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Palmer-Hughes Quint Free Bass


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Mar 1, 2020
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Hi everyone, does anyone know where I could purchase the Palmer-Hughes Converter instruction books? They seem like they are difficult to find. Thank you.
When I got my copies I just stalked Amazon and eBay until a set came up.

As far as I can tell they are out of print.
Hi danp76, may I kindly ask - is there something in particular that you are hoping to find from the books?
Hi danp76, may I kindly ask - is there something in particular that you are hoping to find from the books?
Hello Walker, I have two Titano accordions with the quint system. I'm only familiar with stradella, and would like to learn more about free bass.
My folks had trouble buying some books from Deffner over the holidays. When I tried using the Paypal button on the last thing I wanted, it worked just fine.
The advice I received on quint free bass from a great teacher of accordion was "what do you need books for?"

If you know stradella layout you already know quint layout. The key is to transfer your knowledge of playing 1 octave of bass notes to a 2nd and 3rd octave. The benefit is that it can be an altogether more fulfilling musical experience. It is close to life changing.

If I could give you any advice, it would be this:

1. Select a simple piece of music you like (with or without sheet music), something slow and lyrical.
2. Select free bass mode.
3. Experiment with finding harmonious bass sounds.

Remember, your quint free bass is an example of the circle of fifths, par excellence. It is the most wonderful thing for harmonisation, composing, building chords and playing within a key or modulating to other relative keys. Quint is the big brother of stradella. All the notes you need (assuming you are not playing some atonal, avante garde horror music) will be close by, and near where you would expect them to be with stradella bass.

I will say one last thing - up until 6 months ago I played a musette tuned piano accordion with stradella bass - for dance music, ceilidhs etc. I bought a free bass accordion and flicked the switch to free bass. Within six months I entered a composition competition for classical and contemporary music in the Highlands. I was awarded 2nd place with a distinction and invited to perform in their premier concert for classical musicians - with pianists, violinists etc. All of a sudden, you open up the bellows and are playing polyphonic music, and the piano players start looking at you like 'where did this guy come from'. You see their eyes ping open and it's like they are thinking - is that an accordion, it sounds like a church organ...

I am still a free bass beginner but I cannot praise quint highly enough. So many non-accordion people take the accordion for granted, as if it's some cheesy instrument for light-weights. Well it's not. And if someone like me can surprise one or two folk then anyone can. Make no mistake you can do a lot with just 3 or 4 octaves on the bass.

If you know stradella then don't worry about the books - just dive in. Make some sounds - the 'patterns' and 'shapes' will appear sooner than you think.
Hi everyone, does anyone know where I could purchase the Palmer-Hughes Converter instruction books? They seem like they are difficult to find. Thank you.
And If I had a quint box, I’d be booking on these arpeggios like mad…
Two very interesting videos. I think it gives an insight as to why quint bass hasn't become the dominant choice for classical musicians notwithstanding the pre-eminent commercial weight of the USA.
Wow, I am thrilled to see such interest in quint free bass. Really delighted!

I discovered an interesting interview with the world famous accordionist Richard Galliano discussing his famous Victoria button accordion. If you watch: 4 mins to 6 mins - he gives a very brief demonstration of stradella bass and then switching to his quint free bass. The interview is in French, so many of us will not understand the words - however sometimes actions can be useful too.:)

Interestingly, there are a few quint converter accordion players on the Accordionists Forum. Though I suspect they may be more reserved about their instrument than I have been. I am possibly one of the least accomplished of quint players, but then it's only been 8 or 9 months or so. There are other players on this forum with so much experience, that I barely feel qualified to comment - even a multiple world accordion champion amongst us plays quint.​
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On paper, I thought quint bass seemed horribly limiting... but I am warming to the idea a lot this spring - between a few things posted on here, and me experimenting more with left-hand melody on Stradella. It is surprisingly easy to get a lot of tonal melodies "under the fingers" when they are built out of scales and thirds.
The problem with Quint is its playing cricket using the rules of football.

The guy in the 'Quint Bass Review' video explains the fundamental issue starting at 2.15 to 3.00 which (before you even get into Quint bass) is simply the level of athleticism needed to play a simple scale on stradella: it isn't an easy or natural use of the hand. I stand by this possibly controversial statement, not only from personal experience when learning stradella scales (thinking what other instrument has the level of complexity to play such a basic unit of music) but also by listening to other far more experienced players. They take a deep breath and execute a fast stradella scale perfectly; then they do it again or play it in the context of real music and muff it. I've heard this time and time again - its not that they are bad players and haven't practised a lot, its that the athletic demands placed on the hand playing multiple scale sections are simply unreasonable - too dammed difficult! I'd contrast that with the ease of playing consecutive notes on a minor 3rd based system such as C or B systems.

Applying this to classical music (much of which is composed of partial scales up to around 3-6 consecutive notes) and you are being sent out to play cricket with a broken bat. Yes, it can be done with a lifetime of dedication, but the level of practice to perfect an awkward use of the hand is beyond most people's level of patience and time. Perhaps this is why many amateur quint bass players do a broken chordy melange type thing with their left hand because its so much easier than consecutive notes.

The other revelation from this video (which I hadn't previously understood) is that Quint bass casually jettisons the main advantage of stradella bass where the circle of fifths layout means that once one can play stradella in one key, you can play it in all keys with identical movements. Look further on in the video as he moves from the scale of C to D.

Normally a good idea from the richest country in the world with the wealthiest consumers will become globally dominant. The fact it hasn't and something else has for the classical accordion is revealing. To take the idea to absurdity, consider applying the quint bass system to the right hand and have left and right hands mirrored: a concertina crossed with a nightmare of complexity in a mirror.

A fifths based bass keyboard is ideally suited to the dance music for which it was conceived. If you've had most of your life embedded in stradella bass and want to branch out I can see why Quint looks tempting. I do have a strong sense though that after an initial rush, you are going to get stuck on a terribly torturous journey and that an average beginner learning a different bass system is going to quickly overtake you if they want to play a broader range of music.

Cricket and football are both great games - but there are sensibly two different approaches which fit each game perfectly.
Just watched the Galliano video - my schoolboy French can just about manage it! Watch one of the greatest accordionists that ever lived play the easiest quint scale in C major at 5.30 and the slight unevenness as he ends the first octave and begins the second in a way that no other instrument would do. You can see why if you look at the acrobatics his hand is having to do at that moment. Magnify that issue by 100 for us lesser mortals!