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Royal Accordions

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Gern 21 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM
Jeri 21 Oct 03 - 06:16 PM
Skipjack K8 21 Oct 03 - 07:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Oct 03 - 09:27 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Oct 03 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,stevethesqueeze 22 Oct 03 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Skipjack K8 22 Oct 03 - 11:07 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Oct 03 - 01:28 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Oct 03 - 02:53 AM
Peter T. 23 Oct 03 - 08:22 AM
Amos 23 Oct 03 - 08:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Oct 03 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Skipjack K8 24 Oct 03 - 05:21 AM
Peter T. 24 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Oct 03 - 03:22 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Oct 03 - 11:59 PM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Oct 03 - 12:07 AM
GUEST,Sam Pirt 26 Oct 03 - 06:06 AM
Jeri 26 Oct 03 - 08:59 AM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Oct 03 - 08:56 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 Oct 03 - 01:51 AM
GUEST,Jon Brenner 27 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Patty 14 May 14 - 08:35 PM
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Subject: Royal Accordions
From: Gern
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM

Can anyone tell me about these beasts, and what to consider if buying a used one. The one I'm eying in an antique store is a piano accordion, circa 1938, not currently functional but seemingly repairable. How hard is it to fix one of these up?


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 06:16 PM

See this thread. I found one of the them in an antique store - it may be their natural habitat.

From what I've learned, it isn't difficult (but IS possibly expensive) for someone who knows what they're doing to fix them, but you risk starting Armageddon if you try yourself.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 07:01 PM

Walk away, and chuck some real money at a new, or modern previously enjoyed box.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 09:27 PM

The real trick is if the reeds are rusty (seriously rusty, a slight patina may be normal on many old reeds). Then you WILL need new reeds. Also you may find then that all the metal bits may be corroded to the extent that you have an obect of art, not a playable musical instrument. Moisture and heat are the enemies of accordions.

For the totally technically ignorant about the insides, you should have someone who really knows guide you a bit. If the seller permits it, you can easily remove the bellows to look at the reed blocks. There's a few pins that can be pulled out (using pliers with care) to unfix the bellows - if the bellows leak, or have holes in, this instrument is not for beginners. The cost of a new replacement bellows will be more that what you pay for the instrument. If the basic instrument is good, it will be worth it, but if the bellows have died, then consider why, and think what else may have died inside.

Once you have the bellows out of the way, you can see the condition of the reed block, which are easily removable - there are little sliding tabs of metal - DON'T FORCE ANYTHING! The little flaps of leather/plastic are the valves - if dead, they are relatively cheap to get replaced. Piano accordions have each note pitch with two reeds - one for each notes for each direction, you need to look inside the reed block to see the other one.

Good hunting - you may become obsessed like me... and then even if you are not capable of actually doing the repair work yourself, at least you will be able to establish whether an instrument is is worth it. Get a reputable repairer to "give you the tour" inside an instrument in good condition, and you will start to know what to look out for.

There are terrible old boxes out there, but there are many good ones still left that have been kept reasonably well - many were played a little then packed away for forty years. The storage itself may have caused some problems, but many of those - provided that insects, heat and moisture were excluded, little serious damage should have occurred. If not stored standing on its little rubber feet - its base - or the case stored with it lying on its feet - then the valves may have been distorted by gravity, and need to be replaced. Your repairere will easily demonstrate why this occurs.

Have fun!

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 10:23 PM

BTW, Skipjack

a new 120 Bass four (treble) reeder is about $10,000.00 to $12,000.00 in Australian Dollars.

Old instruments are worth taking a look at...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,stevethesqueeze
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 10:31 AM

getting any free reed instrument repaired is really dicey and potentially horrendously expensive. In my humble opinion very few old piano accordions or melodeons are worth the money and effort required to get them going again. Technlogy has come on a long way and modern boxes are just fabulous in comparison. In the accordion boom of the 1920's and 30's these things were massed produced very cheaply in their millions are many were worn out within a few years. take great care, they were not normally top class instruments.

stevethesqueeze


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,Skipjack K8
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 11:07 AM

Good points, all, Robin, and thanks for putting my rather terse words into a more meaningful explanation Steve.

I struggled with old boxes for years, and it wasn't until I remortgaged the house and traded up to a second hand modern Bugari that I actually started to get anywhere with a playing style.

With modern boxes, you only shell out for the basses that you actually play. I jiggered my back staggering round trying to hold up old 120 bass dreadnoughts. 80 odd is more than enough for the folk idiom.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 01:28 AM

Well, it appears that we differ in opinions of what is "old" :-)

100 year old boxes, I will agree with as old... :-)

These will be metal end plates often, never plastic. They may well be worn out, and may need a forklift. You can get portable holder stands, which you just sidle up to theses days.

Those made with nitrate shells about the period of WWI - WWII (I'm not a total know everything expert) were "no better" in [stevethesqueeze] opinion apparently that ones made recently (I assume that is after the 1980's). Rolf Harris has his box explode into flames on stage under the heat of the lights (there is a thread you can search for on this) - this doubtless was a nitrate plastic covered box - after the fire it was still playable though!

Acetate (when used for film stock it was called "safety film") plastic covered ones came later - it seems that modern ones don't use nitrate - exactly what they use I don't know, but there are many different types of plastics nowadays.

After WWII, in Italy, many box makers had worked in aeroplane factories, and some of those workers now knew about making things in aluminum and streamlined shapes. For me the peak of box perfection was in the 1950's - 1960's. I have half a dozen boxen! :-)

My favourite is a 32 bass Settimo Sporani - dry/wet treble switches.

Brillant! LOUD!!! Louder than many other full 120 bass boxen! Sweet tone!!! But many guitarists want to play in keys that it cannot...

So I have the Settimo Soprani 48 (4/12) bass, with barritone reed added. But many guitarists still want to play in keys that it cannot...

So I have a Noble. Bought from EBay. Full 120 bass with 2 bass registers - unfortunately no wet setting, but a barritone/violin setup, that is tuned sligtly wet by the octave. Minature! Yes, half the size, and weight of a normal 120bass, not much bigger than the 32 bass above! Smaller piano waterfall keys - designed for an advanced child student, so they must be relatively rare.

I have a few others, including an 80 bass, 2 Excelsoir, a 3 reeder and a 4 reeder. All those I mention are are 1940-1960 models. I would NEVER have been to afford a single modern box, even secondhand. I also have a "Hero" style Chinese 8 bass wet tuned octave and a half keyboard. This one is amazing in what it can do, including all the bellows shake techniques!

I have a range of boxes that suit MANY differnt styles of music, for far less than a single new box, or even a recent secondhand one - if you can find them in Australia. The Excelsoirs are the previous models to the current styles, even they are physically old, the parts are still available from Excelsoir, and I know a guy who worked in the factory! (Primo)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 02:53 AM

Oops, forgot about the 80 bass Settimo Sporani...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 08:22 AM

As a novice I am confused -- how can guitarists play in keys that an accordion cannot? The piano keyboard gives you every key you could want.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Amos
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 08:46 AM

I think it is because playing the accordion in the fullest sense includes the chord stops which are set at intervals, and the guitar can go to any half-tone step.

A


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 09:26 PM

No Peter T,
its got nothing to do with the piano keyboard side of the instrument.
Instruments with less than 120 basses may have only an octave or so on the keyboard rather than 3 or 4 (normal standard - 41 total black and white keys), and some tunes with two octaves MAY overreach the range of notes available on smaller instruments especially if you play in certain keys, but that is not the main reason.


No Amos...

Guitarists can easily play in keys that accordions cannot - IF the accordion is not a full 120 bass. Accordion players work harder - mentally too - than guitarists :-)

SO
my previously mentioned 8, 32, 48, 80 bass accordions have fewer than 120 basses

Standard Stradella layout:
120 basses = 6 rows of 20 ranks of basic musical keys - there is some overlap and duplication at each end for good reasons.

The Stradella system is based on the Circle of Fifths.

This allows the player to place one finger on the tonic (I) of the scale - the keys to the left are then in the IV of the scale, the keys to the right are the V of the scale. Basic 3 chorder songs use the I IV V of the scale. Going 2 steps to the right gives the II of the scale - Circle of Fifths! etc. More complicated songs jump around even more...

So when the tune is in the Key of C, say, the guitarist just slides up 2 frets by capo or using barre chords, so the accordion player steps over two sets of button to the right for both to reach the key of D - both still thinking in terms of C chord patterns.

There is one basic problem though - certain bass keys are marked so the fingers can feel which key it is - not unlike the concept of reading thru the fingertips with braille. When you are transposing, the original "home" keys are in different places, and since the playing of the instrument is based on trained unsighted instinct like the playing of the foot pedals on a pipe organ, one can get tricked, unless one has done the transposing for years, or takes some degree of concentration away from the playing of the tune to ensure that one does not skip back to the "untransposed" key...

The main "home" key that is marked is of course the "C" key...

Piano accordions are centered on C Major, so if less than 20 ranks of buttons, some keys cannot be reached on that instrument by transposition in the described manner, and you cannot play in that key by intentional design either.

Example

8 bass has 4 bass buttons, and 4 related chord buttons

the Keys that can be played in are F C G D,

BUT,

if you need to use the I IV V combinations for a particular tune, you can only play in tunes set in C or G.

Clear as Mud? Look at a Stradella Bass setup...

Now with button (for the right hand) accordions/melodions, it's simpler to explain. They only have a very limited number of bass key buttons built in - on a different physical layout to the Stradella System. They may have 4 left hand buttons (plus usually another for the air venting hole to allow the bellows to be moved without depressing any tone keys) so they will have 2 bass buttons and 2 related chord buttons, one each respectively to go with each bass button. Since these instruments sound different pitches on the pull and push, that means that is 2x2 = 4 musical keys. With the I IV V combinations, the range of available workable keys for a tune is limited.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,Skipjack K8
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 05:21 AM

I admire your passion for the stomach Steinway, Robin!

However, another grouse about old boxes (and I do have several cluttering the pace up, including a beautiful La Scala 120 bass ladies box (!) circa 1940s) is that the action is usually shoite, and fast or stacatto playing is just a mushy wall of sound. I only get a decent speed of key rise on modern boxes.

I will admit to a mania for Italian boxes, as the wet tuning is jiggy jig, and those old Hohner horrors are still only any use for stamping up and down parade grounds.

By the way, I ain't as rich as Cresus (sp?) but I have paid off my expensive instruments with paying gigs, but I've nearly worn out the keyboard on a Guerrini 72 bass (and I agree that I do run out of basses after eff sharp miner on that beauty). My ambition is to do what my good friend the divine Tina Cook did, and fly to Ancona, and cruise round Castelfidardo playing all the big names there, then choosing which one it'll be for me. Interestingly, she chose the Guerrini!


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Peter T.
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM

I am still not clear. I have 12 button rows (6 deep) on my accordion, giving me the keys of ABCDEFG, plus Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb (which you can turn into the sharp equivalents, A#, D#, G#,C#, F#, What more do you need? I mean you have to work at it, but we are talking the accordion here, which is work squared.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Oct 03 - 03:22 AM

Peter T

The Stradella Bass System is not Work Squared, but Log(Work) ... :-) - the system has internal shortcuts, which if you don't understand them, you beat your head against in vain... :-) If you understand the system theory (it took me some time physically to naturally send my fingers in the right directions, even though I play about a dozen different styles of instruments, and did 5th Grade Music Theory about 40+ years ago) it just DOES certain things for you, bring the right keys under your fingers at the right times - but only for certains styles of music - some are less easy than others... Folk & Trad Music is a doddle... Pop/Rock can be a thorough pain... But the Rock Bass Sound on the P/A is easy (provided they key changes are workable) - that's what you waggle the bellows around to obtain...

My 80 bass (at my feet as I type) is 5 rows x 16 ranks - I can play in more keys than a 72 bass.

Trust me! :-) If you didn't need the extra ranks, then nobody would waste the resources to construct them!

While I don't have the charts in front of me, so I'll have to use my intellect - dangerous busines that! - if you drop off 2 ranks at each end of mine, we end up with the same layout (your extra row gives you the one I can't think of the name of at the moment - but we both have Counterbass, Bass, Major, Minor, Dim7th).

You don't normally think of the keys in the way you mentioned - they are in Circle of Fifths layout, and that's the way Stradella Bass players think... Remember the I IV V chord pattern for simple songs... you need them on three adjacent ranks for the easiest Stradella playing method - if you think that you can jump from one one rank at one end to one rank at the other end quickly, let's see you do it - I always am willing to learn from someone more talented from me :-) :-P Those who have taught me how to play on the box, have said the same to me... :-)

Now I'll try to elucidate... - It's all right, I'll clean up the mess later... :-)

The keys marked * have the standard touchie-feelie marks to identify the home positions.

My 80 bass says:

Fb, Cb, Gb, Db, Eb, Ab* Eb, Bb, F, C*, G, D, A, E*, B, F#, C#, G#,

a 72 bass should (some manufactures - for all the reasons I won't go into here - including special requests by individual customers) drop off two on each end leaving you

Gb, Db, Eb, Ab* Eb, Bb, F, C*, G, D, A, E*, B, F#,

Twelve ranks should give give you (from my 4x12 48 bass) - (C/Bass, Bass, Maj, Min)

Eb, Ab* Eb, Bb, F, C*, G, D, A, E*, B, F#,


So now let's see you try to play a simple tune with the I II IV V pattern in the key of B Major... :-) wait a minute do the G#7 chords and the Ab7 chords have the same notes? This is left as an exercise for the student :-)

Now try F#Maj I IV V7....

And how about C#Maj I IV V7... any guitarist can do that... :-)

And are you better than even highly advanced practicioners who have do some difficulty playing even the G# and Ab Bass Buttons in fast sequence, anyway? As I said, Pop Music (written by bloody Guitarists who can just ******* run a barre chord sequence up and down from fret to adjacent fret!) can be a thorough pain on the Stradella Bass! But that is NOT what it was designed to do! If you want to do such Chromatic bass work (and that includes some Classical Music) then you should hav a box with the extra Free-Bass Key layout (costs extra for the extra buttons and mechanism).

Incidentally, one CAN FAKE the MajV7th by just playing the V Major chord button, only - if you REALLY need the Dim7th note for the tune, you should be playing it on the keyboard anyway... :-0 This is why 4x12 row accordions like mine work... ;-)

~~~~~~~~
Skipjack - really old boxes can have problems, but if the action is really too slow, perhaps something is worn or rusty, with too much friction in the assembly, or some springs have lost tension, then something needs attention. Or it could just be a cheap made old box...

According to my repairer, (Excelsior trained!) Excelsiors are the best still in production available in Australia... :-) but the Settimo Sopranis are one of the better ever Italian models out of production... Italian made boxes were always better than other ones - better quality workmanship overall, and better quality reeds. Many boxes internals were Italian made for other countries "manufacturers" to finish off...

Hohners (especially the US made models) - and he worked there for a while too - are useful for staring the fire in the morning - they usually tend to have a muddy sound. But occassionally, you may actually want that sort of sound...

My 80 bass Settimo Soprani is the earlier 1940's model (compared to the 32 & 48 bass ones) with the waterfall keys (curved front edge) and the individual removable keys, and I can't play it fast enough to beat the keyboard action - I have been playing keyboards of one kind or another for about 45+ years...

You can have the tuning as wet as you want it on any box - just takes a good tuning mechanic - but all boxes are very slightly wet tuned between different banks of reed blocks - and the pitch is high at the treble end and low at the bass end of the keyboard so as to allow a bit of "life" when you switch in different banks of pitches, and when you play notes in different octaves. Tune other instruments to the P/A with care... :-)

Wel, Skipjack if you have old boxes you want to give away, just let me know.... ;-+

Sorry,

Big Hail Storm coming - have to go ofline, will pick this up later.

Robin


Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Oct 03 - 11:59 PM

Wasn't hail but big electrial storm - fortunately in the suburb where I live, the mountains tend to steer most of them around me.

Skipjack - it's not a Steinway - more like a Wurlitzer.

The P/A is NOT a PIANO - pianos are percussive instruments - the sound starts loud, then fades away for every note.

The P/A (like button boxes and concertinas and simikar instruments like harmonicas & harmoniums) is a free-reed instrument.

The reed can produce a string-like sound, and it can whisper, moan, roar, shriek and bark! The P/A produces these effects thru the use of the bellows - where you can get most of the rhythm effects.

The P/A is nearer to a Pipe Organ than a piano. The Pipe Organ uses banks of sound generators (pipes) coupled together as required to produce differing sounds. Some notes in a bank can have up to five or six pipes - for each pipe! Only some of the banks of pipes are enclosed in a box with a lid that can produce a differing level of sound at will - called the Swell Organ - all other changes of volume are produced by different combinations of banks of pipes. The Octave Couplers also bring in differing pitch ranges related to what key is pressed at will.

The P/A is restricted in just how many banks of generators you can have - there is an upper limit on just how much weight you can carry.

But much of the sound generation theory of the P/A is just a doddle to the trained Pipe Organ Player - I spent a year under tuition on the Pipe Organ after years on the piano, and it is a totally different instrument (the humle harmonium is similar to it in theory). The Electric/Electronic Organs (messed around a bit there too) are a somewhat differnt animal in practicality, but they are based on much of the same concepts.

The bellows is the key to the P/A.

Example - play some melodious combination of notes - either hand - and draw the bellows out.

You can do a steady drone. You can also waggle the buttons or keys around, with a steady draw.

But you can also put a "wobble" in the sound that is the rhythm, also accentuating different beats - ONE two THREE four, ONE two three four,
ONE two three FOUR, etc. You can also do a back beat in there as well, and lots of other things as well. All with the bellows only. As I said some Rock/Blues/Pop is easy.

You can also do small and sudden changes of direction with the bellows, one method of which is called the classic "bellows shake" technique. You can also do trills and bounces, purely with the bellows.


So how does all that I have spouted help people? :-)

Comments?

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Oct 03 - 12:07 AM

BTW, stevethesqueeze

There really isn't any great advance in technology in piano accordions (I'm not an expert in melodions - but I don't see much difference in basic construction) since the 1960's - except for the addition of electronics and MIDI. Once the introduction of the round corner streamlined plastic covered style that had aluminum instead of steel and wood frames, not much has really changed internally. Perhaps the reeds have got cheaper and nastier in the cheaper boxes...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,Sam Pirt
Date: 26 Oct 03 - 06:06 AM

Hi

Theres lots of lingo for these things but WALK AWAY from the old accordion you have seen. You are better spending about £300 on a nice little 48 Bass piano Accodion. They are light sond good and you will enjoy playing it.

Cheers, sam
www.sampirt.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Oct 03 - 08:59 AM

Sam, I bought a cheapie. It needs a lot of work which it very likely won't get, but it has served (at very little cost) to show me I want a GOOD one. I can't afford buying one that actually works at the present time! Nice to see you back here!

Foolestroupe, I'm learning quite a bit from what you've been writing. (Just in case you think it's only previous contributors to this thread who've been reading.)


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Oct 03 - 08:56 PM

Depending on the keys you play in, I think personally, that a 32 or 48 bass - that's a 4x12, not 8x6. although the lattter is very good for a very restriced range of keys in the more "traditional classical" acordion music style.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 01:51 AM

Isnpired by Jeri's comment, I was going to waffle on some more, but then remmebered that I had written something a while ago, and dug it up and gave it a look. I think it is still worth sharing, even if it is a bit pedantic perhaps, and I never did finish it...

This was NOT intended for total music beginners - the assumptions made are stated in the beginning.

Technique: The P/A for The Recycled Muso

Hope it is of assistance...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,Jon Brenner
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM

I quite agree that walking away sounds like the best option unless you intend to make repair and maintainence rather than music your hobby.

On the number of bases debate, I've found that 96 basses in a 72 bass shell strikes a nice compromise between weight and range.

Cheers

Jon


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM

Jon Brenner

I'm intrigued - how do you get "96 basses in a 72 bass shell" to fit?

Robin


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM

You people are amazing. I have my Dad's old, HEAVY, Royal. Circa 40's I think. It is in great condition from just physical inspection. Stored nicely in box on feet. It sure is pretty but I don't know what to do w/ it? Any suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Royal Accordions
From: GUEST,Patty
Date: 14 May 14 - 08:35 PM

Looking for someone who knows about the Royal Princess Accordion and what one in excellent condition would be worth?


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