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Author Topic: Thinking about my next box!  (Read 1510 times)

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Jackie Burnham

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Thinking about my next box!
« on: June 02, 2019, 08:05:42 AM »


Looking ahead (as an enthusiastic improver) to which box next and getting my head around saving up for the one that will take me through retirement. What are the relative differences between a Castagnari and a Salterelle? Are they in the same league?
I know I will eventually want three or two and half row plus 12 bases to be able to play all the waltzes, klezmer and Balkan stuff I aspire to as well as regular English and Celtic folk. Option to play quietly would also be appreciated and although there may be the odd performance opportunity - apart from pub sessions and the like - volume is not a priority. (Currently enjoying learning on and playing a D/G - 21 button 8 base Paolo Soprani ) People say try a lot of different boxes which I do  when I get the chance but I'm not often in a place with lots of them even in shops or dealers.
- not interested in going back to an accordion which I've had in the past.
Any suggestions?
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malcolmbebb

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2019, 08:23:16 AM »

We are just getting into the festival season. There are folk festivals around the country, at many of which you'll find several dealers and a wide range of boxes which you are encouraged to try.
If you can identify roughly where you you might get a few suggestions.
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Lester

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2019, 08:30:37 AM »

Quote
What are the relative differences between a Castagnari and a Salterelle? Are they in the same league?

Saltarelle are made in a factory by a subcontractor to the Saltarelle company whereas Castagnari are handmade in a small family run and staffed company. This does make a difference and 99% of the time it means a Castagnari will be a better box.

Both are capable of being played quietly but so is a Pokerwork/your Paolo if it is set up properly.

What young Bebb said is the best way to try multiple boxes


Steve_freereeder

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2019, 08:51:09 AM »

....What are the relative differences between a Castagnari and a Salterelle? Are they in the same league?
You will get lots of differing answers from members of this forum for both Castagnari and Saltarelle have their adherents and champions.
They are in a similar league but not exactly the same one.

Castagnari instruments are made by Castagnari - a small family-run factory in Recanati in north-east Italy. They have been making instruments for just over a century and the quality and consistency of build is superb. Some people say there was a slight dip in quality perhaps 15 - 20 years ago, but this seems to have been more than rectified and modern instruments are truly excellent. The reeds now installed are Voci Armoniche tipo a mano (except in the most basic student model) but in the past they used Antonelli reeds before the merger of that company with Salpa to form VA.

Saltarelle, in contrast, is not a factory. It is a French company which out-sources the manufacture of all their instruments to other Italian makers according to who gives them the best deals at the time of entering into the contracts. The manufacturers are never specifically stated, but it seems to be generally accepted that in the past, Saltarelle instruments were mostly made by Serenellini but in more recent years by Dino Baffetti. The reeds in Saltarelle instruments tend to be unbranded macchina factory-made reeds. In older instruments these reeds were nevertheless very good quality with a lovely sound, although in modern Saltarelle instruments the reeds seem to be not quite as good, lacking that mellow, centred tone of the older reeds. Some models of Saltarelle are now being fitted with tipo a mano (i.e. better quality) reeds either as standard or as an optional upgrade. 

The main criticism of Saltarelles seems to be their variability of quality, which is perhaps inevitable seeing as they are made by different factories who are also producing their own branded instruments, presumably as priority over those made for Saltarelle. Some Saltarelles are excellent, others rather less so, with a long-ish playing in period needed, although post-production fettling of the reeds especially can result in a definite improvement. Castagnari instruments are generally well set up and play consistently very well indeed straight out of the factory.

Castagnari and Saltarelle are both used by top professional players. Andy Cutting and Naragonia (Toon Van Mierlo and Pascale Rubens) come to mind as Castagnari players, Brian Peters and John Spiers as Saltarelle players. Brian's Saltarelle older Connemara III in particular has come to be recognised as having almost an iconic sound. I'm not sure the newer instruments sound quite the same.

Castagnari and Saltarelle instruments do sound slightly different, and also feel different to the player; Castagnaris tend to have a slightly brighter and focussed sound, whereas the Saltarelles, especially the older instruments, are just a bit mellower. Saltarelle basses tend to be well thought of, again with a mellow sound compared with Castagnari's strong and brighter sound. But it's all rather subjective and the only real way to decide on what suits you is to try out as many different models of both Castagnari and Saltarelle as you can. Also listen to them being played by other people, either live or in recordings.

Commercial promotional videos of different Saltarelle instruments here.
Brian Peters playing his Saltarelle Connemara III here
Andy Cutting playing his older Castagnari Mory here.
Naragonia, both playing Castagnari Handry instruments here

Hope this helps. Good luck with your quest for an instrument and do enjoy the journey!  (:)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 09:33:55 AM by Steve_freereeder »
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Julian S

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2019, 09:19:41 AM »

 The workshop weekends (Halsway, Witney, Wensleydale for example), bring together lots of players of different boxes to pick the brains of (and maybe try out the instrument !) - and quite possibly trade stands as well.(Not to mention the learning and socialising aspects...)

 I've owned a Saltarelle (D/G 2.4 row)for many years, and unfortunately my experience is that the recent ones are nothing like as good. But mine was actually made by Serenellini - who certainly make pretty good instruments. Well worth trying theirs as well.
I also have a Castagnari Dony (2.5) - so both have accidentals and 12 basses, but the differences are profound. Completely different sound, weight of instrument, layout, chords - each have their own advantages so that some tunes suit one box more than the other. The Castagnari has a beautiful mellow tone - but I find that the Saltarelle is better for playing in sessions as it is lighter and its tone cuts through more.
And then there's the cost considerations...

J


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Chris Rayner

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2019, 10:05:23 AM »

As a similarly enthusiastic though possibly older improver may I add my thoughts?  It sounds to me as if you’ve identified the musical styles to which you aspire, but are unclear as to how you should attain them.  One approach might be to consider, as I have done, commissioning a Streb.  The waiting list is long, but the instrument offers unique advantages to an uncertain developer.  OK, it’s electronic, so has no reeds, and requires batteries to work, but it offers a unique potential to vary the configuration of the buttons and functions by programming.  Such variation comes at a significant cost with proper instruments, if, that is, you can find or modify an instrument to your taste; only to discover after a few weeks or months that it is not quite what you had hoped for.

In truth, a great musician, among whose numbers I regrettably will never count myself, will overcome the limitations of his/her instrument and perform despite them.  Django Reinhardt had his left hand severely burned in his youth; even so, he relearned his guitar technique concentrating on using his index and middle fingers for melody and relegating the scarred ring and little fingers to occasional employment in chord formations.  I spent a fair proportion of my early adulthood with perfectly functional hands getting nowhere near his fluent style.  Sadly we are limited much more by our gifts, or deficiencies, than by our instruments.

Even so, it sounds as if you are embarked on an enjoyable, if potentially impoverishing voyage of MADness.  I hope your home and family are prepared for this endeavour.  And I wish you well.
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Elderly amateur musician hoping to stave off dementia by learning to play the melodeon.  Main instrument a Tommy, also D/G and G/C pokerworks,  a single row 2 stop Hohner, and a new addition to the free reedery, a rather splendid Paolo Soprani four voice 120 bass c-system chromatic button accordion.  Very shiny, very loud, and about the same size and weight as a small car.  Now I’ve traded me Benny with (ahem) a cash adjustment, to a three voice 60 bass Castagnari K3.

george garside

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2019, 10:46:33 AM »

Quote from: Chris Rayner link=topic=24018.msg286157#mAs a similarly enthsg286157 date=1559466323

  .  Sadly we are limited much more by our gifts, or deficiencies, than by our instruments.

 

never a truer word!

george
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Howard Jones

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2019, 12:54:04 PM »

I play a Salterelle Nuage, which I've had for many years so I can't comment on their newer output.  Two things in particular attracted me to that particular instrument:

The sound: I thought that the sound of the Salterelle was more suited to English music (then dominated by Hohners) than the brighter 'continental' sound of the Castagnari. However since then Castas have become so ubiquitous I'm not sure that is still true.  Perhaps the recent rediscovery of the Hohner sound is a reaction to all the Costas?  I still prefer the Salterelle sound myself, but if you want to play other types of music then maybe a Casta has more the sound you're looking for?  Of course, the sound depends on a lot of factors, not just the type of reed but the voicing, and different models each have their own sound.  You have to decide what sound you feel most suits the music you want to play.

Flexibility:  The Nuage has three treble voices, all with stops so they can be selected in any combination, and bass stops to take out the low notes and the thirds.  I don't think you can get this much flexibility from a Casta without paying a lot more (happy to be corrected if I'm wrong).

Get to a festival or a good dealer and try as many as you can.  Ask other players, and try their boxes.  Choosing an instrument is a very personal thing, and you may not get it right the first time.  A good quality instrument (which both makes are) should be easily re-sellable, so if you find you've made the wrong choice then try again.

george garside

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2019, 03:37:12 PM »

and never be tempted to buy one you aren't keen on the sound of  even if its a bargain  as  you won't enjoy playing it

george
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2019, 04:12:01 PM »

Biggest issue I have with Salterelles is that basically none of the dealers I've been to stock them, beyond the odd second hand one. Beltuna, too, seem unrepresented.

I see so many Castagnari instruments without even a thirds stop, but also, I don't think I've ever played anything competing in the same space as Castagnari's compact 3 row, the Benny. It's difficult both when you don't know exactly what you want, and when you do, but no one seems to make it.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2019, 04:32:57 PM »

... I see so many Castagnari instruments without even a thirds stop, but also, I don't think I've ever played anything competing in the same space as Castagnari's compact 3 row, the Benny.
Apart from the Giordy micro-melodeon it's only the small-size Lilly, Tommy and Clovis which don't have thirds stops. Current design of the LH end to keep the size and weight down precludes a thirds stop with its necessary slider being fitted. However, all the other models (and there are many) do have thirds stops, nearly always as standard, but if not, as an optional extra at the point of ordering. The Benny is a great box!
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Steve
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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2019, 04:40:09 PM »

Biggest issue I have with Salterelles is that basically none of the dealers I've been to stock them, beyond the odd second hand one. Beltuna, too, seem unrepresented.
The now defunct Music Room at Cleckheaton was one of the main Saltarelle dealers and used to carry quite a varied stock in the 1990s and 2000s which enabled you to try out a good few models. Similarly with Beltunas towards the end of that period.

Sadly, you are a few years too young, Gena!  ;)
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Lester

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2019, 04:51:20 PM »

Apart from the Giordy micro-melodeon


Which is only fitted with two reeds per chord but they are the 3rd and 5th, to get the full chord you need to play the bass button as well. I have modded a few to be 1st and 5th.

RogerT

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2019, 06:17:26 PM »

Well..ahem..Eagle Music appear to be flogging Saltarelles here..
https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/cat/melodeon

I've had my Nuage for a while..I think it’s a Serenellini made one, cos a customer came in one day with a Serenellini and they look very similar, similar trim etc.
My Nuage is a powerful box and I love it.... it has a super fast keyboard and powerful, deep bass. Also I like the stop combination.  I recently made it much wetter than you often hear with modern Italian boxes, which suits me better. Only drawback is it’s a bit on the heavy side, but comes with two shoulder straps so that is fine. I’ve worked on a couple of the two voiced 2.5 row Saltarelles and didn’t like the sound/action of either. It’s a funny old world.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 06:20:11 PM by RogerT »
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Stotty

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2019, 11:26:33 PM »


I think it is all about trying as many as you can as other have said.

There is little doubt that Castas are better made than Saltarelles, but they do have different "sounds" as Howard and other point out above.

Saltarelles seem to offer slightly better value for money in terms of features.  For example, I think Howard is right about flexibility:

 "Flexibility:  The Nuage has three treble voices, all with stops so they can be selected in any combination, and bass stops to take out the low notes and the thirds.  I don't think you can get this much flexibility from a Casta without paying a lot more (happy to be corrected if I'm wrong)."

I also have a Nuage and I like the "L" voice to play alone with fiddles and for slower airs.  You do seem to have to get well up into the Casta range to get that flexibility.  With the Nuage you can bring the two M voices in when you want a "thicker" sound and more noise.

Above all, I would be very cautious about buying a 2.5 or 3 row with three voices without having a good long play to make sure you can cope with the weight. It isn't just about supporting the right hand end on your shoulders, it is moving the left hand end rapidly with the extra weight of the bigger bodywork and reeds. If you can cope with the weight it seems to be a segment of the market with some good value secondhand offerings (maybe because they have been too heavy and "sluggish" for the first owners?).

 I would also endorse the suggestion of trying a Streb - so much flexibility (key, voices, keyboard arrangement), and three rows and 12 basses without a significant weight penalty all in a very compact package.  You can play as quietly as you want (silently with headphones) and easily plug in to a PA system for gigs.  Great for playing along with singers in any key they wish with minimal adaptation of playing technique.  The keyboard is really fast, but perhaps not quite the same "dynamics" as a reeded melodeon - in terms of keyboard and bellows response, 
   


 
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2019, 10:22:37 AM »

Another thing to consider between Saltarelles and Castagnaris are the way the basses work.
In your original post you mention 12 basses. Take a look at the layouts of models, found off the home page of the forum.
Both makes have a different approach to the bass layout and one might be more suited to your choice of music.
cheers
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

pete /acorn

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2019, 10:23:30 AM »

... I see so many Castagnari instruments without even a thirds stop, but also, I don't think I've ever played anything competing in the same space as Castagnari's compact 3 row, the Benny.
Apart from the Giordy micro-melodeon it's only the small-size Lilly, Tommy and Clovis which don't have thirds stops. Current design of the LH end to keep the size and weight down precludes a thirds stop with its necessary slider being fitted. However, all the other models (and there are many) do have thirds stops, nearly always as standard, but if not, as an optional extra at the point of ordering. The Benny is a great box!

Quick correction re thirds stop on Castagnaris,these are optional extras,they appear to be standard on my stock because I always order boxes with the stop fitted,this is sometimes why my prices are a little higher .
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 10:25:03 AM by pete /acorn »
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Theo

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2019, 10:35:41 AM »

There are many more makers worth considering too.  Serenellini, Beltuna, Van der Aa, Serafini, modified Dino Baffettis developed by The Music Room and now by Squeezeboxes, Oakwood, Excelsior, and numerous small makers many in France and the Low Countries.  The choice has probably never been wider. Many don’t have dealers in the UK but can be found second hand.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2019, 11:38:38 AM »

I'd add Loffet to Theo's list.
A maker from Brittany with very competitive prices and a known presence and good reputation here.
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Theo

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Re: Thinking about my next box!
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2019, 11:52:36 AM »

Thanks Q, and there are more.  That was just a random selection that came to mind.
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