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Reed Question

CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
edited May 2006 in Accordion Posts: 271
I was just listening to the recordings of his band that Dennis just posted and really liked the sound of the accordion. When I bought my first accordion, price was the determining factor. When I bought my second accordion, price and pick-ups were the determining factors. I've never really gone out looking for something with a particular sound. Now I realize it's mostly due to my ignorance of reed types and configurations. Anyone care to jot down a few words on the sounds produced by different reeds and reed configurations? What set-up is Dennis' accordionist using?

Comments

  • brandoneonbrandoneon Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France✭✭✭
    edited March 2012 Posts: 171
    I just listened to these recordings too and first I should say ... Denis, that is an awesome accordionist!

    There are different grades of reeds. The top is called 'hand-made', and these are cut out by hand by a master reedsman. Following this is 'hand-finished' AKA 'tipo a mano'. I believe the reed is punched out with a tool and finished off by the craftsman's hand. The last category is just factory-made crap, which is what it sounds like. Stay away from this, the reed is what gives the accordion it's sound after all.

    My first accordion was a student model and had these factory reeds. I've since upgraded to a Petosa (see http://www.petosa.com to learn more about them, plus they have some interesting articles too) with hand-made reeds. There is a world of difference between the sound of these 2 accordions, in fact I was so fed up with my original accordion that I had it retuned to quarter-tones just for fun. Hand-made reeds are THE SOUND, and also contribute substantially to the price.

    Most piano accordions and chromatic button accordions get their sound combinations with a low set of reeds, 2 mid sets (an octave higher than the low) and a high set of reeds (an octave higher yet). What is the sound you are looking for? The accordionist on Denis's recording is using the bassoon register (low) or maybe even clarinet (mid) - sometimes it's hard to tell them apart. These 2 registers that use a single reed are the primary registers used in jazz accordion (there are also some accordions with double bassoons reeds). If you want a tango sound, use the bandoneon register (low+mid reeds). For playing eastern European/Balkan music, it's helpful to have the organ register (low+high). If you're into playing French music (i.e. musettes) then you need a specially tuned violin register (the 2 mids). This is not a common feature, even if there is a register on the accordion labeled "musette" - you have to make sure about this. This sound is produced by one of the mid reeds being slightly out of tune with the other to produce that vibrato tension. On my Petosa accordion I took out the piccolo reed set (high) and replaced them with a 3rd set of mid reeds so that I could have a 3-reed musette sound.

    There is another feature to consider in the sound of an accordion, and that is the tone chamber (AKA cassotto). As I understand it, it's a design feature that mellows the tone of the reeds, typically the low reed set and only one of the middle reed sets. This helps with the tone, especially if you are playing jazz.

    I hope this has helped. You really have to weigh all of these factors if you are in the market for a new accordion.
  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 271
    Thanks! That's a wealth of helpful information.
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