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What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Discussions & info on specific accordions here.
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Dingo40
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What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:30 pm

On the forum, there are occasional references to an accordion having 3+3 or 2+4 etc basses.
What is that exactly?

maugein96
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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 pm

Dingo,

Standard International Stradella bass accordions normally have 120 basses arranged in 20 rows of 6 buttons. Usually, those are arranged (inwards to outwards) as Counterbass, Fundamental bass, major chord, minor chord, 7th chord. and dim 7 chord. That arrangement is known as 4/2 (four rows of chords and two of "single" notes.) It can also appear as 4+2 in Europe. Apparently the "+" sign causes issues in North America, but not elsewhere.

Standard French and Portuguese 120 bass accordions normally leave out the dim7 row and substitute it with an extra row of single bass notes. Such accordions are not encountered very often outside of those countries, and I'm not entirely sure what the extra row of single basses consists of. The arrangement saves big stretches on the basses when playing in minor keys (so I'm told). Some members will know the technical stuff, but such accordions are usually described as being arranged as 3/3 (or 3+3 if you're not in North America).

In some European countries 5 rows of bass buttons are popular, so you'll see 80 and 100 bass instead of the usual 6 row 96 and 120 bass. Those accordions are basically the same as the French/Portuguese boxes, but without that extra row of single notes. They have Counterbass, Fundamental, major, minor, and 7th, and are usually described as 3/2.

Serbian accordions, and some old style boxes from elsewhere in Europe, have 140 basses as standard, arranged in 7 rows, and these are just 4/2 but with the extra "French" row, which makes them 4/3.

No doubt, somebody may offer up further bass arrangements. I haven't covered bass converter systems as I know nothing at all about them.

Outside of Europe the norm tends to be 48 bass, 72 bass, 96, and 120, all arranged in the usual (4/2) 6 rows, but we like to keep things as complicated as possible here so that anybody with only a casual interest in the accordion is scared away!

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Mityr » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:03 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 pm
...and I'm not entirely sure what the extra row of single basses consists of.
Great info as usual, maugein
I can help a bit here. Even though I haven't had a 3+3 in my hands, I've done a bit of reading on the subject out of pure interest.
The extra row of single notes are minor thirds. To take the bass note 'a' as an example. Above you find the major third, 'c#' and above that the minor third, 'c'. This extra note comes in handy when playing alternating basses, where to hit the minor third, you usually use the pinky - which can be tricky.
I figure some bass lines such as a walking bass in minor will now also have an extra fingering option. And - even though I rarely play them myself - I Imagine melodic lines could be eased by the extra minor third option.

I can write a bit on C System converters if you want to hear the bit of knowledge i own on the subject

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:06 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 pm
Dingo,...

Outside of Europe the norm tends to be 48 bass, 72 bass, 96, and 120, all arranged in the usual (4/2) 6 rows, but we like to keep things as complicated as possible here so that anybody with only a casual interest in the accordion is scared away!
LOL!😄
Ok, thanks for the information 👍

It would seem all but one of my 120 bass PAs are of a 4+2 configuration and one has a “Serbian”, 140 bass, 4+3 configuration ( the extra column comprising minor thirds). So: minor thirds, thirds, fundamental bass, major chord, minor chord, seventh, and diminished 🙂. This one’s a Giuletti (LMH). I got it because I liked the sound of it, although the vendor (Ron Pearce, of Adelaide) did keep ribbing me as to what use I would find for those minor thirds,😄

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:13 pm

Also, thanks Mityr, for your additional information: it all helps to round out the subject!🙂👍

maugein96
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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by maugein96 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:19 am

Mityr wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:03 pm
maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 pm
...and I'm not entirely sure what the extra row of single basses consists of.
Great info as usual, maugein
I can help a bit here. Even though I haven't had a 3+3 in my hands, I've done a bit of reading on the subject out of pure interest.
The extra row of single notes are minor thirds. To take the bass note 'a' as an example. Above you find the major third, 'c#' and above that the minor third, 'c'. This extra note comes in handy when playing alternating basses, where to hit the minor third, you usually use the pinky - which can be tricky.
I figure some bass lines such as a walking bass in minor will now also have an extra fingering option. And - even though I rarely play them myself - I Imagine melodic lines could be eased by the extra minor third option.

I can write a bit on C System converters if you want to hear the bit of knowledge i own on the subject
Hi Mityr,

Thanks. I couldn't remember what that "extra" row was, and yes it is thirds. French and Portuguese players make full use of those thirds to play bass runs, but most French instruments imported into the UK are 4/2 bass, so I've never owned one. They do turn up here from time to time, but I've only ever seen a handful of them. I should have mentioned that 3/3 is also popular in The Netherlands, and the Belgian and Modenese (upside down) bass arrangements are 3/3 by default. Unfortunately, I've never seen any tutor books (even French ones) which explain how to use that row of thirds, and when I taught myself to play, a lot of the sheet music for Intermediate students was written by a guy called Dino Margelli and his daughter, and they both played 4 row Cavagnolos with 5 row 100 bass. I therefore decided not to bother trying to obtain a 3/3 bass instrument, which in retrospect was probably a bad move, at least for the style of music I was learning.

The subject of converter accordions has been discussed on the forum before. However, it may be the case that you touch on something of interest to people contemplating buying one. A number of members play free bass accordions.

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by maugein96 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:57 am

Dingo40 wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:06 pm

It would seem all but one of my 120 bass PAs are of a 4+2 configuration and one has a “Serbian”, 140 bass, 4+3 configuration ( the extra column comprising minor thirds). So: minor thirds, thirds, fundamental bass, major chord, minor chord, seventh, and diminished 🙂. This one’s a Giuletti (LMH). I got it because I liked the sound of it, although the vendor (Ron Pearce, of Adelaide) did keep ribbing me as to what use I would find for those minor thirds,😄
Everybody has their own preferences, but IMHO Serbian and other Balkan accordions have the best sound of any accordion worldwide.

For many years I was obsessed with various kinds of "musette" tuning, but gradually began to appreciate other accordion tunings.

So called "jazz" accordions started to captivate my interest for a while, but after I'd heard Balkan accordion being played live in Bosnia and Greece, I decided that nothing could match that accordion sound. There are subtle variations of it on LMMH accordions.

I obviously still listen to nearly all types of accordion music, and now concede there are just too many different styles and tunings to have a comprehensive knowledge of all of them. However, I'd rather listen to a "straight" tuned Balkan LMH in the hands of a competent player, rather than any of the other exotic tunings. I've never seen a Serbian 140 bass accordion in the UK, and even in Bosnia they play PAs with only 120 basses. However, that great "Balkan" sound is still there. Look after that Giulietti. Somebody, somewhere, in some language, will have written instruction for use of that row of thirds, and if I ever find such instruction, I'll post a link to it.

There used to be an article on an Italian forum about the Italian Modenese 7 row 140 bass system. It is basically similar to the Balkan 4/3, but the row of thirds is in row 3, giving:- counterbass, fundamental, thirds, major, minor, 7th, and dim 7. Only a handful of pro players used it, and these days where Modenese bass is found at all, they leave out the row of thirds altogether, so it just looks like a Belgian system. I found the article concerned but the diagrams have all been taken down.

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:08 am

Thanks, John!👍
I’ve had the 140 bass, LMH, Serbian style Giuletti for quite a while. It must have been a bargain at the time as I’ve seen them on “Gumtree “ recently (used, same as mine) advertised for crazy prices!
Anyway, I’ll be holding onto mine, as I like it too much to part with it!😄
I played it some today.
I read somewhere on the web that this particular model may have been made by Zero Sette. Whatever the case, it certainly seems to be well put together!🙂

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:21 am

Actually, now I think of it, the ad may have been on the home page of the accordion dealer’s in Footscray, Melbourne (Australia), sorry for the slip!🙂

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:40 am

https://www.musicjunction.com.au/produc ... ccordions/

This is the place🙂
Check out their used range!

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:47 am

Mine appears to be exactly like the Black Giuletti, model 74 (ie, 7 treble and 4 bass couplers) in their used stock list.
Crazy asking price!😯

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:34 am

Dingo40 wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:47 am
Mine appears to be exactly like the Black Giuletti, model 74 (ie, 7 treble and 4 bass couplers) in their used stock list.
Crazy asking price!😯
Hi Dingo,

That's a beauty and I don't think I'd be parting with it any time soon. Prices aren't too bad compared with western Europe. List price is just over £2500 GBP, and you probably wouldn't get one of those in the UK for that money, if you could find one at all. Most Balkan countries actually use PA rather than CBA, and it's only really in Serbia and Macedonia where CBAs are found in any great quantity.

I gave up on trying to work out which Italian maker actually makes what years ago. The history of Italian accordion makers is just about impossible to work out, unless that is your hobby instead of playing. At school they told us that Roman soldiers occupied forts along Hadrian's Wall, on what was once the ancient border between what is now known as Scotland and England. If you actually go to these forts you read that the "Romans" were actually Batavians from what is now known as The Netherlands and Belgium. Air travel in those days was horrifically dear, and it was cheaper to fly the soldiers over from Brussels and Amsterdam than it was from Rome. If you believe that then you've a chance of believing accordion history.

Some of the modern Italian accordion industry is also associated with a wall, but that wall is in China!

New accordions are now very pricey everywhere, and so are chopsticks, as there is a shortage of wood in China now they make so many accordions there.

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by Dingo40 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:59 am

John,

LOL🙂👍
Thanks for responding: always a good read!🙂

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by TomBR » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:56 am

Mityr wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:03 pm
maugein96 wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:22 pm
...and I'm not entirely sure what the extra row of single basses consists of.
Great info as usual, maugein
I can help a bit here. Even though I haven't had a 3+3 in my hands, I've done a bit of reading on the subject out of pure interest.
The extra row of single notes are minor thirds. To take the bass note 'a' as an example. Above you find the major third, 'c#' and above that the minor third, 'c'. This extra note comes in handy when playing alternating basses, where to hit the minor third, you usually use the pinky - which can be tricky.
Hardly crucial, since not there aren't so many about outside their "home" countries, and many people wouldn't buy one anyway, but I will just mention that on my 3+3 Fratelli Crosio the minor third isn't where you might expect, it's in the next row of buttons. If you want the minor third you come straight across, not down the slanting row.
A consequence of this, or it may be the reason, is that from your major counterbass to your minor counterbass columns you have the same relationship as between the normal bass and counterbass, ie major thirds along each row. That means you can play scales etc on the major and minor counterbass rows using the same fingering as on bass and counterbass.

Looking at the C and G rows, on the C row you'd normally have C bass and E counterbass. The next button in the row is not Eb, which you might expect. The Eb is in the G row where you have G bass, B as the major counterbass and then the Eb for the minor third of the C row, but that means you've got B and its major third Eb (sticking to the same note names) in the row of buttons.

Although I can't pretend to have made much use of it I really like 3+3 in pronciple and would regard it as a significant plus point in an accordion for sale. I also like the efficiency of the dual purpose sevenths/diminished chords that are the other aspect of 3+3

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Re: What’s a 3+3 or a 3+4?

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:54 pm

Thanks for that Tom. I think I got the gist of it. 3/3 is obviously uncharted territory for most of us. I had a quick browse through some French method books, but most of them only concentrate on 5 rows of bass buttons and don't enlighten us as to the mystery of that row of thirds. Maybe the fact that a lot of "French" CBA teachers were from Italian backgrounds meant they just stuck to 5 row bass, but I'm not sure. I do remember one old method book recommending starting off with 80 bass, and progressing to 100 bass after a few years. Some of the old French pro players only used 5 row bass. I have played a 3/3 but never used the unfamiliar inside row. Certainly, most of the bigger modern French boxes are 3/3, although 3/2 used to be quite common.

My teacher tried to explain the difference between the bass chords on Cavagnolo and Italian boxes, and even showed me on a piano. I could obviously hear the difference, but the technical aspects of his explanation left me a bit bemused. I should have written it all down for posterity (and maybe to show off on here), but he obviously never expected me to show much interest, and just raced through it.

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