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Author Topic: Tinny sound from piano accordions?  (Read 341 times)

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John Stoutimore

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Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« on: June 29, 2020, 04:38:57 PM »

I have no accordion experience except with Hohner Tex-Mex three-rows--Corona, Panther, etc; the only other ones I've heard are via YouTube. It seems to me that these diatonic accordions have a more robust sound, both treble and bass, than piano accordions. What would explain this? Are the smaller accordion's reeds larger, though fewer in number? Or am I hearing a difference that's not there?
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mselic

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2020, 05:15:29 PM »

It may be difficult to answer your question as there are so many variables at play that will affect overall sound in any accordion.  For starters, there will be a big difference between hearing an accordion in person and listening to one on a YouTube video, the latter never doing any instrument justice.  Piano accordions and diatonic button accordions work on the same principle and essentially have the same reeds, the big difference being that diatonic button accordions have two different notes (reeds) per plate, whereas PAs have the same note on both sides of the plate.  The number of reeds per note, the tuning of the reeds, the adjustment of the reeds, the make/brand of the reed, the design and build of the reedblocks and casework will all have an impact on the sound of an accordion, regardless of whether it's a button accordion or a piano accordion.  I work on both, and I would say from my (limited) experience that neither type of box results in an inherently tinny or robust sound; it all comes down to the factors mentioned above, and many more!
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GPS

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2020, 07:16:08 PM »

I think part of the answer lies in the necessary playing technique; diatonic boxes are relatively light and require constant changes of bellows direction, often (though not always) resulting in a  fairly punchy style, while PAs are usually heavier and more bulky, lending themselves to a more languid, legato style of playing.  Of course, we can all point to diatonic players with a fluid legato sound and to PA players who can persuade huge amounts of punch and bounce from their instruments, but in general I feel   that diatonics tend to be bright and cheeky, while PAs (and other unisonoric boxes) tend to be more reflective and soulful. 

Takes cover to avoid flak.........

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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george garside

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2020, 08:34:25 PM »

there are 'tinny' melodeons and tinny piano accordions.   Whilst the  skill of the player is a factor for both  the overall quality and tuning are probably more important.

At a guess  and taking into account that the number of 'melodeons' in circulation is  minute compared with the number of piano boxes there is , I think, a higher proportion of high end instruments in melodeonland.   

Piano boxes can be had  from relatively cheap Chinese 2 voice mass produced  ? tinny to top of the range extremely expensive and anything but tinny specimins. 

not sure what make of box Mick Foster ( of Foster and Allen duo) is currently playing but it is anything but tinny and is used for everything from Irish trad including pub sessions  to  major stage shows and numerable recordings.  Lots of him on youtube.

A top quality box either piano and diatonic will not make a crap player sound like an expert  but a top class player of either can get a pretty good tune out of  a lower end box.

george
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Dick Rees

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2020, 08:57:38 PM »

Graham...

One possible (probable) factor could well be the difference in both interior space and sheer mass. Another would be the voicing of the reeds, the average MM PA reeds being much dryer than "Hohner" standard, thus a bit mellower.

I no longer have the rotator cuffs to handle neither the weight of the PA nor the pressure required to compress the larger volume of air in the bellows, but the Pokerworks, Erica, Club and Preciosa are no problem.

FWIW, I had a 1950's Morbidoni PA made specifically to be played in a big band setting and it could easily hold its own against the standard 5 saxes, 4 trombones and four trumpets configuration...not to mention the drums, bass and electric guitar.



It weighed 38 lbs.  How many stone is that?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2020, 01:01:09 AM »

I think part of the answer lies in the necessary playing technique; diatonic boxes are relatively light and require constant changes of bellows direction, often (though not always) resulting in a  fairly punchy style, while PAs are usually heavier and more bulky, lending themselves to a more languid, legato style of playing.  Of course, we can all point to diatonic players with a fluid legato sound and to PA players who can persuade huge amounts of punch and bounce from their instruments, but in general I feel   that diatonics tend to be bright and cheeky, while PAs (and other unisonoric boxes) tend to be more reflective and soulful. 

Takes cover to avoid flak.........

Graham
No need to take cover Graham! I think you summed it all up very nicely. (:)
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John Stoutimore

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2020, 04:17:39 PM »

Thanks for the info. I've seen the meme of the accordionist who has a disproportionately huge left biceps and assumed it was an exaggeration, as memes are prone to be. But Dick Rees' mention of rotator cuff problems from pumping a PA suggest there's at least an ounce of truth to it. So, yeah, I guess the little Hohner diatonics are so light that it's easy to give a full blast to the bellows, and you might as well do so, because you're going to have to change direction soon anyway.
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Rob2Hook

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Re: Tinny sound from piano accordions?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2020, 12:59:29 PM »

It's not just the lightness of diatonic boxes that help them shout louder than a PA.  The ratio of the cross section of the bellows to their extension means that they produce higher air pressure for a given squeeze than the bigger PA bellows.  That's just pure physics and a similar example can be seen comparing a bicycle pump, long and thin for high pressure, and a car footpump, short and wide for low pressure/high volume.

Of course there are many design considerations which affect the tone of the box and indeed some less prestigious manufacturers have made all the wrong moves and their products will never sound bright and lively.  A friend who had played PA for some years moved to a melodion as the ""better" sound for morris dance.  As the transition proceeded, the PA only got used for tunes not yet fully figured out on the melodion.  It was very noticeable how the bellows technique transferred and the PA now sounded much more lively.  Perhaps that difference of approach, the melodianista considering bellows attack for each note against the Accordionist just moving the bellows so a sound comes out, at least in part explains why so many PAs have been and still are sold which have a poor sound whilst makers of similarly poor diatonics soon go to the wall.

Rob.
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