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Author Topic: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper  (Read 1964 times)

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Bob Ellis

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Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« on: May 22, 2018, 01:36:41 PM »

A friend is weighing up whether to buy a Sherwood Shire or a Sandpiper and has asked me for advice. As I have never played a Sherwood Shire and have limited experience with a Sandpiper, I am not best placed to help her. Can anyone who has played both offer an opinion on their relative merits? My friend says that the prices are comparable so that isn't really an issue. She plays mainly for morris and in sessions and has been playing for about 18 months, although she shows promise of developing into a good player.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 02:23:01 PM »

I know nothing about Shire, the Sandpipers are nice (I used to own a Curlew) - if you get a good one. I'd be more tempted by the Hohner Merlin currently for sale in a forum near here...
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 02:48:45 PM »

After 18 months of playing and showing promise I would try top steer your friend towards a better quality box. What has she been playing up to now? Based on the examples I've tried I don't think there is much to choose between the Sandpiper and Sherwood.   Their best feature seems to be their nicely presented woodwork, but there are better players for similar or not much more money.  A well set up Hohner, an older Saltarelle Bouebe, or a Castagnari Nik would be worth considering.  For example:

The Hohner Merlin referred to by NickF
The Hohner Erika that Mike Robotham has for sale



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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 05:03:15 PM »

Like Theo, I wouldn't go for either. If pushed I would go for the Sandpiper but only just.  Shop around for a good deal on a second hand instrument.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 10:11:39 PM »

I tried the Sherwood out in a shop. It took longer for the assistant to get some steps to get it off the shelf than I spent playing it. It was horrible. Of course it could just be a one-off rogue - but I'd rather have a wheezy old Hohner in need of work than that particular box.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 11:23:23 PM »

I've never played a Sherwood. I have a Sandpiper 2 voice that I bought second-hand off a melnetter 3 years ago. I have had a selection of Castagnari's, Saltarelles, Beltunas as well as a variety of vintage boxes. I really like the Sandpiper - it has a distinctive very dry tuned tone that I like a lot - as much as the Castagnari's I've had. I also like the fact that it has a stop for the thirds included.

The Sandpiper does not play as smoothly as a high quality box, like a Castagnari, but it does have the same kind of "mushroom" buttons on the bass & treble sides, so the playing action is similar, unlike, for instance, a vintage Hohner. I use it for tunes for which a dry tuned sound fits well. I haven't experienced any problems at all with the reeds or general build quality to date. I think Luc Dix's playing exemplifies the sound of the Sandpiper very well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYPmyRXX8C8&t=90s

.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 11:29:22 PM »

What Theo said! I would go for the Erika, I had one and it is the only box I regret selling. I had a Sandpiper from new and exchanged it for a Hohner after having two springs break within a few weeks.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2018, 06:57:42 PM »

I've come to the conclusion, after spending a decade and a half working my way through the hierarchy of boxes, that old 2v 21x8 Hohners - and, subject to condition, the older and more hot-rodded the better - are, as a rule, far and away the best thing since sliced bread. 

Forget about walnut veneer - it's a box, not a sideboard. 

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Jon Loomes

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 08:32:59 PM »

AFAIK they are the same box, the Sherwood generally being available slightly cheaper.  The Sandpiper has the claim to antecedence as it was actually designed by Martyn at Oakwood, this much I know to be true, I played the prototype and was involved in feeding back improvements -  They were intended to be easy to produce in a Chinese factory - If my memory serves (and this was probably over ten years ago now) Cagnoni had moved at least part of their manufacturing to China, or at the very least were importing reeds, so a British designed box with Italian reeds built in China was a sensible idea. They arrived in the UK without grilles, Martyn providing this last piece courtesy of a CNC laser machine that also provided the grilles for the Dino Baffetti "Binci" and "Super" boxes.

At first, the Sandpipers were unbeatable.  they debuted on the market at iirc, £400, at the which price they were a splendid bargain and better than anything else for miles around. And they sold well - but over time the price crept up and the factory began to cut corners, batches arrived with problems that  needed fixing, typically springs, rods and buttons - and inevitably, the same instruments were sold by the factory to other brands - naughty but inevitable given the nature of Chinese commerce. At £600 they were probably still the best thing on the market, at £750 they had to compete with the Hohner Merlin  - On the plus side, the Merlin had a better keyboard and a rudimentary hard case, on the downside it was a plywood box with cheaper reeds, entirely Chinese and, I am told,  a grille design "borrowed" (without permission) from an instrument made by Colin Dipper.

The very best sandpipers were the CF models with the stepped keys. The case resonated best in this set up and the tone was sweetest when playing in F.

Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 09:34:37 PM »


... On the plus side, the Merlin had a better keyboard and a rudimentary hard case, on the downside it was a plywood box with cheaper reeds, entirely Chinese and, I am told,  a grille design "borrowed" (without permission) from an instrument made by Colin Dipper.


I'm struggling a bit Jon. These all seem like downsides. Maybe I am misunderstanding which box is referred to at different points.
Also, so far as plywood construction goes, a still current thread is concluding plywood is good.

Your Black Diamond box is better value anyway.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 09:37:16 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2018, 09:30:41 PM »

OK, the merlin instrument had the better keyboard and came with a hard case.  = Positive

The merlin instrument was made entirely in China with lower grade reeds = Negative


Ply is cheaper, stronger lb for lb than solid timber, stiffer and less likely to warp, not that this happens much.
Tone? this is a bit trickier.

Solid woods ( in the case of the sandpiper/sherwood instruments, this is cherry) will impart more of their own tone to the instrument. There are people who simply cannot discern this and would dismiss such a notion as "Emperer's new clothes" and I half expect to be roundly rebuffed by some on this forum - However, a few years back I recorded three Castagnaris, identical except the case material;  Walnut, Cherry and Maple respectively - the results were conclusive, not just from Fourier analysis but also very clearly in how they sounded.  Walnut was darker sounding, mid frequencies were scooped and the trebles were well defined, Maple was loud with very bright highs but weaker in the mids and basses, Cherry was warm in the mids and not too harsh or too bassy, a good all rounder.

Now ply has it's own tone - it creates fewer harmonics - personally I quite like it, but you won't get ply to ring the same way as a solid piece.  All this being said, tone is subjective, we all like different things.  So, jury is out on sound. But, a solid instrument always has more cache than something made of plywood.

I think it's fair to say ply is a perfectly good material for making a melodeon case - especially if you are going to cover it with celluloid anyway - But there are, to my ear, tonal advantages to using real wood.

Hope that helps?
Cheers,
J

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2018, 11:49:10 PM »

a few years back I recorded three Castagnaris, identical except the case material;  Walnut, Cherry and Maple respectively - the results were conclusive, not just from Fourier analysis but also very clearly in how they sounded.  Walnut was darker sounding, mid frequencies were scooped and the trebles were well defined, Maple was loud with very bright highs but weaker in the mids and basses, Cherry was warm in the mids and not too harsh or too bassy, a good all rounder.

Control experiment: someone else on Melnet has reported testing two identical instruments made of the same wood and they sounded completely different too.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2018, 06:13:44 PM »

I had an experience in Whitby last year of comparing sherwood and sandpiper three voice models, and I much preferred playing the sandpiper, although of course there may be other factors. I can't comment on tone, because of the reverby sports hall making everything sound a little bit magical.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2018, 07:35:58 PM »

Having had a good look and play of both these boxes the Sandpipers win out by a mile on playability and manufacturing quality. I have it on pretty good authority they are made in the same factory and close examination seems to bear this out. They are so very, very similair, on the outside at least. They did go up in value a lot after they had been on the market for a while. There is no way I would sell mine, no matter what fancy box I may buy in the future.

 I have been told that the Sandpipers were fettled by the Music Room people before they were sold whereas the Sherwoods just come as they are when they leave the factory. I didn't find the Sherwood very playable though the sound was OK, barring a couple of buttons which were a touch louder than the rest under the same pressure. Bellows were stiff and buttons got stuck etc I can well believe this about the fettling/ non fettling.

Yes the air springs went on our Sandpipers ( myself and my better half both own b/c, though I have a prototype) But once this was sorted the box has been very playable with a decent sound, we really played them for hours most days and they have stood up well to this over a good few years now.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 07:40:09 PM by Boxhead »
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2018, 01:00:25 PM »

a few years back I recorded three Castagnaris, identical except the case material;  Walnut, Cherry and Maple respectively - the results were conclusive, not just from Fourier analysis but also very clearly in how they sounded.  Walnut was darker sounding, mid frequencies were scooped and the trebles were well defined, Maple was loud with very bright highs but weaker in the mids and basses, Cherry was warm in the mids and not too harsh or too bassy, a good all rounder.

Control experiment: someone else on Melnet has reported testing two identical instruments made of the same wood and they sounded completely different too.

In the old days when Smiffs had team boxes, I remember going to the shop at CSH and playing all the (supposedly identical) black D/G Ericas they had in stock. It was very similar to trying out a box of 10 sax reeds -- a couple were obvious duffers, a couple stood out as clearly the best (so we bought one), the others were in between but still not identical to each other. And these were factory-made instruments where you'd think the variability would be smaller than hand-made ones.

Every time this subject comes up I quote from the Strasser website at https://www.harmonika.com/en/interesting

"Because the body of a diatonic accordions – unlike, for example, guitars and violins – is not a resonance body, the material from which it is made does not affect the instrument’s sound. We use multi-layered wood that is produced especially for us and which has proven itself thanks to its light weight, high stability and high resistance to distortion for more than 30 years now. Although advertised with “resonance wood” and other freely invented terms, test results from universities and research institutes have verified that the sound of an accordion is not affected by its body material.

We have performed many tests with various materials (metal, plastic, various solid woods, and plywood) and were therefore able to determine for ourselves that the body material has no effect on the instrument’s sound."
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2018, 05:20:06 PM »


"Because the body of a diatonic accordions – unlike, for example, guitars and violins – is not a resonance body, the material from which it is made does not affect the instrument’s sound. We use multi-layered wood that is produced especially for us and which has proven itself thanks to its light weight, high stability and high resistance to distortion for more than 30 years now. Although advertised with “resonance wood” and other freely invented terms, test results from universities and research institutes have verified that the sound of an accordion is not affected by its body material.

We have performed many tests with various materials (metal, plastic, various solid woods, and plywood) and were therefore able to determine for ourselves that the body material has no effect on the instrument’s sound."

The Strasser quote only proves they're trying to flog their boxes, though. Sort of like saying "clinically proven" in an advert without including the data. Yes, I realise that's impractical in that context.
Not saying they're wrong, necessarily, but, it still doesn't prove anything beyond their opinion.

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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2018, 07:55:57 PM »

On the old Music Room website, Jon Loomes of this parish played Castagnari Lilly's from Walnut, Cherry and Maple.
There are two possibilies for the very slight differences in sound - wood characteristics or slight differentiation between handmade products.
Several others on here, apart from Ian, have various experiences in sound dynamics and the consensus is that as described in Ian's quote.
It is entirely sensible to suggest the differences of sound occur in the building process, not by the properties of the wood.
Cheers
Q
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2018, 08:13:06 PM »

Do we know if the same reedblocks were used in each melodeon in Mr Loomes' experiment?
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2018, 10:31:42 PM »

I contributed to a similar discussion about the effects of different woods in box construction earlier in the year:

"I'm intrigued by the suggestion that the wood/material used for construction doesn't affect the "tone".  I seem to remember a Youtube video by Jon Loomes playing a Castagnari (possibly a Tommy or a Lilly) in three different woods at the Musicroom to illustrate the differences, and even from a Youtube video you could hear the differences.  A couple of years ago I tried to two Tommys in Cherry and Walnut and there was a clear difference in the tone which I assumed was the wood.  Cherry was a softer/warmer tone and Walnut more "strident" I believe. Or are there just variations in tone for the same model irrespective of the nature of the wood the body is made of?"

Since then I think Jon Loomes has confirmed his observations of the differences in sound between different woods, and my brother has also quite independently discovered the differences in tone between Castagnari Tommys in Walnut and Cherry when he tried two new boxes.  I have little doubt that these are very real effects, whatever "scientists" have demonstrated.

If the different tones are not really caused by the different woods, then I guess there is the possibility that Castagnari deliberately set up the reeds/tunings of Tommys differently for each type of wood.

I could barely believe the difference when I first saw/heard Jon Loomes on Youtube, but having tried two otherwise identical melodeons myself, and now heard my brother having had the same experience, I would encourage anyone who still doubts there is a difference to try a couple of Tommys in Walnut and Cherry next time you get the opportunity.
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Re: Sherwood Shire v. Sandpiper
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2018, 11:01:22 PM »

To me, this sort of discussion always seems rather sterile without comparative sound files.
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