Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

I’m looking for some general information on Saltarelle Clifden model accordions. I’m considering ordering this model for Irish Traditional music. I gather they’re designed in France and made in Italy, and that, although expensive, they have sometimes varied in quality. The reeds are sometimes said to be handmade, other times they are just hand-finished.

- Can someone tell me what is the current manufacturer of the Clifden and what is their email
and geographical location?
- Can anyone fill me in on what has been changed since this model began to be produced?
- Does someone know if it’s possible to get hand-made reeds at this time?
- Has Saltarelle ever made a piano accordion tuned in a Well Temperament rather than equal,
and if so, what is this tuning and who has it?
- Does anyone among The Session’s piano accordionists use a Well Temperament (closer to pure than equal)
- Can I order a specific Well temperament tuning from the makers of the Clifden? Maybe Vallotti or Young II?
This should make the common keys a bit better than equal, and then the mainly unused keys would
correspondingly be worse than equal.

Hoping for your thoughts, knowledge and opinions. — LINDA

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

I can’t directly answer any of your questions but I have read a lot of the Saltarelle related threads over at Obviously those relate to diatonic boxes but I guess the same things would apply to PA’s.

The gist of it seems to be:
1. Don’t buy one unless you have played it first, i.e. the actual box not just another of the same model.
2. If you contact Saltarelle then all you will get is a curt reply directing you to talk to the retailer.

Point 1 precludes buying a box in well-tempered tuning, but you can always get it re-tuned to that after the event if that’s really what you want.

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

I don’t know anything about the current Clifden specifications, but I bought one in 2008 and have been very pleased with it. I had the reeds tuned dryer than they came from the factory by a local box repair man. He said they were probably hand finished reeds and they sound very sweet to me. I’m not sure if handmade reeds would have made much of a difference.

A capable box repair man should be able to retune to your requirements, providing you don’t want a great deal of change in tuning.

There has been some disagreement over the Clifdens on this board over the years, but honestly I feel this box has the best keyboard action of any I’ve ever owned. The bass is missing the low reeds, but you don’t use it much in Irish trad anyway.

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

Keep those responses coming, it’s great to get more information! I believe I’ve read everything pro and con that’s been posted on The Session, but I’m grateful to Johndsamuels for mentioning, which I’d not heard of, and to Rogfox for sharing his own positive experience. Of course I’m looking for a lightning-fast keyboard and the excellent sound; the light-weight is important to me, and the drone key also interests me. So far I’m getting the impression I should go where various Clifdens are for sale and choose the one that seems best, having it retuned to non-equal eventually. Are they made in Castelfidardo or close? I can actually go in May!

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

I think the manufacture is sub-contracted and I doubt that the builders would be contractually allowed to retail the boxes, so even if they’re made in Castelfidardo, don’t count on getting to see or buy one when you get there.

Few UK retailers are likely to stock the model due to the relatively high cost and (relative to button boxes) low turnover.

Nevertheless, try talking to retailers - they may have happy Clifden customers who’d be prepared to let you have a look over their own instrument.

Posted by .

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

As I only play PA on the street I’d stick to weltmeister or delicia. Cheaper but well made accordions. I only play 26 key as I play standing up when doing my busking.

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music - different kinds of Salt-Clifdens?

I see Dino Baffetti mentioned in some Saltarelle Clifden ads;
I understand this is a former maker of the Saltarelle Clifden.

I see some other Saltarelles Clifdens for sale as ‘Paris Melrose Collection’.
Was there a redesign at some point so that ‘Baffetti’ and ‘Paris Melrose’
vintages of the Saltarelle Clifton will really have some differences?

And I have seen that at least one Clifton is advertised to have ‘Bass end stop
to remove the thirds and the lower reed’. Is this actually on all the
Clifdens, or only on a particular custom box, does anyone happen to know?



Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

I’m not aware that any Clifden models have the low reed in the bass. It might be the Cleggan model which is the 72 bass version that has the stop to remove the low reed.

Another note: I just checked the Saltarelle website and was reminded that the Clifden is available in two treble reed configurations - one middle and one low reed and two middle reeds. I have the two middle reed model which is the octave in which most accordions are played in Irish trad. Plus the two middle reeds tuned slightly apart give the dryer tuning which is popular today.

Martin Quinn’s website in Ireland says that all Saltarelle Piano accordions have A mano reeds and not tipo a mano reeds

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

Hi Linda — I’ve an earlier version Clifden which I purchased on spec at the time since there were none here in Chicago (nor I think in the States at the time either) just the button box version to serve as a basis.

Overall I would describe it as a very nice box. I know several musicians who love them (Mirella Murray has a newer one and is just mad about it)

I’ve several custom made boxes (my main is a full size 46/120 wood Beltuna) and play them all at least several times a month so am always comparing them to each other.

Some of the nicer aspects of the Clifden is that it is small, lightweight, good looking, and a good sounding box (I’ve the handmade reed version), and really easy to travel with (soft case will fit in just about any plane overhead storage).

On the other hand, I find for me that it is just too small and lightweight (making it a bit unbalanced, arms in higher, slighty awkward playing position) and find it very easy to blow out and overblow reeds (needs to be played on the gentle side). It is also easier to mar and dent versus a celluloid covered box too.

Best advice is to get the loan of one if you can and put it through its paces. So many good box choices available now (versus a few decades back) and they are better designed with trad music in mind (left hand aside in most cases)

I’ve attached a video of me playing a few of my tunes on my Clifden below for an example — good luck with your box hunt!!

All the best,

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

Thanks to all who have helped me on my questions so far. And especially to those with Saltarelle Clifdens who have shared their impressions as owners, and special thanks to Jimmy Keane for his kind post of a video. My research is continuing in practical directions now.

I’ve confirmed that the Dino Baffetti firm in Castelfidardo continues to make the various models of Saltarelle.

Right now, before making a special order for a Clifden in Well Temperament (non-equal temperament), I would really like to try one, which so far I can only hear and admire on YouTube.

May I ask, is there any piano accordionist on the American west coast who happens to have a Clifden? I would just love to visit you and try it, if possible. HELLO? IS THERE A SALTARELLE CLIFDEN IN CALIFORNIA, FOR EXAMPLE? Thanks to all the supportive PAists for considering this question.

Re: Saltarelle Clifden for Irish Trad Music

Thanks Linda and good luck! By the way, not sure what well temperament tuning vs equal mean, but just this — you will need to get the box spot tuned at least once a year (or more, depending on how often/hard you play)…