Basson accordions - reed configuration?



Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby sjr2 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:10 pm

Hi All

I was wondering if anyone who has (or has access to) a basson accordion could kindly comment on what its reed layout is? Fantini shows the 'middle and low dots' symbol in their catalog, which I assume means two reeds an octave apart, but I'd expect a basson to go rather lower than a 'standard' 16ft reed. Liberty Bellows have a video of a Hohner basso that seems to go down to C1, but I can't tell by listening if there is another reed sounding an octave higher...

Watch on youtube.com


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Re: Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby Matt Butcher » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:50 pm

Mine goes down to the C that is the lowest note on a string double bass with the extended fingerboard, but it has two reeds to each note, one an octave higher than the other, and no switches.
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Re: Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby debra » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:39 pm

Almost all basson accordions go down to the low C. When standard A is 440Hz, you can go down to 220Hz by using the L reed, then one octave lower is 110Hz, another is 55Hz and in that octave you go down to C, so it is really low.
There are some basson accordions that have a key for the B below that C, but not all of them (maybe none of them?) have a B that actually plays. (Zero Sette has this key and Giulietti, but that's no surprised as Giulietti accordions were made by Zero Sette for many years. I don't know whether the B plays as all music written for basson accordion assumes you cannot go below C.)
Almost all basson accordions have a fixed LM combination, no register switches to use just L or M.
There is one exception: The Pigini Basson P39 or C39 is 3-reed: LMH and it has 4 registers: L, LM, LMH and LH. (The P39 has 39 notes, from C to high D, which is a configuration shared with some others like the Bugari basson. The C39, despite what the name says, has 40 notes, from C to high Es.) The old popular Hohner basson had 34 notes, going up to just A.
I have played a Bugari basson for many years and since a few years I now have the Pigini C39. The basson is actually my favorite instrument in an ensemble or orchestra.
Some basson accordions (Bugari for instance) have a 180 degree "winkelbass" for the L reed, which gives a bit more punch to the L reed. The Pigini does not.
Last edited by debra on Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby sjr2 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:47 pm

Thanks both. Really useful to have the clarification.
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Re: Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby kimric » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:49 am

I had a Titano in the shop awhile back that had shifters.
I also had a Maxtone chinese bass accordion that I pick up at the music trade show. I gutted it and replaced all the reeds with a mixture of vintage reeds. I used some early reeds made in San Francisco as they were the longest bass reeds I ever saw on a stradella accordion , and leaded them to pitch.
I used the largest and best reeds I could find out of my huge pile of reed blocks to complete the job.

I added half of one of my mic systems to the right side and it sold before it was finished.
Sounded pretty good, but it took a lot of work and adjustment to get the lowest reeds to sound fairly quickly.
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Re: Basson accordions - reed configuration?

Postby debra » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:03 am

kimric wrote:I had a Titano in the shop awhile back that had shifters.
I also had a Maxtone chinese bass accordion that I pick up at the music trade show. I gutted it and replaced all the reeds with a mixture of vintage reeds. I used some early reeds made in San Francisco as they were the longest bass reeds I ever saw on a stradella accordion , and leaded them to pitch.
I used the largest and best reeds I could find out of my huge pile of reed blocks to complete the job.

I added half of one of my mic systems to the right side and it sold before it was finished.
Sounded pretty good, but it took a lot of work and adjustment to get the lowest reeds to sound fairly quickly.


Interesting news about the Titano. Until now the Pigini P39 and C39 were the only ones I know that have registers.
Sounds like "upgrading" the Maxtone was a tremendlous job. A basson really has special extra-large reeds that are never (or at least extremely rarely) found on a normal accordion even on the bass side. The largest accordions go down to E on the bass side and the basson needs to go down to C below that. (There is an exceptional bayan going down to C, but most don't.)
Making the lowest reeds sound fairly quickly is another challenge because it's a compromise between fast action and not choking. A low reed that reacts fast will choke when you put more pressure on the attack. The reed configuration is most often a fixed LM configuration hoping that for the low notes the M reed will help the L reed get started. When I play just the L reed on my Pigini I need to take the delay into account (and I already improved the speed from how it came from the factory because that was very slow).
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