• If you haven't done so already, please add a location to your profile. This helps when people are trying to assist you, suggest resources, etc. Thanks

KILLER ACCORDION

Waldo

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
465
Reaction score
202
Location
Colorado, USA
Following is the email I recently sent to Beltuna Accordions describing my dismay regarding a recently purchased accordion. Included below are photos illustrating the several defects included with said accordion. The last 3 pics demonstrate what would have eventually happened had I not fortuitously discovered the incorrect screws attaching the upper shoulder strap bracket to the case.

START:
I recently purchased my second Beltuna accordion, a 200B Fly, CBA. The price was just south of $8,000.00 US, delivered. I was, of course, delighted to receive it several days later. A visual examination revealed an improper bass side register button. The box has 4 voices on the bass side with the common ledger lines with dots on the buttons, indicating the reed banks activated. The error was one of the buttons indicated a mute [Pic 1](No "dot" on right most button). That is, the lines were there, but no dots. I collect "errors", so I was secretly pleased that this was now one of my most valuable errors.

Further examination revealed a jammed register switch on the treble side. Being French, the switch is located on the backside of the button board. When placed into the case, the register switches rest directly against the case bottom. The resultant pressure bent a switch slider against the accordion body, jamming it in place. No big deal, I just bent it back into alignment and modified the case with a support pad that keeps the switch sliders suspended.

Pretty much every accordion I own has a bass strap that is too short for my big hand. I opened up the bass cover and added a strap extender in order to assure the adjuster knob would not separate from the strap stud. This is a common occurrence for me , and expected before my purchase. Making these "modifications" to my new accordion would, of course, preclude my returning it for a refund.

The box I ordered was configured in the French 3/3 system, and as such, didn't include bellows closure straps (sometimes I don't get French logic, (or lack thereof). I knew this beforehand, so had a set of bellows straps included with my order. When I went to install the straps, I noticed a misalignment of the bellows retention pin heads with the case. Upon extraction, I was annoyed to see that all of the pins were out of alignment (not at 90 degrees to the case)[Pic 2]. When partially removed they looked like a balding porcupine. I wasn't happy, but completed the strap install without incident.

While examining my handiwork, I noticed one of the top shoulder strap bracket screws (of which there are 3) was standing slightly proud. I grabbed a screwdriver to snug it up and was no longer secretly pleased, in fact I was REALLY PISSED OFF. The screw just spun easily, never gaining a hold on the case wood. The wood threads were stripped out. Now there were only 2 screws holding the bracket in place. If one was bad, how about the others? I put the driver to another screw and IT WAS THE SAME!!! The third screw tightened up as designed. I removed all 3 screws (with difficulty on the two loose screws, because they wouldn't bite into the wood) and discovered the two errant screws were MACHINE SCREWS!!!!! NOT WOOD SCREWS! [Pic 3] [Take extra special note, Beltuna].

For the uninitiated, wood screws have a thread that is larger in diameter than the hole they are inserted into, cutting threads into the host material as they screw in. Machine screws of the same size are manufactured to the diameter of the drilled hole, and retained by an appropriate size nut on the other end. The threads are completely different on the two screw types.

The bottom line is the upper, load carrying bracket, was attached with only ONE SCREW! It is obvious that the "engineers" at Beltuna felt 3 screws were required to safely carry the weight (18 lbs./8+ Kg) of the accordion. And I completely agree with them (the screws are only 1/2"/12mm long).

It was at this point that I knew I would NEVER buy another Beltuna product. When you think about it, if the one screw were to give way while wearing the accordion, the results would be severe. The accordion would plunge toward the ground [Pic 4], while at the same time the bracket, still attached to the shoulder straps, would snap upward, being stopped by my throat [Pic 5] (Adam's apple, by test). Anyone familiar with martial arts knows full well the vulnerability of the throat to an impact. You'll go straight to the ground! Imagine now, exiting a stage, walking down a short flight of stairs, bouncing as you (I) go, while gripping the banister when the one good screw lets go.... KILLER ACCORDION!

In addition to the karate chop to the neck, the plunging accordion would swing down and strike me right in the middle of the knees [Pic 6 & 7]. Another excellent martial arts target guaranteed to take an adversary down. BTW: the several other screws holding the lower bracket in place were of the correct type and holding securely.

There is NO EXCUSE for such a condition. Had I not elected to add the bellows straps, I never would have noticed the proud screw until it failed, with catastrophic consequences!

To put it in Italian, this sort of negligence is equivalent to Enzo selling Ferraris with several wheel nuts missing, and nobody noticing! They both can KILL YOU! Would Beltuna have come to my aid had the above situation occurred? I doubt it. No espeaki English.

Today is Monday, Dec. 6th, 2021. If this email is not adequately addressed before Friday, Dec 10th, 2021, I intend to post this communication on all three of the international Accordion Forums I am active on. As well as on any other forums I can find. I suspect the various Consumer Product Safety Agencies in America would like to know about it, as well. It is a disgrace that you let such a defective product leave your factory and put my well being at risk. Never again!
ENDING

Their response? "Send it back and we'll fix it."
As written above: Never again!

Press on,
Waldo
 

Attachments

  • FlyBassMute.jpg
    FlyBassMute.jpg
    100 KB · Views: 58
  • FlyPins-1.jpg
    FlyPins-1.jpg
    83.8 KB · Views: 55
  • FlyScrews-1.jpg
    FlyScrews-1.jpg
    47.3 KB · Views: 57
  • FlyBreakAway-1.jpg
    FlyBreakAway-1.jpg
    62 KB · Views: 56
  • FlyHalfway-1.jpg
    FlyHalfway-1.jpg
    61.9 KB · Views: 54
  • FlyHanging-1.jpg
    FlyHanging-1.jpg
    54.5 KB · Views: 55
  • FlyHanging-3.jpg
    FlyHanging-3.jpg
    65.8 KB · Views: 55

debra

Been here for ages!
Technical Adviser
Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
4,431
Reaction score
1,616
Location
Eindhoven, the Nnetherlannds
I'm sorry to hear you found some defects in your new Beltuna. Sadly this is not uncommon. It is almost normal for a new Italian accordion coming straight from the factory to have several "minor" defects. I heard from someone who used to work with a Pigini dealer that new arrivals often needed 50 minor defects repaired before the accordion could be handed to the customer who ordered it. That's why you pay a dealer to deal with the factory and hand you an instrument that is free of such defects.
As for the screws versus bolts, many accordions have the strap brackets attached using bolts, but they should have a ring, locking ring and nut on the inside of course. And for the bellow straps it is true indeed that many new accordions are now made without bellow straps. The only case where that is a really good idea, especially for the bottom strap, is when the bottom of the accordion (in playing orientation) is perfectly flat. In your case the shoulder strap bracket is already on that side (instead of on the back of the accordion) so your accordion is already wobbly when you put it in down in the playing orientation and adding a bellow strap there doesn't hurt. The shoulder strap bracket really should have been on the back making it possible to put down the accordion and have it be stable. (Piano accordions are always wobbly but many button accordions can be stable if they do not have a lower bellow strap and if they have the shoulder strap bracket on the back. My Russian bayan is like that and is stable when you put it down.
If you have no other defects than what you mentioned, consider yourself lucky. You are still quite far below the expected number of defects on a new Italian accordion...
 

Dingo40

Been here for ages!
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
2,997
Reaction score
1,785
Location
South Australia
Waldo,
You couldn't make it up, but s*** happens ?.
Look on the bright side: they actually have offered to make it good!?
Consider it an interesting example of human fallibility and move on: it could have been much worse!
Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole!??
This actually reminds me of an incident where airline maintenance crew replaced the windscreen bolts with ones of a smaller gauge.
As a result, the windscreen blew off at 17,000 ft,
The decompression sucked the captain out of the aircraft leaving him draped across the nose of the aircraft, held by one leg, to which some cabin crew were holding on, keeping him from falling to his death, for nearly 30 mins.
Although he lost consciousness, suffered some frostbite and a broken leg, he was back in the air within months.
So, be guided by his example, and carry on: it ain't personal ?
See here:
 
Last edited:

Waldo

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
465
Reaction score
202
Location
Colorado, USA
Dingo,
It may not be personal, but, I'll still never buy another Beltuna. Their offer to make it good required sending it back to the factory, all shipping costs on me. I bought the proper screws in my local hardware store and fixed it myself.
It's not the inconvenience or the number of defects, it's the danger the "mistake" put me in, had I not discovered the "error"? As mentioned in the letter, what would Enzo have done? I suspect heads would have rolled.

PS, I attempted to watch this video several months ago, but couldn't handle the numerous ads.

Waldo
 

Dingo40

Been here for ages!
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
2,997
Reaction score
1,785
Location
South Australia
Just wondering ?
Perhaps the use of machine screws on the shoulder strap bracket may have been intentional (even If it was bungled in the execution) as, had it been completed using washers and nuts , it would make an even stronger anchor than using solely woodworking screws??
 

Scuromondo

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
316
Reaction score
187
Location
Washington, DC, USA
This is very disheartening. I'm sorry to hear that you went through it! I have experienced some minor defects (jammed register switch) before, but that was mostly due to shipping damage, which is nothing like the poor assembly quality that you are describing. I would not have expected this sort of thing from a manufacturer as highly regarded as Beltuna!

It is unfortunate that you modified the accordion before noticing the many manufacturing defects. As you say, that likely voided the warranty. Still, I would think your US dealer would be interested to see the problems you have discovered. Have you informed them?
 
Last edited:

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,708
Reaction score
1,194
Location
USA
Oh dear. Sorry to hear of your misfortune, Waldo. I hope it still brings you joy after the repairs. I agree that it is probably impossible to receive such a complex instrument totally free of ALL defects, but it is surely disheartening.

That cordeen was $8000??? That seems really high, does it have hand made reeds of gold or something? I hope the reed technician was not the screw guy.

PS. It would be "no speakono English."
 

Chickers

Active member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
145
Reaction score
71
Location
CLEVELAND, OHIO, USA
WALDO:
It's certainly a shame you have to go through that sort of aggravation----and you had to pay dearly for it.
Shame on Beltuna for not assuring ALL buyers get satisfaction, and ALL buyers should also be rewarded for being chosen
as a supplier. There are lots of choices for most anything a buyer has interest. The fact that you chose Beltuna over
any other manufacture "should" endear them to you. We live in a strange time, where it's soo easy, and soo cavalier to
just chalk a screw-up to human error. I think it's more a factor of "no accountability". Take your money and run.
Hmmm, I don't have all the experiences, and knowledge of some many of you on this forum ---I'm basically a newbie,
a beginner accordion player, but for me, and my money, I think I'll stick to the older vintage accordions. Sure repairs are
needed as time goes by, but for the most part these repairs are from use, not stupidity, and / or carelessness.
Maybe you can have some satisfaction in knowing you didn't have to pay Pagini pricing, and still get all the aggravation as
debra pointed out above. (probably not very comforting)
Good luck with your Beltuna, enjoy the good side. It's a beautiful accordion, with beautiful sound.
CHICKERS
 

JerryPH

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
Feb 16, 2016
Messages
3,598
Reaction score
686
Location
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
PS, I attempted to watch this video several months ago, but couldn't handle the numerous ads.
Ad blockers are your friend. I've not seen a YouTube ad anywhere (MAC, iPad or PC) for many moons. ;)
Waldo, based on this alone, I'd also never consider a Beltuna if I was in the market for a new accordion. Where is the pride and workmanship they claim? Not something that I am going to ever find out, because evidently, its no longer there. Sure Paul says there are often as many as 50 issues, but no matter what, NONE of them should ever be the cause of result of a catastrophic result. If they cannot even chose 3 of the right screws, what does that say about the rest of it? :)
 

debra

Been here for ages!
Technical Adviser
Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
4,431
Reaction score
1,616
Location
Eindhoven, the Nnetherlannds
The sad reality of the accordion industry is that if you don't want to buy an accordion from any factory that delivers accordions with (minor) defects you cannot buy any accordion at all. I have seen accordions from many different brands (when they come on for tuning or minor repairs) and even in accordions that have been used for over a decade I have found flaws that must have been there from the start, like wrong screws, reed plates mounted at an angle (causing the inside reed to never be able to play), inside valves either too long or glued on at an angle so the valves do not open properly, weak register switches that are bound to break off over time, metal rods of chin switches that rest on the key levers, causing a rattling sound, bass reed blocks too close to the bellows (causing the valves to snag), low treble reeds in cassotto that hit the first bellows fold, etc., etc. Many things can go wrong in accordion manufacturing and having flawed design doesn't help either...
 
Last edited:

Dingo40

Been here for ages!
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
2,997
Reaction score
1,785
Location
South Australia
That cordeen was $8000??? That seems really high, does it have hand made reeds of gold or something?
Tom,
Accordion prices have always been surprisingly high for what what you get in the way of product.
I guess what you're really paying for is availability and brand name ??
A good parallel exists in the motor vehicle industry. Have you noticed the difference in price between a genuine brand name muffler box and a generic locally made one?
It will make your eyes water!?
 
Last edited:

debra

Been here for ages!
Technical Adviser
Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
4,431
Reaction score
1,616
Location
Eindhoven, the Nnetherlannds
Tom,
Accordion prices have always been surprisingly high for what what you get in the way of product.
I guess what you're really paying for is availability and brand name ??
A good parallel exists in the motor vehicle industry. Have you noticed the difference in price between a genuine brand name muffler box and a generic locally made one?
It will make your eyes water!?
Yes, accordion prices are high, and some are very high, but considering the incredible amount of time (and thousands of components) it takes to build an accordion, and considering that people in Europe do need to make a living according to European standards... I am not surprised at all that a good accordion costs what a manufacturer charges for it. (The Chinese use cheaper materials and have lower wages and only do a haphazard job... and the result can then be a lot less expensive.)
The final price paid by the consumer is of course in the order of 50% more, because of import duties, taxes and dealers also needing to make a living (and have instruments in stock so customers have a choice and can try things).
Of course you should never forget the "law of diminishing returns". The price of something like a 96 bass non-cassotto accordion is more or less representative of what it costs to make the accordion. Smaller accordions are sold for too little money (because otherwise nobody would buy them) and larger accordions for too much money, and truly high-end accordions like a Hohner Gola and Pigini Nova are way overpriced when you consider how much more it needs to cost to build them compared to that "benchmark" 96 bass one.
 

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,708
Reaction score
1,194
Location
USA
Yup, you guys are right! I was just wondering what makes that particular accordion so high. Anyway, I'm sure it's a nice instrument when delivered ready to play. Whether a dealer deserves 50% depends I'm sure on the dealer. It's not 1955. We now have internet 2 reviews, amazon, etc. It would be interesting to know which builders do NOT sell direct. Plus my guess is less than 2% of people in the US live within say 4 hours of a good dealer. Your results may vary.
 

Scuromondo

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
316
Reaction score
187
Location
Washington, DC, USA
Yup, you guys are right! I was just wondering what makes that particular accordion so high. Anyway, I'm sure it's a nice instrument when delivered ready to play. Whether a dealer deserves 50% depends I'm sure on the dealer. It's not 1955. We now have internet 2 reviews, amazon, etc. It would be interesting to know which builders do NOT sell direct. Plus my guess is less than 2% of people in the US live within say 4 hours of a good dealer. Your results may vary.
I’ve never seen a 3/4 accordion, even a Beltuna, for $8000. Maybe that’s what CBAs cost, I don’t know. One can easily buy a non-cassotto Beltuna 4/5 piano accordion for less than $8,000.
 

Dingo40

Been here for ages!
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
2,997
Reaction score
1,785
Location
South Australia
I wonder if we'll see mail order accordions arriving as a flat pack, with an Allen key and assembly instructions for the owner??
 

Siegmund

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
154
Reaction score
185
Location
Montana, USA
Accordion prices are.... well... high compared to grocery prices, but when's the last time you asked for a price quote on a custom-made violin from your local luthier? Only 4 moving parts! (The bow has 2 more moving parts, to adjust the tension, but they are sold separately.)

https://potterviolins.com/violin-makers-and-the-expanding-industry/ is an interesting comparison as to what instrument makers in different countries charge for different qualities of violin. If you're really brave, click on "fine instruments" at the top and see how far $8,000 goes shopping for a non-student violin.

Whether a dealer deserves 50% depends I'm sure on the dealer

The original comment was that the buyer was paying ~50% more than wholesale, i.e., the dealer was keeping 33% of the retail price.
I have been a bookseller (where wholesale price is 40% off of cover price) and my girlfriend sells fabric to quilters, who are every bit as crazy about their hobby as musicians... she actually does sometimes get 50% off cover price for fabric, but more like 30% for other accessories... and it is a real task to make a living that way. If the cut got much smaller, there would be no retailers. (And if you self-publish a book, or a quilt pattern, and try to peddle it to bookstore owners by offering them 15 or 20% off the cover price... you are going to have a garage full of unsold books until you start burning them in your fireplace to keep warm.)

The cut is somewhat smaller for things that are both high-dollar and high-volume, like cars, but I very much doubt there are many high-volume accordion sellers.

Finally a geography thought:

Plus my guess is less than 2% of people in the US live within say 4 hours of a good dealer.

Traffic must be really bad (or perhaps there are no good dealers anywhere.) I would guesstimate 2% are within 4 hours of Petosa, 5% within 4 hours of Smythe, and 10% within 4 hours of Liberty Bellows.

It's probably still a minority of the country, provided one has a moderately strict definition of 'good dealer'.
 

Waldo

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
465
Reaction score
202
Location
Colorado, USA
Thanks for all the opinions.
My post was mostly to bring attention to the ole "Caveat Emptor" saying. But the thread morph is also interesting.

The accordion in question is a Studio 200B Fly. The "Fly" being the key indicator here. The Fly is an attempt at reducing the overall weight of the instrument thru the incorporation of carbon fiber components during construction. Not sure of the awareness out there of carbon fiber fabrication, but it is a costly material and also costly to form (heated vacuum ovens being necessary to form and cure parts, not to mention the various molds necessary). Other steps taken include paint vs. celluloid, WOOD SCREWS TO HOLD THE BRACKETS INSTEAD OF A LONGER MACHINE SCREW, FLAT WASHER, LOCK WASHER AND NUT, no bellows straps and who knows what else. The weight savings realized is about one kilo (2.2 lbs). The price for that kilo is $1500.00 more than the same "slug" box. I know that sounds like a lot, but, compare to a race car/bike where they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to save one kilo (especially in unsprung weight), it pales (somewhat).

Having owned several comparable (numbers wise) boxes that weighed in between 10 & 11.5 Kg (22-25 lbs) an 8+ Kg box was very appealing at my age (or degeneration). The range of the 200B (my biggest complaint with my other 'Beltuna) is significant in comparison. I originally chose a 'tuna because of their beautiful tone (read; Beltuna) and relative light weight. I have been wholly satisfied with my first box (which cost $3999.00, minus the sale discount of $500 and another $500 for the mis-listing (( meant for a PA)) on the website, I paid $2999.00. The retail listing was for $7999.00. I traded-in the aforementioned heavyweights (2) for 50% of the purchase price (saving about $2800). That's pretty much $5200....the "slug" was $6500. Looked like a pretty good deal.

Paul & Dingo,
Yeah, I get the 10,000 parts thing and I do expect some "defects". I can tolerate bent register switches and improper bass switches, misaligned reeds, gobbled up valves and pretty much all of such listed above, but really, 1 functional bracket screw on the fully loaded strap bracket? That's 18+ pounds hanging off a 1/8" x 1/2" wood screw! With a guillotine (albeit a dull one) attached between the straps (see pic 6 above). I would challenge any defenders out there to give the scenario a test run.
Also Dingo, the screw holes were not drilled completely thru the case. This, of course, would be the proper way to mount the upper, load carrying, bracket. It is a moot point regarding the lower bracket as there is little load.

Chickers,
I agree with most every thing you said.

Tom,
" It's not 1955. We now have internet 2 reviews, amazon, etc."
Another reason for my post. Maybe save someone else's life!

Sigmund,
Thanks for the comparison. Makes my above point.

Yes, accordions have thousands of part, all meticuslqly (Automatic spelling correction, but whaaat?) assembled over the course of many months, by numerous people (some skilled, others, not so much). I am patently waiting six months for my new Baffetti and it's "only" a diatonic. I am constantly amazed at the engineering, forethought and creativity that goes into our favorite instruments. Just open up a 120 Bass Stradella system and tell me you get it. Some guy, a lot smarter then I am, came up with that. Not only does it open and close the pallets, it does so according to the circle of 5ths! AND the circle of 4ths going the other direction! Amazing!
When I tell people my accordion is composed of close to twice as many components as their car, they laugh out loud, but it's true. The accordion is probably the most complex instrument made. Probably in the largest variation of design, and probably the most difficult instrument to master. And, when taking the Gola into account, maybe the most expensive (certainly by weight)
instrument, as well....especially if it comes with gold reeds!

Thanks all &
Press on,
Waldo
 
Last edited:

debra

Been here for ages!
Technical Adviser
Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
4,431
Reaction score
1,616
Location
Eindhoven, the Nnetherlannds
Yup, you guys are right! I was just wondering what makes that particular accordion so high. Anyway, I'm sure it's a nice instrument when delivered ready to play. Whether a dealer deserves 50% depends I'm sure on the dealer. It's not 1955. We now have internet 2 reviews, amazon, etc. It would be interesting to know which builders do NOT sell direct. Plus my guess is less than 2% of people in the US live within say 4 hours of a good dealer. Your results may vary.
My reply was that import duties plus taxes plus dealer profit amount to about 50% above what the manufacturer gets. I think that the duties and taxes on average are about 25% and the dealer gets the other 25%, for which he needs to fix the design and manufacturing defects and do warranty repairs and (most costly) have a stock of accordions for customers to browse through.
 
Similar threads

Similar threads

Top