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Author Topic: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)  (Read 622 times)

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Richard J Delong

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Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« on: February 22, 2018, 08:01:49 AM »

Hello!

I'm an aspiring melodeon player with an opportunity to buy a vintage Koch accordion that appears to be in good shape (tight bellows and working buttons, according to the owner) for somewhere around $220 US.  However, I found the instrument on craigslist (the US online classifieds, for those not familiar), and can't get much info on the instrument (even which key its in) or put my hands on it. The photo I posted here is not the actual box I'm considering, but looks nearly identical, just to give you all an idea of what I'm describing...

My questions are: does anyone own a Koch like this?  Are they known to be quality instruments?  Do these single row boxes tend to be tuned to a similar key or is there a wide range of tunings (as is typical).  Might this be a decent option for a totally new player who aspires to play simple tunes?  Lastly, I'm considering a few older Hohners (Pokerwork style) as well for about the same price - would there be any opinions on which would be a better choice for sound, quality, and (hopefully) the continued longevity of the box?  I live in Hawaii with no other accordion/melodeon players that I know of and with no support if issues arise, so I'm really hoping to find a 'first box' that is durable, stays in tune, and is fun to play!  Am I on the right track with my interest in these vintage boxes or is it more prudent to consider newer models? 

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this far and for your time in responding!  Any advice would be helpful.

Rich
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Edward Jennings

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 08:32:06 AM »

I'm not skilled or vastly experienced in the way many others on here are, but I'll give you my two penn'orth anyway.
A 1 row box is (IMO) much easier to handle than a 2 or 3 row, both in ease of learning and in actual handling due to the weight
Although a 1 row has the same sort of bits and pieces inside, there's fewer of them, so there's fewer to go wrong and fewer to maintain or repair, seeing as you're going to have to do it all yourself.
1 rows are generally less expensive than multi-row boxes of the same calibre, as well. Being lighter and smaller, the postage (shipping to you!) will also be cheaper.
You can more easily play tunes straight off with a 1 row, as they're less daunting; the fun starts straight away!
Hohner 1040's are very often available for small money, and are a really good bet for the "smaller budget" buyer. There's not much to go wrong inside, and many come with a well worn look about them, but still play very nicely.
For more variety on sound, the Hohner 112, 113 and 114 models can also be fond quite inexpensively at times too, and are another good starter (and keeper).
Hope this helps.
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Edward
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Hohner 114 in G. Hohner 1040 in C. International One Row 2 voice in D.  17 button 8 bass, bandoneon tuned, Squirrel with stops for both treble voices in C/F. Hohner (Pre-Corona?) in G/C/F, Hohner Corso in C/C#, Hohner Club 11 currently being converted from C/F to bandoneon tuned D/G, Ancient M. Hohner 2 voice 1 row in C. Plus projects and parts of projects.
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GPS

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2018, 04:24:54 PM »

Koch made decent reliable boxes before their designs were "acquired" by Hohner (let's not open that can of worms here!) and they're usually well-built and do a solid job.  They're not "top-drawer" instruments, but neither are they down in the "cheap and cheerful" league; my Koch Bb/Eb is a delight to play and has a lovely full sound. I'm not familiar with the market in the US, but $220 strikes me as a little on the high side - at least I think it would be in Europe. On the other hand, if it's in really top-notch condition you might consider it worth it. Bear in mind that an instrument of this age may not be tuned to modern concert pitch; this could be an issue if you need to play with other musicians, and you may, for all I know, have difficulty finding an accordion tuner in Hawaii. (Incidentally, whereabouts in the islands are you? We had a fantastic holiday some years ago taking in San Francisco, Honolulu and Los Angeles; LA I can happily do without, SF I loved, but Oahu was definitely the highlight.)

Like you, I live on an island (Cyprus) where I know of only one other melodeon player in the entire country. I have learned to do all my own maintenance, repairs, restoration and tuning. Best of luck!

Graham
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

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penn

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 07:18:37 PM »

I have a Koch box that shares some features, but the one you picture is much fancier and looks much nicer. But as GPS says, it could be 80 years old and could be almost unplayable (like mine is; even tho my keys all work, the sound some of them make is horrible). So, personally I'd want to hear it played before committing. Although it's a lovely box, and would be a nice thing to have, I wouldn't want it to be the only box I could play, unless it is more or less in tune and everything more or less functions.

Strangely, I was looking for some facts on my own Koch, and came across the exact picture you show - even with the 150 ticket stuck to it. I'd been searching the web for Koch info when i bought mine and I had downloaded that same picture around 2013 I think. I named the file Koch Laforrest, but now I've no idea why - is LaForrest the name of a collector?

Lovely box!
Steve
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Theo

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2018, 08:44:14 PM »

I agree with the previous messages about Koch having made decent midrange boxes.  But the one you have illustrated is an early model with fancy metal clips that hold the instrument together.  These clips can be troublesome, sometimes being prone to come apart, and also with a tendency to catch on clothing.  There are lots and lots of melodeons for sale secondhand so don't put yourself under any pressure to buy.  There will be more.  The risk buying an old box unseen is that it might need expensive work to get it to really play well.  Just because a seller says it plays can't be taken at face value.  It all depend on the sellers experience.  If they are a player who uses it regularly then that might be ok, but more likely they don't have experience, and have just tried all the buttons and they all make a noise.  The price could be too high or a bit low.  If it's an unrestored attic find it is much too expensive.  If it has a full reed overhaul by a good restorer then it could be a good buy - but note my first comment about the clips.

Take some more time to learn what is available, or you may blow your limited budget on a lemon.
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Andrius

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2018, 10:18:29 PM »

I own 5 Koch boxes. One (bigger than usual, 2 rows 12 bass 3 voices, Bb/Eb) - amazing instrument. I don't know what reeds are inside - no marks on reeds. Second is the same model line like in your photo, but 2 rows 8 bass 2 voice A/D, with original Koch reeds, fully restored. Third - the same model, 2 rows 12 bass 2 voice C/F, unrestored. Fourth - more later design, 2 rows 8 bass 2 voices, unrestored. And last one - hybrid from Koch and Hohner parts. most popular. Koch's body with roses, Hohner's keyboard and H marked reeds. 2 rows, 8 bass 2 voices, A/D, fully restored.
Last one is ideal for compare with second. About the same size, so it seems mine different is from reeds. Sadly for Koch lover, but late hybrid seems to be better. It is about so amazing like old Hohner Erica. Box with Koch's reeds is nice and good, but not so good like "hybrid".
Old photos before restoration (from ebay)
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Koch Bb/Eb 12b 3v : Koch A/D 8b 2v : Koch C/F 12b 2v : Hohner Erica C/F 8b 2v : Hohner Erika C/F 2.4 row 8b 2v : Hohner early pre-Corona F/Bb/Eb 12b 2v: Hohner Liliput 2.4 row Bb/Eb 8b 2v : Hohner Club III BS C/F 2.7 row 8b 3v : Galotta D/G 8b 2v : Meinel & Herold G/C/F 16b 2v : Unkn G/C 8b 2v : Petersburg accordion F/Bb/Eb 16b 3v: Petersburg accordion G/C/F 16b 2v : Bandoneon Alfred Arnold 128 tone 2v : Bandoneon Wilhelm König 144 tone 2 v

Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 10:24:17 PM »

It is probably worth saying that, in spite of Edwards recommendation of a one row for learning, other opinions are available. Many experienced players would recommend a two row as being easier to learn on.
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Greg Smith
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tirpous

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 10:47:25 PM »

A man named Raymond Laforest had a huge accordion collection, and a website too.  He died a few years ago and I think the site is gone, but this is probably the source of your picture.  As I recall, he was a lock operator on Rideau Canal somewhere north of Kingston, Ontario.

Quote
Many experienced players would recommend a two row as being easier to learn on.

'Better' I could understand, especially if the goal is to play 2-row eventually.  But 'easier' ??
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Andrius

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 11:16:40 PM »

May be it depends on what kind of music you are playing.
My daughter (she is 22) things that most easy is 3 row, because there are almost all sounds every direction.
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Koch Bb/Eb 12b 3v : Koch A/D 8b 2v : Koch C/F 12b 2v : Hohner Erica C/F 8b 2v : Hohner Erika C/F 2.4 row 8b 2v : Hohner early pre-Corona F/Bb/Eb 12b 2v: Hohner Liliput 2.4 row Bb/Eb 8b 2v : Hohner Club III BS C/F 2.7 row 8b 3v : Galotta D/G 8b 2v : Meinel & Herold G/C/F 16b 2v : Unkn G/C 8b 2v : Petersburg accordion F/Bb/Eb 16b 3v: Petersburg accordion G/C/F 16b 2v : Bandoneon Alfred Arnold 128 tone 2v : Bandoneon Wilhelm König 144 tone 2 v

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2018, 11:25:24 PM »

The issue of learning on 1 row v. 2 row has been much discussed here. I didn't say say all agree  (:) Just other opinions are available.
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Greg Smith
Is not the space between Heaven and Earth like a bellows?
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The more it moves, the more comes out of it.
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invadm

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2018, 11:48:08 PM »

I have fully restored 2 row Koch's in Bb/Eb,G/C, C/F x3  five in total -for now- (:)  I love them all and play every day..never had a single row Koch..if it's anything like the picture buy it,try it,play it..if you don't like it sen it to me I'll buy it off you -in tune or not-  I'd love to add one of them in my collection.
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triskel

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2018, 04:28:49 AM »

Hi Rich, I think I may have found the one you're asking about and gone through the photos of it. (You can't say much without seeing pictures of the actual instrument in question.)

There are a lot of considerations in buying a first accordion, and an antique (and it's a model that's illustrated in a 1921 Koch catalogue that I have!) may not be a good choice for a first instrument, unless you've seen it and had it checked out, or it comes from a reputable accordion dealer who can tell you all about it and offer a guarantee.

Some pros and cons you may not be aware of with the one in the photos:

GOOD - it has the all-important "Steel Reeds" badge on the bellows frame, because this model was also available with brass reeds.

NOT SO GOOD - it surprisingly has a long bar for a wind key (something most players dislike and you'd normally only get on a box with 12 or more basses), instead of a button for the left thumb.

BAD - there's wear on the bellows, the bass hand strap and one of the bellows straps are broken.

But otherwise it appears externally to be in good shape, though internally there could be a lot that needs fixing.
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MarioP

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2018, 01:00:52 PM »

Just get it because that won’t be your last box is all I can say 😑
Hohner for life but recently got 3 supertones 😂
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penn

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2018, 04:45:13 PM »

Just get it because that won’t be your last box is all I can say 😑
Having just had a google around for Ray LaForest and watched this video of a tour of his workshop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aZXtB2yQmk, I think I would ignore my initial doubts and snap it up if it were offered to me, and the link back to Laforest looked OK.
Ray's accordions in that video all look in good shape and playable, so I think it could be worth taking a chance on that Koch, particularly as the OP says he's interested in a vintage instrument.

BTW I got my picture from Christopher's Gumshoe arcana blog...http://gumshoearcana.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/kochs-presswood-pokerworks.html 4th picture down - that's the one isn't it?
Steve
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triskel

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2018, 05:15:15 PM »

I got my picture from Christopher's Gumshoe arcana blog...http://gumshoearcana.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/kochs-presswood-pokerworks.html 4th picture down - that's the one isn't it?

It's the same model, but not the same one the o/p is thinking of buying - like he said "The photo I posted here is not the actual box I'm considering, but looks nearly identical, just to give you all an idea of what I'm describing..."

But I think I found the actual box he's consideing and posted photos of it...
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penn

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Re: Newbie Advice Needed! (On Koch Boxes and Others!)
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2018, 05:35:03 PM »

Ah.. I see now, my mistake, thanks for putting me straight
Steve
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