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putting midi on Bass and counter bass rows only

EMan

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I do almost all "solo" gigs these days. The idea of having electronic bass ( like a string bass sound on my accordion) is quite appealing to me. However, I do not care for the synth sounds created on the right hand. Speaking to a midi installer locally, I have found that it is possible to add midi just to my bass and counter bass rows on my Bugari 288 Gold. That sounds interesting to me, as it would provide me with the electronic bass but not interfere with the beautiful sound of my acoustic accordion. Has anyone added midi on the box in that manner ? Is so, I'd be interested in hearing your feedback.
 

Glenn

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Hi,

I don’t have a retrofit midi on my accordions but I would imagine it is the midi sound engine which determines which notes do and do not react to midi. Even if all left hand buttons had midi fitted it will be the sound engine which decides what to do with them. Have you checked on the features of the sound engine you intend to use ?
 

Chris Laarman

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I do almost all "solo" gigs these days. The idea of having electronic bass ( like a string bass sound on my accordion) is quite appealing to me. However, I do not care for the synth sounds created on the right hand. Speaking to a midi installer locally, I have found that it is possible to add midi just to my bass and counter bass rows on my Bugari 288 Gold. That sounds interesting to me, as it would provide me with the electronic bass but not interfere with the beautiful sound of my acoustic accordion. Has anyone added midi on the box in that manner ? Is so, I'd be interested in hearing your feedback.
(Somewhat like an alternative to Glenn's reply) On my Roland FR-1xb, the different features are transmitted and received on different MIDI channels (by default). "Off" is an option. - I couldn't find a manual for the Bugari 288 Gold, so I can't be more specific.
 

EMan

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Hi,

I don’t have a retrofit midi on my accordions but I would imagine it is the midi sound engine which determines which notes do and do not react to midi. Even if all left hand buttons had midi fitted it will be the sound engine which decides what to do with them. Have you checked on the features of the sound engine you intend to use ?
Glenn, I haven't looked at the available sound engines yet. I was just curious if anyone else had done this and what their experiences were. I"m looking to replicate closely an electronic bass sound to give me that full bottom when I'm playing. I have an EVO and typically use that for solo gigs, but I just bought the 288 and would like to have that as an alternative.
 

Ventura

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over the decades, lots of people (especially Jazz players) used
(only) MIDI bass, it is no big deal

currently, MIDI retrofit systems are very limited in variety and availability,
as reedless accordions have taken much of the available market share

at one time, some of the MIDI outfitters made and sold left hand only
systems and installations.. you may not be able to find any currently

it is more likely an installer will just get the simplest MIDI system
he can find for you, install the left hand section contacts,
and leave it at that

so you may pay a bit more for the "kit" than you will actually use

it is most likely your MIDI left hand will NOT be velocity sensitive, and
will output a preset "volume/intensity" MIDI controller level for each
note pressed. Therefore, it is important that whatever MIDI module you
use for the sound creation can be adjusted in it's own way to "mellow"
the resulting sound to something you like

i recommend picking up an old Roland Sound Canvas, models 33 55 or 88
are all very easily tweakable, and can give you a variety of alternate Bass
tones (like Rhodes, Vibes, Organ) as well as an upright Bass

bass typically transmits on channel 3 (there are 16 MIDI channels)

patching a Volume Pedal in may also be useful

ciao

Ventura

PS: it would also be helpful if your installer could modify or
exchange one of the bass Shift couplers to "mute" all left hand reeds
 
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Zevy

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Many years ago I played that way. You might be able to hear it here:

 

boxplayer4000

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Eman
Like you I only want midi for my left hand and have had years using only bass and chords.
Midi generators are available so that only simple key contacts are required (and a power supply). It follows that you have to be
fairly handy at fine soldering etc. or know somebody who is.
Tom Scarff of Dublin specialises in pre-programming generators to handle midi.
He has one programmed for accordion with the 3 necessary channels, 1, 2 and 3 but you can use only 1 channel if you want, or 2 or 3.
(I have a spare unit for sale but you are quite far away. I'm in the UK)
 

Alan Sharkis

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Most midi systems made for accordion today employ Hall-effect detectors rather than physical contacts. However, they also send midi events on separate channels for treble, bass and chords and give the player the option to turn each section on or off at will. If your accordion is equipped or can be equipped with a mute for the bass, you will have the desired setup. Some systems must be installed by the midi manufacturer’s factory, but other manufacturers make kits that an experienced accordion technician can install for you. Many of these systems also include bellows pressure transducers so that your bellows still control the dynamics.
 

JerryPH

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The 288 doesn't have a mute on the bass, it was designed as an acoustic accordion from day 1", but that in no way should interfere.

Personal opinion time (and that is all I can share... lol), if I was going to MIDI an accordion it would have both right and left hands done for the simple reason that one day if my tastes changed, I would have the option to have some low strings accompany my accordion's right hand. Also resale value is (slightly) higher if both hands are done versus just the left hand. I'd rather have it and have the choice to use it or not, over needing it and not being able to.

In the UK," left hand only MIDI" is more prevalent and popular, especially on the smaller accordions. For them I also figure its not just a choice but a cost/funds available situation.

When playing the Elka, I'd mostly play acoustic accordion on the right hand augmented by "electronic" bass on the left, but I would also often use organ, trumpets, strings as a background to my acoustic, it added a lot to the overall sound and sonic variety. I also added arrangers for a rhythm section and that was a big part of what became my style when performing. This kept the music more interesting and varied for me... anything that helped me create a more enjoyable experience for me and the audience was definitely a plus, but it was also having the options. I didn't always use an arranger, there were times I just flicked off all arranger/MIDI sounds and used the acoustic accordion all alone and strolled around for a song or 2.

Not everyone has my tastes and I definitely do not expect everyone to share my opinions either, but choices are a good thing... kind of like a condom or a gun... its nice to have if you need it, but not good when you need it and don't have it.

Accordions are not a life/death situation, so the above may not be completely appropriate, but it is my opinion. :)

In terms of bass modules, there are a few, but I want to share an opinion here too, Ed. You are not the kind of guy that is going to use 200 different bass sounds. I think you will choose 1-3 basic sounds and stick to those for the most part. You may likely not even use the sounds on the chords, so you don't need a BK-7m or a V3 arranger (though that could change if you really like a sound or tone that they make), instead look for smaller/cheaper modules and check f they have the 1-3 sounds that you like... you might even find that something "vintage" like an old Yamaha FB-01 module just might have those couple sounds that you like... so when shopping, listen to the sounds and see if whatever module you are reviewing fits your needs. You may not need that Ketron SD-90 (at $4500... lol), but may find some used unit for a hundred bucks or so.
 
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Valski

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For about 27 years I worked in technical sales. One of the requests that I received most often was that a customer "only wanted feature A" and wasn't interested in anything else. The task then became the requirement to explain that manufacturers generally aim to cover the requirements of the larger market and they therefore don't cater to very specific requests. I would generally give my "Toyota Corrola " explanation that if you want a cost effective and reliable vehicle that you might be best served purchasing the Toyota, because even if you were never, ever going to carry passengers, then the vehicle in question might be your best option.

When you extrapolate that to midi accordion, there are many reasons why you may want and even need more. With your retrofit, you will still need to purchase and to carry additional equipment like amplifiers and perhaps control modules of various sorts. Being extremely careful when spending money, I try to remember the theory of marginal utility where the need to gain the best use from my purchase always takes precedence over anything else. I also toyed with various options before learning that something self contained may be your best option. That's why I ended up purchasing the Roland Fr8x after carefully considering my other options. Most competitors require the use of external amplifiers when my Roland can be self contained, so I can just pick up one thing and head to my Gig.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from the brand that you were considering, nor am I gaining anything by recommending that you purchase the Roland. With the Roland I can take one item with me to a smaller gig and be ready to play anything without having carry additional equipment. It's ready to go and that's why they are the largest brand of midi accordions. You may also arrive at this conclusion on your own, after much trial, error and expense, so perhaps you may want to consider investing in the Roland at the start. Good luck in any case.
 

JerryPH

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You may also arrive at this conclusion on your own, after much trial, error and expense, so perhaps you may want to consider investing in the Roland at the start. Good luck in any case.
Ed has a Bugari EVO, understands MIDI, but has this absolutely lovely new 288 that can be changed a little to meet his requirement on live gigs and make it better. This is what I see as the current challenge.

We all kind of strive to look at what is the ultimate solution for our needs and Ed has a very clear picture of what his needs are and how to address. Getting that Bugari 288 acoustic opened up his vision of an awesome accordion experience, but now sees that there is a lack in sonic impact on his bass side, something that MIDI could easily address.

Yes there may be a tiny mixer or even a 1/4" mono splitter coming in to his future along with a small module... that is the price to pay if one wants to go that direction. With the Elka I was at the point where I needed a full out mixing console with *all* 16 channels used up for my Ketron Programmer 24, and Elka, separated all sections and created this perfect (IMHO) stereo image, which is what I demanded of my music at that time. It was a 1 hour setup, 30min tear down at each gig, but I loved it. I don't think that this setup is an "every older man's" game, especially if you are alone so I know he is trying to keep it light, simple and easy to transport (ie: single small amp, module and accordion). It's very doable, but is going to take a bit of research to find his ultimate setup. He has the accordions, the amp... now its the MID install, a module and, what I am suggesting is not a mixer but a simple 1/4" splitter from 1 plug in to 2 where he could insert his accordion in one jack and his module in the other, for minimum complexity, size and dollar investment.

What I would see if he could do with his MIDI setup, no matter what he decides (left or eft and right sides), is make sure his setup supports the ability to power a wireless MIDI connector, that way there is only 1 wire coming out of his accordion, the mics, from accordion to amp, and even that could be made wireless with a guitar transmitter, that way he is completely free to take a few steps in any direction and not have any wires dangling from his accordion.

But that would tend to be more towards a "phase 2" level of implementation. :)
 
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Ben-jammin

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I haven’t added midi to an accordion like that but generally I don’t use the midi on the right hand (besides sometimes a violin sound with slow attack so it swells and adds a bit of shimmer on long sustained notes). I save my midi sounds in patches using my accordions preset channels and generally don’t assign any midi sounds to the right hands channels. I usually have the left hand microphones turned all the way down, but I don’t bother with the mute switch.

You mentioned bass and counter bass but not the Chord notes from the left hand. For me having the chord notes on a separate channel would be important for how I use my midi.

If it were me I would probably at least go for a complete left hand installation and make sure the chords and bass notes can be on different channels. Every time I play midi with the bass but no chords it seems like something is missing.

I’ve mentioned it before but I just use the sound tank app running on an iPad with an irig interface which makes a fairly compact set up. I have a little soft case with the irig, excess cables and my midi power supply attached to the amp I use. With the iPad on a music stand mounted tablet holder.

My midi sounds go into the aux channel of a fishman loudbox performer and I use one channel on it for my accordions treble microphones.

In my opinion adding a punchier bass to a solo accordion is the single best thing you can do to improve the effect. So your plan has my approval.
 

Valski

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I haven’t added midi to an accordion like that but generally I don’t use the midi on the right hand (besides sometimes a violin sound with slow attack so it swells and adds a bit of shimmer on long sustained notes). I save my midi sounds in patches using my accordions preset channels and generally don’t assign any midi sounds to the right hands channels. I usually have the left hand microphones turned all the way down, but I don’t bother with the mute switch.

You mentioned bass and counter bass but not the Chord notes from the left hand. For me having the chord notes on a separate channel would be important for how I use my midi.

If it were me I would probably at least go for a complete left hand installation and make sure the chords and bass notes can be on different channels. Every time I play midi with the bass but no chords it seems like something is missing.

I’ve mentioned it before but I just use the sound tank app running on an iPad with an irig interface which makes a fairly compact set up. I have a little soft case with the irig, excess cables and my midi power supply attached to the amp I use. With the iPad on a music stand mounted tablet holder.

My midi sounds go into the aux channel of a fishman loudbox performer and I use one channel on it for my accordions treble microphones.

In my opinion adding a punchier bass to a solo accordion is the single best thing you can do to improve the effect. So your plan has my approval.
I also use midi for the right hand sparingly or hardly ever. On the other hand the Bass is where I want the added punch of midi sounds. My entire point was that why would someone want the added complexity of creating something partially effective when there was a great solution already available. hand
 
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EMan

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In my opinion adding a punchier bass to a solo accordion is the single best thing you can do to improve the effect. So your plan has my approval.
This pretty much hits the nail on the head of what I'm hoping to accomplish. I have that with my Bugari Evo. In fact it on my Evo, my right hand is acoustic sounding almost always. I use the synthesizer sounds of the treble rarely. The punchier bass (string bass sound) on the left hand is a fixture when I play. On my newer acoustic 288, I'd like that same punch.
Overall, Thanks to all for the very insightful replies. Much to study before making a move.
 

Alan Sharkis

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When I had a SEM Ciao reedless, it booted up with upright baass on the bass channel and acoustic guitar on the chords channel. The guys in our little amateur band loved it, because at the time we didn’t have those instruments. I often put the treble into a clarinet sound when we played klezmer numbers and alternated lead with our violinist. When the Ciao developed problems, I bought an acoustic with Master Play Midi. It has the same tone list as the Ciao, but the sounds are richer. Because we were a band, I could get away with keeping the midi going along with the accordion reeds. But when we needed that clarinet sound in the treble, I had to strap the bellows closed and control dynamics with a foot pedal because the acoustic accordion doesn’t have mutes.
 

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I put MIDI into the bass side of my Hohner musette IV accordion. Best thing ever..I can play the bass, and or control an arranger OR use acoustic bass sounds from the arranger. I have a midi accordion also, but this works excellently. The only issue is that I have no options for sound changes on the right hand side. sometimes I like to use a sound from the Expander mixed in or instead of the accordion sound. That is why I have both systems. I did the MIDI install myself, it was not difficult, but a little finicky. The other nice thing about the midi on my acoustic, is that it is wireless, so I can move around freely.
 

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I would go for full midi. It's the best thing . I've done you then have all the options .you will be spoilt for choice ..I had the musictech midi system installed and also their wireless transmitter and receiver system..it's brilliant no leads / firing cables to worry about. .complete freedom . Just my thoughts. ..good luck with what ever you decide..
 

Valski

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I would go for full midi. It's the best thing . I've done you then have all the options .you will be spoilt for choice ..I had the musictech midi system installed and also their wireless transmitter and receiver system..it's brilliant no leads / firing cables to worry about. .complete freedom . Just my thoughts. ..good luck with what ever you decide..
I agree completely. The freedom to change your mind is great to have and doing something partially often leads to the desire as well as the need to upgrade to something more. A number of years ago I looked at a retrofit system that would just do the bass and the cost can add up far beyond the sticker price so decided that a full system was the best and most cost effective way to go in the long run.

Best regards, I hope that you'll be happy with your decision.
 

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