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Author Topic: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices  (Read 15336 times)

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pgroff

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Hi all,

Can anyone help me learn more about these beautifully crafted accordions, ca. 1928 - 1930s?

Here is a completed auction for what is described as a "Hohner 235" (but from the 3 couplers behind the keyboard I suspect it may be a Modell 255):

http://cgi.ebay.ch/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330274141717

Here is a slightly less fancy box but in extraordinarily fine condition. Note the 2 couplers and the bellows lock switch behind the keyboard:

« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 09:39:30 PM by pgroff »
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pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2009, 09:45:29 PM »

Here are some more pics of the last accordion shown above, showing the small coupler lever on the bass grille. The bass buttons on this accordion are small pearl ones, like the melody keys of a Preciosa. The listed specifications of Hohner's Modell 234 (1928 - 1935) fit most of the features of this accordion, except this accordion has 10 rather than 8 basses. The extra basses provide a few dominant seventh chords. The accordion is LMMM, in Bb/Eb, and with a factory tuning of A 440 (blocks marked 880).

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Lester

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2009, 06:48:20 AM »

Pete Grassby had one on his stall at Witney this year. According to his Hohner catalogue it was a top of the range box from the era you quoted. Did not try it myself as a certain Mr Kirkpatrick seemed to be attracted to it and was taking it for a test drive, made an enormous sound, very Hohner but with out the mechanical accompaniment.

pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2009, 11:57:09 AM »

Lester,

That I would have liked to hear. Judging from the huge road case he was carrying on tour, a few years back when I met up with him in California, he must be comfortable with large boxes.

Believe it or not, this 4 voice is balanced so well it handles like a much smaller box and I have been playing the Bb row like a melodeon. Enormous sound is right -- as well as the bassoon reed and 3 voice musette, it has Helikon basses and the option of lots of voices in the chords.

PG
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triskel

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 02:36:41 AM »

Paul,

I had a similar one to yours, maybe 30 years ago, though it was in C/F with only 8 basses. The person I bought it from told me it had belonged to a man who was a champion player in the '30s. Nielsen tuned it for me and reckoned the reeds (stamped "HOHNER") were the firm's best quality from before the War.
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Andy in Vermont

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 12:11:07 PM »

I wish that there were more information about these boxes -- they look like Hohner put forth its best effort!  How do they sound/play?
-Andy

pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2009, 12:41:38 PM »

Andy,

This one sounds really crisp and present, as well as a rich tone as you might expect from the voicing.

I have seen a few postwar Hohner clubs that are 4 or 5 voice, including Ouvertures and Morinos. They have great reeds but a much more rounded, boxed in tone.

This one (possibly a 234 but that has not been confirmed) has a lot more snap and crackle than the big postwar clubs, probably because the grille is metal and well ventilated and there are just two rows of pallets that open well above the keyboard. The soundboard is metal also, which I have always thought contributes to the "crashy" sound of some great old accordions (though Lars Hansen tells me the sound I am hearing may have more to do with a plywood case covered in thick 1930s celluloid).

The action is really nice also. The 1930s pearl - button keyboard Hohner clubs (such as the Club III, etc) that I have seen all have nice keyboards and actions, but this "possibly 234" is a step up from those. If there is interest I can add some pics of the mechanism, reedblocks, and reeds next time I get out the camera.

The weight is there but this one is really tight and well-balanced, so as I said I have actually been having fun playing it one-row style. Obviously this box was designed for cross-row playing (though probably an early version of the club keyboard with its only 4 notes on the inside row, despite the high-range features). I can play a club that way with minimal bellows changes, but the boomy and crisp sound of that low Bb row with LMMM keeps me out there.... and unlike some later club keyboards, the 12 - button outside row goes down to the low tonic/fourth scale degrees!

I have been in contact with players in Switzerland and elsewhere to try to see if this model might have some special current purpose. So far it seems that these are no longer much in favor anywhere. I am therefore considering a *completely reversible,* careful and respectful modification to Bb/A, in which none of the original reeds would be retuned or original reedblocks altered. I would flip over a few of the bass reeds from Eb/Bb to Bb/Eb, pull and carefully save the Eb row reeds, and add in a 4 voice row in A that would be disposed relative to the Bb row like the C# row of an Irish-American D/C# box. That would make the instrument very comfortably chromatic for Irish-style playing on the two outside rows in the beautiful pitch of Bb, and much more useable for me. Any conversion to other keys (except maybe D/D#) would involve retuning of the special Helikon basses, or looking for substitutes for them. As a Bb/A this box would be plenty fast and have a wonderful unique sound, but I don't think it would be as special as a D/D# which I would normally expect to be a very light nimble box.

PG

« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 02:12:10 PM by pgroff »
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Matthew B

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 02:55:32 PM »

It's a beauty for sure.  I've never played one of the high-end pre-war Clubs, though I've noodled around on an black 50s Overture a couple of times.  Playing a Liliput has given me some interesting insight into the the four-button accidental layout.  The bigger Clubs, with the longer accidental rows are chromatic on the draw through a fairly big stretch of the octave below the gleichton.  By switching voices this gives quite a range, and means you can work out a lot of fancy chords --- A while ago I found the the basic changes for "I got Rhythm" (Bb Bb7 Gm Cm F7 Eb Ebm D7 G7 C7), and they're all there within about a four button radius on the extended keyboard.  The tune really does just fall out of the box --- However, with the shorter row of accidentals all that clever stuff gets pushed up to the higher notes, and a lot of it doesn't work on the draw.  A fair few of the chords can be found conveniently on the push, but Eb for example gets pretty thin (this on a C/F).  "Technically chromatic" rather than chromatic, one might say.  Its a whole different instrument up there at the arctic end of the keyboard.  I'd be interested to know if these fancy four-accidental Clubs were designed to be played mostly in the upper register, perhaps by the front line in a Club band.  Certainly, judging by the rhinestones the reduced keyboard wasn't an economy measure. 
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pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2009, 03:51:05 PM »

Hi Matthew,

With the cheaper models of clubs, especially by the late 1930s, the 4 note inside row probably was a matter of economy. But even mid-range clubs such as the 2 voice, no coupler Viktoria (etc.) were given the 12/11/7 keyboard.

With the Preciosa (and Lilliput) I have been assuming the 4 note inside row was mostly to save weight and space.

With this odd "possibly 234" club I agree with you that the short inner row was not about economy. This accordion is not as fancy as the 5 voice 255 with its fancy celluloid grille (the grille on that 255 was probably handmade), but a lot of love and expense went into its design and construction.  It could have been that the"possible 234"  was made early in the evolution of the club system, before the 12/11/7 (or more) melody keys became standardized (someone who knows more about club accordion, or Hohner, history can probably correct me if that is wrong).

But I think it is definitely an advantage for the tone I like in this instrument that there are only two rows of pallets. Some of the 2 voice and 3 voice prewar clubs with the 12/11/7 layout have a noticeably muffled inside row. The "possible 234" may not have been designed around the timbre it makes with this pallet layout, but to me it's a winner.

And re: using its existing chromatic options, I agree with you that the standard club layout(s) have a lot going for them. But I personally see other possibilities for this instrument that wouldn't preclude someone later returning it to its original condition. I like the idea of putting it *reversibly* into Bb/A so that my buddies who play D/C# could pick this up and play away on the low but crisp two outside rows, in tune with a Bb concertina.

PG

PG
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Matthew B

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2009, 06:56:03 PM »

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pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2009, 07:27:07 PM »

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your insights.

I have a very detailed catalogue of Hohner accordion models from sometime post 1926 that makes no mention of any club models. But it does include G/C/B three-row accordions -- a traditional Italian system going back decades before that date (usually with Stradella bass). The tonic of the B row of these is displaced out of line from the tonics of the G and C row, and the inside B row makes a brilliant set of accidentals.

The Irish American D/C# accordion is basically a transposition of the C and B rows of the G/C/B upward a full tone.

And -- in that late 1920s catalogue, along with the G/C/B is mentioned an option of a three-row system in C/F/E -- presumably here you have a C/F box with the inside E row making it chromatic. I guess this C/F/E system might have been shortlived, at least I have never seen one, but possibly this idea was quickly supplanted by the C/F/X club system.

PG

« Last Edit: December 18, 2009, 09:14:12 AM by pgroff »
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Matthew B

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2009, 06:34:34 PM »

I may have been a bit off in my initial date estimates.  Still, looking at Hohner's model list online it looks as if the club system was around in the mid-twenties.  They have several models listed from that period.  A quick scan turned up the following:

AMATI, Club, 23+2, 1925-27, 35, 40, 53, 57, 61, 83-87
CLUB III , Club, 23+7, 1928-37
MODELL 234, Club 23+4, 1928-35
LA CONTESSA Club, 23+2, 1929
L'ORGANOLA Club, 23+2, 1929
No. 3565, Club 21+2, 1929

From this it looks like the 2 accidental version showed up first, and was produced intermittently for a pretty good period of time.  I wonder how similar the 1987 version is to the 2 accidental variant of the Morgane that's now in production?  And it seems that the 7 accidental version showed up either at the same time as the four accidental version, or possibly even before it.  What seems to distinguish the Modells 234, 254, 255, 335, and 335 is the type of bass, the voicings, the switches, and probably the twinkly bits.  I'm guessing that about eighty years ago someone was ogling your box in the window of a German music shop and going through a thought process that could be cut and pasted directly onto the forum here: Weight versus price, which accidentals do I really use, and will my spouse throw me out of the house if I turn up with another one . . .

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waltzman

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2009, 08:29:20 PM »

Do any of the old clubs have a LMM configuration?
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Matthew B

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2009, 08:57:01 PM »

If I'm not mistaken around 1935 the Club IV and IX models started showing up with octave tuning (LMM) and switches.
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pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2009, 10:24:14 PM »

Waltzman,

Yes, there are (or were) several models of 3 voice Hohner clubs with LMM, both old and newer. I don't remember all the model names of the ones I have seen and I don't have a LMM one at present, but I think there were early ones with one (or maybe sometimes two) switches behind the keyboard like the 4 and 5 voice models in the original post, and later ones with pushbutton switches similar to the Corona IIIR.

Looking at one list I have, it seems (for example) the Hohner Club III BS and the Hohner Club III M might be voiced LMM.

However, if I am reading the list correctly, this III B F would not have the low octave reed; maybe the coupler behind the keyboard pulls out the 2 musette reeds for a single voice tone:

http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/160U-405.htm

PG

« Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 09:55:12 PM by pgroff »
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Theo

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2009, 11:58:58 PM »

Looking at one list I have, it seems (for example) the Hohner Club III BS and the Hohner Club III M might be voiced LMM.
I've seem examples of both of those models, all were LMM.  I assume the 'S' is for 'switch' in IIIBS

Quote
However, if I am reading the list correctly, this III B F would not have the low octave reed; maybe the coupler behind the keyboard pulls out the 2 musette reeds for a single voice tone:

Where 'F'='flute' perhaps, though modern accordion terminology usually uses 'clarinet' for a single M reed.
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oggiesnr

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2010, 10:06:44 PM »


http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/160U-405.htm


Elderley's gradings always crack me up (for all their instruments).  To me VGC (very good condition) would imply an immediately playable instrument with some cosmetic problems. in this case it means -

"VGC except needs some work (bellows leak, all notes are kind of wheezy and some are weak, plus needs cleanup, etc. - sold AS-IS), keys of Bb-Eb, red pearloid covering, red bellows with gold trim, 30 buttons in three rows, 8 bass buttons, "Original Hohner" imprint on back, used for Tex-Mex and other styles, with worn straps and beat semi-HSC, price reduced"

How would anyone else grade it? Me? Poor/Medium at best.

Steve
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michik

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2010, 10:21:38 PM »

I have found a video of a Hohner 235 ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT-daws6fng
Actually AlpertCharles responsed to it
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pgroff

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Re: Hohner Modell 234, 235, 255 and other prewar clubs with 4 (+) voices
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2010, 11:09:15 PM »


http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/160U-405.htm


Elderley's gradings always crack me up (for all their instruments).  To me VGC (very good condition) would imply an immediately playable instrument with some cosmetic problems. in this case it means -

"VGC except needs some work (bellows leak, all notes are kind of wheezy and some are weak, plus needs cleanup, etc. - sold AS-IS), keys of Bb-Eb, red pearloid covering, red bellows with gold trim, 30 buttons in three rows, 8 bass buttons, "Original Hohner" imprint on back, used for Tex-Mex and other styles, with worn straps and beat semi-HSC, price reduced"

How would anyone else grade it? Me? Poor/Medium at best.

Steve

Like the old joke, "Lost dog, only 3 legs, torn ear, blind in left eye, mangy coat, kink in tail, missing most of his teeth, answers to the name of Lucky"

PG
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