Melodeon.net Forums

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Welcome to the new melodeon.net forum

Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: A step up...  (Read 9129 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Andy Simpson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 938
A step up...
« on: December 16, 2007, 12:45:15 AM »

« Last Edit: December 16, 2007, 12:49:03 AM by WhatsAMelodeon? »
Logged

C age ing

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 434
  • New fangled melodeon?
Re: A step up...
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2007, 08:54:52 AM »

You mention two and a half rows at one point, ever thought of one of Theo's Erikas/Club Twos? Well within your budget, get the half row that you want, never run out of air as the bellows are so long and different.
Alternatively, ask Theo if he can suggest and make improvements.
If you are ever around Croydon, your welcome to an Epic on my Erika.
Old Bill. 
Logged
My Erika is as old as me. Luckily, it is not as decrepit.

GuyWyatt

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 303
Re: A step up...
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2007, 10:29:05 AM »

Within your criteria is the Petit by Bernard Loffet. Imported (exclusively, I think) by Thrift Music. They are based at Frinton on Sea so not too bad a trek from Chelmsford. I have a DG one which I love dearly and playing which was a transforming experience from the (German) Erica that I had before.
Good luck.
Guy
Logged

Theo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11099
  • Hohner Club Too
    • The Box Place
Re: A step up...
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2007, 11:34:57 AM »

Hi,

Can you put your finger on the aspect of the Erica that you are unhappy with?

I'll make a couple of guesses:

1 the way the treble keys disappear down the holes in the fingerboard?

2 the wild tremolo tuning?

Both can be fixed at modest cost.  You can have the tuning anywhere between it's current wetwetwet and completely dry(no tremolo at all).  With the treble action properly regulated it will fell much nicer, almost like a different box.

The Morgane is a bit of a goat in sheeps clothing to bend a metaphor.

Internally it has the same reeds and reedblocks as the Erica, and basically the same mecahnicals, but the treble action is smoother and quieter.  It is also usually supplied swing tuned.  The bellows are better built, and should be longer lasting.

I can offer you another option (I don't usually plug my own offerings, but this seems to fit the bill).  I'm selling a second hand Excelsior two-row in D/G.  Excelsior have a long pedigree as makers of piano accordions, and have recently started making diatonics.  There is a review of one of them elsewhere on this forum.  The one I'm selling is an early model, when they were starting out.  The case is a bit chunky, but it plays nicely.

You raised the subject of reed type.  There is a great deal of mis-information about reeds on the web. It's not a simple subject, but I'll just give a couple of points that may help:

1 On many new boxes the reeds are not set up very well - think of it like a new stringed instrument - you would take a new guitar/fiddle to a good luthier for a setup before expecting it to play its best - boxes are the same.

2  Don't place too much importance on what it says on the label eg "hand made" dural, etc.  "Hand made" as a description is often applied to reeds that the reed maker would describe as "tipo a mano"  or hand made type.  These are very good quality reeds that are made with sophisticated machine tools,. Usually they are hand finished which means that the reed tongues are riveted in place by hand, but every other part of the making is by machine.

Finally do make every effort to try before you buy.  If you can wait till March 29th try to get along to the "Melodeons and More" day at Mendelsham in Suffolk.  There will be at least three stalls there with instruments for sale, Rees Wesson, Thrift Music, and myself.

3 playability is influenced a lot by the design of the whole of the box, but particularly the reedblocks.
Logged
Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

Proprietor of The Box Place for melodeon and concertina sales and service.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for stock updates.

Open_G

  • Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 41
  • Hohner Erica, Hohner 1 row, Tommy, Mignon
Re: A step up...
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2007, 11:46:09 AM »

What about a Dino Baffetti Black Pearl 2. Although I don't own one I have played them regularly and they seem to provide a pretty good "next step." They are nice and light and fast to play but have a certain chunkyness about them that makes them feel robust, in my hands at least.

Just to balance this up, apparently they are a bit pokey inside, although the friend I have who owns one has never had any trouble from this.
Logged
Squeezing with varying degress of success since 1995. -Clive

george garside

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4730
Re: A step up...
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2007, 04:08:43 PM »

Logged
author of DG tutor book "DG Melodeon a Crash Course for Beginners".    Available on ebay as a 'buy now' item. Put in melodeon tutor book for full info.  Melodeon DG & BC and piano accordion tuition

Mike Gott

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 285
  • Melodeon and hairy arm
Re: A step up...
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2007, 07:27:26 PM »

I've been using an out of the box German Erica for playing for a dance team for about 14 years now and it's been ideal for what I've been using it for. However, on the occasions that I've played it in a session (I'm very much a 1-row player away from the morris) I am conscious that it sounds loud and unsubtle compared to the Italian instruments that most folks seem to have these days. (20 years ago it would have just been a sea of Hohner Pokerworks). Wanting something a little different, my answer has been to get one of Theo's mid-30's Erika 2.5 rows which he has fitted with Cagnoni reeds and tweaked in various ways - and it's ace.... I'd have a look at his website, but do always take heed of the advice to play before you buy.

I suppose it just depends what you want from your instrument, really, where you want to play it. Somebody like Theo could work wonders with your current box, and don't forget that a well played standard Erica will always sound better than a badly played Castagnari!

Mike
Logged
"Traditional music was for entertainment, it wasn't for a further education class" (Bob Davenport)

Rivington Morris, Bolton, Lancashire.

Open_G

  • Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 41
  • Hohner Erica, Hohner 1 row, Tommy, Mignon
Re: A step up...
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2007, 12:56:33 AM »

and don't forget that a well played standard Erica will always sound better than a badly played Castagnari!

Mike

Not sure that's a necessary comment, it's a pretty obvious statement so can only be a dig at someone playing an expensive casta who is not so able.
Logged
Squeezing with varying degress of success since 1995. -Clive

johnp_g

  • Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 9
  • Saltarelle Le Bouebe and Castagnari Lilly in D/G
Re: A step up...
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2007, 08:30:02 AM »

and don't forget that a well played standard Erica will always sound better than a badly played Castagnari!

Mike

Not sure that's a necessary comment, it's a pretty obvious statement so can only be a dig at someone playing an expensive casta who is not so able.
Logged

Steve_freereeder

  • Grumpy old git (sometimes)
  • Content Manager
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6002
  • MAD is inevitable. Keep Calm and Carry On
    • Lizzie Dripping
Re: A step up...
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2007, 09:34:23 AM »

and don't forget that a well played standard Erica will always sound better than a badly played Castagnari!

Not sure that's a necessary comment, it's a pretty obvious statement so can only be a dig at someone playing an expensive casta who is not so able.

I'm sure that Mike did not intend to cause offence. Yes, it is a pretty obvious statement if you think about it, but sometimes irrationality can set in to cause any one of us to think - 'wow, my playing will be SO much better if I swap my Pokerwork/Erica (whatever) for a fantastic Castagnari...'
Perhaps it is better to turn the original statement round on itself and think of it in the sense that, yes - there are great players of Castagnaris, Saltarelles, etc, BUT also great players of Hohner pokerworks who make them sound brilliant. John K and Tony Hall immediately come to mind, for example.

My own experience has taught me the value of upgrading to a 'better instrument' (whatever that means). I played on a Hohner D/G Erica for several years - got along nicely with it, learned lots of tunes, and the basics of playing for dancing, although I treated it as two 1-row instruments stuck together for just about all that time, playing up and down the rows - because I never knew to do things differently.

But eventually I got fed up with the Erica's clacky buttons and wanted something a bit better - without being totally clear what that 'better' was, although I knew I wanted a 3 voice instrument, so I could bring in the low octave voice whenever I wished. I bought a 2nd-hand Saltarelle Berry and loved it from the first - the action was good and quiet, the buttons comfortable, and the sheer variety of sounds you could get from adding/subtracting the 3rd voice, and the ability to play chords with or without the thirds, really started to make me think more carefully about my playing, so that I started to improve quite dramatically (I think!). I certainly started to explore cross-row techniques and playing tunes in minor keys.

After a couple of years having played on a couple of friends' Castagnaris, I realised that was what I wanted and so got my first Castagnari -  a Tommy, which I loved even better than the Berry.  Since that time, (although the Tommy has moved on to another owner, and I have been sidetracked occasionally by Saltarelle 'Nuages') I have become a confirmed Castagnari person - I love their sound, versatility and superb quality and I honestly believe that if you are happy with your instrument - whatever it is - you will want to play more, and hence your playing will improve.

But the postscript to this has been interesting. I've always liked the Hohner sound and recently I have acquired an old, but excellent condition Erica in C/F. Yes - it's got clacky buttons and needs a bit of tuning touching up, but I am really enjoying playing it - I have rediscovered the delights and subtleties of the Erica. This is a good one, I think, and it is perfectly possible to play it quietly and with expression. So the wheel has come full circle. The experience of having good quality instruments - Saltarelle, Castagnari - has, in my opinion, improved my playing much more than if I'd originally stuck with my first Erica. Although my Castagnaris will always be my 'main' instruments, I can also come back to my Erica and (I hope) play it well, and with feeling.

Ultimately we are all different, having differing preferences for sounds, genre of music, etc, not to mention budget (those Castagnaris are also costalotis), so we choose what suits us best. It's all perfectly valid.
Logged
Steve
Sheffield, UK.
www.lizziedripping.org.uk

Mike Gott

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 285
  • Melodeon and hairy arm
Re: A step up...
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2007, 10:05:35 AM »

No - not a dig at anyone in particular, no one person was in mind. I certainly meant no offence and ponder over the circumstances that would lead to offence being taken by it. I was merely observing that from my corner there are times when people seem more bothered about the "equipment" than what they are actually doing with it. I can think of examples of this in plenty of other pastimes I'm involved with such as motorcycling and walking, just for starters. Sometimes I think we let ourselves get brainwashed into thinking that we have to go for the top of the range all the time and forget that "the best" doesn't always mean "most suitable". I think Steve has understood where I was coming from, anyway.

Mike
Logged
"Traditional music was for entertainment, it wasn't for a further education class" (Bob Davenport)

Rivington Morris, Bolton, Lancashire.

Stiamh

  • Old grey C#/D pest
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2890
    • Packie Manus Byrne
Re: A step up...
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2007, 01:17:03 PM »

Something else I've considered and might be possible at a stretch would be to get a Castagnari with dural reeds and in the future have them replaced with handmade ones when finances permit.

Just a comment on this point because I don't think anybody else has taken you up on it - this option doesn't make sense to me. You won't save very much by ordering lower-grade reeds, and having the box re-reeded at a later date will probably set you back a third, or possibly more, of what you paid for it.

I should have thought that if funds are tight, your best option would be to have your current box tuned up by somebody like, er, can't think of anyone at the moment.  ;) As Steve_fr has pointed out, lots of great players seem to be quite happy with Hohners and they do have a very nice characteristic sound.

Speaking of Theo, who mentioned Excelsior accordions: Theo, are you sure they haven't been making diatonics for a good while? Someone I know here in Quebec has one in ADG and I was under the impression he has had it for quite some time. I'll check with him though.
Logged
« L'enfer, c'est le doigté des autres » ~ Jean-Sol Partre

www.rogermillington.com

Theo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11099
  • Hohner Club Too
    • The Box Place
Re: A step up...
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2007, 02:50:37 PM »

Speaking of Theo, who mentioned Excelsior accordions: Theo, are you sure they haven't been making diatonics for a good while? Someone I know here in Quebec has one in ADG and I was under the impression he has had it for quite some time. I'll check with him though.

Steve,  I'm sure you are right about Excelsior being a long-time builder of diatonics.  UK dealers seem to have started stocking their boxes in the last year though so I think they have recently increased their production and marketing efforts for diatonics. 

There has also been a recent change of ownership of Excelsior.  I think they are now in the same group as Pigini and possibly a couple of other well known names.  The new owners probably want to make best use of factory space and can see space in the market for more diatonics. 

I had a tour round the Excelsior factory a couple of years ago, and one thing that struck me was how few people there were on the factory floor.  I think the market for high-end piano accordions has been in decline for some years now.
Logged
Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

Proprietor of The Box Place for melodeon and concertina sales and service.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for stock updates.

Open_G

  • Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 41
  • Hohner Erica, Hohner 1 row, Tommy, Mignon
Re: A step up...
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2007, 03:26:41 PM »

No - not a dig at anyone in particular, no one person was in mind. I certainly meant no offence and ponder over the circumstances that would lead to offence being taken by it.

Mike

I feel I should explain, I wasn't offended in the slightest but can see how some might be (I had also finished off a bottle of Sauvignon when I responded)- I have had one or two friends who have had their confidence completely shattered by throw-away remarks about their musical ability. -many people try very hard indeed without ever really getting to grips with an instrument. If those particular people fancy a Costa-lotti then I wouldn't dream of telling them that they shouldn't buy one. Music is about fun, enjoyment and personal goal setting (at whatever level you play to).
Logged
Squeezing with varying degress of success since 1995. -Clive

Mike Gott

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 285
  • Melodeon and hairy arm
Re: A step up...
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2007, 05:15:17 PM »

Certainly no ill feelings here. Anyway, we're both 1-row players, we shouldn't fall out. I think with me it's maybe about me being bit wary of the way that in recent years we are being made to think that we always have to "upgrade" what we have all the time, being shamed into buying another whatever because the one we have has been dubbed a "starter model" by the sales department. To draw a parallel, last year we bought a small narrow boat, a whole 25 feet long. That was presented as a "starter boat - an ideal first boat" sowing the seed that we should soon look towards spending a small fortune on a more serious and much larger boat - but the one we have fits the bill perfectly in terms of what we want from it, what time we have to spend on it, and, importantly, our finances!

As for Excelsior, I play a Baton Rouge 1-row as an "English" box which I understand was made by Excelsior and badged as a Baton Rouge for Hobgoblin. When I bought it I did a bit of research and seem to remember that the firm had started in America and moved to Italy - or maybe back to Italy - where the family who owned it originally came from, sometime in the 30's or 40's.

Mike
Logged
"Traditional music was for entertainment, it wasn't for a further education class" (Bob Davenport)

Rivington Morris, Bolton, Lancashire.

risto

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 315
Re: A step up...
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2007, 05:28:34 PM »

Quote
The experience of having good quality instruments - Saltarelle, Castagnari - has, in my opinion, improved my playing much more than if I'd originally stuck with my first Erica.

The important thing about getting good instruments is that you are kinda removing unnecessary objects hindering you to get to a better level. Everyone can understand that to play well with, for instance, a poor keyboard certainly requires more work and extra "tricks" compared to doing the job with an ergonomic and well thoughtout keyboard.

Many parents do a bad favour for their kids when they buy a junk instrument for them to start with, it would definitively be better to save some time and get a better one. If the kid in the meantime looses interest then no harm done and you can use the money for a vacation or something else as useful.

EDIT: Typos
« Last Edit: December 17, 2007, 05:31:09 PM by risto »
Logged
Paolo Soprani 5-row, Roland FR1B-digital CBA button accordion. Guitar, 5-string OT banjo, mandolin, piano...
My one man band recording: http://www.elisanet.fi/rap/Bonaparte_Crossing_The_Rhine_Risto.mp3

Andy Simpson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 938
Re: A step up...
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2007, 08:11:36 PM »

Wow, thanks for all the replies and advice, gave me a lot to think about.

I don't mind the tremolo on the Erica, I'm not sure I'd want a Castagnari to sound like that if I had one but it is a Hohner and in my mind's ear a soaking wet tremolo is part of the Hohner sound. The things I dislike about the Erica are firstly the aforementioned disappearing treble buttons as well as the wobbly bass buttons and I feel that the higher notes are lacking in volume and projection and are a tad slow to speak. I also feel that the left hand arrangement isn't very good because if I have the strap around my wrist in the ideal position to allow my fingers to press down onto the bass buttons instead of having to reach around and to get a more secure hold to make pushing and pulling the bellows easier then the push-down Hohner type air button is too far back and is both uncomfortable and harder to use and a push-in air button would be preferable in that position. There's also aesthetic considerations, I just prefer wood to plastic, and a general air of flimsiness and cheapness about it that makes me wonder how reliable it's going to be in the long term. I have thought of having it set-up but I'm not sure how much that's going to cost and since I don't know of anyone local then they'll be the cost of postage as well and it could all add up to quite a sizeable percentage of the cost of the instrument and I may as well just put that towards the cost of a better sounding and playing box. I may look into having the Erica fettled in the new year though....

As for the idea of getting a mid-range Castagnari and changing the reeds later, I thought it might well be a false economy but I have heard of it being done so I thought it might not be as expensive as that but that's been rejected now. The Morgane's pretty much dead in the water, I'm not sure I've heard an Excelsior or Dino Baffetti up close but both look good and if I can try one of either then I will. One of the restored Erikas/Club Twos looks tempting, I have reservations about the Hohner air button but I might contact Theo and see what he's got and for how much some time soon. The Bernard Loffet Petit looks very tempting indeed and Thrift Music shows both the Bouebe and Studio as well, I doubt they'll have all three in stock at the same time but probably worth a trip up there, as well as to Hobgoblin to check out a Serenellini.

I think what I'll probably do is wait until the dust from the Christmas period has settled and see where things stand in the new year and what options are open for me, it might be that I get a nice shiny new melodeon or it might just be that I have the Erica set up to play the best it can. Shopping will have to wait a while so I suppose all there is to do in the meantime is to carry on playing.
Logged

risto

  • Respected Sage
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 315
Re: A step up...
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2007, 09:10:09 PM »

Quote
The Morgane's pretty much dead in the water, ...

If you already have an Erica then there is no point in buying a Morgane, I agree, though it is really much better to play than the old EriKas (which I think has the same keyboard as the EriCa). Eventhough I certainly am going to get an Italian box sometimes next year probably, I will make and have the Morgane done as good as it can get. With some money invested it should be a pretty good second box.

BTW. Just today I got a reply to my email to Hohner in which they promised to send me an offer (after the New Year) of better C#/D reeds with a second set of reed blocks. Interesting to see what it will cost. A surprise was that they have no reed blocks for C#/D and it will be a custom job. I was thinking that G/C or some other blocks would do.
Logged
Paolo Soprani 5-row, Roland FR1B-digital CBA button accordion. Guitar, 5-string OT banjo, mandolin, piano...
My one man band recording: http://www.elisanet.fi/rap/Bonaparte_Crossing_The_Rhine_Risto.mp3

Jake Middleton (brinwins)

  • Regular debater
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 102
  • Concertina Maker and repairer
    • Wolverton Concertinas
Re: A step up...
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2007, 10:15:38 PM »

Hey a while ago I was in your position. I had a Chinese pokerwork and wanted something better,  these guys helped me in finding a new melodeon. Definitely try before one buys is best, I was in hobgoblin for hours! Trying the different brands.

 I found that when you pick up a new box the initial reaction is different from the next reaction when you play an instrument for a while you sort of pick up all its different aspects and you may decide you prefer another one, it happened with me as when i had first skimmed about the different boxes I prefered a lily later I decided I wanted something entirely different. But... HAVE FUN! I realy enjoyed trying all the different types. An hour in a room full of melodeons? it was heaven!

johnp_g

  • Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 9
  • Saltarelle Le Bouebe and Castagnari Lilly in D/G
Re: A step up...
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2007, 10:54:42 AM »

An hour in a room full of melodeons? it was heaven!
tried to stick to playing only what was in my price range, although of course (in the interests of scientific research) I had to see what the high end stuff was like!

My initial intention was to get something "different" to the 2-voice Bouebe. The 3+ voice boxes (Tommy's etc) were out of the budget. That left 1-voice (eg Lilly) or one of the various 1-row/4-voice boxes.

More hours spent comparing and contrasting....

I walked away with a Lilly which had only just arrived from Italy....in fact they had to unload the van especially, as there were none in the shop! 


My real point is that you need to spend time swapping back and forth, weighing good/bad points of each box against your own personal tastes and desires.

The punchline : if you think it's a long way to travel to get to a shop imagine what it was like for me. I live in the Shetland Islands. My trip involves a 14 hour overnight ferry to Aberdeeen and a long drive down to Yorkshire and then back again..... it's worth it though.

As Jake said

Quote
An hour in a room full of melodeons? it was heaven!
 

Cheers and good luck.

John
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up
 


Melodeon.net - (c) Theo Gibb; Clive Williams 2010. The access and use of this website and forum featuring these terms and conditions constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.