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Hohner Tango II (late 1930's)

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Morne

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Im about to embark on my next restoration project, so Ill do another another dissection here for anyone who might be interested in these old boxes. Before anyone states the obvious - yes, I realise this accordion is worthless, etc, etc.

<ATTACHMENT filename=Hohner Tango II.jpg index=1>

Here we have a late 1930s Hohner Tango II. Ive seen a photo of it with the original owner dating to 1939, so this would be from the first half of its production run (1937 - 1942, according to the online Hohner model list).

Heres an extract from a 1937 catalogue:
<ATTACHMENT filename=Hohner1937_6.jpg index=0>
(The full catalogue can be found by using my instructions here: https://accordionists.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=3346#p33747)

This is a 34 key, 80 bass instrument with 3 voices (LMM) in the treble, and 5 voices in the bass.
Theres a palm switch that changes the treble from MM to LMM. There are no bass switches.

Im really impressed with the state of this accordion. Its clearly had maintenance done, because theres no way an 80 year old instrument will be in this state. The mechanics are in really good condition and its pretty airtight.

Here is a demonstration of what the instrument currently sounds like:

More details and photos below.
 

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Morne

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<SIZE size=150>Construction

This accordion feels really solidly build.

Here are the gutted halves:
<ATTACHMENT filename=Treble.jpg index=4>
<ATTACHMENT filename=Bass.jpg index=1>

The palm switch mechanism:
<ATTACHMENT filename=Palm Switch Mechanism.jpg index=2>

The L reed block has a double slider:
<ATTACHMENT filename=Slider.jpg index=3>

The bass machine:
<ATTACHMENT filename=Bass Machine.jpg index=0>

Of note is the reference to Patent US1908246 stamped on the frame:
https://patents.google.com/patent/US1908246A/en
 

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  • Bass.jpg
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  • Bass Machine.jpg
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Morne

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<SIZE size=150>Reeds

I dont know if any of the reeds in here have been replaced, but it contains a mix-match of reeds (which sounds like it was common for Hohner around that time).

It contains zinc H reeds for the highest bass chord reeds:
Zinc H reeds.jpg

Zinc T reeds for the M register reeds:
Zinc T reeds.jpg

Aluminium T reeds for L register and bass reeds:
Low Bass.jpgHigh Bass.jpgAluminium T reeds.jpg

The reeds are tuned A4=435Hz (it has 870 stamped on the blocks). That was their normal tuning, but jazz tuning (A4=440Hz) could be requested, as per the same catalogue the first post.
 
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Geronimo

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Morne post_id=56975 time=1523304161 user_id=1217 said:
<SIZE size=150>Reeds

I dont know if any of the reeds in here have been replaced, but it contains a mix-match of reeds (which sounds like it was common for Hohner around that time).
Frankly, I dont see the point in having just reeds of one kind. By mixing here, you get more distinct register sounds and can pick your chord reeds to make for a smoother blend. Sure, its less reproducible and depends on more component deliverers, but the main problem likely was that it also depends on a significant number of workers able to make good decisions rather than just following procedures.
 

Morne

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Geronimo post_id=56982 time=1523308574 user_id=2623 said:
Frankly, I dont see the point in having just reeds of one kind. By mixing here, you get more distinct register sounds and can pick your chord reeds to make for a smoother blend.

I never thought about that. Often when I read discussions about mixed H/T reeds it sounds like Hohner just used whatever was available to use up old stock, which might be the case if the reeds were mixed on a single block. But in this accordion, the different reeds are used on different blocks only.

For the bass reeds, going from zinc to aluminium makes sense for weight saving reasons. I suppose there might be a tonal difference as well.
For the high bass chord reeds it could very well be that those H reeds actually round off the chords in a nicer way, as youve mentioned. Ive read people mentioning a clear difference in sound between the H and T reeds, though I have no experience there.

This idea brings me to my Morino VI M where the bass side uses the (dotted) Atlantic reeds. Theyre considered inferior to the treble side reeds (marked with corner stripes), but perhaps this was intentional in order to provide a tonal contrast? Or maybe it was just cost saving after all.

By the way, does your Morino have clearly different reeds in the treble and bass?

Geronimo post_id=56982 time=1523308574 user_id=2623 said:
Sure, its less reproducible and depends on more component deliverers, but the main problem likely was that it also depends on a significant number of workers able to make good decisions rather than just following procedures.

In the case of this Tango it was probably more of the latter. It could very well just have been a production line thing and the next bass block #5 that showed up happened to be filled with a certain kind of reed.
 
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Geronimo

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Morne post_id=56996 time=1523356002 user_id=1217 said:
Geronimo post_id=56982 time=1523308574 user_id=2623 said:
Frankly, I dont see the point in having just reeds of one kind. By mixing here, you get more distinct register sounds and can pick your chord reeds to make for a smoother blend.
This idea brings me to my Morino VI M where the bass side uses the (dotted) Atlantic reeds. Theyre considered inferior to the treble side reeds (marked with corner stripes), but perhaps this was intentional in order to provide a tonal contrast? Or maybe it was just cost saving after all.

By the way, does your Morino have clearly different reeds in the treble and bass?
Well, I have more than one. My main instrument has free bass, and the treble reeds are put in wax whereas the bass reeds are screwed to leather gaskets. I have sort of an impression that the higher bass reeds might have been tampered with for worse response (really). The bass has quite a cutting quality and a single-reed setting of the free bass usually survives reasonably against a three-reed tremolo in the treble.

This instrument has a 10-reed setting for the standard bass. The surprising thing is that you can actually play it at low volume and crescendo. At low volume, even single reed registrations can sort-of survive it. At higher volumes, you do need the full LMMM (or at least MMM) to counterbalance (cf this Silent Night with Extreme Registrations video, starting time set to the 10-reed passage). But for many uses, I dont use more than one chord reed. According to accordion repair men, there is a high ratio of hand-made reeds in the instrument but the reeds are possibly not the original equipment (no idea how one would guess that).

For my Morino Artiste VID, apparently the reeds also are not the original set, likely partly hand-made, and some reed blocks had been modified to accommodate the larger reed size (this had been overhauled later). I find that the chord reeds are definitely more mellow, possibly because for the standard bass a smaller size/quality had been chosen in the first place. As a result, the chords can be registered fuller without bad effect than on my main instrument. Given that the Artiste VID only has three different bass registrations at all (as opposed to the 168 of my main instrument), thats definitely an advantage.

So to get back to your questions: I have no idea whether my instruments represent the original intent by Hohner (or whoever) any more.
 

Morne

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Heres an update on the tuning. I did the last major tuning about 4 weeks ago, so its been sitting for a little while now to let everything settle.

I cleaned all the reeds, removed rust, rewaxed, replaced all valves (all plastic now) and sharpened from 435Hz to 440Hz. (AKA overall not a very smart idea)

The M+ reeds were tuned according to the weak Porvenkov curve from my previous topic about Russian tuning:
Tuning.png

I taped off the 5th bass reed, since it was a bit too squeaky with the new drier tuning.

With a drier tuning issues will show up sooner, so Im aware of a few notes that sound a bit off (and Im not even referring to the playing!). Im not sure how stable these old reeds will remain, but time will tell. So heres my second tuning attempt - an 80 year old Hohner that shouldnt sound like a typical Hohner anymore:
 
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maugein96

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Hi Morne,

Don't know anything at all about Hohner Tangos, but it seems you've managed to get a Russian type sound out of it, whatever you've done.

I couldn't detect any "off" reeds, but then my name isn't Paul De Bra!! No doubt he could pick up on any required tweaks, but I certainly can't.

I'm always fascinated by people who have interests in music from other countries, such as I have. However, I have never had the skills to perpetuate those interests the way you have done/are doing.

So, молодцы, товарищ Морн!!
 

Morne

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Thanks, John.

Based on the little you could hear there, does it sound like something close to an Americain tuning? I realise there's a whole lot that can influence perception here (reeds, box, playing, mic, etc.), but I'm trying to relate this curve to the numbers often mentioned out there. This isn't a full size accordion, but if it were the beats would go from roughly 1.5 Hz up to 4 Hz. And the cents from 12 down to 4. This seems like it would have some overlap with the Americain spectrum. With the curve I used the low notes are slightly higher and the high notes slightly lower than if you were to use a more typical exponential curve.

If I come across another junk box soon I'll experiment with the even drier, but not unison, tuning I've seen some garmon tuners suggesting online.
 

Anyanka

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Wow - great job, it sounds lovely!

The Husband once acquired an ancient Hohner Tango for a ridiculously small sum, with the intention of using it for spares. I implored him to fix it/restore it for me as I really liked the sound of it (it had a fairground type bass) but luckily for him, I eventually switched to CBA and left off....
 
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maugein96

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Morne post_id=61428 time=1532602606 user_id=1217 said:
Thanks, John.

Based on the little you could hear there, does it sound like something close to an Americain tuning? I realise theres a whole lot that can influence perception here (reeds, box, playing, mic, etc.), but Im trying to relate this curve to the numbers often mentioned out there. This isnt a full size accordion, but if it were the beats would go from roughly 1.5 Hz up to 4 Hz. And the cents from 12 down to 4. This seems like it would have some overlap with the Americain spectrum. With the curve I used the low notes are slightly higher and the high notes slightly lower than if you were to use a more typical exponential curve.

If I come across another junk box soon Ill experiment with the even drier, but not unison, tuning Ive seen some garmon tuners suggesting online.

Hi Morne,

Its difficult to tell the tuning with any degree of accuracy from the clip.

Here are the current accordion tunings used in France:-

unisson : 0 Hz
demi-swing, swing : 0.5 à 1.5 Hz
américain léger / accentué : 1.5 à 2.5 Hz
céleste ou moderne : 2.5 à 3 Hz
musette léger / standard / accentué : peut commencer à partir de 3 pour aller jusquà 6 Hz (très vibrant), parfois plus.

And a link to sound samples of two different americain tunings (and others) currently found on a Mengascini F5, which is part of a range of CBAs for the French market. The sound samples will hopefully give you an idea of what constitutes americain tuning, which unfortunately does not appear to be an exact science. The Mengascini boxes concerned will probably be tuned to 442 Hz, the standard tuning in France.

https://www.mon-accordeon.com/neuf/mengascini-f5
 
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