Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Hello, I want to purchase a B/C accordion after playing concertina and piano accordion for a while. What brands and models do you recommend? I’d like to buy something I will not need to upgrade any time soon (or at all), so looking for something in the intermediate/advanced categories. Are there certain makers that are preferred? If there is something utilitarian and plain but with superior parts that would be best for me. I would like something new (money isn’t a barrier) but if there is a way to find an older model that is better than ones being made now a used one is okay.

I am located on the West Coast of the United States, ordering from Europe is fine and semi-expected.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Did Hohner make a lot of Erica’s in B/C? I think they still produce them in different keys but finding a used B/C would be fine if they are good instruments(especially the older German made ones). I’m near Canada too so finding one of those might be a bit easier since they are quite popular for NewFoundland folk.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Conor Connolly makes Hohners sound great, too. And a good, old three-voice Hohner Black Dot, with button travel properly adjusted, is pretty much the only accordion on my own wish list right now.

If money is truly no barrier, your problem is having too many accordions to choose from! Why not start by listening to lots of recordings of various accordion makes played by skilled musicians, and get an idea of what sound(s) you typically like? That’d help you narrow the field down.

If you’re willing to wait for a custom-made box (or buy one off the shelf from someone who hand-makes them) you might look into some of the Irish makers that don’t seem to get nearly enough ‘press’ on this side of the pond… I’m thinking of Cairdin, Lisheen, and Kincora boxes with the latter no doubt being a collector’s item now.

Don’t be too quick to discount the Button Box in MA, by the way -- every so often they have a real gem on their shelves. At the moment they have a 1950s-era 3v Hohner Black Dot with 12 piano-accordion-style basses. I don’t know what that actually means but no doubt you do, and maybe it’d suit you since you already play piano accordion?

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

I have a Castagnari DINN 3 myself, and while it’s not as fancy as some of the Irish boxes (and in other ways more) , I’ve come to appreciate it more and more over the years. It’s built like a tank and the action is amazing. At first I thought I needed another box at some point like an Irish box, a Paolo or a Manfrini. But really when it comes down to it that’s mostly the tuning on the box and not the exterior.

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Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

If you can afford it, I recommend an Italian-made accordion with premium quality reeds graded at least “TAM” or “tipo-a-mano” (“Hand-Type”). (The highest grade are true “handmade” or “a mano” reeds. They’re great, but not absolutely necessary--tho I would try to go at least “TAM”).

MMV, but I personally would rather have a 2-voice box with premium-quality reeds than a multi-voice box with factory reeds. Why? I don’t mind (and even like) best-quality factory “Super Durall” reeds in unisonoric accordions (PAs or CBAs), at least for folk genres. However, for push-pull bisonoric accordions (often incorrectly dubbed “diatonic” accordions) I’m willing to pay for any edge I can get in speed and ease of response.

Here in the U.S. are two fine dealers you might peruse for information and ideas whether or not you purchase.

1. The wonderful B/C player John Nolan on the East Coast also deals in Irish button accordions. He has some very nice stuff listed right now in both his new and used postings. You can also get on phone or Zoom with him and pick his brain--He is a lovely person and a fountain of information who is very generous with it. This plural-Senior-All-Ireland winner also teaches. Here’s the link to the site:

https://www.buttonsandbellows.com/store/

There is also the Button Box in Amherst-ish or Northampton-ish, Massachusetts. They too are a wonderful source of some very spiffy items. You can check out their Irish button accordion listings here:

www.buttonbox.com

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Saltarelle Bouebe is a nice box to start on. It won’t break your bank and it sounds great. Easy to maintain, lightweight, widely available and a sound that’s probably very familiar to you.

Myself, I love ratty old Hohners tuned wetter than sin!

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

I am actually looking to sell my Saltarelle Irish Bouëbe (B/C), but haven’t yet found the time to post it for sale officially. I bought it from John Williams around 15 years ago and both James Keane and Patty Furlong tried it and said it was a great instrument. I have been focusing more on the concertina for a number of years now, so, although I am sad to let the accordion go, it deserves being played again. I am in San Diego, and if that’s within a convenient distance for you, you are more than welcome to try it out.

ETA: Just read your post again: “ I’d like to buy something I will not need to upgrade any time soon (or at all)”. That was also on my mind when I asked James and Patty for their opinion. Patty: “It’s a keeper for life.”

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Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

another person to contact Michael Usui but I don’t have his contact info anymore, I would be interested myself if someone knows how to contact Michael Usui

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

I’d be interested to hear if any other long-standing B/C players here have achieved Snowbeast’s aspiration to make only one box purchase that sees you all the way through. I would have thought it more common to acquire a menagerie covering various reed configurations (MM, LMM, etc), wet/dry tuning, bass configurations or just for the different sound and playability that you get from different manufacturer’s boxes.

This isn’t thread-drift, more a suggestion not to sweat the initial purchase too much as you will inevitably amass more boxes.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Yeah It’s expected to purchase more than one, but for now I would like one that I won’t have to replace for a long while.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Ok but buying from recommendations here is risky, too much personal preference involved. For example some people love their Hohners, I don’t like them at all.

Really you need to try some out. A trip to the East Coast to visit John Nolan and Button Box as suggested by ceemonster is what I would do in your situation.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Why don’t you first post a few videos for which you like the sound of the accordion and the perhaps the style of the person playing, that might help narrow the search.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

@johndsamuels - My $0.02 is that getting a box with adjustable registers of reeds provides more than enough variety for most situations. I have a LMM Saltarelle Connemara III and can adjust it to sound/silence each of the treble registers (I can also adjust the left hand side to add or remove the thirds of chords, and to add or remove the low bass). Lots of choices!

As for tuning, there’s dry tuning and then there are people who are wrong! 🙂 But seriously, yeah, that would be a reason to own multiple boxes…

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

At the end of the day, the only way to separate nuance from chatter is to roll up the sleeves, start spending money, and find the feel and sound you like.

Welcome to chasing the dragon! It’s a ride.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

I’m with gravelwalks and heiki on the Saltarelle Irish Bouebe. It was my second accordion and far superior to my first. Also had it about 15 years and no major aspirations to change it, though I did also buy a Serenellini which has more stops including an octave stop to make a beefier sound: but it’s quite heavy compared with the Saltarelle, so the latter is my “go-to” instrument. I have had to have 2 reeds replaced over the years, one bass, one treble, and treated it to a full re-tune a couple of years back. If I did go for an upgrade, the thing I feel I lack most and would look for is a Bm bass chord.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

Ooooh and that’s a good chord!

So many little things (valves, gaps, debris, etc) bring the tuning of a free reed instrument out of whack and all accordions will require a tune up to keep that desired tremolo right where you’d like it. Likewise, air seals degrade over time and must be renewed. Valves start to lift a smidge or come unglued. Reeds break on occasion. Wax hardens (depends on who mixed it and what’s in it!). It’s like a car, or any other musical instrument… You drive it enough and it will need a few things. The point at which it will bother the driver enough to warrant a tune up is another matter.

And gosh you should see some of the heaps I drive!

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

People I’ve played with have had good results with older Hohner black dots, provided they are in good repair, and also with Saltarelle Bouebes. As long as the box is in tune and has the action set well it shouldn’t be a problem no matter what you get. I play larger chromatic boxes, and would caution to get an instrument that gives you room to improve, but is not too much (too large, too many voices, too many basses). A lot of people think that accordions play themselves, but they very much have technique to them. Best of luck.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

If you are interested in an older Palo Soprani, I bought one from John Nolan in 1987 and am selling it. It is a red box with a fantastic voice. Mostly I now play my harp and feel that this box needs younger hands.

Re: Recommendations for B/C Accordion? (US)

I have purchased an accordion! I will update with more info soon. Feel free to turn this thread in to a general suggestion thread if you like.