's there and probably get quite a lot of information 🙂
 
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Alans

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Congratulations on acquiring your new instrument and what a joy it will be to play.
I couldn’t help you with the value but I did learn something useful from a dealer online,if you open the case and it smells that is bad news. An accordion kept in a cellar or a garage will probably acquire mold. I understand why your grandfather may have stored it there. There was a time when no one wanted old accordions and he probably loved it too much to throw away. I agree,take it to a dealer in Melbourne but beware,they tend to always price you low. At least it will be a ball park figure.
You can always save your grandfathers instrument for sentimental worth and purchase another inexpensive used,refurbished one to begin to learn to play. It is the most beautiful instrument in the world.
 

Pipemajor

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Hi Creme-Fraiche, and welcome to the forum:).
Sorry I'm unable to contribute any worthwhile information but can I just say what a pleasure it is to read a first post from a new member which is politely worded, unassuming and interesting .👍 Such a difference from some, who's first and only post will be to the effect of "This is my grand dad's accordion . It's in perfect condition. How much is it worth", followed by one blurry photo .
Some of the kinder folk on here will take the trouble to reply, but most of us will ignore them, and they are never heard of again.
I do hope you learn to play as it is a most interesting hobby and you will get all the help here that we can give you.
With regard to your accordion, you say you like the sound. That is the only recommendation you need and is the most important one.
The name on the badge is unimportant if it does what you want it to do, but I understand you're interest in finding out as much as you can about the accordion.
Let us know a bit more about yourself and you musical tastes and you will find we are a very friendly and helpful bunch:D
 

CremeFraiche

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Hello all, appreciate the responses!

Yes one would think 'shed' may well have been a death sentence for this instrument but thankfully it had only been in storage for a few months. Before that my Grandfather must have kept it somewhere better suited as there are (thankfully) no malodorous or musty smells emanating out of the case or the instrument.

I think that would be a great idea to take it to a dealer to have it looked at, thank you for the idea. I'm going to get in touch with musicjunction as it is not too far from me!

Pipemajor I appreciate the kind words. I actually made this post and then checked out some of the other posts within this 'Accordion Makes & Models' thread... I felt rather guilty and sheepish as I took note of how many other people had done just as I had and how most of those posts were not very well received. So I'm glad my genuine interest did not go unnoticed. Even if I wasn't to take it up to learn I still love instruments and enjoy finding out their history.
I'm slowly building up a nice little collection of different instruments and pieces of equipment that resonate with me... and I will say, most I cannot actually play competently :O
My favourite acquisition thus far has been a traditional Peruvian pan flute, as ever since I was a child I have thought the pan flutes to be the most beautiful sound on earth (especially with a gorgeous reverb applied) and I can actually play it! Albiet rather clumsily haha.
I work as a music producer and sound designer in a studio here in Melbourne and also coordinate a small music school where I also tutor classes in Logic Pro X.
My musical background is very lackluster as I played a little bit of the cornet as a pup and drums through my teen years though not much more than that. I didn't get back into music until my early to mid twenties where I started creating electronic music on my computer. I have been a computer 'musician' ever since haha.

I'm looking forward to delving into how this instrument works and seeing what I can do with it. I tend to record and perform my various instruments in ways that I can't really consider as traditional playing (and also because I can't play them like that anyway haha) as you can create so many weird and wonderful sounds with instruments and they are such valuable components to my sound design. One musicians dissonance can easily be my consonance haha.
 

JIM D.

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A Chinese L M M H box. Has some years on it but looks low mileage Pic's of the interior will determine condition.
 

debra

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...
There does seem to be some predjudice against Chinese made instruments, but they were quite popular in the seventies (this probably being of that era) due to a considerable price advantage.
I've looked inside several such and been quite impressed by the finish, but some accordion technicians do consider them to be troublesome .
I'm sure more knowledgeable members will soon set things straight! 🙂
...
The more "established" Chinese brands have learned to make a more or less usable accordion, despite being limited to Chinese parts (made out of steel that is more brittle than "western" steel, and this causes for instance springs and maybe also reeds to break more easily).
That said, there are now many more Chinese brands than decades ago (most of them you recognize because they have Italian sounding musical names) and some really have no clue what it takes to make an accordion. I have touched a few at the Frankfurter Musikmesse last time I was there and even just pressing a few keys is enough to tell you these accordions are a "no-no". The force required to press keys is uneven, especially between white and black keys. Going further (I do get them in for repair) the keyboard and pallets are very noisy. One accordion I had in had so little clearance between the end of the arm/pallet and the grille that even a slight dent (almost inevitable on a flimsy accordion being stored in a hard case) caused the arm to "clack" against the grille while playing... Absolute rubbish! But, they are not all the same and the better ones suffer from the bad reputation of the worse ones.
 

NickC

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I don't know much about the accordion, but I wish you the best in learning to play it. It is a very rewarding adventure, and playing something with sentimental value is priceless.
 

JeffJetton

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there are now many more Chinese brands than decades ago (most of them you recognize because they have Italian sounding musical names)

That was my first thought when seeing the OP's pics... how refreshing to see a Chinese-made accordion that's not afraid to have a Chinese brand name!

That alone makes me wonder if it might better than one would normally expect. If it was junk, I figure they would've tried to called it a "Figaro" or "Manicotti" or something. :)
 

craigd

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I think the Baile of that era are decent, equal or greater in quality to a low end italian box. The reeds may not be great, perhaps relying more on added weights than size for the low notes.
 

Valski

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Hello and welcome. You have a beautiful instrument that appears to be in fantastic shape, let's hope that it plays as well as it looks because I agree that accordions do not do well stored in sheds for any extended period. Aside from that, I must say that red is possibly the best colour for the accordion. I've owned three of them over the years and always got the best reaction from the audience and other musicians. I've owned other colours but have a soft spot for red.
 

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