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Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voice?

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:52 pm
by Steampacket
I've just been to an auction viewing/preview and seen a red Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voices with a red label in excellent original condition. I asked Mr. Dunn for advice as to how much would be prudent to spend on this instrument if I was considering just playing it at home as it is as a G/C. Is £250 too much to pay?

I understand that converting it to a B/C box would probably be expensive. I pressed the 3rd button in each row and noticed that the G and the C were quite sharp nearly 20 cents. Is this normal? Does this mean it must be retuned? What would it cost to convert the G row to B?

I play uilleann pipes and flute and know nothing about boxes. Just thought it might be fun to have a go at playing a box. Why are C/G anglos popular, but not G/C 2 row button boxes?

Re: Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voice?

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:06 am
by Steampacket
Decided to stay with the pipes and flute and not get into box playing. So I didn't bid on the Paolo 2 row today. Saw it sold for £158 inclusive buyer's premium.

Re: Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voice?

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:06 am
by colomon
Steampacket wrote: Why are C/G anglos popular, but not G/C 2 row button boxes?
The quick answer: your typical C/G anglo has 30 buttons, and as a result, is fully chromatic, with most notes having a button that works on both push and pull.

As you might expect just from the button count, a typical 21-button G/C accordion is much more restrained. It's great for playing in C or G -- for most of those notes you get a nice choice whether to play it on the push or the pull! But the most common key in Irish trad is D, and right away in that key you start seeing limitations for a G/C.

Our G/C is set up in what I think is a fairly typical way -- the first button in each row is accidentals. That gives you four accidentals. In theory this makes it chromatic -- you can play a note for every note name. But there's only one octave for each of the accidentals, so for instance if you're playing in D major, you get just one C#, even though the usual range for fiddle tunes would have two different C#s. (Maybe even three if the tune goes high enough, though that's fairly rare.) Plus getting to the first button is awkward.

By contrast, my 21-button C#/D is fully chromatic from the F# below middle C up to the D two octaves above middle C except the Bb below middle C. (Which I traded to get the low G, a much more common note in standard Irish trad key signatures.) It's definitely more awkward playing in C or G than it would be on the G/C, but it is completely doable. And it's vastly better for playing in D, A, or E -- all the notes are available across the standard tune note range, and conveniently located, too. (And yes, my box is missing the low Bb, but it still has the two more higher Bbs available. The G/C only has one Bb total.)

My question is why are't D/G accordions more popular in Irish music? Especially those 2.5 row D/G boxes with the half row of accidentals? It seems like that would give you maximum ease and versatility for the common key signatures and still a solid ability to play in keys like C and A.

Re: Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voice?

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:48 am
by StevieJ
I think you did well not to buy it. I can understand the attraction for an uilleann piper of an instrument that you can just take out of its case, play, and put back into its case with no tuning or faffing around with reeds. And have somebody else tune it every 4 or 5 years - what's not to like?

But don't underestimate the time you would need to get to a decent level on box. It looks like typewriter, it sounds like fun, but it's much more complicated than you would think. And if ever you do buy a box, do yourself a favour and don't get one that needs tuning, converting or anything else much doing to it.

For interest's sake, though, converting a G/C to a B/C box is relatively simple. Not something you'd want to tackle yourself, mind you, unless you want to spend lots more time getting into the arcane world of accordion tuning and repair.

The C row obviously remains untouched. For the B row, nearly all the existing reedplates on the G row can be used with a bit of retuning - most reeds need nudging by a semitone, two by a whole tone and about six can stay where they are, leaving only one reedplate to be bought in.

I know this because my box repairman explained the process to me and I worked out a chart to show what needs doing to each reedplate, since I have an old G/C lurking in my basement that I would like to do this on. But it's been there for nearly 10 years already and the job will probably never get done...

Re: Paolo Soprani G/C 21 button 3 Voice?

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:25 am
by Steampacket
Thanks Colomon and StevieJ for your input. I now understand a lot more regarding 2-row boxes than I did last week. I'm happy I didn't buy this Paolo and hope the buyer is happy with it. Four years ago I bought on a whim a Selmer SBA tenor from 1950 at a local auction. Turns out this is a holy grail of tenor saxophones. I want to sell it, but never get around to putting it up for sale. Low priority as I don't need the money just now and it seems such a hassle to send it abroad where there's a demand. I have enough going on with the pipes and flute, but now and then you see an instrument you don't know how to play and get a mad impulse and buy it.