Melodeon.net Forums

Discussions => Instrument Makes and Models => Topic started by: bearwhisperer on March 15, 2017, 10:25:56 PM

Title: small box with best bass
Post by: bearwhisperer on March 15, 2017, 10:25:56 PM
Any opinions on which small quint box, such as a Lilly size, would usually have the most full and deep sounding bass? Either one or two voice treble is ok, but I'd like a light and compact box that my old arthritic body can manage. I'm now using a Saltarelle Bourouche, which is not good for bisonic phrasing and is killing my arms and shoulders. Will not be using a mike.
Thanks
George
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 16, 2017, 09:03:46 AM
the preferred sound/volume etc of the bass on a box is a very personal thing  and for example I love the lilly exept the , for me, overloud bass whilst on the other hand the bass/treble balance on a pokerwork Erica is spot on!

It also depends very much on individual style of bass playing ?  long harmonising chords or light tapping of staccato rhythm  and the choice is more difficult if you do a lot of both!

The only advice I can give is to not take anybodies word for it but to go and try several boxes at one of the larger dealers

probably not the answer you are looking for ?

george
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Andrius on March 16, 2017, 09:13:56 AM
Lower key of the box will be deeper bass  ;)
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 16, 2017, 09:52:36 AM
Lower key of the box will be deeper bass  ;)

Actually no ... almost all melodeons are made with C being the lowest bass note and B being the highest regardless of the tuning.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Anahata on March 16, 2017, 10:00:34 AM
Try a Dino Baffetti Black Pearl.
It was was one of my favourites when I was trying out boxes, until I found an Oakwood of the type I have now. The BP has quite a deep sounding bass for a box of its size.

Old Hohners are good for bass too, in a rather different way.

As George says, you have to try them out, ideally both playing and listening to someone else playing.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 16, 2017, 10:07:17 AM
I think I know what the OP means by full and deep sounding. 

The notes that a melodeon produces are made up not only of the frequencies we hear as musical notes, but loads of other higher harmonics too. 

Even though most boxes will use reeds of the same pitch in their instruments, some end up amplifying the bassier frequencies leading to a fuller deeper sounding bass whie other will amplify the higher harmonics which make them sound a bit more nasal (and will feel louder too - because they are more in the middle of our range of hearing and compete with the frequencies made by the right hand side).

The problem is that most smaller boxes tend to have a sound with more higher harmonics amplified than lower ones because lower pitched harmonics have longer wavelengths and need a bigger chamber to resonate properly.  It's not a coincidence that classic acoustic bass instruments like tubas and double basses are huge while high-pitched instruments like the piccolo are tiny!

I agree you need to try as many out as possible to be sure, models like the Lilly, Saltarelle Epsilon, Loffet Touptit and the Sandpiper 1 voice boxes all exist as well as vintage Hohners like the Liliput and Preciosa.  For me the old Hohner Liliputs have the most bassy basses of all these with the Lilly having the most nasal sounding basses.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on March 16, 2017, 11:05:11 AM
I just wonder if this is the Holy Grail of boxes.
I have a small sized Tommy which is known for *not* having a good bass response. I resolved it by going to a full sized Hascy which has a more resonant sound and is bigger.
As Squeezy says, size has a huge effect on sound, so wonder if any smaller instrument can have a good bass response in compared to a full sized box?
Good question though!
cheers
Q

Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Theo on March 16, 2017, 11:06:00 AM

I agree you need to try as many out as possible to be sure, models like the Lilly, Saltarelle Epsilon, Loffet Touptit and the Sandpiper 1 voice boxes all exist as well as vintage Hohners like the Liliput and Preciosa.  For me the old Hohner Liliputs have the most bassy basses of all these with the Lilly having the most nasal sounding basses.

Some (most?) Castagnari Lilly's have two bass reeds spaced two octaves apart.  This gives it (to my ear) a very unpleasant sound. 

I agree with Squeezys comment about bass sounds needing physically large instruments.  If you want a light instrument it's more a. Are of finding one with the "least bad" sound.  Individual examples of the same model can be very diffetent, so it's essential to try before you buy,  or if you can't do that then buy with a right to return for a full refund.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 16, 2017, 01:25:34 PM

I agree you need to try as many out as possible to be sure, 
Some (most?) Castagnari Lilly's have two bass reeds spaced two octaves apart.  This gives it (to my ear) a very unpleasant sound. 

  quote

I tend to get round that on the lilly by not using little if any bass and treating it more as a sort of substitute fiddle!

george
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Garry Probert on March 16, 2017, 04:17:43 PM
Hi although i,m relatively new to melodeons ,darrens been plinking for many years and I've been fortunate to play a wide collection of his and friends boxes ,the hohner liliput is an extraordinary little box with a really big and well matched sound
so far "including" some very swanky italian boxes the club II is an absolute bass bin but its double the weight of the lilliput and harder on the arms to play, the lilliput is effortless

I really can't fault the little hohner liliput,easy to play light big bass for its size the Castagnari Lilly i really liked initially very easy action tight feel but if i have a plink on it now it seems to be missing something.

   
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Martin J on March 16, 2017, 05:38:15 PM
At about 7kg the Saltarelle Bourouche is quite heavy in itself.  The Castagnari Dony is 4.2Kg but really doesn't feel it as the reeds are so responsive.  If you sit to play and take the weight on your legs there is no weight to speak of on your arms or shoulders.  The 2½ rows may also be advantageous after the Bourouche.
PS: I do have a Lilliput and it is great but the tiny buttons take a lot of getting used to.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 16, 2017, 06:08:41 PM
I know it's a side issue but is the Bourroche a continental chromatic, or have you got one that's been melodeonised?
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Garry Probert on March 16, 2017, 06:11:54 PM
Hi i think as the poster suggested
Quote
Lilly size
I cant really see a lot of options in that weight and size ,I have arthritis and found the lilly perfect size and weight but the versatility and rich tone of the hohner liliput,put me off a lilly
I had problems playing the liliput but darrens "less tips more flat" sorted that and the small button size makes the spacing appear very different when it's actually a very small difference and i think  4.2kg is even heavier than my club II       
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: playandteach on March 16, 2017, 07:26:00 PM
My local music shop in Hexham said that they have a Black Pearl coming in for sale at around £895 (DG). They may be willing to take an offer. I can always go in and record something on it if you're interested.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Martin J on March 16, 2017, 08:44:34 PM
Garry Probert - but darrens "less tips more flat"

I have problems playing my Lilliput. Any info on the above please?

Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Garry Probert on March 16, 2017, 10:10:11 PM
Hi as a duet concertina player i was approaching the melodeon with the same fingering hand shape,but darren plays more pads not tips of fingers and no thumb hook but two straps. He often plays major 7th using one finger flattened to play two notes on both rows ,don't understand the mechanics but it creates a more sliding feel less resistance than bolt upright fingers, perhaps more fleshy butexactly the opposite to sloppy not tip fingering on say a guitar.

He also pointed out the button spacing on the lilliput is 17mm the club II is only 19mm so the smaller buttons are only slightly closer together ,but being smaller buttons with larger gaps between buttons ,it made me think they were actually very close ,he rattles around the keyboard with impunity and has sausages for fingers so i figured it had to be me lol

My biggest improvements have come from backing off ,less pounding the buttons and using the air more effectively
and shortening the bass and chord comping

This using the air button slightly to facilitate direction flow i,m struggling with
either too much or too little ,but seeing a push chord and bass from a long pull stretch seamlessly speed up without a drop in volume or tone something to work on       
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: malcolmbebb on March 16, 2017, 10:46:47 PM
Garry Probert - but darrens "less tips more flat"

I have problems playing my Lilliput. Any info on the above please?
I play mine with my fingers fairly flat, with the pads of my finger rather than the tips. It takes about ten minutes to move between the Dino and Liliput with any fluency. I also use the thumb groove and don't grip the fingerboard.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: bearwhisperer on March 16, 2017, 11:23:29 PM
Thanks for so much help with my first post!
I can see that I may be heading down that long and financially devastating road that I think many of you have traveled.
Wanting a European box and being in the US is tough as well.
In response: I had posted on the accordion forum after buying my Bourouche, that the bass seemed a little loud compared to the treble. Sometimes from using one M reed (not so bad with bandoneon), but also as squeezy has mentioned, the thing has four bass reeds and the smaller ones activate quicker than the big ones giving it a kind of bright bass.(C in fact being the lowest). I like a big deep bass for long scale phrasing of the balfolk type stuff, but of course would like the box to be able to do it all.(not going to happen I know). The Bourouche CBA is greatly versatile, but I now realize that some phrasing that seems common on the bisonic is not achievable on the unisonic. It seems kind of like you can "sing" on an accordion but you can "dance" on a melodeon.( I had a C#D for a while).
I did come close to bidding on a Dony on ebay recently but chickened out.
I would love to try a Lilly.
I'm off to central Virginia on Sunday to look at a Sandpiper and a D/G Bouebe for sale by another member.
I'll post results.
Thanks!
George
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Garry Probert on March 17, 2017, 12:17:38 AM
Hi
Quote
I play mine with my fingers fairly flat, with the pads of my finger rather than the tips. I also use the thumb groove and don't grip the fingerboard.
Thats exactly as i,m learning ,its not instinctive but when you see it implemented you can see the advantages. 

Quote
It seems kind of like you can "sing" on an accordion but you can "dance" on a melodeon.
I briefly tried a pa on loan ,but after trying a melodeon with that big bass i was hooked
and best of luck with your melodeon hunt
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: bearwhisperer on March 17, 2017, 02:39:10 AM
BTW squeezy, my Bourouche is CBA unisonoric.
And Anahata, I've definitely noticed your Oakwood as well as a Dino that you have video posted.
Thanks
George
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 17, 2017, 09:22:16 AM
if playing with finger tips it is extremely important to keep finger nails really short so they do not have any contact with buttons ,the finger end itself being quite 'fleshy'

george
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 17, 2017, 09:23:55 AM
if playing with finger tips it is extremely important to keep finger nails really short so they do not have any contact with buttons ,the finger end itself being quite 'fleshy'

george

I can definitely vouch for this ... one days nail growth can completely throw my playing which is very fingertip based.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 17, 2017, 09:44:28 AM
a simple test for 'correct' nail shortness is that if you push finger tips into the palm of  the other hand   no mark should be made.  When teaching the box  I found that guitar players were a pain in the backside as they were most reluctant to cut nails short as they used them for strings the plucking  of.

George 
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Melissa Sinclair on March 17, 2017, 06:54:06 PM
Any opinions on which small quint box, such as a Lilly size, would usually have the most full and deep sounding bass? Either one or two voice treble is ok, but I'd like a light and compact box that my old arthritic body can manage. I'm now using a Saltarelle Bourouche, which is not good for bisonic phrasing and is killing my arms and shoulders. Will not be using a mike.
Thanks
George

George, not sure where you are, but I have a CF Liliput that I think has a nice deeper base sound. I'm in Maryland and work in DC - seems you got to Virginia, but that is a big state, so not sure where that puts you geographically. Don't know if that would help if you would want to try it out. (And I'm not playing it yet, excpept a couple of times). I also have an older Hohner in GC and a borrowed Streb.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: deltasalmon on March 17, 2017, 07:16:51 PM
Lower key of the box will be deeper bass  ;)

Actually no ... almost all melodeons are made with C being the lowest bass note and B being the highest regardless of the tuning.

This is a little OT but my van der Aa C#/D the B is the lowest bass note. It makes me love playing tunes in B minor where I get to take advantage of that low growly B-bass note.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: playandteach on March 17, 2017, 11:11:28 PM
Don't know if that would help if you would want to try it out. (And I'm not playing it yet, excpept a couple of times). I also have an older Hohner in GC and a borrowed Streb.
Welcome back Melissa, I was worried you lost your way with the melodeon as you'd gone silent, but now I see you have a Streb, so the silent thing is obviously nothing to worry about.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Melissa Sinclair on March 18, 2017, 12:00:34 AM
I got extremely busy, too busy to write or come here, and then I got sick... Boohoo! I haven't had as much time to do ANYTHING until today...
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: IanD on March 18, 2017, 01:14:49 PM
Lower key of the box will be deeper bass  ;)

Actually no ... almost all melodeons are made with C being the lowest bass note and B being the highest regardless of the tuning.

This is a little OT but my van der Aa C#/D the B is the lowest bass note. It makes me love playing tunes in B minor where I get to take advantage of that low growly B-bass note.

On 3 D/G Baffetti Bincis of different vintage in the team, the lowest notes are C B and A...
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Martin J on March 19, 2017, 08:19:57 AM
I haven't seen any mention of you having tried a melodeon.  It is a very different technique from a CBA.  If you haven't had the opportunity to play around on a bi sonic box I really recommend you do so before buying.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Guy on March 19, 2017, 07:29:03 PM
a simple test for 'correct' nail shortness is that if you push finger tips into the palm of  the other hand   no mark should be made.  When teaching the box  I found that guitar players were a pain in the backside as they were most reluctant to cut nails short as they used them for strings the plucking  of.

George

That's fine-except I play finger style guitar as well! I've just had to adapt to do both, but it does make it difficult to cope with Hohner-style keyboards...

Cheers,
Guy
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 19, 2017, 09:32:35 PM
indeed!
george ;)
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 20, 2017, 12:03:48 AM
Lower key of the box will be deeper bass  ;)


Actually no ... almost all melodeons are made with C being the lowest bass note and B being the highest regardless of the tuning.

This is a little OT but my van der Aa C#/D the B is the lowest bass note. It makes me love playing tunes in B minor where I get to take advantage of that low growly B-bass note.

On 3 D/G Baffetti Bincis of different vintage in the team, the lowest notes are C B and A...

And that's why i said that ALMOST all had the C as the lowest ... my own beloved Saltarelle Conn II has the B as lowest and my Albrecht box goes down to having a low G on the bass.  That being said the vast majority of boxes made use C as the lowest note on the left hand, and it definitely has very little to do with the tuning of the box.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Cooper on March 20, 2017, 01:14:16 PM
  That being said the vast majority of boxes made use C as the lowest note on the left hand, and it definitely has very little to do with the tuning of the box.

Do you know why they chose this like that? And can we think of a configuration that would be most logical, considering the tuning of a box?

W
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Theo on March 20, 2017, 01:46:20 PM
I think it is mainly to do with getting a good response from the basses. Below C it becomes more and more difficult to get a good bass response with the typical design of bass reeds and reed blocks.  It is not impossible but it does need good reed quality, and larger reed chambers.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 20, 2017, 01:54:05 PM
I think that for the main part it is a convention ... but it does make sense to some degree.  The low G on my Albrecht 2 row is very very low sounding to the point that it begins sounding like a growl rather than a pure note.  My massive Hohner Elysium in C/F (bass melodeon) has 5 voice left hand bass notes with the lowest being a C a whole octave below the normal lowest bass C reed and frankly it is fairly inaudible in amongst the higher octaves that also get played when you press a button.  In order to get these incredibly deep notes to sound full, it would need some sort of formant (like a cassotto chamber) which amplified these bassier frequencies and to operate it would need to be bigger than any melodeon I've ever seen!

I really love having B as the lowest bass note on a D/G box - but if you transposed that in to a G/C then it would either be a fourth higher or a fifth lower and I think that would either sound very high or very low to most ears.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Theo on March 20, 2017, 02:06:08 PM
I think that for the main part it is a convention ...

I think thats right.   Possibly related to the early development of diatonics being strongly biased towards the key of C:  C one row, CC#, CF, CG etc.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: AirTime on March 20, 2017, 07:57:36 PM
Thanks for so much help with my first post!
I can see that I may be heading down that long and financially devastating road that I think many of you have traveled.
Wanting a European box and being in the US is tough as well.
In response: I had posted on the accordion forum after buying my Bourouche, that the bass seemed a little loud compared to the treble. Sometimes from using one M reed (not so bad with bandoneon), but also as squeezy has mentioned, the thing has four bass reeds and the smaller ones activate quicker than the big ones giving it a kind of bright bass.(C in fact being the lowest). I like a big deep bass for long scale phrasing of the balfolk type stuff, but of course would like the box to be able to do it all.(not going to happen I know). The Bourouche CBA is greatly versatile, but I now realize that some phrasing that seems common on the bisonic is not achievable on the unisonic. It seems kind of like you can "sing" on an accordion but you can "dance" on a melodeon.( I had a C#D for a while).
I did come close to bidding on a Dony on ebay recently but chickened out.
I would love to try a Lilly.
I'm off to central Virginia on Sunday to look at a Sandpiper and a D/G Bouebe for sale by another member.
I'll post results.
Thanks!
George

That Bouebe formerly belonged to me ... & I have a CF Sandpiper. You will find them interestingly different from each other. Sandpiper's generally seem to have very dry tuning, which lends itself to a certain type of tune & playing style.

I recently sold a Lilly. I liked it a lot, but again, it is most suited to a certain playing style & tune. A Lilly does not have a "resonant" bass, no matter how you play it, but is definitely better in GC or AD than in DG.

I would agree with the other comments: a "full-size" box almost inevitably has a richer more resonant sound than smaller sized box. In my experience, Hohners seem to have more resonant basses than Italian boxes - it results in a sound where the bass is more obviously the accompaniment for the treble side, whereas with a modern Italian-style box the bass & treble seem more "balanced", allowing for more of an interplay between the bass & treble sides. Both can be effective in appealing in their own way.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Maggie on March 20, 2017, 08:22:29 PM
Hi. I play a Saltarelle l'elfique 19+2 box.  It has a lovely tone, good bass and is super compact, weighing only 3.75 kilos.  Having the two accidental buttons in the middle is really useful. 

Spent three days at a festival in France listening to many, many melodions and chose the Saltarelle for the smooth round sound - and it is very pretty!

I had heard some mixed reviews of Saltarelle but I am very happy with it  :|||:
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: bearwhisperer on March 21, 2017, 02:16:00 AM
OK,
So I bought the Sandpiper. I briefly mentioned having had a C#/D box for a short time a couple of years ago. Learned a few tunes but no bass.
I'm already thinking I should have bought the Bouebe, but my main objective was to see If my arthritis would permit me to do this at all.
So far, I'm finding it much easier on my arms and shoulders, but tougher on my hands. The left hand I think is due to small strap, big hands, as well as what I think is a bit shallow air button and finding the right finger position. The right hand just seems clumsy after being used to the CBA which is so easy to find the melodies as well as to play them at lightning speed when called for. So a whole new brain thing needs to happen here! Stop playing on the row! This is a G/C btw and a I see now that a D/G would be better for learning from videos.
So, the basses. Well our hosts (Joe and Laurrie) where so delightful and interesting that focus on proper evaluation was just not going to happen for me (people are always more important than things). Hence, I went with my plan to buy the least expensive and begin the learning process. The bass on this box is much more the sound I had hoped to hear for this type of music is about all that I can say for now. The sound is less complicated than the Bourouche and the big reeds sound earlier I guess because less reeds to move. Ok for now, but if my hands hold out, I fear more boxes ahead!
Thank for advice so far.
George
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: AirTime on March 21, 2017, 03:30:53 AM
This is a G/C btw and a I see now that a D/G would be better for learning from videos.

GC is a good choice. Don't worry about "learning from videos", there are a number of easy ways to adjust the pitch of a youtube video so that it plays in the keys of your box.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Cooper on March 21, 2017, 10:13:09 AM
I think that for the main part it is a convention ...

Based on actual playing, and musical theory, what would be the prefered correlation? I mean, i think you would normally want your V to be lower than your I, right? Is there logic for the others as well? 

If you use this I-V correlation and the fact that C is lowest, can you conclude that playing in F gives you the nicest configuration of basses?

W
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: squeezy on March 21, 2017, 10:44:58 AM
I have never heard that theory saying that the V bass should be lower than the I ... I can think of just as many example of famous music where the V is above the I as it is the other way around when it's played on bass instruments that have the choice ... it depends on the way the bass line is going and is chosen for effect.

I sometimes think people are making up these "rules" somewhere because they enjoy rules more than they enjoy music!
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Rees on March 21, 2017, 10:53:44 AM
One row melodeons in B flat, C and D have the V higher than the I.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: 911377brian on March 21, 2017, 11:13:32 AM
I was getting interested in this post, then the I,V thing popped up and did for me. What exactly is or does I V mean or represent?
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Rees on March 21, 2017, 11:17:17 AM
In the key of C, C (the root) is I and G (the fifth) is V.

Other keys:
G is I, D is V.
D is I, A is V.
F is I, C is V.
etc.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: george garside on March 21, 2017, 11:24:42 AM
I sometimes think people are making up these "rules" somewhere because they enjoy rules more than they enjoy music!

george

me to!
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: 911377brian on March 21, 2017, 11:30:11 AM
Thanks Rees, very clear...
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Cooper on March 21, 2017, 03:21:42 PM
I have never heard that theory saying that the V bass should be lower than the I ... I can think of just as many example of famous music where the V is above the I as it is the other way around when it's played on bass instruments that have the choice ... it depends on the way the bass line is going and is chosen for effect.

I sometimes think people are making up these "rules" somewhere because they enjoy rules more than they enjoy music!
I enjoy both :-)

And ofcourse when a bassline is going in one direction it is most beautiful to be able to continue that line. This isexactly why i am thinking about it. Things like that, dont have to be 'hard rules" but, knowing that usually the C is lowest onthe basses the different boxes will sound different, (apart from tuning) when playing the same fingering. It's because some chord/basslines work better on one box than the other, due to the jump in octave on the left hand being on another spot. I was wondering if there is some sort of general thought on that. I havent been able to put my finger on it. 

(i am thinking about it, because i am in the process of ordering some reeds, might as well make a thought-through choice there as well)

W
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: playandteach on March 21, 2017, 09:34:31 PM
Rees I hope you don't mind me adding to your information: it might help to think of the I in this case as the tonic, rather than the root. So that we know we are talking about 2 different chords, rather than inversions of the same chord. Root (C for example) and Fifth (G) could both refer to C chords.
I think the point was to say that in a perfect cadence the root note of the dominant chord should be lower that the root note of the tonic chord (not a statement I agree with, by the way - so much depends on the direction of travel of the melody for example as well as the bass).
I love realising that an emotional response to music is controllable by conscious decisions of craftsmen composers. The first time I heard a Mediant modulation (ask me if you're interested) I thought it was just beautiful music, now I know that it was fully intended I feel even more respect. Knowledge and instinct are not necessarily discrete skills.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: Rees on March 21, 2017, 09:50:30 PM
No problem P&T, we were discussing fundamental bass notes not chords.
Title: Re: small box with best bass
Post by: 911377brian on March 21, 2017, 10:33:09 PM
I thought I was beginning to get a grip on this...