vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Talk about anything accordion related here
henrikhank
Intermediate
Intermediate
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 10:46 pm
Location: Sverige

vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by henrikhank » Tue May 22, 2018 5:24 pm

Howdy!
Three questions:
-how do you think vintage piano accordions feel like when playing? Are they heavy and is the sound pleasant compared to non-vintage accordions? I guess vintage accordions wouod be like driving a T-Ford (I have heard this conparison).

-what is the practical reason for having 7different switches on the treble side? Doesn't that make it too heavy?

-as pianists did you chpose between smaller or wider leys? I find that smaller keys make smaller accordiona but my fingers do not fit btween the black keys (eg playing the Eb chord).
What about you? Is smaller keys bad for pianists?

Geronimo
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:00 am
Location: Germany

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Tue May 22, 2018 5:28 pm

How do you define "vintage"?

User avatar
debra
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by debra » Tue May 22, 2018 6:23 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 5:24 pm
Howdy!
Three questions:
-how do you think vintage piano accordions feel like when playing? Are they heavy and is the sound pleasant compared to non-vintage accordions? I guess vintage accordions wouod be like driving a T-Ford (I have heard this conparison).

-what is the practical reason for having 7different switches on the treble side? Doesn't that make it too heavy?

-as pianists did you chpose between smaller or wider leys? I find that smaller keys make smaller accordiona but my fingers do not fit btween the black keys (eg playing the Eb chord).
What about you? Is smaller keys bad for pianists?
I take it that with "vintage" you refer to accordions from between roughly 1960 and 1980, not much older which I would call "antique" rather than "vintage".

A noticeable difference between vintage and current generation piano accordions (and CBA alike) is that newer accordions may use thinner wood in an attempt to reduce weight. Other than that not all that much has changed in the past 50 years. I am currently working on a Crucianelli from around 1970, and once I'm done this will technically be almost identical to a new PA that could be produced today. The mechanics are pretty much the same. Bellows construction, reed blocks, reeds, leathers, everything is the same as in a new accordion. There is a difference in weight but not significant. The main difference is the tuning: the MMM reeds are tuned -20, 0, +20 cents and that is wetter than many people like nowadays. (Tuning has no influence on the weight.)

The switches you need depend on the reed sets. To use all possibilities of a 3 voice LMM accordion without cassotto you need L, LM, M, MM, LMM, so 5 switches. On a 4 voice LMMM accordion that becomes L, LM, M, MM, LMM, MMM, LMMM so that is 7 switches. On a 4 voice LMMH you need more, and with cassotto even more, and with 5 voices (LMMMH) you need more than 15 switches. Yes it all adds to the weight but the registers are light. It's the addition of more reed blocks that makes accordions heavier.

Regarding keys, there are many choices. The width of the white keys is just one thing. With the same width the black keys can be positioned differently (and can be of different width too) resulting in more or less space between black keys. So to know whether your fingers will fit between the black keys just knowing the width of the white keys is not enough.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

Geronimo
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:00 am
Location: Germany

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Tue May 22, 2018 7:04 pm

debra wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:23 pm
I take it that with "vintage" you refer to accordions from between roughly 1960 and 1980, not much older which I would call "antique" rather than "vintage".

A noticeable difference between vintage and current generation piano accordions (and CBA alike) is that newer accordions may use thinner wood in an attempt to reduce weight.
Well, not "Morino". The original Morino series designed by, well, Morino and built in Trossingen (the CBA Artiste "D" series and the PA "M" series) were something akin to 2kg lighter than the subsequent versions built in Italy ("N" series by Excelsior and "S" series by Pigini I think).

I have a Morino Artiste-like model (from the Morino department, delivered in 1960) with 2×60 notes in bass and 4×62 notes in treble, cassotto-like sound for L. I also have an Excelsior (with Midi but I don't think it adds significant weight) with 5×12 notes in bass and 4×49 notes in treble, no cassotto.

Guess which of the two is heavier by something like 1kg.

In general, Excelsior (whether producing its actual brand or acting as OEM manufacturer) did not seem all that interested in weight considerations. I think the brand is retired by now but it would be mostly older instruments that would be considered to be in the "vintage" time window.

What did change generally in newer instruments is the precision of the mechanics and its noisiness: for recording instruments from close up, newer instruments will be nicer in that regard. What also changed is reproducibility: high-quality instruments from the same production series in the 80s and afterwards very much sound similar, high-quality instruments even from the same production series in the 50s or 60s can differ a whole lot.

User avatar
debra
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by debra » Tue May 22, 2018 8:12 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 7:04 pm
...The original Morino series designed by, well, Morino and built in Trossingen (the CBA Artiste "D" series and the PA "M" series) were something akin to 2kg lighter than the subsequent versions built in Italy ("N" series by Excelsior and "S" series by Pigini I think).
...
The Italian ones had much thicker wood, something current new accordions no longer have, to cut down on the weight. I agree that the Morino went the wrong way from the D/M to the N series, going from Hohner-built to Excelsior-built.
By the way, the N and S series were all built by Excelsior (in the era before the Pigini take-over). Some of the mechanics were "refined" in the S series. The most noticeable difference for the end-user is that the error-prone clips holding the grille in place (and sometimes not...) were replaced by decorative bolts, like they are on most current accordions. Internally the reeds were also changed, but maybe not exactly at the same time. The N series instruments I saw have Bugari reeds and the S series have Cagnoni reeds (as Bugari stopped making reeds).

Borsini was well-known for making lighter accordions than others. A drawback was that they were more fragile...
Beltuna specialises in making accordions compact, the Leader V (5 voices, cassotto and amplisound extra chamber) only being as large as a 4 voice Bugari or Pigini. We have come a long way since the huge 18kg weighing Hohner Morino Artiste XN or XS. But when you consider say an "equivalent" Italian from around 1970 with one from the 21st century, there is no big difference, which actually means that the quality and performance of the older instruments means that many people can be very happy with them, which is now hampering the sale of new instruments.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

Geronimo
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:00 am
Location: Germany

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Tue May 22, 2018 11:06 pm

debra wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 8:12 pm
Geronimo wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 7:04 pm
...The original Morino series designed by, well, Morino and built in Trossingen (the CBA Artiste "D" series and the PA "M" series) were something akin to 2kg lighter than the subsequent versions built in Italy ("N" series by Excelsior and "S" series by Pigini I think).
...
The Italian ones had much thicker wood, something current new accordions no longer have, to cut down on the weight. I agree that the Morino went the wrong way from the D/M to the N series, going from Hohner-built to Excelsior-built.
By the way, the N and S series were all built by Excelsior (in the era before the Pigini take-over). Some of the mechanics were "refined" in the S series. The most noticeable difference for the end-user is that the error-prone clips holding the grille in place (and sometimes not...) were replaced by decorative bolts, like they are on most current accordions.
Well, I am a bit partial to how fast a Morino Artiste ?D and likely a Morino ?M can be opened without tools and/or pulling bellows pins. I also like the central bellows lock. I'll readily admit the drawbacks of both of these features and understand why they have been discontinued. That doesn't mean I have to dislike them.
But when you consider say an "equivalent" Italian from around 1970 with one from the 21st century, there is no big difference, which actually means that the quality and performance of the older instruments means that many people can be very happy with them, which is now hampering the sale of new instruments.
I think what is hampering the sale of new instruments more is that one still needs a sizable ratio of manual work, and the price of manual work in relation to general equipment costs has skyrocketed. Add to that that the much more extensive reach of recorded music means that the market for players with good instruments has been downsized (in countries able to afford expensive instruments, population tends to shrink: so a significant amount of survival is hinged on Texmex diatonics and similar instruments serving not-first-world markets) and there are a lot of instruments with a quality level exceeding the players' needs around consequently.

Also accordion making has turned from an art to a profession. After a few generations of learning how to do things, people don't know any more why they do things and "optimization" then discards actual improvements. Apprenticeships are not as much apprenticeships in handiwork as a side branch in industrial production. Modern "masters" don't have the same kind of large and diversified heap of things they broke and ruined in the past to learn from than the old builders who had much more tangible experience in the "after tight comes snapped, after perfect comes broken" category.

So the amount of innovation retaining previously attained good features has become quite less and also less audacious. Failed experiments have become too expensive.

Tom
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Tom » Wed May 23, 2018 4:03 am

Please see my new post on my two small Scandallis. These vintage accordions are quite fun. One is stock, it is reported to have been bought in 1955 and played "for a few lessons" before being stored until I just started playing it. It has a cool vibe. It needs cleaning and I had to repair the bass coupler, but to be honest, it has a "better" sound than it's sister which has been totally restored and retuned (not by me..) So, you can say there is a bit of cachet in a vintage accordion and that makes it fun to play. To get it to sound as good as a high quality new one, though will require more work than it is probably worth, it has to be a labor of love. And yes, if the keys are too small to play comfortably, it's not for you. I don't know about these Morinos. There are still artisans in Italy who care about the art and craft, and maybe in other places too. You have to look hard and they are expensive, but worth it imho.

User avatar
debra
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by debra » Wed May 23, 2018 8:04 am

Tom wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 4:03 am
Please see my new post on my two small Scandallis. These vintage accordions are quite fun. One is stock, it is reported to have been bought in 1955 and played "for a few lessons" before being stored until I just started playing it. It has a cool vibe. It needs cleaning and I had to repair the bass coupler, but to be honest, it has a "better" sound than it's sister which has been totally restored and retuned (not by me..) So, you can say there is a bit of cachet in a vintage accordion and that makes it fun to play. To get it to sound as good as a high quality new one, though will require more work than it is probably worth, it has to be a labor of love. And yes, if the keys are too small to play comfortably, it's not for you. ...
I don't have any info on these Scandallis. But they are both from the same era so both qualify as "vintage" in my book. The concept of "better sound" is very subjective so I have no idea what this means. The first one, used only a few times and then stored, should not be in need of an overhaul. Just a bit of cleaning and perhaps tuning (and checking the valves). Nothing can be worn due to excessive use in any case. But indeed such accordions (2 reed, 41/120) may not be worth the cost of any significant repairs. You cannot likely make them sound as good as a high quality new accordion because they are rather low end themselves.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

Geronimo
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:00 am
Location: Germany

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Wed May 23, 2018 8:32 am

debra wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 8:04 am
Tom wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 4:03 am
Please see my new post on my two small Scandallis. These vintage accordions are quite fun. One is stock, it is reported to have been bought in 1955 and played "for a few lessons" before being stored until I just started playing it. It has a cool vibe. It needs cleaning and I had to repair the bass coupler, but to be honest, it has a "better" sound than it's sister which has been totally restored and retuned (not by me..) So, you can say there is a bit of cachet in a vintage accordion and that makes it fun to play. To get it to sound as good as a high quality new one, though will require more work than it is probably worth, it has to be a labor of love. And yes, if the keys are too small to play comfortably, it's not for you. ...
I don't have any info on these Scandallis. But they are both from the same era so both qualify as "vintage" in my book. The concept of "better sound" is very subjective so I have no idea what this means. The first one, used only a few times and then stored, should not be in need of an overhaul. Just a bit of cleaning and perhaps tuning (and checking the valves). Nothing can be worn due to excessive use in any case.
Leather valves bend, leather pallets and gaskets and bellows corners stiffen, but the most expensive as well as common problem is the wax getting brittle, leading first to air leaks and then to reed plates falling off.

A not uncommon affliction is moths having discovered the felts used in various places of the accordion. "Worn" mechanics are rarely a problem since accordions don't experience significant mechanical forces in the parts of the mechanics subject to friction and, of course, bending (the reeds themselves). Typical woodwind mechanics experience quite more wear since the individual parts have less idle time on average than the many parts of an accordion.
But indeed such accordions (2 reed, 41/120) may not be worth the cost of any significant repairs. You cannot likely make them sound as good as a high quality new accordion because they are rather low end themselves.
There always have been high quality small instruments as well, not just the stock model distribution of quality over size. One needs to look inside.

User avatar
debra
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by debra » Wed May 23, 2018 9:09 am

Geronimo wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 8:32 am
...
Leather valves bend, leather pallets and gaskets and bellows corners stiffen, but the most expensive as well as common problem is the wax getting brittle, leading first to air leaks and then to reed plates falling off.

A not uncommon affliction is moths having discovered the felts used in various places of the accordion. "Worn" mechanics are rarely a problem since accordions don't experience significant mechanical forces in the parts of the mechanics subject to friction and, of course, bending (the reeds themselves). Typical woodwind mechanics experience quite more wear since the individual parts have less idle time on average than the many parts of an accordion.
...
Indeed, all sorts of things can go wrong, less so if the instrument was "stored" properly, in its case, in a dry and not too hot or cold room. Sadly that is seldom the case, but for instance with the Crucianelli I am working on that was actually the case for the last 30 years or so that the instrument has not been played. (It was played a lot in its first 25 years or so.)

Moths can indeed be a problem. Woodworm can also be a problem (and yes, I have seen woodworm holes in an accordion, in the bellows frame actually). Leather valves may bend, but they may also still be fine and still soft too. Wax may become brittle (as I have seen on a Pigini Sirius bayan) but may also be still fine (like on the Crucianelli). The gaskets (making the connection between the accordion halves and the bellows airtight) likely need to be replaced after 50 years. You really need to look inside to discover what is a problem and what is still good. This may again be an area where quality craftsmanship and good selection of materials may help to still have a very usable instrument after 50 to 60 years and where cutting corners in production may cause an instrument to be beyond repair after a shorter period already.

Which just goes to say that with a "vintage" accordion you always need to inspect everything carefully (or have an expert do it for you) because it is not obvious how to separate the crop from the crap.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

boxplayer4000
Expert
Expert
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun May 22, 2016 11:28 am
Location: Gorebridge (by Edinburgh) Scotland

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by boxplayer4000 » Wed May 23, 2018 9:57 am

Vintage Piano Accordion.

I have for sale a 1930s Hohner Tango V. (It’s in the For Sale section and was published in January 2018) I was encouraged to do some restoration on this accordion because of its unusually good state of repair and appearance. It’s for sale elsewhere at £200.
I also have a Hohner Morino from the same period (about 1938), also in a good state of repair, which I need to pass on as well.

henrikhank
Intermediate
Intermediate
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 10:46 pm
Location: Sverige

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by henrikhank » Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 am

Is antique accorsions really good to play (other than just having a jolly time with people who like antique accorsions)?
Are they not too heavy?

Tom
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Tom » Wed May 23, 2018 12:00 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 am
Is antique accorsions really good to play (other than just having a jolly time with people who like antique accorsions)?
Are they not too heavy?
Hi Henri,

Yes, antique accordions are good to play IF they are in good playable condition, either by virtue of luck, or by virtue of having been well restored.

Some antique accordions are too heavy, some are not. This is the same as new accordions. It's up to you whether the particular accordion is too heavy.

Do you have one in mind that you are considering learning to play?

Tom
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Tom » Wed May 23, 2018 12:03 pm

Thanks for your advice, guys, I agree with what you are saying and have seen all these problems in vintage accordions I have restored. Yes, sound is subjective, a good sounding (and playing) instrument you just want to keep playing, that's the only test.

Morne
Star
Star
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:41 am
Location: South Africa

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Morne » Wed May 23, 2018 2:03 pm

I guess my 1950's Morinos tend towards the antique side of vintage technology, but given my abilities they are much more than I need. It also helps that they were relatively good instruments for their time.

One thing to add is that older (at least piano) accordions are likely to have deeper key travel. This might only be a practical issue if you are constantly firing off machine gun staccato.

Older accordions are often compared to older cars, but one important difference is that accordions were never a safety risk [1]. People were playing those accordions well enough back then. Now I'm not arguing that just because people made do back then that it is necessarily enough now. Usability has improved. But I do think that those who are used to modern instruments, or perhaps have legitimate requirements for them, might have a more negative opinion on older instruments than those who are used to older instruments (or even none at all). Worst case you might give your arms and fingers more of a workout. The noisier mechanics probably won't matter if you're playing next to other instruments or if you have people dancing around or just being slightly noisy. So if you do come across an older instrument that works well and is suitable for what you want to play, then disregard any knee-jerk "old=rubbish" (although probably still true in most cases).


[1] Well, okay, you can argue that accordions are a safety risk when playing for unsuspecting bystanders. However, that issue is not solved by having a new accordion, but rather by having no accordion.

henrikhank
Intermediate
Intermediate
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 10:46 pm
Location: Sverige

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by henrikhank » Wed May 23, 2018 4:32 pm

Tom wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 12:00 pm
henrikhank wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 am
Is antique accorsions really good to play (other than just having a jolly time with people who like antique accorsions)?
Are they not too heavy?
Hi Henri,

Yes, antique accordions are good to play IF they are in good playable condition, either by virtue of luck, or by virtue of having been well restored.

Some antique accordions are too heavy, some are not. This is the same as new accordions. It's up to you whether the particular accordion is too heavy.

Do you have one in mind that you are considering learning to play?
No. I just went to the accordion shop and excange the one I had with another.
It felt a bit old. The thing is: depressing the keys felt like it does on a piano.
Is that something you've come across?
Maybe you guys on this forum could give me some of your thoughts on this accordion.
Right now there are no videos of it so let's go by text.
-what about the issue of depressing the keys? Your experiences?
-it has 41 keys compared to my previous which had 37. Is 41 better? Will it be of any help?

I was told that you can have an accordion with smaller keys even if you play piano.
But I prefer piano sized keys.
My accordion have bigger keys. Will this help me?

User avatar
debra
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by debra » Wed May 23, 2018 4:38 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 4:32 pm
...
No. I just went to the accordion shop and excange the one I had with another.
It felt a bit old. The thing is: depressing the keys felt like it does on a piano.
Is that something you've come across?
Maybe you guys on this forum could give me some of your thoughts on this accordion.
Right now there are no videos of it so let's go by text.
-what about the issue of depressing the keys? Your experiences?
-it has 41 keys compared to my previous which had 37. Is 41 better? Will it be of any help?

I was told that you can have an accordion with smaller keys even if you play piano.
But I prefer piano sized keys.
My accordion have bigger keys. Will this help me?
I have no idea what you mean by "depressing the keys felt like it does on a piano"
because the feel should be quite different because of the hammer mechanism.
Also, I don't know of any accordion with piano sized keys. That would make the
keyboard too wide. There are accordions with wider and narrower keys but even
the widest keys will be narrower than piano keys.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

Tom
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Tom » Wed May 23, 2018 7:24 pm

37 versus 41 keys depends on the songs you want to play. You probably will be fine with 37. Try playing as many accordions as you can from the shop. If one seems really nice, and you enjoy playing it, buy it. If not, try another store.

User avatar
JeffJetton
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 504
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:28 pm
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Contact:

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by JeffJetton » Wed May 23, 2018 11:18 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 8:32 am
A not uncommon affliction is moths having discovered the felts used in various places of the accordion.
As an aside bit of trivia... "moths" as we typically think of them (the things with wings) don't actually eat fabric. It's their offspring--technically moths, but still in worm-like larval form--that do all the munching! Once they grow up and fly around, they're apparently harmless.

Geronimo
Superstar
Superstar
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:00 am
Location: Germany

Re: vintage and choosing the right piano accordion

Post by Geronimo » Thu May 24, 2018 12:23 am

JeffJetton wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 11:18 pm
Geronimo wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 8:32 am
A not uncommon affliction is moths having discovered the felts used in various places of the accordion.
As an aside bit of trivia... "moths" as we typically think of them (the things with wings) don't actually eat fabric. It's their offspring--technically moths, but still in worm-like larval form--that do all the munching! Once they grow up and fly around, they're apparently harmless.
I've chosen my wording carefully. The moths are certainly not "harmless" when they discover the felts since they will deposit their eggs there. The larvae don't cover great distances before pupating.

It's like saying "oh, the soldiers are harmless but beware of the grenades".

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests