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Pros and cons of digital accordion

breezybellows

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The Digital Accordion can do a several things that a traditional accordion can not do. On the other hand there are some things that the acoustic accordion does better. I made a detailed video to discuss my perspective on the different topics in which the acoustic and digital accordions perform differently and one outperforms the other.

This can be useful for anyone that is considering a purchase of a digital accordion to add to their collection of accordions. It can also be useful for someone who's debating whether to purchase an acoustic or a digital accordion.

Accordions used for demonstration!
1) Petosa Artista pro xt 2019 LMMH 41/120 double tone chamber with voce armoniche a mano (hand made reeds)
2) Bugari Evo Haria P41 digital accordion

 
Nice job Joseph. Lots was familiar to me, though it was helpful to see side by side playing comparisons early in the video. Your video will certainly help those undecided whether or not to go digital. I would imagine that most prospective V accordionist purchasers already have played an acoustic, though this is only a guess.
I spent several years, and several tries with early Rolands-- the Roland 2 and the 3S. Since I had no interest in using external speakers, I've always felt the sound on my Rolands were inferior. ( My 2 used a small Roland Cube speaker at my feet) I understand that the X models have an improved sound. I considered an 1Xb as I began to learn CBA, but the advice I got was to stay acoustic if I only intended to use the onboard speakers.
 
Breezybellows. Great presentation. I appreciate all the time you spend to put this video together on the Pros/Cons of a Digital vs. Acoustic accordion.

I have an 8X. I think Roland made a mistake with how the new Rolands came out with "Their" programmed sounds. For me, Roland only gets you to "First Base" with the sounds they have programmed as delivered. They should have at least have included something like the Richard Noel UPG's with the factory delivered "V" accordion that would make the accordion sound so much better. Thankfully, they have a large amount of "software hooks " for the end user to make changes to most anything that is loaded into their accordions. I love this -- I guess you could call me a "tinkerer". I love to "fine tune" the Roland parameters to find the "sweet spot" for every tone. I play for our church and for assisted living places that I really enjoy and they do too. The problem I have is, I probably spend 1/2 of my time practicing my 8X and 1/2 of my time on the programming/fine tuning of my 8X.

This the same thing that happened to me with my Hammond B3 (1/2 time playing, 1/2 time making modifications). I have added 3rd, 4th, and fifth harmonics to the B3 percussion in addition to the original 2nd and 3rd harmonics that came with the B3. I also added the Trek II String bass to my B3. The installation of the Trek II involves removing the Hammond 16' and 8' pedal tones and replacing them with the TrekII String bass tones. What I did different, was I added the Trek II string bass and kept the original B3 16' and 8' Pedal control. So my B3 has four drawbars that work simultaneously for total control of the pedal tones. Whenever I every make a modification/improvement to anything, I try to keep the original design and make the improvement as an "addition".
John
 
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Breezybellows. Great presentation. I appreciate all the time you spend to put this video together on the Pros/Cons of a Digital vs. Acoustic accordion.

I have an 8X. I think Roland made a mistake with how the new Rolands came out with "Their" programmed sounds. For me, Roland only gets you to "First Base" with the sounds they have programmed as delivered. They should have at least have included something like the Richard Noel UPG's with the factory delivered "V" accordion that would make the accordion sound so much better. Thankfully, they have a large amount of "software hooks " for the end user to make changes to most anything that is loaded into their accordions. I love this -- I guess you could call me a "tinkerer". I love to "fine tune" the Roland parameters to find the "sweet spot" for every tone. I play for our church and for assisted living places that I really enjoy and they do too. The problem I have is, I probably spend 1/2 of my time practicing my 8X and 1/2 of my time on the programming/fine tuning of my 8X.

This the same thing that happened to me with my Hammond B3 (1/2 time playing, 1/2 time making modifications). I have added 3rd, 4th, and fifth harmonics to the B3 percussion in addition to the original 2nd and 3rd harmonics that came with the B3. I also added the Trek II String bass to my B3. The installation of the Trek II involves removing the Hammond 16' and 8' pedal tones and replacing them with the TrekII String bass tones. What I did different, was I added the Trek II string bass and kept the original B3 16' and 8' Pedal control. So my B3 has four drawbars that work simultaneously for total control of the pedal tones. Whenever I every make a modification/improvement to anything, I try to keep the original design and make the improvement as an "addition".
John
Yeah. The factory sounds could have been set up better. I'm not much of a programmer myself. I do use Richard Noel's programs. I've tried creating a handful of sounds that I use often but I haven't done that enough.
 
Although I really think digital accordion is not an accordion, its a vertical electronic keyboard but it has some advantages and very important disadvantages for me. However, people added electronic midis to their accordions even in 1960's. The idea here is, if an instrument is about creating a controlled sound, before computer chips, the only solution was a metal reed in an accordion. So the next step will be the chip to make a sound, making things easier to manufacture and service, as same as accordion have made that step from a church organ. The problem is acoustic sound is actually very unique, colorful and have important nuances in every note, brand, and model. Some beginner ears even hate that sound differences, they want everything in exact order. Big but is art is not at all about making standard blocks of art pieces together. Thats unacceptable for me in a digital accordion and digital every other instrument actually. But in a small apartment, its impossible to work at night with an acoustic accordion. Thats the important advantage of digital, you can work silent. I wish digital accordions were half the price of an acoustic one. That may made me to buy one for a side practice instrument. But they are not. Another selling point is "professional" musicians will already digitalize the music they are making with microphones and speakers anyways. Why not digitalize everything from the start and output directly? Although accordion itself already a very colorful instrument, regular listener doesnt appreciate that acoustic value sometimes. Professionals make this job for mostly money, and they want to meet the demands of employers and audience. So, making things even more colorful with a trumpet sound or percussions for example is beneficial. But having a lot of fakish sounds doesnt makes that your performance will be more artful, especially not authentic.
 
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One thing I would add, along the same lines as murathan's comments:

The question isn't just "which of these two things is better for ___?", but "what is the best thing I have for ___?"
The electronic monster may still be best for practicing accordion technique in a crowded apartment. It may still be best if you need dry and wet tuned sounds in the same piece of music so you can't change instruments. It may still be best for experimenting with different freebass systems before you have chosen one to learn (though a real accordion equipped with something like the Beltuna solenoids could probably also be programmed to achieve this effect.)

But if you ask me "what makes the best piano sound (violin sound, drum sound, etc)" I am going to say "a piano (or a violin or a drum)."
And if you ask me to make the most perfect recording of a piece that I can, controlling every dynamic and timbre and tempo just-so, I will skip the big clunky expensive interface and go straight to the computer.
For the price of a Roland or Bugari Evo, you can buy a really fine computer with some really fine software and sound banks -- and even check your email and play games on the same device while not making music.
 
As a note before actually digging in: I'd not use "digital accordion" vs "real accordion": that sounds like a value statement, and when you drop your Evo on your foot, it feels very real. "Acoustic accordion" (as in the video platform title rather than the in-video titling) is more neutral.
 
And if you ask me to make the most perfect recording of a piece that I can, controlling every dynamic and timbre and tempo just-so, I will skip the big clunky expensive interface and go straight to the computer.
For the price of a Roland or Bugari Evo, you can buy a really fine computer with some really fine software and sound banks
Software and sound banks are so limiting. Controlling everything just-so means writing down every digital sample, 48000 per second. See the fallacy you fell in? Software and sound banks reduce your control. So does, of course, the choice of any physical instrument, but the degrees of control that are left to you are the ones where you can make a difference the listener may appreciate. The best modelers compromise on what they let you do, but of course physical instruments also limit you. Which is why some instruments can be really expensive and come with awkward controls in return for something nice. Software solutions these days will offer a lot of bang for the buck, but the ability to monetize large audiences means that being able to get more bang than others may return more bucks than it took you anyway.

Modern productions often involve a mixture where most of the race is done with software and sound banks and the final rounds then get redone with real musicians and instruments.
 
I think we can even find “vintage” versions of this discussion. I bought the Roland for the quiet practice mode. “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.” Even playing normal acoustic volume can be tough on the ears after a couple hours. Hopefully it will last long enough to have justified the cost. That said, for me, it comes down totally to the player. There are both true beauty and true garbage from both digital and acoustic accordions. I am fortunate enough to discern the difference.
 
And if you ask me to make the most perfect recording of a piece that I can, controlling every dynamic and timbre and tempo just-so, I will skip the big clunky expensive interface and go straight to the computer.
For the price of a Roland or Bugari Evo, you can buy a really fine computer with some really fine software and sound banks -- and even check your email and play games on the same device while not making music.

The computer can not be played like an accordion. So for an accordion player the digital accordion is the computer in the form of an accordion. It might not have all the sound banks and the software capabilities of a computer. But it is an accordion and it is self contained. I'd choose the digital accordion over a computer any day.
 
As a note before actually digging in: I'd not use "digital accordion" vs "real accordion": that sounds like a value statement, and when you drop your Evo on your foot, it feels very real. "Acoustic accordion" (as in the video platform title rather than the in-video titling) is more neutral.
I used the term real because I wanted a shorter word for the thumbnail. I didn't use that term in the actual video.
 
One thing I would add, along the same lines as murathan's comments:

The question isn't just "which of these two things is better for ___?", but "what is the best thing I have for ___?"
The electronic monster may still be best for practicing accordion technique in a crowded apartment. It may still be best if you need dry and wet tuned sounds in the same piece of music so you can't change instruments. It may still be best for experimenting with different freebass systems before you have chosen one to learn (though a real accordion equipped with something like the Beltuna solenoids could probably also be programmed to achieve this effect.)

But if you ask me "what makes the best piano sound (violin sound, drum sound, etc)" I am going to say "a piano (or a violin or a drum)."
And if you ask me to make the most perfect recording of a piece that I can, controlling every dynamic and timbre and tempo just-so, I will skip the big clunky expensive interface and go straight to the computer.
For the price of a Roland or Bugari Evo, you can buy a really fine computer with some really fine software and sound banks -- and even check your email and play games on the same device while not making music.
Some people liked the techy idea and digital possibilities at hand but people never used that much of sounds, most of them doesnt match to tunes. It happened in keyboards before. You have 500 sounds but you use (prefer) 4-5 in the end which is equal to the treble switches on an accordion.
 
Some people liked the techy idea and digital possibilities at hand but people never used that much of sounds, most of them doesnt match to tunes. It happened in keyboards before. You have 500 sounds but you use (prefer) 4-5 in the end which is equal to the treble switches on an accordion.
I love to have the capability to group a 1/2 dozen sounds that I use regularly and fit the sound to the tune I play. I don't agree that the 4-5 treble switch sounds you can get on an acoustic accordion are equivalent to my favorite 4-5 sounds on my 8X. My favorite 4-5 sounds come from a selection of 305 orchestral sounds available on my 8X. Your acoustic 4-5 sounds are variations of reed combinations that are different, but still very similar. The 8X tones are really different. For example, I use a Clean Guitar sound for the Hawaiian Wedding Song or Aloha-Oe. Or, Tubular Bells for some Church music, and of course great Organ sounds for church music. A nice Banjo sound fits perfect for the tune "Oh, Suzanna". And then various Accordion sounds for a Polka.

I like a large variety of changes/tones and the 8X really has it.
 
I love to have the capability to group a 1/2 dozen sounds that I use regularly and fit the sound to the tune I play. I don't agree that the 4-5 treble switch sounds you can get on an acoustic accordion are equivalent to my favorite 4-5 sounds on my 8X. My favorite 4-5 sounds come from a selection of 305 orchestral sounds available on my 8X. Your acoustic 4-5 sounds are variations of reed combinations that are different, but still very similar. The 8X tones are really different. For example, I use a Clean Guitar sound for the Hawaiian Wedding Song or Aloha-Oe. Or, Tubular Bells for some Church music, and of course great Organ sounds for church music. A nice Banjo sound fits perfect for the tune "Oh, Suzanna". And then various Accordion sounds for a Polka.

I like a large variety of changes/tones and the 8X really has it.
Yes true. What I never understood is why this is in an accordion shape? It is a keyboard anyways, you can buy a good Casio about 500 dollars. :)
 
Some people liked the techy idea and digital possibilities at hand but people never used that much of sounds, most of them doesnt match to tunes. It happened in keyboards before. You have 500 sounds but you use (prefer) 4-5 in the end which is equal to the treble switches on an accordion.
That's the key, an acoustic accordion has one style of sound, a digital accordion gives you the choice of many sounds and they are more distinct than the register sounds so they are more versatile than a traditional instrument. We all have different tastes and ideas so what suits one musician may not suit another. I like a variety of different music styles and my Roland Fr8x gives me the ability to emulate many more styles than it would be possible with a strictly accoustic accordion. There is no "correct " style of accordion and to claim otherwise is borderline snobbery.
 
Yes true. What I never understood is why this is in an accordion shape? It is a keyboard anyways, you can buy a good Casio about 500 dollars. :)
The Casio would be difficult for me to learn. I do a lot with the Stradella bass, besides (Bass Chord-Bass Chord) or (Bass-Chord-Chord).

Using my left hand on the Casio would be difficult for me. Also, I don't think I could get the same expression that I can get with my 8X..
 
The Casio would be difficult for me to learn. I do a lot with the Stradella bass, besides (Bass Chord-Bass Chord) or (Bass-Chord-Chord).
A whole bunch of electronic keyboards have the option of switching the bottom octave between playing single notes and playing preprogrammed chords (though more likely to be offered major, minor, dominant seventh, and minor seventh than diminished.) The difference seems to be that serious keyboardists regard the chord buttons as children's toys for people who haven't learned to play the left hand yet.

As a small boy I actually had a cheap little keyboard that had a block of chord buttons completely separate from the main keyboard. I don't remember seeing that layout again in the last 30 years.

Curiously I never could get the hang of either hand on a keyboard, let alone both at once.
 
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