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Reed Makers

Scuromondo

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As I understand it, there are only a handful of Italian reed makers (e.g. Binci, Cagnoni, Voci Armoniche, Siva) and each of them supply all the accordion manufacturers with products across the full range of available reed types, including commercial, dural, tipo-a-mano, and a-mano.

Individual players probably have subjective preference for the sound of reeds from one particular manufacturer vs. another.

But is there any general opinion about whether reeds of a certain type are “better” when coming from one manufacturer or another? In other words, can it be said that, for example, the dural reeds from Manufacturer A are demonstrably superior to those of the other manufacturers’ dural reeds, or that the Tipo-a-Mano reeds from Manufacturer B are clearly inferior to the others?

...or are the reeds from all the manufacturers so close in quality across the spectrum of product that the reed manufacturer does not really much matter?
 
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Dingo40

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Scuromondo,
I can't answer your question, but whilst on the topic of reeds, I was surprised to see, when looking up Petosa brand accordions on YouTube, the assertion that they guaranteed the reeds (in their current product, a Petosa Leggera AM1000 LMMH in this case) against breakage for the life of their original purchaser.
Well,if that ain't something!?🤔
 
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Ventura

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Artigana Voci are in my FisItalia... very sweet

CEMEX / Excelsior made their own reeds and bought out one big name reedmaker
at some point in the 1990's... does anyone know if Pigini retained this equipment
and moved it to the Main Factory? i guess they couldn't fit everything
(the Kiln was left behind) and they did move the electronics department...

but who knows ?

arguably, Machine processes are incredibly precise today... the Riveting would be
perfection compared to some human hand punching holes and riveting with a hammer

we have more powerful presses and punches now, as well as better, harder, sharper
die tooling and better Carbide integration NOT TO MENTION Laser Cutting of steel

ElectroMagnets are also more powerful and focused for positioning and holding

the sourcing for appropriate Spring Steel is very very limited, and the type available
in Coils again very limited in dimension and thickness unless you can order huge amounts

Sweden and the USA still have drawing mills, but i imagine Swedish Steel is the
standard in Europe and Italy

is there anyone left alive in Italy like Gola or Scandalli who learned and practiced their
own tempering of the Steel for their best reeds ? i would be amazed if any reed-steel today
is custom tempered

the Salpa "Bombata" with the curved reed-surface is perhaps the cream of todays crop,
preferred by many for Tone Chamber applications

aluminum technology has come an amazing way as well, from the beginnings
in the ALCOA labs... Aluminum enjoys a powerful resurgence in many manufacturing
sectors today, so continuing R&D is robust

i personally would prefer Machines assemble my set of reeds, and a Human
spend his time finishing and finessing their voicing, rather than spending
weeks making reeds completely by hand and driving the cost through the roof

SIVA and Antonelli may be in the strongest position going into the Future
as they are much bigger than just reeds

but not just the reeds... it has been decades since Reedmakers could compete
financially for Leather product, and we have all seen and heard the deterioration
of quality through use of the artificial leather and plastic film types of valving

there are old Italian Sofa's getting tossed into the Landfill with better leather that
you can find in todays Accordions
 

debra

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Most modern reeds are all of very reasonable quality. But sometimes you find problematic quality. I have worked on a Hohner Morino IV N that has unmarked reeds (most of the N series has Bugari reeds and they have a Bugari stamp in at least one of them) and on a Fisart (professional convertor) also with unmarked reeds and both were problematic in the sense that a number of reeds would start playing a few cents too high, and settle down a few cents lower after a few seconds of playing and they would then stay stable (without playing for about one song). No amount of hammering on the nails would fix this. (Sometimes the nail/rivet can be a bit loose causing the same effect, and hammering the nail then solves it but not in this case.) I have worked on many accordions by now (some random repairs but mostly tuning) and these two are the only ones so far. Alas, as the reeds are unmarked and accordion manufacturers often do not state which reeds they use I have no idea which reed maker was used. That Hohner had tipo-a-mano (hand finished) reeds and the Fisart had a mano (hand made) reeds.
The best reeds are all from reed makers that no longer exist (Catraro, Taborro to name just two that I know). But generally Voci Armoniche (the merger of Salpa and Antonelli) and Artigiani Voci are very good and used a lot in high end instruments. Binci are also very good, but different. I think they are either softer or thinner, and are sometime (perhaps wrongly) called ladies reeds. Fine sound, but more delicate regarding voicing. Just my opinion here based on too small samples to be meaningful, so caveat emptor! I'm not a big fan of Cagnoni. My Hohner Artiste XS has Cagnoni tipo a mano reeds, like all other Morino S series accordions I know.
I have no idea where Pigini would be using "their own" reeds (inherited from Excelsior or not). The Pigini bass accordion I have has Artigiani Voci (a mano) reeds and they are very good. (Too bad Pigini then put crappy faux-leather valves with plastic boosters in that instrument.)
Don't rule out the Chech "Harmonikas" reeds. The factory is state of the art and produces excellent reeds with very low tolerances. They also make bayan reed plates used by Russian bayan makers nowadays.
One of the first things I do when getting an accordion in for tuning is check out who made the reeds, as that tells me how much filing or scratching will have how much effect. Voci armoniche (and the Salpa predecessor) and Artigiani Voci are tougher than Binci and Cagnoni in my experience. The old Taborro reeds I worked on were by far the toughest of all. (I just wish they were in one of my own accordions...)
 

losthobos

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I don't know why but i love the machine made duralium reeds in my modern 2005 Maugein... Smoother than any reed ive had before...?????
And an odd thing occurred to me.... How come no matter what box i have its always the F above middle C that sounds out of tune first... Perhaps my ears... As Paul says setttles after playing a while...???
 

Ventura

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you were perhaps born with perfect pitch...

but which pitch ?

perfect Werkmeister, perfect Pythagorean, or perfect Ptolemaic

hehehe

and i love that line from Debra... "The best reeds are all from reed makers that no longer exist"
 

debra

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I don't know why but i love the machine made duralium reeds in my modern 2005 Maugein... Smoother than any reed ive had before...?????
And an odd thing occurred to me.... How come no matter what box i have its always the F above middle C that sounds out of tune first... Perhaps my ears... As Paul says setttles after playing a while...???
Are you sure you have duralium (or do you mean duraluminium?) reeds? As far as I know all modern accordions have duraluminium reed plates with steel reeds. The only reeds I know that are not just "steel" are used in mouth-operated instruments like harmonicas and accordinas and nowadays these use stainless steel reeds (that are a bit softer than regular steel, but at least they do not rust due to moisture in the player's breath).
 

Scuromondo

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Are you sure you have duralium (or do you mean duraluminium?) reeds? As far as I know all modern accordions have duraluminium reed plates with steel reeds. The only reeds I know that are not just "steel" are used in mouth-operated instruments like harmonicas and accordinas and nowadays these use stainless steel reeds (that are a bit softer than regular steel, but at least they do not rust due to moisture in the player's breath).
Before duraluminum, what material was used for reed plates?
 

debra

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just plain old aluminum

and before that Zinc
Wasn't brass also used at some point? (Brass was also used for reeds, but I thought maybe also for reed plates?)
The use of duraluminium is a compromise between strength, weight and price. Steel would be stronger but too heavy. Titanium might be lighter but too expensive.
 

dunlustin

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In concertinas Aluminium was tried as a lighter and modern replacement for brass around 1900.
Not a success until more stable alloys were developed - early Al tended to disintegrate.
Brass still the default.
I seem to remember that Hohner used Zn plates as a better option (1930s?) but better than what?
 

Gonk

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Brass was definitely also used in melodeon reedplates and perhaps in PAs as well (though I'm not sure). It may be that the PA only really picks up steam around the same time as zinc. Interestingly, brass was also used for harmonium reedplates... I'm guessing that zinc was cheaper in production terms, including its ease of melting and casting, than brass. Aluminum seems to have taken over as soon as it became viable, for similar reasons. Now some makers offer brass plates again - I know Harmonikas does.
 

Dingo40

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As brass has almost three times the specific gravity of aluminium, using brass reedplates should make an accordion seriously heavier than would using aluminium reedplates .🙂
 

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