CBA beginners or experienced players

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maugein96
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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:30 pm

My memory isn't what it was. This is the example of the B system accordion I was thinking of, as played by Andre Verchuren.
affiche4.jpg
The way the buttons are arranged is logical for B system, whereas the accordion played by Willy Staquet has a treble button arrangement that perhaps would suggest he actually played C system. However, Willy has been dead for a long time and the information I have is that he played Liegeois (or standard) B system, where B would be in the first row and C in the third.

With regard to both accordions, it must be said that neither of them is typical and it may have been the case that the treble buttons were arranged to the specifications of the players. I am aware that they both have Belgian basses.

It is sometimes the case with CBA that one or more treble buttons serve no purpose at all other than to make the arrangement look more symmetrical. These will naturally be buttons at the very top or bottom of the rows concerned. I've never seen either Willy Staquet or Andre Verchuren play an instrument with anything other than monocoloured buttons, and in fact I can only think of one or two French players who use bicoloured treble buttons

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:50 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:30 pm
My memory isn't what it was. This is the example of the B system accordion I was thinking of, as played by Andre Verchuren.
Ah yes, that's definitely some kind of B (apparently with the lowest note in the fourth row). The ones I remember seeing have symmetrical first three rows (with the second row being longer than the first and third rows) and the fourth row is just as long as the first row and thus unsymmetric.
The way the buttons are arranged is logical for B system, whereas the accordion played by Willy Staquet has a treble button arrangement that perhaps would suggest he actually played C system.
It's symmetric, so it doesn't really suggest either way. The length of the first row suggests non-sounding buttons, though. I'd expect all buttons on Verchuren's instrument to be sounding.
It is sometimes the case with CBA that one or more treble buttons serve no purpose at all other than to make the arrangement look more symmetrical.
Or worse. I have an Excelsior here with crooked key levers (I think just one reed block per reed set, and that does not place the notes compact enough for CBA) so the outer buttons are just decoration to make the keyboard look more proportionate. Did I mention that I hate dead buttons? When playing by ear I want to know where the keyboard ends before pressing a button.

That's something I like about Morinos. Even something silly like the rectangular 127-button Stradella area done for aesthetic reasons has working buttons wherever there actually is a button.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by losthobos » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:08 pm

Alan Sharkis wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:11 pm

The experience of playing many instruments, for maximum efficiency, is supposed to be tactile, not visual. (Never mind that I cheat sometimes :D )

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by philtre71 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:19 pm

I have a new Hohner Nova III 96 arriving soon..not my ideal choice but better for travelling and suits my budget. From an aesthetic perspective, I like the idea of having all the RH buttons the same colour. Is it relatively straightforward to replace the buttons on newer Hohners? Does anyone have a recommendations on where to purchase?

The buttons on my somewhat aged but wonderful Crucianelli Magicvox come off very easily (sometimes too easily!).

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:32 pm

Hi,

I have a French spec 4 row Hohner Nova light C system CBA, and the buttons are all black. They are of the screw in type, and the C and F buttons have hatch marks cut in them.

Hohner do make 5 row Novas for the French market with monocolour buttons, but they do not seem to be available outside of France..

You can get replacement buttons from this German site which I haven't actually used, and the prices seem pretty steep for a single button. Be absolutely sure of the diameter of the buttons you need, otherwise any replacement exercise will be a waste of time and money. You can buy buttons with marked "corrugated" playing surfaces if you need them. Also check the screw length, or you could hit problems trying to get all the buttons the same height from the keyboard.

http://www.stringsandboxes.de/Trekharmo ... -Buttons-A

Try browsing the internet for cheaper options.

My Hohner Nova has the usual French mushroom type buttons on the bass side which are unfortunately prone to work loose. If you have the "international" peg type bass buttons that will not be an issue for you.

You'll probably enjoy your Nova, as they are pretty easy to play. The treble keyboard is pretty good, but the reeds are just a tad slow to respond, and if you have ever played a more upmarket instrument with better reeds you'll certainly notice the difference. The inner row is pretty near the grille which is not really a problem for me, but if you have big hands you could end up fouling the grille with your fingertips.

Sound is pretty reasonable, and all in all I would definitely recommend the Nova for all but the more advanced player. You probably won't get a better accordion for the money and I wish you well with it.

I bought mine as I was looking for a lightweight instrument, but being used to big heavy accordions I sometimes feel that it is a little too light, especially if you are into any of the bellows shake techniques.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Stephen » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:00 am

The Russian mass produced Tula bayans have copypasted the right hand white and black buttons (diatonics in white and chromatic alterations in black) to their stradella bass side.
All diatonic basses in white and the sharps / flats in black.

This is a more consistent layout.
If you use it for the melody side, the same applies for the bass side.

But the most logical in uniform chromatic layouts is a unicolour / monocolour buttonboard.

The first chromatic button accordion makers used unicolour buttons for treble and bass side. They got it right.
Whoever in history changed this and introduced the 2 colour layout made a terrible mistake in my personal opinion.

Uniform chromatic layouts in CBA progress by semitone in the treble side. That is all a beginner needs to understand. The beauty is the semitone interval repeated from the lowest to highest note. Using different colours only makes it more complicated to understand for beginners...

(PA piano accordions also use inconsistent colour systems: black and white in the treble, But unicolour in the stradella bass...)

I know it is delicate to talk about changes in the accordion world, but cannot help to express my opinion on this.

C major needs to be put back in line with the other music notes...
How long will we allow the C scale to keep its privileges in a modern tuning context and equal CBA layout?

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by WaldoW » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:42 am

I've been back and forth on this issue (literally) for 3 years now. I started out on a Paolo Soprani with unicoloric buttons. These buttons were of the "cylindrical" style. I then bought a new Beltuna that has B&W buttons. These buttons are of the "mushroom" style.
Having sold my original Soprani, I wanted a travel box so as not to put my 'tuna at risk. I ended up with another, smaller, Soprani, which also sports the "cylindrical" buttons. Having gone back and forth between the two 6 times now (for several months), my conclusion is: I prefer the unicoloric style, BUT, I prefer the button shape found on the multi color buttons.
I find the multicolor system distracting and somewhat confusing when going from uni to multi. [Yes, I'm still looking, but I'm working on it.] The whole ball of wax for me is the pattern. Once I get the pattern down, playing around with the other aspects (timing, rhythm, the bass side, etc.) becomes easy. Sussing out the pattern is easier on a unicoloric 'board (for me, anyway). Moving the pattern to a multi, however, caused me some short term difficulty. When I cease looking, I expect this will all become moot.
The buttons are another story.
The mushroom style buttons bottom out on the button board, while the cylindrical buttons bottom out on a bumper strip located under the button board. The former provides a much firmer feel and shorter button travel. Also, the mushroom style typically uses a stepped button board, whereas, I've only seen flat 'boards on the latter. The stepped 'board makes thumb use on the upper rows much easier. Glissandos are also smoother because of the button profile. I can also pull off a "chord gliss" on the mushrooms, whereas it's much tougher on the cylinder style.
While I'm sure there are accord's made in all different styles imaginable, novices may/will not be aware of these little nuances. Also, never forget the "different strokes for different folks" caveat.

Press on,

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by dan » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:51 am

Stephen, I am sympathetic to your views on isomorphic instruments and positional fingering but this particular rant is silly. I like marked buttons on the treble side for the same reason i have marked buttons on the bass side. It helps me find my place without noisily prodding five buttons to figure it out. If the guitarist asks me what chord I'm playing, marked buttons make it easier for me to tell him. I no longer look at my hands while playing but when I was starting out, the black and white pattern helped me learn scale and chord shapes in C and its modes that I could then transpose to other keys by shifting hand position.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by philtre71 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:39 am

maugein96, thanks for your useful comments. I'll update on how I find the Nova...should be arriving soon.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Geronimo » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:47 am

Stephen wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:00 am
I know it is delicate to talk about changes in the accordion world, but cannot help to express my opinion on this.

C major needs to be put back in line with the other music notes...
How long will we allow the C scale to keep its privileges in a modern tuning context and equal CBA layout?
As long and wide as Western music is based on diatonic scales. If it weren't, the Stradella bass would be useless. Try "accompanying" twelve-tone music on an accordion.

A basic folksy accompaniment method is to walk a second voice in thirds (or sixths) along with the main voice. That sounds perfectly natural, but the actual "thirds" are major (four semitones) and minor (three semitones) in a willy-nilly pattern. Playing runs in thirds by ear is an entirely different challenge level than playing a single voice by ear.

I really like my CBA, but major/minor is not going anywhere anytime soon. Learning 3 scale patterns still beats learning 12.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Stephen » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:59 am

Traditional music is based on diatonic scales, but not necessarily restricted to the C scale.
For example, wind instrument players often have an instrument in B-flat, E-flat, ... They use the same intervals of the diatonic major scale to start with. But they play in B-flat, E-flat, ...

The name of the note is irrelevant, there is no ground the C note can pretend to be privileged. Except for history and tradition, or compromise between musicians in ensembles, orchestras, bands, ...

A unicolour / monocolour buttonboard has egalised the playfield.
Shapes and patterns rule.
In traditional C majorism, everything that deviates from C is considered an anomaly or abnormality, and thus needs to be marked in another colour...

I would even go as far as saying the C major white/black coloured button pattern on a CBA layout is in contradiction to the CBA "philosophy".
This traditional colour pattern is exactly what is confusing for young students, when they start discovering other keys and the concept of transposition on the CBA.

Many kids/persons starting with chromatic button accordion in the 1890-1930 period, learned everything on unicolour white CBA buttonboards. And in France many still start that way.
Maybe, for reasons of compromise, one could mark just the C button on treble and bass side, to quickly find the C note.

(Do B-flat or E-flat wind instrument players have a "marked" C note valve or button? I don't think so. Because they don't need the C note to be the basic tonic.)

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:57 am

philtre71 wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:39 am
maugein96, thanks for your useful comments. I'll update on how I find the Nova...should be arriving soon.
I forgot to mention that you need to get buttons with the same surface contour as the ones you have. Some have a more rounded profile than others and wouldn't have the same feel as the buttons that came with your Nova. The treble buttons on mine are of a fairly flat profile.

It might be worthwhile contacting whoever supplied the accordion and asking them if they can supply you with more Hohner buttons. It is often the case with accordion accessory suppliers that you must place a minimum order before they will even consider processing an order.

If I come across any source of buttons known to be compatible with your Nova I'll let you know. For the typical 5 row looks like you'll need 28 white buttons (assuming you want them all white). For all black you'll need 34. You could always replace the lot with whichever buttons you choose, but I would be inclined to try and get genuine Hohner buttons, where the button screws are guaranteed to fit.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Anyanka » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:08 pm

Maugein made a very good point which reminded me WHY I bought the Hohner Amati with black & white buttons - it was the only way that I could be sure that it was a C-system! I've occasionally eyed up ancient Hohner Cornelias on German ebay, but refrained from buying as I couldn't tell what system they were (sellers had no idea).

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:36 pm

Stephen wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:59 am

Many kids/persons starting with chromatic button accordion in the 1890-1930 period, learned everything on unicolour white CBA buttonboards. And in France many still start that way.
Maybe, for reasons of compromise, one could mark just the C button on treble and bass side, to quickly find the C note.

(Do B-flat or E-flat wind instrument players have a "marked" C note valve or button? I don't think so. Because they don't need the C note to be the basic tonic.)
It seems that even in some countries where CBA is more popular than PA there is a tendency to use different coloured treble buttons. It has always intrigued me why that is the case, and the exceptions to that rule which immediately come to light are France, as you have stated, as well as Belgium and Portugal. In those very few areas of Italy where CBA is more popular than PA, there seems to be a modern trend for keyboards with different coloured buttons, and monocoloured keyboards are becoming rarer.

It would be interesting to know why some countries prefer monocoloured buttons, whilst others do not.

There may be different theories involved, but I've never seen anything written down in "black and white"!

Even if there was a valid theory, you'll always find situations like this in the mysterious world of CBA:-
hqdefault9IX3IYHY.jpg
cfa7c8628139438b8ee1af3d5397fe3b.png
cfa7c8628139438b8ee1af3d5397fe3b.png (121.99 KiB) Viewed 68 times
I've seen boxes with maybe 5 or 6 different coloured buttons arranged into mosaic patterns and suchlike. Further proof that it doesn't matter what colour the buttons are, it's down to the player.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by Stephen » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:04 pm

I agree the colour on CBA is irrelevant, so you have two options: unicolour or multicoloured. In both cases there is no rational relation between the colour of the button and the function or degree in the scale.

Sometimes it's just creativity or fashion.
Here the colours of the buttons follow the colour pattern of the body:
http://www.brilingttonaccordions.com/im ... 1373nn.jpg

Some try geometrical figures, flower motives, you name it.
https://www.harmonika.com/de/harmonikas/modern/creativ

I'm sticking to monotony ;)
unicolour or "gouttes d'eau" (raindrops)
https://www.boullard.ch/boutique/accord ... e-musette/

My guilty pleasure is an old style flower motive bellows, but when it comes to the buttons I stick to unicolour (no matter what the colour is).

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:08 pm

I'm a "gouttes d'eau" man myself, as it's always raining here in Scotland. I also have a gold spangled accordion with all black buttons, perhaps a throwback to the days when quite a few accordionists wore dark glasses!

I always wanted a blue accordion with gold spangled buttons like Aimable had, but was never able to find one.

These days if I found a CBA accordion that suited me I probably wouldn't care what colour the buttons were. I'd just strap it on and play it.

I used to know a guy who made an awful job of playing electric guitar. His was a top of the range model with a customised paint job. I had a go on it and discovered it played exactly the same as my cheapo version, complete with battle scars. When I made a comment to that effect the owner looked at me incredulously and said, "But you must admit it's a beauty!"

Each to their own as they say.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by donn » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:47 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:57 am
I forgot to mention that you need to get buttons with the same surface contour as the ones you have.
Ooh, I was just thinking how nice it would be to put more rounded buttons on my Cavagnolo. But I have a feeling I'd wreck the thing getting all those buttons off - looks like a dark resin disk glued to a metal cup, and the latter feels like it's permanently attached to the post.

They're all black, but the previous owner with unusual taste covered the "white" buttons with a sliver adhesive material. That had deteriorated a little, but it was still very obvious - yet I had been playing it for a couple weeks before I realized that the pattern wasn't just due to random loss of the covering. I learned to play on a French style 4-row where the keyboard is mounted so far forward that it's hard to see the keys, so I was prevented from acquiring the habit of looking. My only use for the black & white is, like Anyanka, I can distinguish B and C in pictures.

Another scheme (not mine):
mmkbd.jpg

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:36 pm

Donn,

The buttons on my 1985 Cavagnolo Bal Musette are definitely of the screw in type. Having said that I put it in to have the pallets re-done and the repairer somehow managed to shear one off on the inside row. He obviously thought the buttons were glued on, and cleverly stuck the broken button back on.

I never realised what had happened until after I'd paid him and took the box back home. After a few minutes playing the button fell off again, but the break was such that I couldn't prove how it happened. That was a 5 row box, and as the broken button was on the inside row I took the 5th row out, by "careful" use of heavy duty pliers, a hammer, and small bolt cutters! I was livid and only just managed to avoid taking my oft quoted "10lb hammer" to it.

Only problem was I had to make a blanking strip to cover the redundant button holes, which kept falling off in the days before gorilla glue. The metal used in all of the mechanisms of that box is particularly soft, and on various French accordion forums I saw several other complaints of sub standard Cavas being made at that time. I think we spoke before on a post concerning it.

If you have one that has harder metal in its construction you could maybe try to unscrew a button and see how it goes. All of the other French boxes I've owned have had screw in type buttons, but I cannot be certain about yours. Do you know what year it was built? If you open up the treble side there should be a five figure serial number inked onto the reed blocks. I used to be able to access a French forum where the members had compiled a list of which Cavas were built in which year. It wasn't complete, but the missing numbers could be approximated to a span of a couple of years max.

Let me know if you want me to try and remember where the site was. I haven't been doing much with the accordion at all of late and have deleted my list of "favourites" which included the French forums.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:13 pm

Donn,

According to what I've read on the French internet your buttons should in fact be of the screw in type. However, it is advocated that a special tool, or tools, may be required to perform a task known as "dressage" after the buttons are changed, so that they will all be at the correct height. Precisely what that entails is beyond my knowledge, and there are no illustrations. In fact on most of their forums they make a point of telling members that amateurs should not tinker with the mechanics of such high quality accordions as Cavagnolos. Fine in a country where it would appear there are still quite a few competent repairers, but not much use at all to us.

What I will say is that I once decided to remove all the treble buttons on my Cava to clean the keyboard. Worst mistake I ever made as it took an absolute age to screw them all back in, and one or two of them ended up noticeably higher than others. Should have bought some "dressage" tools, but I'm sure I've seen articles on here on how to align CBA buttons, maybe from Paul DeBra.

In the meantime you can contemplate what kind of buttons you would like from this website. They are based in Nice and import their own Bonifassi brand accordions to French spec from over the border in Italy.

At 1.30 Euro a pop they are not exactly cheap, but probably the best bet for French built boxes. Don't know if they operate on a minimum order basis, and you would need to contact them on the e-mail box they provide on the site.

If you end up back at the welcome screen go into "nos services", "accessoires", then "boutons".

http://accordeon-bonifassi.fr/index.php ... es#boutons

It is interesting to note that a decent looking digital box can be had used for less than 2000 Euros, whereas the cheapest acoustic box is considerably more expensive. Cavagnolo digital boxes are renowned for problems in their "electrickery" circuits, so I'm still not sure whether I'd go for one.

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Re: CBA beginners or experienced players

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:49 pm

dan wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:51 am
It helps me find my place without noisily prodding five buttons to figure it out.
Dan,

I know this topic is getting a bit stale, but even some of the most experienced French pro players often "stab" one or two buttons before playing live to reassure themselves that they are about to start on the correct note. Jo Courtin, who accompanied Edith Piaf for a while, would occasionally put in little intros for the same purpose, although you'd never hear them in any of his recordings, where they would be edited out. Most French players of his era would probably never have even seen a CBA with more than one treble button colour. It's just what they're used to.

It seems that it is only those of us who are (un)fortunate? enough to have a choice who are faced with yet another CBA dilemma.

Customer:- "I'm interested in those accordions that have buttons on both sides."

Accordion store salesman:- "That will be the Chromatic Button Accordion, sir. We have 2 types of B system, 2 types of C system, 3, 4, or 5 row, International peg type bass buttons or stepped "mushroom " buttons. Would you like the treble couplers mounted on the grille or on the rear, and will it be basses arranged in 3x3, or 4x2. Oh, and I forgot to mention which colour(s) of treble buttons would you like, and whether you want one with a bass converter?"

Customer:- "I honestly don't think I've got enough years left to make my mind up. What's the best deal on those accordions with piano keys, and if they are half as damn complicated as those accordions with buttons where's the nearest guitar store?""

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