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Paolo Soprani - Can you help identify the age and model of this accordian?

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bmansell

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Hi there, Ive recently acquired this Paolo Soprani accordian - I believe it is a tone chamber but Im not entirely sure, Id love to know the year of manufacture and model if anyone out there can help. I think its late 1940s or early 1950s. Its in great condition and really is quite beautiful... Thanks in advance for any words of advice.
Brett
 

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WaldoW

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I'd say you're about right on the date. Do you have an original case with it [helpful in dating]? VERY cool grille. Never seen one before. No idea of the model.
Pull the pins on the treble end, open her up, and look for a cossoto chamber.

Press on...
Waldo
 
B

bmansell

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Hi Waldo, thanks for your response, yes I have the case, and I think it's original so will try to upload a picture of it now. The bottom of the case has been painted white but underneath the white paint you can make out the words "From THE HELLER CO, Cleveland Ohio" and I tried searching this but couldn't find any reference to it anywhere.... also, it has what I think is an original bag (one of the zips has been replaced), that it goes in before it goes inside the case to protect it, appears to be some sort of velvet fabric.
cheers
Brett
 
B

bmansell

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pins pulled, and a few pics of the internals....
 

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Geronimo

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There is no tone chamber. The idea of the saxophone flaps is that you can open them when you want a more open sound and close them for a dampened sound. It's a change in tone quality but at the cost of overall volume, quite different to what an actual cassotto does. It's interesting since I just remember Scandalli doing this (I think the respective models are named "Showman"). I seem to remember either have been folded into Mengascini these days, but at least then they were different companies.

Oh wait: looking closely those aren't actually flaps but just circular decorations with the normal cloth below them. At any rate, given the geometry of the reed blocks, there is no tone chamber (at least not of the regular kind).

And a five-reed bass. Those are usually nice to have.
 

WaldoW

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Bmansell,
Adding to PM; looks like it would benefit from a valve job. Also, are those missing reed plates, or just blocked off spaces between reed plates [treb side]?
Very unusual case. Certainly 50's or before.
Later original Paolo's [60's -'80, the company changed hands in '81 or '82]had a badge attached to the grille with a cartoon accordionist on it, surrounded by 7 stars. New production [post 1982], carries a similar, yet slightly different badge, with only 5 background stars. The '60-80's units also typically had a large [30mm] cursive "Paolo Soprano" script on the bass side box. The smaller script, as appears on yours, was found on earlier and/or higher quality offerings. Obviously, there was overlap of such items as badges and scripts as they were phased in or out and supplies were depleted. Did you check reed quality, per PM?
Press on...
Waldo
 
B

bmansell

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Hi Waldo, Yes I did check reed quality and have PM'd you some close up pics and more detail. No missing reeds so yes they are spacers I think. Interested to hear what you think of the pics that show more detail of the reeds. Really appreciate the detailed responses, I am learning a lot! Cheers Brett
 
G

Geronimo

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Geronimo post_id=53275 time=1512941455 user_id=2623 said:
There is no tone chamber.
Ill have to take that under advisement. The reed block closest to the body might have its sound routed differently in which case it would have its own pallets and serve just a single reed set. The normal cassotto has its reed blocks oriented sideways, but there are some instruments (like some of mine) which tamper with the sound of a single reed set (rather than the two sets typical for cassotto) without placing it differently.

So without a look under the hood, its not obvious whether or not your instrument might have a tone chamber effect on a single reed set or not.
 

jozz

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I don't know this type but the 'darth vader' lines type of grills are typical for a '40's model. Most likely the grill is plastic? Also, if there are "chainmail" like bellow-straps, it's design could have it's origins in the WW2 era, not necessarily meaning it was produced then...
 
B

bmansell

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Thanks Waldo and Jozz,
Jozz, yes the bellow straps are as you mention and like chainmail, and I think the grill is plastic but the insets in the grill (with the notes on them) are done in chrome or nickel, so not plastic. Ive uploaded some close up pics so you can see
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The only reason I thought this might have been a tone chamber was because of a clip I found on youtube when I was trying to find out more about it. The clip is here: <YOUTUBE id=IjK13ySp300 url=></YOUTUBE> and as you can see looks very very similar, and its the only thing Ive managed to find that appears to have the same grill. That said, this one is presumably newer than the one I have as the Paolo Soprani is in a larger font, which I believe means its later... Also, the one in the youtube link has 13 trebble selectors and 5 base, but my one has 11 trebble and 3 base, again I assumed my one has less as it is older.... (but these are all assumptions)
Waldo, very interesting comment on the tone chamber, did you get the PM with the pics of the close ups of the reeds?
Thanks very much for your comments, theyre really helpful.
 

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WaldoW

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Bmansell, Negative, didn't receive close ups. Send 'em again.
WW
 
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bmansell

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Odd, the message is still sitting in the PM outbox, but was as follows:
Hi Waldo, I have tried to get a better picture, and then cropped to show only the reed so hopefully you can see some detail at full resolution, should show the rivets much clearer also (difficult to photograph so close up). Another thing that interests me is that some of the reeds have scratch marks down the centre of the reed from the bottom of the rivet to about half way down the reed. They look intentional, any idea why they do this? Oh, and yes I can confirm all reeds are present and accounted for, like you say it looks like it could do with having a valve job... but at least there is no rust on the reeds, they all appear to be in very good nic!.


cheers
Brett
 

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WaldoW

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Yup, standard machine reeds. Flat top rivet and no bluing on the narrow edge of the reed itself. That would probably back up the "no cossoto" supposition. I find the standard Soprano reeds wholy adequate. The scratch marks you refer to are the result of the tuning process. A little metal is either removed from the tip of the reed to allow for a faster vibration [sharper], or the middle of the reed is scratched for the opposite effect. It's all very subtle and requires a good ear.
Good luck on your playing, these are awsome machines.
Press on...
Waldo
 
B

bmansell

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Thanks Waldo, makes sense re the scratch marks on the reeds, knew there would be a good reason for it and after your explanation it makes perfect sense. Thanks for all your words of wisdom, I've learnt a lot about this beautiful machine. I was thinking there would be model names/numbers hidden away somewhere on these machines (for those that knew where to look) but obviously not, which just makes them even more intriguing.... I’d love to know how it came to land in New Zealand and some more history behind it. I have a collection of old jukeboxes and vintage coin operated stuff and I often look at these things and wish they could talk, the stories they could tell (my oldest jukebox dates back to 1936) – they are all works of art in my humble opinion. Thanks again for all your advice. Cheers Brett. P.S what is something like this worth?? I brought it in a fit of enthusiasm from an estate sale with absolutely zero knowledge… (aside from an appreciation of its obvious aesthetic qualities)
 

landro

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That Paolo Soprani is a good example of why the well known brand name on an instrument is often insignificant. It`s almost always more about the internals than the maker`s name plate .
 
B

bmansell

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Thanks landro, yes I certainly appreciate that, and I've learnt a lot about these things with the help of the guys on this forum (Waldo in particular), which really has been invaluable. Regardless of what it is or isn't I'd still be interested to know what someone out there thinks it's worth?? With the help of the guys on this forum we know a lot more about it now, which may mean it's worth nothing, and that's perfectly fine, but I am still curious... Either way it's a lovely old thing, and it's in fantastic condition given it's probably celebrating its 70th birthday about now - I just hope I look that good when I'm 70! Thanks for your comments, Cheers Brett
 

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