And Here Is Another.

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Stephen Hawkins
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And Here Is Another.

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:16 am

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Not an E.SOPRANI or their "Circus" range, but an actual Soprani made in China.

My post "The Circus Goes To China" (Accordion Chat, Tuesday March 20th) was all about the E.SOPRANI "Circus" range being built in China. Now, it appears, little Soprani's are being built by the Chinese.

A UK retailer is currently advertising a two voice, 48 Bass Soprani Accordion for £599. The advertisement appears to make a virtue of this new machine's plastic valves.

The thin end of the wedge appears to have become much thicker, and I am left wondering how long this process will take.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by debra » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:54 am

Who knows what company is building new instruments being sold under one of the many Soprani names?
Paolo Soprani was a large factory in the center of Castelfidardo looooong ago. (The building is still there and the former cafetaria/lunch-room is now a good restaurant (Dionea), but there is no more Soprani factory.)
Former famous brand names are still being used by others to make use of the good reputation of the oldies to sell instruments under old names. It makes it harder and harder to know who makes what...
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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:59 am

Stephen,

You'll remember the time when if you wanted chips in the UK, it used to be the case that the chip shop owner was probably Italian. Nowadays you can buy chips from a Chinese takeaway, and if you don't tell anybody where you bought them from, unless they can taste the difference between Italian and Chinese frying oil, then you'd probably get away with it.

Years ago I wouldn't have considered buying anything other than a "genuine" Fender electric guitar. Then they started making "second quality" instruments in Mexico, and subsequently made them in Japan, China, and Indonesia under a different brand name.

As the years progressed guitarists realised that the Asian instruments became (almost) as good as the "MIA" Made in America models, so what they would do, if image was a consideration, was just apply a Fender decal to the headstock of their Asian acquisition, and (virtually) nobody in an audience would have been any the wiser.

OK, electric guitars are not as sophisticated as accordions, and they can make them in such numbers to make them ridiculously cheap. There is a good chance that there is just not a big enough market for Asian built accordions that would bring their construction standards up to parallel Italian craftsmanship in so short a time, in the manner of Fender guitars.

That being the case, no doubt many Asian manufacturers will continue to confuse the less knowledgeable of us, until their brands gain their own reputation to "float" on the accordion market.

Back in the 70s who'd have thought that European roads would have been clogged up with Korean and Japanese cars these days? More to the point, where have all the traditional "quality" British makes gone? The answer was that they failed to see the threat of foreign imports, and eventually priced themselves out of business. My own father was a casualty of the failed British car industry. A strike every other week about who made the proper nut to fit a certain bolt was the norm, as well as "ghost" night workers who turned up to do a job that was covered by others, and they would take it in turns to sleep through the shift, or disappear home after an hour or two. That was the British car industry for you, and it never took the Asian makers long to capitalise on the shambles it eventually became.

Finally, if you care to open up a top of the range digital accordion of any make, check out where the circuitry was made. If it says "Made in Italy", then the chips are on me!

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Tom » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:39 pm

Actually, I have one of those "Squire by Fender" Strats from 1993 and I wouldn't trade it for a new MIA Fender.

Imho, I din't think the boutique Italian makers will dissappear but the production lines are in real jeopardy.

I can see, if it's not occurring already, Chinese workers/factories in Stradella or wherever making "Italian" accordions.

Go figure. Buyer beware! Try before you buy!

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:41 pm

Tom wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:39 pm
Actually, I have one of those "Squire by Fender" Strats from 1993 and I wouldn't trade it for a new MIA Fender.

Imho, I din't think the boutique Italian makers will dissappear but the production lines are in real jeopardy.

I can see, if it's not occurring already, Chinese workers/factories in Stradella or wherever making "Italian" accordions.

Go figure. Buyer beware! Try before you buy!
Tom,

I have the Squier VM Jazzmaster, VM Jaguar, and an Affinity Strat, and they are all leagues better than the MIA Telecaster I had in the 70s. The "real" guys tell us the electrics are well below MIA guitars, but they'll do me.

The big pros will keep the Italian makers happy for a while yet, but new players are being put off by the ever increasing retail prices. Says a lot when Cavagnolo put their badge on an Asian built model a few years ago in an effort to get young players interested. Maugein have done the same, and "mini" accordions have hit the stores in France, where it seems that most new players these days are being tempted by Chinese made Hohners, at less than half the price of the traditional French built "starter" instruments.

We had Asian people working here in the UK at all sorts of industries for a pittance, but the EU is pretty tight on immigration these days. A lot of Asians have British connections, and consequent entitlements, but I wouldn't think that would hold good for Italy. Tried looking in the Peking phone book for people with the surname "Soprani" and got hundreds of hits. It also seems there is a queue(line) of Chinese people waiting to take Italian surnames by deed poll. Wonder why that could be?

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Geronimo » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:49 pm

maugein96 wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:41 pm
We had Asian people working here in the UK at all sorts of industries for a pittance, but the EU is pretty tight on immigration these days.
I think most of those slave-like workers were not actually immigrants but "visitors". The one EU regulation that is actually killing that kind of work is that wages have to be commensurate with the wages of the country itself even when people are from elsewhere in the EU. While that does not cover "nobody would work for that wage here" contracts, in Germany this has been slapped down by minimum wages getting prescribed by the government in a number of disciplines. Agricultural minimum wages will likely end up being the death of asparagus since those were harvested by busloads of Polish workers almost exclusively. Since a busload of Poles now comes with minimum wages attached, the resulting price of the labour-intensive asparagus is going through the roofs, never mind that a lot of those Poles would be willing to work for less.

And, of course, due to criminals inventing reasons or non-reasons for pocketing part or even all of their wages (why settle for less if you are criminal anyway and your victims likely don't have sufficient education to make it through a foreign legal system?) they may end up indeed working for less, but that doesn't help the price of asparagus: the wages are getting paid, just not necessarily ending up where the law requires them to end up.

It will be interesting to see how this kind of thing ends up working in the UK after Brexit has completed.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:10 pm

In the UK there has always been contempt of EU regulations with regard to maximum working hours and minimum wages, and employers often take drastic steps to circumvent these.

When I was a bus driver we were bound by fairly complicated rules which referred to the maximum amount of hours we could drive without a break, and as all of our shifts covered routes which were longer than 50km in length EU rules applied. We therefore had to use tachographs to ensure we never broke those rules and had the required breaks.

However, it never took our bosses long to shaft the EU. They re-registered all of our bus routes into sections which were all shorter than 50 km. Therefore my route, the 160 km long X95 service between Carlisle in England and Edinburgh in Scotland, became no less than 4 separate registered routes, Carlisle to Langholm, Langholm to Galashiels, Galashiels to Newtongrange, and Newtongrange to Edinburgh. The buses concerned still ran the full 320km return journey, but we all threw the EU tachographs away, and had to accept shorter breaks which had been retained under the UK domestic system. That was done by one of the main UK bus operators and not some two bit back street garage. Basically, they used a loophole to trash the EU rules.

The UK is still full of criminals who exploit our easily exploited employment rules. There are not many countries in Europe where you don't require to carry ID, but the UK is one of them, and you can turn up anywhere with no paperwork whatsoever and get casual labour at whatever the employer decides they will pay. It isn't legal, but none of the parties concerned cares, as they both tend to gain financially. The upside for the slave worker is that he/she won't pay tax or national insurance, and if they are registered for UK benefits then they won't lose them unless they're caught "moonlighting."

That's why there is/was a big queue of people in Sangatte trying to jump onto wagons to get over here for work. What a difference a Channel Crossing makes!

Come to the UK, and throw all the rules away! The weather's crap, but you can be Tom Jones in the morning and Elvis Presley in the afternoon, and nobody will ever know. Passports in the UK are for Brits who want to leave (and occasionally come back), Nobody else needs them once they're here, and ID cards are unheard of in the UK. Brits refuse to have them and that's the end of the matter!

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:50 pm

Stephen Hawkins wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:16 am
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Not an E.SOPRANI or their "Circus" range, but an actual Soprani made in China.

My post "The Circus Goes To China" (Accordion Chat, Tuesday March 20th) was all about the E.SOPRANI "Circus" range being built in China. Now, it appears, little Soprani's are being built by the Chinese.

A UK retailer is currently advertising a two voice, 48 Bass Soprani Accordion for £599. The advertisement appears to make a virtue of this new machine's plastic valves.

The thin end of the wedge appears to have become much thicker, and I am left wondering how long this process will take.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
Stephen,

Don't really want to get involved in another "Slag a Retailer" situation as we be both got caned for that the last time.

Found the advert concerned. Check out the "Chanson" model adverised on the same page for £100 less.

Precisely the same case, grille, colour, treble and bass key arrangement, but the bellows are slightly different.

Could it be the case that you pay £100 extra for not having the "Chanson" badge on the front, or am I just stirring shit again, for the sake of it?

I have a Chinese made Hohner for the French market which came complete with Trossingen quality control labels in German, and was shipped from China to a dealer in the USA. I bought it from him and he sent it to the UK.

I wanted a brand new model, but ended up getting one with thousands of miles on it!

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:46 pm

Hi John,

No, you are not stirring anything up, not that I can see.

The only reason I posted this thread was as a guide for those who doggedly cling to the notion that Europe is the centre of World accordion manufacturing which, given all the evidence to the contrary, is patently absurd.

From all that I have read about this matter, it seems that Pearl River makes more accordions (and practically every other musical instrument) than anyone else.

You could well be right about the Chanson you describe looking like the Soprani in the picture. I own a little 72 Bass Chanson, and I think I see a familial resemblance.

Please believe me, I have no issue with Chinese manufactured goods, just as long as nobody is trying to pull the wool over my eyes by claiming that they are European. It is the dishonesty that I am opposed to, not the country of manufacture.

It does seem that Chinese makers have become aware of this breach of trust, and it is refreshing to see these instruments being marketed under their own flag. Too many firms (European & Chinese) have been hoping we wouldn't notice their underhand methods.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by maugein96 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:24 am

Stephen,

Any advert which spells the Mecca of the accordion as "Castalfidardo" will surely attract the suspicion it deserves?

Compare it with "bagpipes made by specially trained craftsmen in China for our Edinborough store, the centre of bagpipe making. Available to play in or take away."

I take it you'll know that a lot of things made in china are now also available in porcelain?

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by debra » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:44 am

As far as I know Hohner actually set up a factory in China that uses the earlier Hohner machinery in order to build Hohner accordions in China. They may still do a quality check in Trossingen so they can mention Trossingen on documentation.
I have seen the documentation of the E.Soprani and it says that it is made "extra EU" (meaning "outside EU") without mentioning in which country that is, and that it is quality-checked in Castelfidardo before being shipped to the customer. When you read it carefully it says enough but when you don't you might think it says it is made in Castelfidardo, which of course it isn't and doesn't really claim either.
Some people still believe that a quality check in Castelfidardo is worth something. When I see what comes straight out of some factories in Castelfidardo (accordions really made in Castelfidardo) I know that "quality check in Castelfidardo" isn't worth much...
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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Geronimo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:13 am

debra wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:44 am
When I see what comes straight out of some factories in Castelfidardo (accordions really made in Castelfidardo) I know that "quality check in Castelfidardo" isn't worth much...
All the quality checkers are busy on accordions made in China.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by debra » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:08 am

Geronimo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:13 am
debra wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:44 am
When I see what comes straight out of some factories in Castelfidardo (accordions really made in Castelfidardo) I know that "quality check in Castelfidardo" isn't worth much...
All the quality checkers are busy on accordions made in China.
Joking aside... I have the feeling that some Italian accordion makers are relying more and more on dealers to fix issues that exist in new accordions, rather than ensuring themselves that everything is in perfect working order (and perfectly tuned) upon delivery. Especially tuning is tricky as wax needs to really harden (for weeks) before you should do tuning, but that means a longer production time, driving customers to a competitor who can deliver faster...
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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by wout » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:15 pm

That makes me worried. My dream is to order a brand new quality instrument when i can afford it. Just so every little dent is mine. Then my grandkids can have it and it will be grandpas special made accordion. Ive been looking into smaller names like petromaestro who clames to build the instruments himself. You would pay half of the price of a comparible castelfidardo name. Question with both is would a new instrument be as awesome as it sounds? Or is it better toninvest in an older top instrument that had great maintenance and care. The only name that i think would certainly deliver a great working instrument is victoria. I read alot of complaints of the new morinos for example.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Tom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:34 pm

Ciao Wout, don't wait. Just go buy it, you're not getting any younger. Put it on the credit card if you have to. I'm super happy with my Della Noce and Piatanesi, both new from Italian boutique builders. You won't be sad you did. Getting a vintage one in as good playing shape with good tuning will cost you more imho. I could be wrong but I say go for it or next year you will be making the same post.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Tom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:50 pm

It's all crazy. Only the player can decide which songs to play to make him or her happy, and at what level the accordion. You can just as easily buy at the 500, 5000, or 50,000 level. Different strokes for different folks. No accordion you buy will be perfect straight out of the box, there will always be little tweaks as Paul stated. You just gotta play and be happy, that's the main thing, but not always easy.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Geronimo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:51 pm

wout wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:15 pm
The only name that i think would certainly deliver a great working instrument is victoria. I read alot of complaints of the new morinos for example.
Once people are only talking about which discontinued model to best buy from a renowned manufacturer, the manufacturer has nothing left to sell but its brand.

I don't read a lot of complaints about the new Morinos actually because I know nobody playing one. Which could be a problem.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by debra » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:43 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:51 pm
...
I don't read a lot of complaints about the new Morinos actually because I know nobody playing one. Which could be a problem.
The old morinos are lasting so long, staying in good condition as well, if maintained properly (and sadly many morino players don't know the word maintenance and don't even hear how badly their instrument is out of tune)... so the market for new morinos isn't that large compared to the number of old ones still around.
I have seen and heard new morinos and while these are nice instruments they do not have the typical sound of a Morino N or S. I don't know how durable the new ones are either. I have seen a register switch (top) fall off (a new problem with using the wrong glue?) and I have also seen one with the bass mechanism all messed up after one bump too many in the car...
At least they are not made in China but made in Italy using mostly Italian parts so they can be fixed if needed.

A good quality control on an accordion, checking whether everything works properly and whether the tuning is completely correct, and fixing any problems that are found, takes a few hours. And that means making the instrument just that little bit more expensive that customers may not be willing to pay (except for top of the line instruments).
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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by Geronimo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:57 pm

debra wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:43 pm
A good quality control on an accordion, checking whether everything works properly and whether the tuning is completely correct, and fixing any problems that are found, takes a few hours. And that means making the instrument just that little bit more expensive that customers may not be willing to pay (except for top of the line instruments).
Morino is top of the line. Gola is over the top. Hohner cannot survive on selling Golas. They stopped selling the Hohner Imperator line because its production cost and its positioning within Hohner's model range made for a bad earnings proposition. They cannot really afford people turning their back on new Morinos. If they want to keep milking the model line, they need to make the new ones be improved in some musically significant respect. They weigh less than their immediate predecessors which is good. But it can't be all.

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Re: And Here Is Another.

Post by debra » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:10 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:57 pm
...Morino is top of the line. Gola is over the top. Hohner cannot survive on selling Golas. They stopped selling the Hohner Imperator line because its production cost and its positioning within Hohner's model range made for a bad earnings proposition. They cannot really afford people turning their back on new Morinos. If they want to keep milking the model line, they need to make the new ones be improved in some musically significant respect. They weigh less than their immediate predecessors which is good. But it can't be all.
Hohner isn't really very interested in accordions any more. They have cheap models made in China and expensive models made by Pigini. Hohner makes many other types of instruments and accessories. I doubt that the "earnings" on accordions are a significant part of Hohner's profits.
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