Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

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EricBarker
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Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by EricBarker » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:07 pm

I picked up an old used accordion a number of months ago. It's called a Stanelli Pixie-8, looks like it was last made during the 1960s. The straps had all but turned to dust. I replaced the shoulder straps easily, but the bass strap has been a nightmare. It's not a standardized design, being a mini 120bass, 4-octave model.

Getting the length right has been difficult. From the buckle hole to the nut hole is about 14", with about 1.5" down on either side to the buckle and screw hole. How tight is the strap supposed to be? If I want more give, I guess a 16" strap would do.

I tried getting one online, and cut it down. But I totally screwed it up trying to put in the rivets. They look completely weird and stick out, and I all but destroyed the metal piece that attaches the screw to the strap.

Bottom line, I really should just send it off to someone and say, "hey, can you fix this?" But I live out in the middle of the Pacific, no accordion stores in 2000 miles. I'm tempted to ship it. One other option is maybe if I ordered a good strap with a new metal-screw-holder piece, I could find a leather shop here in town (honolulu), and have them rivet it all together. But even then, I have no idea how long/tight the strap should be, since it's non-standard.

Any ideas?

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by Glug » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:27 am

Hiya,
I've just replaced the bass strap and shoulder straps on a 1935ish 48 bass PA.

The original bass strap was not adjustable, it has 3 screws in a line accross at each end.
I found an old 2 inch wide leather belt and just cut a length, used a leather punch to make the holes and tried it.
Then made another set of holes 5mm either way to do adjustment, works a treat. And bonus point for putting the shiny side of the belt on the inside so the wrist can move easily.

What might be slightly more useful to you is "Chicago Screws" aka "Screw Rivets" which I discovered while fixing the shoulder straps. They're a removable rivet so you can easily change the length.

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by debra » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:30 pm

A new bass strap should come with the screw already mounted. You screw it in about half an inch and then just put your hand in the playing position, push the other end of the strap in so that you can mark the desired position. Sounds much easier than it is in practice. Alternatively, and this is most logical, is to make the new strap the same length as the old one. Hopefully it hasn't turned to dust so badly that you can no longer tell how long the old strap was.
I recently replaced the bass strap on a 50 year old Crucianelli. New bass straps are still the same as those from that era. So I just used the same length strap. Rivets are needed to fit the proper clamp. But you can also just fix the strap with screws straight into the wood. (Some manufacturers do that even today.) The biggest issue in replacing a bass strap is access. In the case of the Crucianelli the whole bass mechanism needed to be disassembled completely in order to have access to the screws. (Coincidentally the mechanism already needed to be disassembled to clean it thoroughly.)
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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by EricBarker » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 am

The original bass strap was so stretched and broken (torn in two), that it didn't even serve any use for measuring a new strap so I threw it out long ago. The new strap I bought came with the wrong sized threads. Maybe they were imperial instead of metric? So I had to take the screw off the old strap as well as the belt, and re-rivit everything (and badly).

So let me ask you guys this, how much space should their be between your palm and the accordion's surface? Right now it's pretty tight as I cut the belt too short. However, my concern is that if it's loose, my hand will slip.

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by debra » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:38 am

EricBarker wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:01 am
...
So let me ask you guys this, how much space should their be between your palm and the accordion's surface? Right now it's pretty tight as I cut the belt too short. However, my concern is that if it's loose, my hand will slip.
The adjustment screw should allow you to tighten the strap so that you can't get a man's hand through at all and at the opposite end to fit your hand with half an inch to spare without the adjustment screw falling out.
If the belt is too short you can try with an adjustable clamp on the bottom side. The following images show the two parts, taken from the Carini website:
Image
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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:35 pm

With regard to how tight the bass strap should be:

I think it depends on how deep the accordion body is, whether it is the back of the hand or the wrist which comes into contact with the strap and what area of the basses are being played. In the central area, around the F/C/G keys the strap is going to give more space for the hand at any given seting than when playing in the very flat or sharp keys.

The quick adjust dial on modern accordions is very usefull in this respect, dial out a wee bit for playing towards either end of the keyboard and tighten setting for playing in the middle ranges. I find myself more often wanting to make adjustments to the strap length on my shorter / skinnier 96 bass than on the fatter /higher 120 bass.

On my 1920's/30's instruments that have no quick adjustment for the bass strap, I just play them as I bought them and it appears to be sufficient to arch my hand or wrist when playing in the central area to maintain a reasonable grip and both extremities of the keyboard are also accessible.

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by EricBarker » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:18 pm

I cut mine so short (because I screwed up the first time and had to recut the belt end shorter), that it took me 20 minutes to actually get the screw to thread in. The leather has stretched just a bit now, but it's still tight, and I can't really loosen it without it falling out. I can fit my hand in, and it's snug, so maybe not TOO far off from where it should be when playing in the middle of the buttons (near C/F), but edges are tough, and I can't turn my hand sideways if I want to anchor my fingers over two rows easily.

Maybe I'll look into those "chicago rivets" someone mentioned earlier. That was the biggest snag. I got a brand new rivet gun, with a few different kinds of rivets, but when they went in, they buckled and didn't cut right, leaving this huge hunk of metal on each corner. Maybe I'm not doing it right, or using the wrong size rivets, but it's just not working.

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by JIM D. » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:32 am

You must use cap rivets (sometimes called jiffy or hit to fit rivets).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEbi6cDV5CY

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Re: Bass Strap for Vintage (1960s) Itallian Accordion

Post by EricBarker » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:33 am

OMG! That looks so much easier and better than what I was using. I followed an accordion strap tutorial online that showed how to use standard rivets with a rivet gun. I went out, got a rivet gun, and two different sizes of rivets (the first were too short), and tried to follow along, but you see how it turned out. This is great advice. I'll get some and a new belt. Fantastic.

How do you recommend cutting the holes? Should I drill them out, or will that screw up the leather?


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