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Author Topic: My new accordion  (Read 537 times)

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Michael Keller

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My new accordion
« on: June 28, 2020, 09:15:41 PM »

Well, new to me!! Maybe someone on here can help answer some questions for me!

Some history, my grandfather was killed in an accident 10-11 years before I was born. My father said my grandfather loved to play his button box. After my grandfather died, my aunt took the accordion and kept it for some 30 years. She no longer wanted it, so she gave it to my father who is now 80! He gave it to me after I expressed interest in it. I can read music and can play trumpet well, and to a lesser extent the guitar. I had it reconditioned by a local accordion shop (reviews gave him good recommendations so I used him). Trying to do some research, here is what I know:

Its a Hohner 3 row button box. Looks like it is in the keys of FBE, the bottom has the letters "FBEs" stamped into the wood. It has 16 bass keys. From similar accordions looks like it was made in the early 30's.

I would like to learn how to play it, but before I go spend a lot of money to have someone teach me, I would like to take a little bit of time on my own and familiarize myself with it. I have seen a few people on here mention the Mustradem Diatonic Accordion Method books written by Pignol and Milleret.

My questions are:
Would this Mustradem method book work for my FBE button box?
Seems like the FBE accordion isn't very popular, is this going to be harder to play? Learn?
I cannot seem to find any button references for a 16 bass note accordion, they seem to mostly stop at 12. Anyone know what the other 4 keys are?
Is the way an accordion keyed better for certain types of music?

Thank you for any help!!

Mike
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Theo

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2020, 09:30:05 PM »

Welcome Michael.  That's a well made, but not nowadays very popular Hohner model. FBEs is the German way of saying F/Bflat/Eflat which are the keys of the three rows starting with F nearest the outside edge of the keyboard.  It should be a lot of fun to play. 
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Rees

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2020, 09:36:32 PM »

I can't help with the Mileret-Pignol stuff but FBEs is German for F/B flat/E flat. This is very common in Louisiana, Texas/Mexico, Colombia, etc.

It works just the same as ADG or GCF so would be no more difficult to learn than any  standard three row diatonic accordion.

16 basses - a picture would help.

Have fun with it.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 08:55:20 AM by Rees »
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Fred

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2020, 10:00:18 PM »

First of all: welcome to melodeon.net! (:)

My questions are:
Would this Mustradem method book work for my FBE button box?

Most likely not as the book is written for G/C accordions.
See here: https://www.mustradem.com/productions-pedagogiques/publications/methode-daccordeon-diatonique/stephane-milleret-norbert-pignol-methode-daccordeon-diatonique-vol.1
"Les exercices et les applications sont écrits pour accordéon diatonique Sol/Do"
(rough translation: "The exercises and applications are written for G/C diatonic accordions")

Seems like the FBE accordion isn't very popular, is this going to be harder to play? Learn?

In fact Bb/Eb accordions are quite fashionable nowadays. They have a wonderfully rich sound! F/Bb/Eb is the three row equivalent to Bb/Eb, meaning that you have an extra row adding extra possibilities. Does this make it harder to learn the instrument? Well, you don't have to use that extra row. Just focus on one row at a time, understand how to play simple melodies on them, etc. Having three rows might seem daunting in the beginning, but it's really not that different from playing any other diatonic accordion (except that it's physically heavier).

I cannot seem to find any button references for a 16 bass note accordion, they seem to mostly stop at 12. Anyone know what the other 4 keys are?

Yep, 16 is quite unusual. I suppose you will have to find out yourself how those are tuned. You wrote that you had it overhauled by a professional. Maybe ask them for a writeup of the button layout? If that's not possible, just sit down with a tuner / tuning app and figure out the bass notes one by one.

(General note: On the left hand side of diatonic accordions you always have one button for bass and the respective chord. So 8 buttons on the left hand means that you have 4 bass-chord-pairs on the pull and another 4 on the push. Double that number and you will know that you have 8 bass-chord-pairs on the push and pull. Since there aren't 16 distinct notes in our musical system, you can now expect that some notes can be found twice on your bass layout. For example you might have a F bass/chord on the push on one button but also the same bass/chord combination on another button but on the pull. Don't think too much about it in the beginning. Diatonic accordions are a bit weird when it comes to these things but there's a system behind this, believe us! :D )

Is the way an accordion keyed better for certain types of music?

That's almost a religious question and the answer to it will heavily depend on who you ask. In my (not so important) personal opinion, you can play whatever music you like in whatever key you like.

More generally speaking: If you want to play on your own, don't worry too much about playing in the correct key. If you want to go to sessions, play together with other people or just want to accompany some recordings, you'd be better off to accumulate a variety of diatonic accordions in different keys. (Careful: This may lead to an obsession with collecting instruments.)
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2020, 10:09:35 PM »

Might this be a Steirisch model?  I can no longer find the list of Hohner models that I used to use, as the link seems to be broken, so I can't check it.

Sir John
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: Hohner Club Modell 1. Bb/Eb, de-clubbed : Early Hohner Pressed Wood A/D : Hagstrom G/C: Hohner 3515 C/F: 1930's Varnished wood G/C: Hohner 2915 B/E: Hohner Erika C/F: Hohner Pre Corso C/F : G/C Liliput: Bandoneon tuned D/G Pressed wood: Koch F/Bb

Michael Keller

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2020, 10:14:11 PM »

Thanks for this quick responses and information!

I'm glad to hear that the keys of my accordion are not that rare and its something I can learn to play now, and not have to build up to!!

Here are some pictures I took to help identify what I have.

Thanks again!
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2020, 10:24:55 PM »

Are the bass keys the same note on pull and push, or different notes?

SJ
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: Hohner Club Modell 1. Bb/Eb, de-clubbed : Early Hohner Pressed Wood A/D : Hagstrom G/C: Hohner 3515 C/F: 1930's Varnished wood G/C: Hohner 2915 B/E: Hohner Erika C/F: Hohner Pre Corso C/F : G/C Liliput: Bandoneon tuned D/G Pressed wood: Koch F/Bb

Michael Keller

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2020, 10:30:53 PM »

Anyone have any recommendations on a beginner book for my accordion if the Mustradem method book will not work?

I know what you mean Fred, instruments can be like tattoos! I seem to have multiples of both! But only 1 accordion right now! LOL
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Michael Keller

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2020, 10:33:09 PM »

The bass notes are different on the pull/push.
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Nigel.H

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2020, 11:10:32 PM »

I have an Italian box of similar vintage.  On mine the 16 buttons provide F, Bb, C, G, A, D, B, E. - Bass & chords. (the Instrument is in the Key B / C -not third row like yours )

It was pointed out by Gina that the "Circle of 5ths", which is a 'thing', would better align them as Bb, F, C, G, D, A, E, B.

Bass notes paired top/bottom, with chords....then bass etc.

A tuning App on a phone or Pad - I have Tonal Energy Tuner (TE Tuner ) - there are many others, will confirm ( hopefully ) what they are.  Personally 8 bass end buttons confuse me, so 16 is just total befuddlement! but competent players 
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Winston Smith

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2020, 11:36:28 PM »

Mind, it's a lovely thing!
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Rob2Hook

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 02:41:26 PM »

Indeed, it is a lovely thing.  It's quite old as you already know but that shouldn't detract from it making an excellent playing box, not a museum piece.  Others have already said what keys the rows are and that you really need to map out the basses against a tuner or piano.  I'd go one further and map the treble keyboard as well.  A little tedious, but once you're sure of the layout others can offer more detailed advice.  You don't say where you and your family are from, which can have some bearing on what the most likely variant you have.  It doesn't conform to any "Club£ model I would recognise, but the characteristic "gleichton", one button which plays the same both push and pull, but they do turn up on other models.  There is also the possibility of a "Dutch reversal" - one button which plays opposite direction from the norm, which suits the local style of playing.

The construction is interesting and shows a sort of transition between older methods of construction and today's common builds.  The treble keyboard looks great with the Caseine buttons, which suggest a metal action, the removeable cover plate can be very useful for access to do minor repairs - a feature which was dropped presumably as a cost saving.  Interesting that the bass buttons are the "shirt button" type which suggest that they are screwed to wooden levers.  The body is in the style of current models, square shape with Stradella metal corners and the flat surfaces covered in celluloid.  The bellows are fixed with bellows pins in the modern style, too.  Anyone familiar with working on Hohners will be quite familiar with it, so it can be kept in good repair for as long as you wish.  Even the leather straps can be easily sourced, though I'm sue you'll value keeping the ones your grandfather has touched for as long as they remain unbroken and functional.

Older Hohners are generally of a good build standard and have a good tone.  If you're learning and playing alone the key doesn't matter, just treat it as a transposing instrument.  So the manuscript is in G and the box is playing in Eb, or whatever, what does that matter? Diatonic instruments are not chromatic, they are intended to play in a limited number of keys (the number often limited by one's dexterity and determination) for traditional dance tunes and simple songs.

Sorry to have rambled on for so long, but in summary though I have no need for a F/Bb/Eb I would be happy to give that one a home!

Rob.
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Michael Keller

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2020, 03:13:30 PM »

Hi Rob,

The bass buttons are mounted on top of wooden dowels!

So my grandfather with my great-grandparents immigrated to the US around 1913, they were what they considered German Russians as at the time they lived in Russia after immigrating there and lived along the Volga river, where they worked as farmers in a German community. When they came to the US, they settled in Pueblo, Colorado and continued as sugar beet farmers, where my father grew up. Census records show several other German Russians lived in the area. So I would only surmise that the music he played would have to been a lot of German style music.

Thanks for mentioning about transposing. Something I do have familiarity with doing (albeit not a lot) so maybe the book that folks have referenced may still be of some use.

Ha ha sorry, I don't plan on giving it up any time soon! :)

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Dick Rees

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2020, 05:29:25 PM »

Michael...

Check your personal messages.  I'll be glad to help you get a proper start.
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playandteach

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2020, 08:37:50 PM »

Hi
GC is only one note away. Depending on your previous musical journey you might want to consider 'thinking' in GC even though your box is FBb (Eb). It may make sense if you are wanting to access the vast amount of GC music easily. Or perhaps you are used to transposing on another instrument'
If so, you are welcome to borrow my Milleret Pignol books for a while. I think they are a valuable route that suits some but not others. Depends what you want to do on the box, and whether you are the sort of person that gets as much out of musical exercises as playing pieces.
Let me know if you want to borrow them.
Pete
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Dick Rees

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2020, 09:05:41 PM »

Hi
GC is only one note away. Depending on your previous musical journey you might want to consider 'thinking' in GC even though your box is FBb (Eb).
Pete

Agree wholeheartedly.
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Theo

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Re: My new accordion
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2020, 10:46:35 PM »

Old Hohners of that era in FBb sound wonderful.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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