button box advice

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maze
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button box advice

Post by maze »

in the past few months since dragging out an old altimoroN piano accordion to entertain my 4 month old and accompany the singer in my trio, i have become fascinated with accordions and am thinking about getting hold of a decent but not too expensive button box to give it a try. i have been playing the pipes for a decade so the coordination issues are not too concerning.

i have read (here and elsewhere) conflicting opinions on whether BC or C#D is smoother or simpler to play irish trad tuneage...

quoted below from StevieJ who is gracious with his advice

"B/C is more comfortable with keys that have fewer sharps and even a flat or two. D minor and F are easy. A major is a bit awkward.

C#/D is better with sharps. E minor and G are easy. A major is easy. D minor is quite possible but a bit awkward.

In most of the the common keys B/C will involve less changing of bellows direction, giving a smoother, more flowing feel to the tunes. C#/D will tend to be punchier, more driving. (It's a little more complicated than that, depending on the particular key and on whether a tune is built around linear note progressions or arpeggios, but it's still a fair generalization.)"

i have heard the opposite as well.

Can anyone offer any advice on this topic, and perhaps which makers to consider. In your advice, please note that i am a piper which means i am flat broke due to buying several sets, with another on the way so I am not looking for the absolute most wonderful box at THIS time.

thanks for any help anyone may wish to offer.


maze

ps

i did a search for this question, so please don't condemn the asking as i only found a couple of past topics similar.

pps

i will spend some time with Patty Furlong at next month's tionol seeking her advice, and will do the same amongst the other free reed players in the Catskills this summer... but would hope to have a box in hand to take with me.

ppps

as a piper and bodhran player, i do see the irony of adding yet another instrument of annoyance and destruction to my life.
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Post by Congratulations »

As far as B/C or C#/D, the best advice I've heard is to find a teacher in your area, ask which one they play, and buy that one so that they're actually able to teach you.
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Cathy Wilde
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Post by Cathy Wilde »

B/C is the choice of the two very good box players I know (One studied with Billy McComiskey, the other with John Williams). In each case they seem to be perfect at our sessions; however, we only do a handful of A tunes.

Congratulations, and good luck! I looooove the button box!
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Post by Martin Milner »

Regarding makes, Castagnari are considered the Rolls-Royce of button boxes.

Paulo Soprano, Dino Bafetti and Saltarelle are all good makes, and have their followers. Hohner are the workhorse, the maker by which all others are measured.

The entry level makes, Scarlatti and Delicia, look attractive on price, but players grow out of them very quickly, and they don't hold their value for re-sale, so they're not a good investment.

When I was looking for a D/G melodeon, I wanted the smallest lightest thing I could get, which turned out to be a Castagnari Lilly. This has a single treble reed, so it has a concertina-like sound, which suited me fine. The two rivals to this box would be the Saltarelle Epsilon and the Bernard Loffet Toupetit. Carrying one of these around for a day of Morris dancing is a lot less straining than a 3-voice monster.

I recommend you ask around on Melodeon.net for advice on makes/models from people who have been playing a lot longer than I have.
Last edited by Martin Milner on Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Sliabh Luachra »

Brother John,

Wie gehts?

It all depends on what you want to play, or who you'd like to play like. I prefer, and play c#/d. You'll find lots of people who like both for different reasons. If you're into polkas, slides, etc. (Sliabh Luachra stuff) then the concensous seems to be for c#/d (though Dan Herlihy would disagree). I like to call this the Johnny O'Leary/Jackie Daly school.

If you're into some of the Clare/Galway players, most of them play b/c. Billy McComisky and PJ Hernon come to mind. There are probably more b/c players out there if I had to guess. I'm experiencing a Monday morning at work fog of the brain however and can't think of anyone else at the moment. Cooley didn't play that tuning though, now that I think about it.

One is not better than the other, they're just different. Paddy is a great person to ask since she plays both. One thing to think about. There is almost nothing out there as far as teaching material for c#/d. There are a few tutorial books and tapes for b/c. Don't know if that matters to you, though.

Mark

PS Let's have a tune up in Durham this summer.
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Post by Cathy Wilde »

A Weltmeister and a B/C Paolo (absolutely brilliant on that old Paddy O'Brien stuff) in our specific neck of the woods.

But heck, you know you're going to end up getting both eventually, so ... it's really a question of which one first?
:-D

There was a Billy McComiskey Signature Series for sale here just a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, I'm mildly fascinated with the Boxeen (probably mostly because of the name).

Anyone tried one?

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Post by colomon »

Sliabh Luachra wrote:Cooley didn't play that tuning though, now that I think about it.

As I understand it, he played D/D# (playing up a step in Eb) or C#/D if he wanted to play in concert pitch. Good enough reason for me to get a C#/D.

There are also lots of interesting (if more obscure) players who only play a one row, which is basically the same as playing in D on a C#/D -- Frank Maher and Micheal Kennedy come to mind.
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Post by Cayden »

Cathy wrote:B/C is the choice of the two very good box players I know (One studied with Billy McComiskey, the other with John Williams). In each case they seem to be perfect at our sessions; however, we only do a handful of A tunes.


But we have these fellows, all on Csharp/D and at least two of them playing Saltarelles (and both saying it's the best for the job) Image

Image

Conor Keane, Jackie Daly, Eoghan O Sullivan
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Post by Cathy Wilde »

And that is why we content ourselves with scrounging amongst your leavings! :lol:
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Post by Cathy Wilde »

Jokes aside ... is that a Saltarelle Jackie's playing now? He used to play a red Paolo back when, didn't he?

What is it that's so cool about the Saltarelles? They seem to be the Holy Grail over here, but mostly it seems it's the people with a little more money who have them ... I'm thinking that's what Billy M. talked our Paolo-playing pal into because its dry tuning sounded more "modern", but she ended up going back to the "old-fashioned" box. She said she could have the Paolo's tuning dried up some on it, but since she plays a lot of old-style stuff she likes the sound.

(It is cool -- like a big musical flashback)

Anyway, just curious ... is it playability as well as the sound?

Edited in a relatively unsuccessful attempt to get this post to read more like English.
Last edited by Cathy Wilde on Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Cayden »

Jackie got the blue one around four or five years ago but he was playing a Saltarelle before that one too.

I took this one around 1999, he has the previous one there:

Image
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free reed advice

Post by maze »

Thanks all for your input so far! Does anyone know the push/pull layout on the B/C and C#/D in order for figure out which is a smoother scale?

I do not tend to play a whole lot of polkas and slides... left those in charlottesville with tess... mostly clare tunes and piping tunes (duh)... though that may just be a matter of locale and what is played down here in the swamp...

I have been told that even though most of the old Clare box players, they have always played B/C and always will, but that newer and younger players have figured out that the C#/D is smoother, or more efficient or something to play... but what do i know...
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Post by Cathy Wilde »

Mystery solved, but it was waaaaaay back ... before the beard! :-)

http://www.jackiedaly.com/PHOTO%20ALBUM.htm

Thanks for the cool pictures, Peter. I'm clueless, but I really love his playing (and am quite fond of boxes in general), so enjoy the chance to learn more whenever I can!

Speaking of, I was listening to Phil Cunningham's tour de force "Jackson's #2/Jean's Reel/The Moving Cloud" this morning and HOLY SMOKES! I wonder what he was playing -- a chromatic pipe organ? :lol: Must be a piano accordion at least? Anyway, I was waiting for flames to start shooting out of my iPod.
Last edited by Cathy Wilde on Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: free reed advice

Post by Cayden »

maze wrote:
I have been told that even though most of the old Clare box players, they have always played B/C and always will, but that newer and younger players have figured out that the C#/D is smoother, or more efficient or something to play... but what do i know...


'Always have and always will' is maybe a bit of an overstatement. I remember Martin Rochford telling me about the first accordeonplayer he ever heard. Joe Cooley and that was by the end of the 40s. Before Paddy O Brien developed the B/C style (during the 50s).
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Post by Unseen122 »

Here is what I say. If you are playing a B/C you will be playing in two rows most of the time, as the C row is C (no sharps or Flats). The B row has the chromatic notes. To me this doesn't make much sense, but the reason people do it is for the flowing style.

C#/D has the D scale in the D row and the C# is the chromatic notes. So D is really simple on a C#/D box. If I were to take up box I would go for C#/D, it is more straight foward.
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