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Author Topic: Choosing an Instrument  (Read 2310 times)

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rmsandvik

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Choosing an Instrument
« on: November 20, 2017, 05:39:13 PM »

Hello - I am new to the forum, and would appreciate advice/suggestions on which type of accordion I might buy 

By way of context:  I'm a retiree who played piano accordion as a child for a couple of years.  I gave up accordion for guitar when the Kingston Trio and Duane Eddy hit the radio.  I've played rhythm guitar for decades, primarily with friends from my college days.  We perform rarely, and are doing home recording for a hobby.  Our music runs toward folk, country, classic (50'/60's) rock, and some originals.  Basically, music is my favorite "hobby", and I think learning another instrument would be fun and good for my mental health!  Accordion is that instrument of choice because I love the sound.

I would use an accordion primarily as a supporting instrument.  I have no desire to play jigs, reels, jazz, classical or any "hot" or complex leads.  I would use it in performing and recording to provide a "sound", via chords and simple melody lines.

I want an instrument that is more than a toy but far less than a "professional" quality. I'm assuming I need to spend up to about $650 to get something "decent".

I've done enough research to confuse myself!  I'm tending toward a two row, chromatic button accordion but am not certain -- that's why I'm seeking feedback from this Forum.

Thanks,

Dick Sandvik
Sisters, Oregon
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2017, 06:06:33 PM »

I didn't think there were two row chromatic button accordions?

I would agree that if you're not intending to play traditional music, especially dance music, a unisonoric button or piano accordion probably makes more sense than a bisonoric diatonic button accordion. The downside is that piano and chromatic button accordions are more expensive. $650 might not cut it for a reasonable entry level accordion.
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playandteach

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2017, 06:20:25 PM »

Sounds to me that you do want a piano accordion. I'd explore a 2 voice lightweight instrument if you are using it for chordal accompaniment. If your friends aren't into folk tunes (in the Ceilidh tradition rather than the folk as in Bob Dylan meaning) you may need a wider set of key options.
The weight thing becomes a problem as you age - especially if you haven't played one for a long time.
I bought a Scandalli from Bulgaria on a punt and it was fine. If you do go the piano accordion route you might want further advice on different forums - but there are a few players here.
If on the other hand you can be tempted into diatonic button accordion, then there's lots of help here. If you are after a 2 row 'chromatic' then you are looking at something we call a semitone box - 2 separate rows of diatonic layout (like a harmonic in terms of push pull = blow suck) and those rows are in keys a semitone apart allowing you to have all the notes somewhere.
More precise answers will follow I'm sure.
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boxcall

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2017, 06:28:40 PM »

I didn't think there were two row chromatic button accordions?



B/C, C#/D, C/C#, D/D#,D/C# etc. irish two row (half step) systems are chromatic treble side at least with basses set up for the most common keys.
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2017, 06:31:53 PM »

B/C, C#/D, C/C#, D/D#,D/C# etc. irish two row systems are chromatic treble side at least with basses set up for the most common keys.
Are those typically called chromatic button accordions? I generally think of a CBA as the box with the black and white "tiles" of buttons and the Stradella bass system.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2017, 08:18:46 PM »

B/C, C#/D, C/C#, D/D#,D/C# etc. irish two row systems are chromatic treble side at least with basses set up for the most common keys.
Are those typically called chromatic button accordions?

Yes. Frequently.
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2017, 08:22:00 PM »

Thanks, I am still learning the terminology!
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george garside

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2017, 08:50:33 PM »

 the 2 row semitone boxes are both diatonic and chromatic albeit with limited bass  and some keys difficult ( which ones depending on the tuning of the two rows. eg on a BC box FCGDAE are easy but the flat keys  more difficult, on a CC# box its the falt keys that are easy  and the 'sharp keys more difficult!

On all 2 row semitone boxes the bass are fairly limited.

The term chromatic accordion is much more widely used for the 3,4 and 5 row continental chromatics which  are sunisonoric i.e. each button plays the same note on push and pull of the bellows and the bass is usually 'stradella'  as on a piano accordion and is very versatile.  Some of the smaller 3 row models are quite lightweight and compact and are very easy to learn.

george
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boxcall

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2017, 09:04:02 PM »

B/C, C#/D, C/C#, D/D#,D/C# etc. irish two row systems are chromatic treble side at least with basses set up for the most common keys.
Are those typically called chromatic button accordions? I generally think of a CBA as the box with the black and white "tiles" of buttons and the Stradella bass system.
Yes and no, they are in a sense chromatic but are typically just called accordions in Ireland and all other two row (diatonic scale, most players on this site) and one rows are melodeons ( mainly one row in Ireland).
George is probably more correct with his post but the OP was taking about two rows so I posted the only option.
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Stiamh

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2017, 09:45:47 PM »

I would use an accordion primarily as a supporting instrument.  I have no desire to play jigs, reels, jazz, classical or any "hot" or complex leads.  I would use it in performing and recording to provide a "sound", via chords and simple melody lines.

The most common of the 2-row "chromatic" accordions is the B/C. Given all the stuff you have no desire to play, I would caution against the B/C system. It is a tricky beast that needs a serious commitment to get comfortable with and it's really not great for chords. The annals of this forum and other places are littered with people who get one and abandon it shortly after. Well, almost littered.

A small 3-row continental chromatic as suggested by George might give you all the flexibility you need. Another possibility is a small piano accordion with, say, 48 basses.

Otherwise, provided that you don't mind being restricted to a small range of key signatures, a 2-row "fourth apart" instrument would be simpler to get going on than a B/C. You could choose the key (G/C, G/D, C/F, Bb/Eb) depending on what instruments you will be playing with and what keys they play in.

rmsandvik

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2017, 09:53:10 PM »

Thanks to all who responded so quickly.  Am open to additional input, but have received excellent food for thought!

Dick
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Steve C.

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2017, 10:40:19 PM »

Hello Dick, you are pretty vague about what you are wanting to do (vs. not wanting to do), and FWIW, you are putting yourself into a near impossible budget hole, but...
Might try seeing if you can find YouTubes of folks who are doing what you might want to do, and what they are doing it on.  Might not be an accordion, might be an electronic keyboard, or similar.  Then you may be in a better place dollar-wise.
GL.
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rmsandvik

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2017, 11:57:55 PM »

Thanks, Steve.  Don't think I can be more specific about how I would use the instrument -- just general purpose for playing with buddies, recording, and maybe performing once in a while.  I have a USB keyboard, and could probably find an accordion patch, but would rather take on the challenge of learning a new instrument.
Will follow your suggestion about checking on YouTube.  Just thought posting my question on this forum would get me further down the road on what type of accordion to consider.  Have received some pretty specific, helpful responses so far, including yours.

Dick
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2017, 12:09:12 AM »

...I have a USB keyboard, and could probably find an accordion patch, but would rather take on the challenge of learning a new instrument...
Dick

There's always the Midi melodeon option. I believe you can make a Streb, or a Roland, pretty much whatever you want it to be, even things that aren't actually melodeons. You would probably have to save your pocket money a bit longer, though
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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2017, 08:46:49 AM »

May I extend this thread a bit?

I'm struggling with sort of the same issue here, although I currently am a confident PA player, who wants to try diatonic buttons for specific genre (dance).

Now from what I've gathered so far, correct me if I'm wrong:

1. two row chromatic (B/C and the like) : hard to learn, more versatile in the long run
2. two row diatonic (D/G, G/C, C/F) : easier to learn, more limited in the long run
3. three row diatonic (A/D/G,.. Hohner texmex boxes etc.) : easier to learn, more versatile than two row diatonics?
4. C/F diatonic, currently a very tempting offer made to me

For myself, I'm leaving chromatic button continentals out of the equation for the moment.

I want to accompany a guitar/ukelele (and singer), which can be easily done on the PA, however I want to try my hand at something new and get the bellow shake driven dance rythm of the diatonics. The end result should sound like we're playing some Irish/Scottish dance music, albeit not extremely traditional.

So I'm thinking about the keys D/G because in theory it should be easy learning, and Irish tunes a plenty. However they are hard to come by in these parts (Netherlands), and the Hohner tex-mexes are plenty and cheap. Also they have the benefit of an extra row. However their wet tuning is not my cup of tea.

Now C/F boxes are very much abundant here, and one is being offered to me, it's tempting but would it suffice for that kind of dance music?

So which one would you advice... :||:

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2017, 09:28:55 AM »

If a D/G is hard to find, and that is your preference, then go for the A/D/G; the wetness can soon be dried out by a competent tuner. The bit of extra weight shouldn't be too much of a bother, surely?
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george garside

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2017, 09:37:35 AM »

from a purely technical point of view you could play Scottish anad Irish dance music on a CF box but it may sound a bit peculiar and  would only work if you are playing with just yourself.   D,G,A,etc are the  more usual keys used for that type of music. My view would be not to buy a CF box if scottish and irish dance music is your aim

george
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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2017, 09:37:52 AM »

May I extend this thread a bit?

1. two row chromatic (B/C and the like) : hard to learn, more versatile in the long run
2. two row diatonic (D/G, G/C, C/F) : easier to learn, more limited in the long run
3. three row diatonic (A/D/G,.. Hohner texmex boxes etc.) : easier to learn, more versatile than two row diatonics?
4. C/F diatonic, currently a very tempting offer made to me


So I'm thinking about the keys D/G because in theory it should be easy learning, and Irish tunes a plenty. However they are hard to come by in these parts (Netherlands), and the Hohner tex-mexes are plenty and cheap. Also they have the benefit of an extra row. However their wet tuning is not my cup of tea.

Now C/F boxes are very much abundant here, and one is being offered to me, it's tempting but would it suffice for that kind of dance music?

So which one would you advice... :||:


That's fighting talk round these parts (:)

A lot would argue that the chromatic boxes and the fourth apart boxes are pretty much on a par in terms of difficulty, but others can argue that.  They tend to suit different styles of play, though. A couple of thoughts:

The chromatic boxes suit the Irish styles of play, but you can  play "Irish" tunes on anything.

If the people you would play with play C/F boxes, that sounds like a good place to start. Round our way (Cornwall and Devon), it tends to be dominated by D/G players. You can buy mail order, I suppose, but that's not ideal.

If you're accompanying a singer or singers you need something that is pitched in their range makes sense.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 09:45:33 AM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Greg Smith
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george garside

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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2017, 09:40:49 AM »

B/C, C#/D, C/C#, D/D#,D/C# etc. irish two row systems are chromatic treble side at least with basses set up for the most common keys.
.
Yes and no, they are in a sense chromatic  .

they are chromatic  - an instrument either is chromatic or isn't and there is nothing in between as chromatic simply means having the wherewithal to play in 12 major keys.

George - in pedant mode!
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Re: Choosing an Instrument
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2017, 09:49:03 AM »

If you can find a CF really cheap then you could get that simply to discover if you feel at home with the crazy push pull world of diatonic accordions. After a few months you will be ina much better position to judge what direction you wish to go in.
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