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wood vs aluminum tone chamber

craigd

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Any audible difference? I have an Excelsior 940 w an aluminum chamber. Sounds great, especially the low reeds. The middle reeds less "round" sounding, so I usually have the mute on too. Does wood increase the cassotto effect?
 

debra

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Interesting question, to which I only have a partial answer. The soundboard inside the cassotto (the plate with the holes covered by the pallets) is always metal (aluminium). So the cassotto is never "all wood". A metal cassotto is easier to disassemble if needed for repair than a wooden one which is why nowadays I only see metal cassotto chambers.
As for the Excelsior, it is an interesting mystery case: The Hohner Morino and the Excelsior from the same period have the exact same construction (and I once tried them side by side) yet their sound is quite different. In the Hohner the L reeds actually sound less "round" (I would say "mellow") than the M reeds whereas on your Excelsior it is the other way around. Note that you can only really check with the white keys, because the black keys suffer from the M reeds not being "fully" inside the cassotto as they are closest to the "exit" of the cassotto. The black keys in M sound noticeably less mellow than the white keys in M.
 

Ventura

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very nice that you had a chance to compare like that

i would first wonder if there were subtle differences in the overall wood selection, as Excelsior famously had the Kiln on premises, and (during my decades visiting the factory) they were very serious about the 9xx series and their use of as many as 24 different types of wood in a single instrument

second, of course the reeds...

and it can be said excelsiors always have sounded like excelsiors ! from the accordianas through the excelsiolas to the AC and Symphony and 960 you can tell it is an Excelsior if you play them blindfolded

i mean over any comparable 50 year period of manufacturing, Excelsior probably made most of the reeds themselves, while other factories made only their own reeds for their top shelf instruments, if they made any reeds at all

and CEMEX invested hugely in the most modern precision machine process for the cutting of reed tongues and controlled assembly, as they strongly promoted their focus on ppreferring to spend manufacturing time FINISHING the reeds and voicing them

did you ever see their tuning room ¿? it was amazing for
it's era

so those would be my guesses, and of course the annual donation to the Church in Loreto... perhaps Mary smiled down on Excelsior above all others ¡!
 

Ventura

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Does wood increase the cassotto effect?
well i can tell you for SURE it increases the Sales Pitch effect !

the beautiful (it is a work of art) wood you see when you were given the full monty sales pitch at Petosa was a pillar of their presentation.. which was crafted around building your perception of Value to justify their "Steinway pricing"

( that was back when they had enough volume to cause ZeroSette to build some seriously exclusive features into the bodies they provided to Petosa.. and when the old Zero factory still existed of course )

but what makes a tone chamber WORK is time and distance

the angles and bounces and subtle interactions of frequencies moving back and forth in a sheltered physical space before they can escape is what alters the tone

while it is also true that various differences in materiel, whether under the grille (felt) or an aluminum keybed vs a wooden one.. even the varnished bellows chamber vs the unfinished one.. the cloth lined interior folds of a bellows vs the bare cardboard style.. while these affect tone (perhaps noticeably, perhaps not) they exert merely flat tone control through absorption of some frequencies more than others

certainly the tone chamber was a true boon for Jazz musicians and any player that carefully selects and uses solo and simple reed combinations for the songs they play
 

jozz

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how about inside finishes and absorption?

both wood and aluminum can be finished in several ways that could affect sound waves

furthermore their material density is different
 

JIM D.

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I've very seldom come across a tone chamber accordion with a bare aluminum cover plate. 98% of the accordions
I've worked on had an aluminum cover but with wood veneers. I have a 940 in the shop now for minor refurbishing.
The accordion is 30 years old and has a wood veneered aluminum tone chamber cover.
 

craigd

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Thanks for all replies, very interesting. Jim I think my 940 is late 50s or early 60s. The veneer you mention, is that inside or outside the chamber?
 

JIM D.

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JIM D.

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There are many models made in the last 70 years that have cassotto's with a strong or loud presence and also models that don't
have a strong presence but an excellent tonal quality -- you will really have to play the various models to find your "Cup O Tea".
And then of course the choice of quality reeds used will greatly effect volume and tonal quality.

And as for the laminated wood veneers -- they mute the tinny sound of a plain metal chamber.
 
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debra

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There are many models made in the last 70 years that have cassotto's with a strong or loud presence and also models that don't
have a strong presence but an excellent tonal quality -- you will really have to play the various models to find your "Cup O Tea".
And then of course the choice of quality reeds used will greatly effect volume and tonal quality.

And as for the laminated wood veneers -- they mute the tinny sound of a plain metal chamber.
Indeed the tonal variation between different cassotto accordions varies much more than the sound of non-cassotto instruments, where reed quality is the most important difference. Reeds are important (the construction of a Russian Jupiter and a North-Korean Jupiter is identical but the North-Korean one sounds much sharper. I blame it on the reeds but the "plain metal chamber" may have something to do with it as well.
In 1999 I tried many cassotto accordions (at the Frankfurter Musikmesse) and was surprised at how different they all sounded. I remember that the Weltmeister (Supita) was by far the "darkest" (most mellow), the Hohner Morino and the seemingly Excelsior sounded quite differently, and the Pigini had a "thin" sound and weak bass. We preferred the sound of the Bugari Artist Cassotto so that was what we ended up buying, and I still have two. Later I wanted to get a Russian bayan (mainly for price/performance) and got the AKKO because from all the seemingly identical Russian bayans the AKKO came closest to the Bugari sound. It's a matter of preference, and there is a lot of choice. Sadly no new accordion you can buy today has the sound of the 1960's Scandalli Super VI, the Bell or the Hohner Gola (of that era)...
 

Ventura

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and for me it was an acquired taste

growing up as a Rock and Roller with a 140 bass Hubcap Scandalli
to practice on until my first (tube type) cordovox (LMH no chamber)
i was all about the "Wall of Sound" and honestly i bought monophonic
versions of LP records as first choice, preferring Live recordings over Studio always

i had no Jazz chops, as my Dinner club setlists were all based
on BigBand music

it wasn't until my 30's that i even began to notice there was a lot
of fun to be had playing softly and ethnically and improvizing on
a chord progression rather than just jamming to a power chord

so I came to appreciate Cassotto comparatively late in life
 

craigd

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So some nice mahogany (or would balsa be better? Kidding but maybe?) veneer on my tone chamber might mellow it out more?
 

craigd

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There are many models made in the last 70 years that have cassotto's with a strong or loud presence and also models that don't
have a strong presence but an excellent tonal quality -- you will really have to play the various models to find your "Cup O Tea".
And then of course the choice of quality reeds used will greatly effect volume and tonal quality.

And as for the laminated wood veneers -- they mute the tinny sound of a plain metal chamber.
So some nice mahogany (or would balsa be better? Kidding but maybe?) veneer on my tone chamber might mellow it out more?
 

JIM D.

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You can try a wood veneer - it won't lower the volume , but it will deepen the tones to a degree.

 
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nagant27

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This is a very interesting topic.

woukd you glue the wood veneer on each of the 3 sidesof the chamber inside?

Along this topic- is the amplisound feature on beltunas involve putting a wood piece over the reeds as well correct?
 

craigd

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You can try a wood veneer - it won't lower the volume , but it will deepen the tones to a degree.

Thanks for the links Jim. Pretty easy to do, I would think? And I might be able to go for Steinway pricing if I sell it ;-)
 

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