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The Stradavox Thread

noelekal

The Home For Wayward Accordions
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Here's hoping to glean any information on Stradavox, the company history, years of production, and quality of instruments I also hope to find any other Stradavox owners who are members of the forum.

I just had some minor spot tuning done to this Stradavox. Mike Borelli did the work and a fun afternoon and evening I had watching the process. He suggested that, because of the serial number ending in "4", my instrument was produced in 1964. It's a standard 4/5 reed block arrangement. He was of the opinion that the reeds were of Allesandrini make. Mike thought that perhaps the Stradavox instruments were produced by Dallape. I saw an online ad selling a Stradavox claiming the Stradavox accordions were made by an Italian accordion maker with a name that began with a "B." I can't now recall the name and can't find the web site.

This accordion is full size with 19 1/4-inch keyboard and it weighs 28lbs. on the bathroom scales. It seems to be a very good instrument. It has the best playing response of any accordion I have owned. All keys and buttons are silent in operation, the shifts positive in their action. The bellows remain tight.

I've owned this accordion since the early 1990s. If the Stradavox brochure is a good reference then my accordion must be an example of their Symphonic Grand model. Never had it in a shop for any attention until last week. Yeah, it was overdue, like neglecting the oil change on the car or neglecting a service on a mechanical watch. The accordion's all better now though and I am pleased.

I recently played a 1952 Excelsior Symphony 4/6 accordion that I was considering for purchase. I'd long wanted a good Excelsior. I brought the Stradavox to the evaluation of the Excelsior and came away with the impression that the Excelsior had nothing to recommend it over my accordion. I wanted to like that Excelsior too!

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The question is, just how good is this guarantee 59 years later? Hah!


Here's a Stradavox brochure found inside the case of my accordion when I acquired it. It dates from before 1963 and the adaptation of the 5-digit ZIP code as the address at the bottom of the back page only has a 2-digit postal code. I remember those from when I was a kid.

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The original case resembles many of the cases seen in photos of Stradavox accordions offered for sale on Ebay or throughout the interet.
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Stradovox came to the USA by way of Dave Bianci (sp?)and his import accordion company named Chicago Accordion Manufacturers & Wholesalers something or other. His aim was selling accordions at a much lower scabbing price.
For instance if the manufacturer sold their accordion to a wholesaler for $500......they would sell to a dealer at $1000 who would in turn sell to a consumer for $2000.
In Bianchi's case........he bypassed all dealers and went directly to the customer, basically scabbing all dealers with cheaper pricing and ruining the entire market. John Castiglione in Michigan did this same thing later on. The difference was that the accordion manufactures formed a society that ignored sales to him because the manufacturers had been losing their wholesalers who in turn had been losing their dealers who in turn had been losing their customers.
People had been taken by his ads of 'Guaranteed for life" (whose life?) and the lower cost of then unknown accordion brands.....and no trade-in and no service.

Stradovox was his biggest name and a great accordion made by Generalfisa of Italy. it was a strong and hefty instrument. One of my 1950s students parents bypassed me and bought one for him complete with a tone chamber. During the lesson time with him with he using the Stradovox for the first time, and me using Excelsior Model A.........an array of cacaphony came from our duet. On my checking I found his Stradovox to be tuned A=446.
AHhhhhhh....maybe this is why they were bought/sold at a cheaper price.
So my response to you is that you have a great accordion, well made and designed. But I would have the tuning checked by a competent tuner to see if you too are expressing A=446 (called Salvation Army tuning). If you perform alone, then leave it alone if it is. Nice instrument. I have one around here some place.
 
Yea!

Thank you snavoyosky!

More information than I have ever before found on internet searches. It's fun to discover arcane information when one is a nerd.

I had searched Google Street View to view the building that housed the Chicago Accordion Manufacturers & Wholesale Outlet Inc. and the structure looked to be of an immediate post war era, small and in a now seedy part of town.

My Stadavox was found to be tuned to 442 when I had it serviced this spring. For that I should be grateful apparently.

It is very nice to play, nicer than any of the admittedly few other accordions I have handled in my lifetime.

There is also a Generalfisa on hand here that I'd not found any information on except for a few stale internet auction listings. So Generalfisa was the actual manufacturer? There are few internal similarities between the construction of the two instruments here though the exterior lines bear a resemblance.

Sure would be gratifying to have a complete flow chart of manufactures and the brand names emitting from their factories, but it's certain that there is no way to create one at this time.
 

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i THINK (from research i did some years ago)

that GeneralFisa was like a consortium set up in CastleFi specifically
to market to the USA jobbers and they had a few Factories supporting them
which were independent with their own models and features, though some
grill work might have been shared between them to fulfill orders.. actually
2 of those supporting factories eventually merged into one location.. the
owners/management of GeneralFisa were relatives of the Factory owners

partly because the name brands from those companies had some representation
in the US, but wanted a larger/wider share of the market. Some of the Big name Italian
Brands actually were kind of regional over here because of limitations of the importers
sales force and inability to project a wider reach (which can be costly in advertising)

there are Tonaveri's that are identical (looking) to some models of GeneralFisa,
though since Tonaveri was a toop premium brand it is unlikely they shared a lot
under the covers

regarding the Strad's.. i went up to see and play that fully tonechambered model
that was circulating around the USA for awhile.. all 4 reedsets in chamber..
that thing was more fatiguing to squeeze than a Roland and it was a BoatAnka
of a beast too
 
Thanks Ventura!

At 28 lbs it is a boat anchor, but it seems to squeeze itself. I'm 66 so we'll see how it plays in coming years.
 
I have a Stradavox that I used as my main box for a while. It's a gorgeous instrument with quadruple cassotto, 13 treble registers, and 9 bass registers. It was originally tuned to A443 but needed tuning when I got it, so I rounded it down to A442. I also didn't like that the lowest bass note was C, so replaced the two lowest banks of reeds to go down to low E. The keyboard is excellent, though the resistance was a bit too much for my liking. I bent all the key springs to give it a light, fast action and didn't notice any change in compression as a result, which can sometimes be a problem. I also removed the old stereo mic system, which wasn't working properly, and put in a new condenser system. It's a marvelous instrument, and even better with my modifications, but in truth I almost never play it anymore. It's close to 30 pounds, and my Hohner Morino is 23 pounds, A440, and louder, so that tends to win out.
 
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Here's hoping to glean any information on Stradavox, the company history, years of production, and quality of instruments I also hope to find any other Stradavox owners who are members of the forum.

I just had some minor spot tuning done to this Stradavox. Mike Borelli did the work and a fun afternoon and evening I had watching the process. He suggested that, because of the serial number ending in "4", my instrument was produced in 1964. It's a standard 4/5 reed block arrangement. He was of the opinion that the reeds were of Allesandrini make. Mike thought that perhaps the Stradavox instruments were produced by Dallape. I saw an online ad selling a Stradavox claiming the Stradavox accordions were made by an Italian accordion maker with a name that began with a "B." I can't now recall the name and can't find the web site.

This accordion is full size with 19 1/4-inch keyboard and it weighs 28lbs. on the bathroom scales. It seems to be a very good instrument. It has the best playing response of any accordion I have owned. All keys and buttons are silent in operation, the shifts positive in their action. The bellows remain tight.

I've owned this accordion since the early 1990s. If the Stradavox brochure is a good reference then my accordion must be an example of their Symphonic Grand model. Never had it in a shop for any attention until last week. Yeah, it was overdue, like neglecting the oil change on the car or neglecting a service on a mechanical watch. The accordion's all better now though and I am pleased.

I recently played a 1952 Excelsior Symphony 4/6 accordion that I was considering for purchase. I'd long wanted a good Excelsior. I brought the Stradavox to the evaluation of the Excelsior and came away with the impression that the Excelsior had nothing to recommend it over my accordion. I wanted to like that Excelsior too!

IMG_1738.jpg

IMG_1735.jpg

IMG_1747.jpg

IMG_1741.jpg

IMG_1743.jpg



IMG_1742.jpg
The question is, just how good is this guarantee 59 years later? Hah!


Here's a Stradavox brochure found inside the case of my accordion when I acquired it. It dates from before 1963 and the adaptation of the 5-digit ZIP code as the address at the bottom of the back page only has a 2-digit postal code. I remember those from when I was a kid.

IMG_1755.jpg

IMG_1750.jpg

IMG_1752.jpg

IMG_1753.jpg

The original case resembles many of the cases seen in photos of Stradavox accordions offered for sale on Ebay or throughout the interet.
IMG_1760.jpg

IMG_1758.jpg
You wrote: "I also hope to find any other Stradavox owners who are members of the forum." I have 2 Stradavox accordions. One is the quad chamber version (I seem to recall it saying "El Dorado" on it) and the other is a Symphonic Grand model (like yours) that I just acquired.

The quad has beautiful hand made reeds that I was told are "Magnetera". The SG does not have handmade reeds, but it sounds and plays really great anyhow. I mean it has one of the most beautiful tones I've heard in an accordion (and I own ~100 accordions, mostly high-end, for comparison).

For some reason, the white key tops on the SG are badly yellowed, brittle, and cracked. This is particularly surprising since the accordion is in perfect playing shape and in tune. And, the chrome on the grill around the shifts is badly tarnished. I'm wondering if there was a bad batch of key tops produced in Italy at one time, or if this box may have been left in a storeroom window too long ... any thoughts on that, anybody?

It's interesting that the brochure you posted doesn't mention if any of the models shown have or are available with handmade reeds. And it doesn't show the quad chamber model ... perhaps that came later.
 
hi Alan,

how have you been ? still playing the Rolands too ?

teah i played an El Dorado once and it sounded great but it was
a hard one to squeeze for volume

ciao

Ventura
 
In Bianchi's case........he bypassed all dealers and went directly to the customer, basically scabbing all dealers with cheaper pricing and ruining the entire market. John Castiglione in Michigan did this same thing later on. The difference was that the accordion manufactures formed a society that ignored sales to him because the manufacturers had been losing their wholesalers who in turn had been losing their dealers who in turn had been losing their customers.

This is very interesting. I bought an Excelsior 960 5/5 accordion from John Castiglione back in 2003. It was a complete custom build and he would converse with the Italian factory and provide updates to me. I believe it took somewhere around 6 months to finally receive it - maybe longer. Everything was exact to the specifications I had outlined and I've always been extremely happy with that accordion. The only issue is the weight - very, very heavy.

I never knew that about John, however. So he did this with only Stradavox or with other brands as well? Did he eventually stop this business practice? He had a pretty large shop and customers for decades which is no easy feat when the accordion instrument itself fell out of favor with the American public. I love hearing stories like these and I'm glad they're out there for posterity.
 
hi Alan,

how have you been ? still playing the Rolands too ?

teah i played an El Dorado once and it sounded great but it was
a hard one to squeeze for volume

ciao

Ventura
Hi Ventura,

I'm doing great and, yes, I'm still playing the FR-5s, of which I have two, the one from you and the one I'd bought previously. The piano sound on the Roland is great, and I use it a lot with my band. The ability to use bellows to control the dynamics on the piano (as well as controlling dynamics of other synthesized sounds) makes all the difference in the world for obtaining realistic sounds. The accordion sounds aren't bad either, except I still haven't found a master sound with which I'm totally satisfied. The light weight of the FR-5 and its ability to meet my needs has kept me from upgrading to a later version Roland.

I use one of my acoustic accordions when strolling or playing in our gypsy jazz band.

How have you been?

Have you learned anything more about Stradavox accordions or found your notes from your previous research? I find the company rather interesting because I have 3 of their accordions and they're all outstanding - so, I'm interested in any additional information available about the company. When I made my post above, I forgot about the older Stradavox I have that has a single tone chamber and great handmade reeds. It looks totally different than the ones in the brochure posted here.

Somebody told or I read somewhere that Stradavox accordions were built in the Italian town of Stradella, which isn't too far from Castelfidardo. Hence the name, Stradavox.

Alan
 
Hi Ventura,

I'm doing great and, yes, I'm still playing the FR-5s, of which I have two, the one from you and the one I'd bought previously. The piano sound on the Roland is great, and I use it a lot with my band. The ability to use bellows to control the dynamics on the piano (as well as controlling dynamics of other synthesized sounds) makes all the difference in the world for obtaining realistic sounds. The accordion sounds aren't bad either, except I still haven't found a master sound with which I'm totally satisfied. The light weight of the FR-5 and its ability to meet my needs has kept me from upgrading to a later version Roland.

I use one of my acoustic accordions when strolling or playing in our gypsy jazz band.

How have you been?

Have you learned anything more about Stradavox accordions or found your notes from your previous research? I find the company rather interesting because I have 3 of their accordions and they're all outstanding - so, I'm interested in any additional information available about the company. When I made my post above, I forgot about the older Stradavox I have that has a single tone chamber and great handmade reeds. It looks totally different than the ones in the brochure posted here.

Somebody told or I read somewhere that Stradavox accordions were built in the Italian town of Stradella, which isn't too far from Castelfidardo. Hence the name, Stradavox.

Alan
Here is a pic of my older Stradavox. It has been fully restored, and is one of my favorite accordions. Its single tone chamber is ideal for the type of playing I do. It gives a nice mellow bassoon sound while not sacrificing any punch and brightness in the clarinet reeds. I've seen accordions with this same grill design and type of shifts sold under many different brand names. This one originally had a "Rosciani" plate mounted over top of the name Stradavox. The plate was for the Rosciani accordion center in Italy, not the Rosciani's currently/recently operating an accordion store in Chicago - but they are related. Alan
 

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well times were changing even back then.. Sam Ash began his direct to consumer
1-800-4SAMASH and monthly leader specials in the Union newsletter, and Castiglione
followed suit, which was a smart move

the Dealerships were rapidly dying out ANYWAY because the Accordion
schools tanked as completely as the Titanic had

Castiglione had some very close relationships in Italy that lasted many decades,
including Scandalli/Farfisa, and he was one of only 2 Excelsior dealers/importers
for the USA (ALAS accordions in New York was the other) don't forget a considerable
portion of his house brand Castiglione label accordions came from ZeroSette

he was also one of the few who physically carried a full lineup of Button and ethnic Diatonic
models when almost no-one else was brave enough to offer them an except as "Factory order"

it is understandable depending on which side of the Dealer Network fence one grew up
or lived on, to hold a bit of a grudge against John, but he was a boon to the Consumer
without a doubt, and made good on his after the sale commitments too.. he would not
have inspired such a loyal following of customers, spanning generations, had he not.

probably what really ticked people off, sort of like my friend Rose Caccamise,
they never left any money on the table.. Rose or John..
meaning they were great salespeople who could work with whatever you
had in your Pocket to spend, and they wouldn't let you spend it anywhere
else if they could possibly help it

every once in awhile, Rose or John would call me out of the blue,
and the reason was they were near the end of a month with poor
Cash flow, and if i had anyone in my orbit looking for a deal/steal
this was the moment to jump

PS: i never took a finders fee or spiff from either, ever, and none
of my friends who got in on something regretted or complained
about either of them, ever..

so there are 2 sides to that part of the story.. i do fall on the Consumers side
preferring direct and better pricing over bloated distribution markups, as
well as getting the customers exactly what they NEED as opposed to
pushing off whatever they HAVE in stock at the moment
 
I discovered this photograph in a Google Images search. I have been intending to post it here. The styling of the instrument shown would seem to suggest a more modern instrument than the other Stradavox accordions found. Has anyone encountered one of these Stradavox models?


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I discovered this photograph in a Google Images search. I have been intending to post it here. The styling of the instrument shown would seem to suggest a more modern instrument than the other Stradavox accordions found. Has anyone encountered one of these Stradavox models?


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Wow ... never seen anything like that before. I'd love to know the provenance on that accordion.
 
well it could simply be that way over wherever that is, they never
heard of the stradavox brand name (it being a USA thing)
so they just thought up a name and co-incidence happenned ?
 
Hi Ventura,

I'm doing great and, yes, I'm still playing the FR-5s, of which I have two, the one from you and the one I'd bought previously. The piano sound on the Roland is great, and I use it a lot with my band. The ability to use bellows to control the dynamics on the piano (as well as controlling dynamics of other synthesized sounds) makes all the difference in the world for obtaining realistic sounds. The accordion sounds aren't bad either, except I still haven't found a master sound with which I'm totally satisfied. The light weight of the FR-5 and its ability to meet my needs has kept me from upgrading to a later version Roland.

I use one of my acoustic accordions when strolling or playing in our gypsy jazz band.

How have you been?

Have you learned anything more about Stradavox accordions or found your notes from your previous research? I find the company rather interesting because I have 3 of their accordions and they're all outstanding - so, I'm interested in any additional information available about the company. When I made my post above, I forgot about the older Stradavox I have that has a single tone chamber and great handmade reeds. It looks totally different than the ones in the brochure posted here.

Somebody told or I read somewhere that Stradavox accordions were built in the Italian town of Stradella, which isn't too far from Castelfidardo. Hence the name, Stradavox.

Alan
Just some useless trivia, Stradella is pretty far from Castelfidardo (at least by European standards). Castelfidardo is in the Province of Ancona on the Italian Adriatic coast. Stradella is northwest from Castelfidardo in the Province of Pavia, closer to Milano and the Swiss border. By the way, Stradella was the home of Dallapé accordions.
 
Just some useless trivia, Stradella is pretty far from Castelfidardo (at least by European standards). Castelfidardo is in the Province of Ancona on the Italian Adriatic coast. Stradella is northwest from Castelfidardo in the Province of Pavia, closer to Milano and the Swiss border. By the way, Stradella was the home of Dallapé accordions.
You are, of course, correct about the location of Stradella. I was confusing Stradella with another town in my prior post. Thank you for setting the record straight.
 
You wrote: "I also hope to find any other Stradavox owners who are members of the forum." I have 2 Stradavox accordions. One is the quad chamber version (I seem to recall it saying "El Dorado" on it) and the other is a Symphonic Grand model (like yours) that I just acquired.

The quad has beautiful hand made reeds that I was told are "Magnetera". The SG does not have handmade reeds, but it sounds and plays really great anyhow. I mean it has one of the most beautiful tones I've heard in an accordion (and I own ~100 accordions, mostly high-end, for comparison).

For some reason, the white key tops on the SG are badly yellowed, brittle, and cracked. This is particularly surprising since the accordion is in perfect playing shape and in tune. And, the chrome on the grill around the shifts is badly tarnished. I'm wondering if there was a bad batch of key tops produced in Italy at one time, or if this box may have been left in a storeroom window too long ... any thoughts on that, anybody?

It's interesting that the brochure you posted doesn't mention if any of the models shown have or are available with handmade reeds. And it doesn't show the quad chamber model ... perhaps that came later.
Hello! I am new to this forum. I am pretty excited that others are as passionate about the Stradavox accordion as I am. I am 70 years old and my first Strad was the Imperial Crown intermediate sized model that I received new in 1964. My dad bought it from the Accordion Corporation of America at 5535 West Belmont Ave in Chicago. I used it to earn a Mid-America Music Association trophy that Myron Floren signed for me. My dad played as well, and he and I wore that accordion out throughout the years. The Swedish Blue Steel reeds gave that accordion such a bright, crisp sound that couldn't be duplicated at the time. I have recently sold that accordion, it being intermediate sized. I previously acquired the Stereo Classic "Eldorado", and I chased and finally purchased a full-sized Stradavox Imperial Crown, with 13 treble and 7 bass switches. Such a great sound and keyboard response.

I still own the Imperial Crown, my favorite acoustic accordion of all time. I also own two Roland FR3-x V-accordions.
 
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Hello! I am new to this forum. I am pretty excited that others are as passionate about the Stradavox accordion as I am. I am 70 years old and my first Strad was the Imperial Crown intermediate sized model that I received new in 1964. My dad bought it from the Accordion Corporation of America at 5535 West Belmont Ave in Chicago. I used it to earn a Mid-America Music Association trophy that Myron Floren signed for me. My dad played as well, and he and I wore that accordion out throughout the years. The Swedish Blue Steel reeds gave that accordion such a bright, crisp sound that couldn't be duplicated at the time. I have recently sold that accordion, it being intermediate sized. I previously acquired the Stereo Classic "Eldorado", and I chased and finally purchased a full-sized Stradavox Imperial Crown, with 13 treble and 7 bass switches. Such a great sound and keyboard response. My favorite acoustic accordion of all time.

I still own the Imperial Crown, my favorite accordion of all time. I also own two Roland FR3-x V-accordions.
Also, my flyer from back in the 60's shows handmade reeds for the Imperial Crown and the Eldorado. All the others in the flyer say hand-tuned.
 
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