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Scandalli Polifonico 13/6 refurbishment, tuning questions

chj

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Hello! First timer in this forum, as well as an accordionist player and repairman newbie. A situation not without challenges, but fun. I am refurbishing a Scandalli Polifonico Brevetta fisharmonica 13/6, and I have two of them. 1963 and 1959. Beautiful powerful sound for those parts working. Internally alike, but the other one has less register choices. It will end up as one or two Scandallis, dont know yet.

A question to free reed tuning: I have removed vax and reeds in the bass section and try them on a selfmade tuning table. Setting concert pitch to 441 because that is what think (wrongly?) that I measure on the basson when the accordion is mounted, I find that the free bass reeds has a mean tuning value of let's say +8cents. This is in the C3 - C4 range.

I attach two measurement graphs from an excel sheet I made in order to delineate and understand the accordion construction (and as a measure tool). These are measurements of the treble siden when playing normally.

1. Scandalli 1 (The graph with the many deviations, these are actually reeds with e.g loose rivets or wax gone awry. It seems to have been used VERY much)
2. Excelsior Accordiana 320.

Would someone be able to help me evaluate what the concert pitch of the Scandalli 1 is, when I say the curve is relative to concert pitch set to 441 in the underlying calculus. Is perhaps 441 too low? Is this why I get +8 cents as referenced above?

Back to the +8cents deviation. This is after cleaning them with alcohol, a process which results in a pitch raise of approx 5cents or more, depending on dirt level. Some reads were dark grey with pollution.

The question is if there is a recommended approach for tuning these reeds now; in free air before mounting them again? As I understand it, the lower air pressure outside an accordion will raise pitch, but what is the experienced mean raise in cents? Approx 5cents? Varying with frequency? I.e. I understand I need to subtract a little while tuning in free air, to hopefully avoid re-correcting in the later tuning stages.

Should I find a new concert pitch that cause the +8cents above to be lowered to 0 cents, and then pretune all the reeds to that? I am searching a way to NOT pretune to a faulty value, causing more work in the final "on the block and in the cage" tuning.

I am also searching a PC, Android or iPad tuner app with the option to show mean value. Those I have now have their measured value jumping up and down instantly, making it hard to find a mean value to correct. I.e. an app that calculates mean value instead of instant value. I am aware of Dirk's tuner software which has that as LOCKED, but it is a little expencive in the current situation. Is there a cheaper and well reputed alternative with such a lock?

Final question. See the excelsior measurement. In the lower bass range, there is a notorious pitch lowering. My question if is this is more likely a deliberate tuning from factory, or if it is a result of many years of use (It is a 1973 model in otherwise excellent condition). In other words, should I tune those bass notes back in line with the higher notes, or leave it? (I once read that some instrument has a deliberate lowered pitch due to human interpretation making it sound more natural, but I am generally ignorant on that particular effect).

Thanks for any advice.
 

Sebastian Bravo

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Scandallis are generally tuned 442Hz. That's why you get the +8. For tuning, i can recommend Datuner Beta apk for android. The question of the Excelsior is called "estiramiento" in spanish and it's correct. Lower notes must go down in pitch and higher notes must go up, use your ears measuring the octaves!
 

chj

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Scandallis are generally tuned 442Hz. That's why you get the +8. For tuning, i can recommend Datuner Beta apk for android. The question of the Excelsior is called "estiramiento" in spanish and it's correct. Lower notes must go down in pitch and higher notes must go up, use your ears measuring the octaves!
Many thanks for info. I am trying to get the accordion tuning theories under my skin. Would there be an excel sheet or something illustrating the teoretical values of the estiramiento? Also, the two Scandallis I have do not have estiramiento (as far as I have measured thus far and as seen on my pictures in the original posting). So estiramiento is possibly something the vendor choose to do or not do? Or perhaps someone in ignorance has tuned it away in an earlier refurbishment.

Confirmative on 442. When I set the tuner to 443+, in free air, the +8 is largely gone. I assume that 443 could end up with 442 once mounted and in the cage vacuum. I shall try your recommended app, but I found "Tuner T1", which is great because it shows the history of one reed activation (using a tuning table). It is shown as a moving graph and thus it is easy to see the "mean" value. It is supposedly accurate as well.

On another note, I notice a quite notorious difference on the reeds on the Scandalli 1959 and 1963. The 1959 reeds are more easily activated on the tuning table. More responsive to weak air flow. So I swapped them because the 1963 model i more sophisticated with its registers and more, so the 1963 is my prime refurbishing target. The reeds are different as the 1959 model has a black surface (around the rivet), while the 1963 is alu coloured there. Perhaps this is just because the 1959 model appears to be less used than the 1963, or there IS a quality difference.
 

chj

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An additional question about tuning temperament. Will I be well off tuning everything to equal temperament, or is there one or more "golden" tunings schemes that would be better to use? Put in other words, are those well reputed high quality accordions generally tuned to equal (with the exception of estiramiento and similar techniques), or do they have some "secret temperament" that will make it sound better. Would those schemes be publically available? Link? (I did not find anything through google, but I have a few books explaining tremolo choices etc). Disregard anything tremolo for this question. I am talking about the rest, including left and right side.

Those here versed in the skill of tuning, what is your favorite scheme?

Thanks again
 

Glug

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Off topic: how did you date your two Scandallis ?
 

chj

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Off topic: how did you date your two Scandallis ?
They have a per sample production number and then I (finally) got a quick intro to that from a U.S. accordion retailer. I quote the text:

"
L from approximately 1955-1958, M from 1959-1962,
N from 1963-1968."

Could be I remembered wrongly, as both are M series. so 1963 could be 1962, or perhaps it it was 1963 due to some other info I just now cannot remember. But by studying some info here and there, e.g. the use of small vs capital letters in the SCANDALLI logo, I additionally learned that small letter logo is 50ies, while capital letter is (dont quite remember) from the 60ies. Thus, the older model MUST be 1959. The "newer model" is 62/63.

Interestingly, I purchased the 59 model for 120 dollars. It was found on a garbage "park", but picked up. Of the two, it has a slightly better, more "woody" sound, really nice! It could be because the wax is less brittle on that one, or it could be a deviation in the wood in the cabinet. Remains to be seen, as I will move the reeds from 59 to 63 because the 63 has a more sophisticated register system. I notice the wax in the 63, which is quite brittle, has a dark brown color, while the wax in the 59 is more yellow, but with a white tint on top (like chocolate when it gets too old). Thus, I am wondering if the 63 wax was in the cooker too long before it was applied, because I notice the wax gets brown when heated for a certain period of time. If so, I learned that it is important to not overheat the wax. I am guessing and anticipating.

On Italian accordion history: I also contacted Scandalli in Italy, but those there are subject to the "corporate memory lost" syndrome, as is also the case with Paolo Soprani (I have a slick red "super donnina" with festive sound). The Italians have not kept the historic files of their brave industry, which is kind of sad. Perhaps there was, after the golden era of the sixties (another anticipation) an abysemal period where the ship was abandoned?

I bet there is an old Italian in some village that has all the information in his/her head, if only someone would pose the questions. It would be a VERY interesting read!
 

Glug

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chj

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Also interesting project. Regarding Brevettos, there is a guy; Mich hursey, that has a website on his repair of such models, but I have been unable to contact him, so it is probably an older page. Here: http://www.mick-hursey.co.uk/accordions/projects/. He repaired a crack in one of them, which could be someting to look into on your part. Your model does it not have a serial number inside or out? Mine have both places.
 

Glug

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So where is the serial number ?

I've seen "516/3" or similar in several places, but nothing that made me think it was a serial number.
 

chj

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on e.g. my 13/6 variant it says M 958/99 on the outside and some places on the inside. On the outside it is written on a bracket, on the inside I think it is just stamped
 

Glug

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That's probably because yours is a real Brevetto.

I've got "516/3 Made in Italy" scratched on the back of the treble and "573/3" stamped in the metal inside the bass cover. Maybe I've got a frankenstein.
I have got "BREVETTI SCANDALLI" stamped on both ends of the bass machine though :)
There's also something handwritted on the back of the bass machine button plate, it's 3 words the middle of which is "120".

What do the register switches look like on the L, M, and N models ?
 

debra

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For those less familiar with italian... "brevetto" just means "patent", and thus "brevetti" means "patents", so it has nothing to do with the identification of an instrument, of reeds, etc. Whenever this word appears it just means that something was patented, nothing more than that.
 

chj

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I have M only

1959: White, more similar to yours but totally flat in see through plastic, flat, apparantly with simple paper beneath. The 1959 is also without a master button. Instead, it is available on the master switch only. Causes less register buttons without diminished functionality.
1963: Black and soft curved buttons with golden inscriptions denoting reed combinations. Much more pleasant looking. Piccolo and Basson comes twice on each end, thus 13 buttons, not 11.
For those less familiar with italian... "brevetto" just means "patent", and thus "brevetti" means "patents", so it has nothing to do with the identification of an instrument, of reeds, etc. Whenever this word appears it just means that something was patented, nothing more than that.
Exactly what I have been pondering on. Now demystified. Thanks. Don't be shy if you should have something else to tell us about those vintage scandallis. :) Specifically, if you are aware of any special tuning profiles for these, it will be most appreciated. (Even though they exists in variants LMMM LMMH etc, and from listening, with strongly varying degrees of tremolo. My LMMH is dry tuned on the tremolo, but I have an Excelsior LMMH with very nice tremolo that I am considering adapting to the Scandallis)

One question about ETS. My Excelsior is 440, while both Scandallis are 442. Will I be best off accepting 442, or would there be anything to gain soundwise by lowering to 440? I guess not and that I should not since it would be much more work. But any comment appreciated...
 
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Glug

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So is this the Scandalli Brevetto timeline ?

L from approximately 1955-1958

M from 1959-1962

N from 1963-1968
 

chj

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So is this the Scandalli Brevetto timeline ?

L from approximately 1955-1958

M from 1959-1962

N from 1963-1968
Yes, I have the two from the bottom. Both has really wonderful basoon and clarinet, but since they are somewhat out of tune, the rest is at the moment not so good. The piccolo is also fine, but does not stand out from the crowd from what I have heard, and that is not much (yet). The mute is fabolous sounding.

If I got it correctly, the bottom one is not 62+ due to small lettered logo. I guess on 59-60, and it was probably more expensive then due to more advanced register system. But the LMMH versions are more or less identical on the reed blocks so the sound should be correspondingly equal

A link to someone demoing each register. This is with the mute off (lids = open). To my ears, the sound enhances quite dramatically when the lids are locked, i.e. muted. Almost like tonechamber sound. Probably because the mute turns the major lid containing the 6 small lids into a tonechamber :) Dry, soft, languorous. And loud as hell.

 
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Glug

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I've measured the tremolo on my Scandalli as delivered, ie. before any cleaning.
Some notes are several cents out of tune, but I fitted linear and exponention lines to the beat progression:

Linear A4 11.4 cents, F3 0.91 bps, A6 5.9 bps
Exp A4 11.4 cents, F3 0.89 bps, A6 5.87 bps

The exponential fit had a very small negative coefficient, which seems to imply the beat progression is actually linear.
Whether this is the original tuning I don't know.
My 1959 Hohner Lucia has a linear beat progression, but it's 16 cents at A4.

Statistical package: R with the 'basicTrendline' library.
 

chj

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Due to the necessity of rewaxing and tuning, I have not yet measured that, but the excelsior is beautiful in its tremolo. I anticipate it is linear because in the upper octaves the tremolo could be said to be somewhat too agressive. My cunning plan for a future milestone is to dig out an accordion with a perfect non linear tremolo, and then implement that. But so much to do before that could start. But I am very intested in anyone's experience on an excellent tremolo curve. The Dirk's accordion tuner has some profiles (too expensive for me at the moment, but it is exposed in the trial version).
 

chj

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Yep, that last one is dodgy.
Here's a real N (you can see the serial number on the 4th photo:
Not important, but it has again the small lettered logo, although being newer than mine capital lettered one from 62. And this time without the embracing brackets of the 1959 model that I have. That's good for me because I miss one of those brackets and so I can remove the other and noone will react. IF this is the orginal logo of the sample, and not subject to manipulation.
 

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