As it says in the title, I'm now two months into transition from PA to CBA. At this stage I don't see myself going back....
I don't want to restart the PA vs CBA debate that's been run so often in this forum and I'm certainly not trying to persuade anyone else to change, but I thought some observations at this stage might be of some interest.
I was always aware of the lure of the CBA, and I knew that my lack of "piano" skills probably placed me in the category where CBA made more sense, but I stuck with PA because of easy instrument availability, and didn't all the players I like best play PA? - Phil Cunningham, Alan Kelly, Karen Tweed, Gordon Patullo etc.
(As that list indicates, I'm mainly interested in traditional dance music of Britain and Ireland, also France.)
But there were always those Saltarelle videos....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F16tzebkVsA
In 2015 I got hold of a B system Hohner Sirena CBA, 80 bass. Total refurb needed but I did the treble end so I could start playing that. I found I would pick it up, enjoy it, then within 30 minutes or so I'd get fed up and not want to continue. This happened a few times at varying intervals until I decided B-griff was not for me.
(I'll finish the refurb, inc bass end, then this one will be for sale.)
So, I happily played my PAs but with glances over my shoulder until a Delicia Sonorex 17 72 bass CBA came up on Ebay at the end of November at a fair Buy-it-now price. The listing gave good confidence that this was being sold by someone genuine who knew what they were talking about so I had no hesitation in going ahead, and I got it in early December.
Finally getting to the point, here are some observations
C-system made a big difference for me, I liked it much better than B-system from the start and it felt much more natural.
Although I mainly play by ear, I'm finding reading notation easier than I expected. After all, it's not hard to learn the rows
B D F G# / C# E G Bb / Eb F# A C
Once you know which row a note is in, it's pretty easy to get the right one first time.
(Obviously I'm talking about a very low level here!)
Accuracy is quickly better than on PA, tunes become matters of shapes and patterns rather than distances. (I'm particularly pleased about this. On PA I was finding it very hard to improve accuracy.)
Some tunes seem to go equally well on either keyboard but there are some where what's easy on PA seems harder on CBA and vice versa. Given my lack of real piano skills I was always struggling with arpeggiated tunes lying across a wider range, CBA makes them easier. A tune like "Blarney Pilgrim" was easy to play "caterpillar fashion" on PA (ie no thumb crossings and falling very naturally under the hand) - that one takes more thought on CBA.
A little while ago I realised while playing some tunes with my lovely partner that I was becoming much too reliant on looking down (thanks to Paul and Acon for comments about this.) A suitably shaped piece of cardboard under the clipped-back bellows strap gives a "blind" that's easy to flip into place to stop the eyes creeping back down, but I've very quickly found it's not necessary any more - hopefully the bad habit was caught in time.
I'm sticking to three rows for the moment because; I think it's good discipline and makes me learn to use some less natural fingering shapes; I'd like to be able to play a three row instrument if one comes my way; I'd like to have the famed easy transposition. I'd also like to be able to play a four row, that format seems to make good sense as a three row with the fourth as a "helper."
I haven't yet found anything where I really feel I must use an extra row.
I play quite a lot in G. At first I found the "big zig-zag" tricky, ie ABCD. That's becoming more natural and I'm getting much more comfortable with forked fingering, fingers 2 and 4 on the third "D" row while finger 3 is on the C row (thumb as 1.)
I'm trying to make sure I play a reasonable number of D and C/A tunes so that I get used to those patterns as well as G. I've also tried moving the same tune across the rows, starting out on rows 1-3, then 2-4, then 3-5, so I play it in all three fingerings without transposing it.
I find it's easy to use the thumb a bit too much on row 1 so I look for fingerings that spread the load a bit.
I think my little finger is getting more use than on PA.
I don't yet have a fingering I really like for "the little zigzag" eg C# D E F# G A and back down, so I'm still trying different things depending on circumstance, particularly at the turnaround to go back down the scale.
I'm working on runs where the fingers don't fall in 12345 sequence, eg BCD with the thumb on C. It's fine just once, but keeping it even when repeated BCD,BCD, is harder.
To start with I couldn't really touch the basses, even on tunes I know quite well, but the bass is starting to fall back into place.
Anyway, I'm enjoying it hugely, and my partner is much amused by my slight obsessiveness...
Instrument availability is pretty dismal in the UK, there's no obvious upgrade path or choice. Being happy to restore and retune, my pianobox collection cost me very little. I love the look of the Cavagnolos, but also the little modern "melodeon style" wooden French boxes. My Delicia was too wet tuned for me at about 25cents sharp, so I've retuned that almost dry. I'm wondering about getting a set of Tipo a Mano reeds to put in it.
But... I'm only a couple of months into playing this system, I don't know where it'll take me so I'm in no hurry (unless something turns up on Ebay...)
My main instrument is fiddle and I play for ceilidhs, in a pub band, lead a large local group, and play solo for English step clog. Immediate target is to get some tunes fluent and secure for clog practices, then to be playing them "out" at pub evenings this summer. We'll see...
Despite what I said about British/Irish music, my favourite CBA video is still Portuguese...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8j7z8u0xwI