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What qualifies an accordion as being "Professional"?

IHAccordion

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I've seen the term "Professional" thrown around a lot in descriptions of accordions (namely the more expensive ones that people are trying to sell), but there doesn't seem to be any clear line drawn on what separates a "Professional" model from a regular model - rather it varies from person to person.

Your thoughts?
 

Dingo40

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Well, probably the fact that a "professional " accordionist plays/played it at work for a living? 🤔
You can see a selection of such instruments in use here:😄
There's a professional musician using one such instrument in this clip.
Unfortunately, my limited knowledge doesn't enable me to identify the make and model, but I do know for a fact that during a concert tour, which included my local capital city, the accordion in question suffered a malfunction, which was remedied by my local accordion repairman, who received complimentary tickets to the Cambridge Buskers concert for his sterling efforts at such short notice!😄
Another clip, giving a clearer view of the accordion in use on another occasion. 🙂:
 
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JIM D.

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Technically an an accordion (any model) my be addressed the same as a performer is. A performer playing for just entertainment
is an amateur. A performer playing for money is a professional and the instrument also becomes a professional instrument.
In the US for years now accordions have been classified as - Student Models & Semi Pro & professional. The Semi Pro models
are well made 3 reed treble & 5 reed bass . The Professional models will have 4 or 5 sets of treble reeds with or without Tone
Chamber & 5 or 6 reed Bass with or without a convertor.
 

debra

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In the accordion world it is a bit less clear than in other products, because a professional entertainer using a small accordion to accompany his/her singing may use a fairly basic instrument (like a Hohner Verdi II N for instance) whereas a concert musician will need a full size instrument (often with cassotto).
But generally speaking any product that is labeled as "professional" is something a true professional would never touch. Every product I know that is labeled as "professional" may be of above-average quality but not good enough for a true professional.
It is not so different with accordions: a "professional" accordion may refer to it having hand made or at least hand-finished reeds, but it doesn't mean much more than that. The reality is that a true professional does not need a label such as "professional" to help in selecting a truly professional instrument. (At best it helps to know to avoid accordions labeled as "professional".)
The world just likes to be fooled!
 

Zevy

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In the accordion world it is a bit less clear than in other products, because a professional entertainer using a small accordion to accompany his/her singing may use a fairly basic instrument (like a Hohner Verdi II N for instance) whereas a concert musician will need a full size instrument (often with cassotto).
But generally speaking any product that is labeled as "professional" is something a true professional would never touch. Every product I know that is labeled as "professional" may be of above-average quality but not good enough for a true professional.
It is not so different with accordions: a "professional" accordion may refer to it having hand made or at least hand-finished reeds, but it doesn't mean much more than that. The reality is that a true professional does not need a label such as "professional" to help in selecting a truly professional instrument. (At best it helps to know to avoid accordions labeled as "professional".)
The world just likes to be fooled!
My sentiments exactly. Caveat emptor!
 

Tom

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Wow, so I've made money playing my accordion, so they are (have been) professional. I've also played for free so they were not. One is 4/5 so definetely professional. I think they may become schizophrenic at this rate.
 

jozz

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Outside of the obvious marketing purpose of badging an instrument as "Professional",

I'd indicate a professional instrument as having several key properties to make a living off of it:

- not too expensive, more like - not more/better than what's needed for the job
- dependable/durable (proven in the field)
- expendable/repairable

That sort of stuff.

A really expensive, elaborate top of the line unique instrument would be a reward and recognition of someone's professional career, but not his/her daily workhorse.
 

IHAccordion

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Well, probably the fact that a "professional " accordionist plays/played it at work for a living? 🤔
You can see a selection of such instruments in use here:😄
There's a professional musician using one such instrument in this clip.
Unfortunately, my limited knowledge doesn't enable me to identify the make and model, but I do know for a fact that during a concert tour, which included my local capital city, the accordion in question suffered a malfunction, which was remedied by my local accordion repairman, who received complimentary tickets to the Cambridge Buskers concert for his sterling efforts at such short notice!😄
Another clip, giving a clearer view of the accordion in use on another occasion. 🙂:

That looks like a Hohner Conerto accordion.
 

TomBR

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If it's so hard to play, that only a professional can manage.
Maybe not accordions, but I think that's sometimes true!

I'm told that "trade" ie professional paints can be harder to use, but if you have the skill to apply them they do a better job quicker than "DiY" point.

A piano-tuner friend of mine was tuning a top quality piano before a concert. The professional who was to play that evening came in to practice and my friend asked him about the heavy action - the pianist smiled and shrugged and said, yes, that how I like it.

Paganini had a violin that he called "The cannon" which is allowed to be played from time to time. Apparently most violinists wouldn't think much of it - it only wakes up and responds when it's played with a professional soloist's technique.
 

Ventura

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models that have stood the test of time, and companies that have
held to their principles and quality over time

instruments that have demonstrated above average reliability

accordions that do not "limit" the talents of the accordionist
by a flaw in design, engineering, reedwork, or assembly
 

debra

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...

accordions that do not "limit" the talents of the accordionist
by a flaw in design, engineering, reedwork, or assembly
Sadly if you want this then no accordion qualifies as being professional.
Reeds (especially larger ones) go lower (in frequency) as you pull or push harder, which is often unwanted.
Reeds may suffer from metal-fatigue and eventually break, possibly during a performance.
Reeds being made of steel and reed plates made of (dur)aluminium have different coefficient of expansion causing reeds to fail in low temperatures.
The keyboard and bass mechanisms produce noise that is unwanted. It gets worse over time.
Voicing not only influences response but also the volume a reed produces, and as it cannot really be perfect every accordion has notes that play (measurably) louder than other notes.
Tuning depends on temperature and that is not consistent. So an accordion only sounds in tune with itself (low and high notes) at one temperature and sounds out of tune when it is warmer or colder.
When an accordion needs maintenance (mostly tuning) that maintenance causes the player to be without an instrument for some time (longer than the typical wait when a car needs maintenance) and some maintenance is always destructive (tuning is destructive).
Although I really love playing the accordion, I do realize that the instrument is fundamentally flawed in design, engineering, reedwork and assembly, so by using that as definition there exists no professional accordion...
 

Ventura

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haha... well thought out Debra...

what really made me smile though, is that all those little variations
from perfection you mention were actually my final and largest
bone of contention with Roland... the focus of the
company shifted greatly under the new CEO, and "Super Natural" became
their mantra. Those anomalies you list are things people like Gola and
other wonderful fanatics like him spent their lives trying to overcome !
finding ways to reduce anomalies remove irregular frequencies quiet noisy machanicals...

Roland coded them IN to their V-Accordions

i reverse engineered two sets worth of patches that featured these irritations to prove my point
which got them rather upset ! and my demo V-Accordions of course were tweaked
to turn OFF all these super-natural impurities so of course my patches sounded
cleaner and was another bone of contention, as a Purchaser could not get
the sounds i was using out of a stock, new V-Accordion they purchased.

i also have spent many years in Retail Music aside from Accordion, and saw
first hand how Instruments that lend themselves to be played allow greater
success in Students, and how poorly designed and built instruments caused
frustration and disillusionment and ultimately failure for many beginners.

and i have been pretty lucky with the acoustic accordions i have had to
use and own... i could play all day and all night and they seldom made me frown...
the only ones that honestly frustrated me were the OrganAccordions
because there were so many "gotchas" to reliability and pitch control issues
that it was a huge burden to keep them up to quality for Gigs... if i had not had
a good upbringing in Electronics and Mehanical stuff i would never have
been able to Gig with those Chordovox's for decades, as i did.

ciao

Ventura
 

Glug

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Tuning involves removing metal from the reed to alter the resonant frequency.
Eventually that weakens the reed too much and it will break.

If it's a reed with a weighted tip you can in theory add/remove the weight on the tip (with a soldering iron or similar).
 

debra

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Is this guy playing a "professional " accordion?🤔
He's certainly getting a lot out of very little!😀
...
Depending on another part of the definition... it may not even be an accordion, let along a professional accordion.
Such diatonic instruments go under different names, but according to some people "accordion" probably should not be one of them.
 

JerryPH

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My 2 cents... "professional" for the most part is a sales term, it's super easy to abuse.

A professional is technically someone that gets paid to do what they do, so what the manufacturer wants is to push traits like reliable, great sound, good build, some "special" look, etc. They also want to push things like (no surprise), higher price. Latest since technology is not advancing as much inside the accordion as it is outside, we now see accordions that really look fantastic. completely wood finishes, colorful reskins, paint jobs that cover the entire accordion, including graphics inside the bellows folds.

For me, a professional grade accordion has above average build, but can also include options like Cassotto, integrated mics, more registers, more reed sets, more bass or treble keys, Free Bass, a mano reeds and a quality, faster keyboard. For me it is less about the looks and more about the quality of sound and quality of the feel one gets when playing it.
 

Ventura

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physical references could include that a Piano Accordion with only one
pivot rod for the Treble Keys can be, at best, a higher student grade build
as any accordion that purports to be Professional would surely have two pivot rods
for the treble...

this is because if the long and short keys have the same pivot point, there is
obviously an imbalance, while a separate pivot point for the short keys can
"level out" that difference to some degree

on a Grand Piano, most furniture models have weighted actions, but the weights
are physically placed based on a formula, and so are rather uniform
(and do the job more or less)
but a finisher for a Professional Grand to be used in a concert hall will weight
each key indivually by testing for exact balance to determine the optimal
placement for the weights

can you finesse the back pressure of the Spring under an accordion key ?
yes
do they bother working on the action that closely in a boutique accordion ? (who knows)
do they bother working on the action that closely in a Petosa accordion ? (yes)

anecdotal reference: back in the day, all electric hybrid accordions (organ or early MIDI)
simply glued on actuators or spring contacts to the mechanisms, or plated long boards
where the actions would bump into something to make a contact
EXCEPT
Excelsior Professional accordions, which had small priotrusions added to the
(and by added i mean modifications forged in during manufacture of the arms)
aluminum action assemblies specifically for the purpose of levering contacts
open or closed as the accordion is played... this resulted in the most reliable
contact system ever built into an Accordion and a new standard of reliability

we have all heard of accordions being dropped and the magnets falling off en masse,
or hand glued actuators on Bass rods for a MIDI add on getting bent or caught up
after a jolt.. unfortunate that so many advances in build and accordion tech have
been lost...
 

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