Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

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Geoff de Limousin
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Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:02 pm

My favourite CBA has a four row keyboard but I would really be happy if it was a five row. I have bought several 5 row versions made by the same company but alas, as many of you will know, these things have a habit of being individual and the one I always play is still the old four row.

I am wondering if anyone has made a conversion, added another row, or even contemplated such a project ?
Any thoughts, suggestions.?.. Tell me I'm mad to even consider this.

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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by AccordionUprising » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:26 am

You are mad to even consider this.

(Or at least I would be.)
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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by debra » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:53 am

There was a thread earlier about Black Diamond Accordions earlier and the issue that the 5th row is so close to the register switches that it is unusable. When you have a 4 row with register switches on the grille (and not under the keyboard) then trying to add a 5th row is a really bad idea.
The other thing that makes it a bad idea is that when you create a 5th row the buttons have to be attached (with an aluminum strip per note) to the levers of the 2nd row, but the travel distance of these buttons will then be shorter and you will need more force.
Considering how often the 5th row is really needed "for comfort" in fingering it does sound like a mad project. Leave it up to the factories to make the accordions with the number of rows they design it for. That is 3, 4, 5 or even 6 depending on the model. (Accordions with 6 rows are most used in the Balkan area, and the 6 rows are fitted in the same design as a 5 row, which is a bit like adding a 5th row to a 4 row design...)
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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by maugein96 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:29 am

Geoff,

I have "converted" a Cavagnolo 5 row to a 4 row after a button in the 5th row sheared off, and can say without any doubt at all that what you are thinking about would be a formidable task, even if you were able to obtain all the necessary prefabricated levers to connect all the treble buttons. I don't think any two of the levers I had to cut off were exactly alike, although it was a long time ago. I can say that it wasn't all that easy a job to butcher and remove the 5th row, and I wouldn't even think about putting a 5th row on.

Over to you, Geoff, but even with your considerable experience of manufacturing musical instruments I don't think such a conversion would be practical.

If you have a 4 row like this one, just forget all about it, unless you are a wizard at making grilles. And if your beard is as long as this guy's, keep your chin well away from the bellows!
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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:20 pm

Thank you all for such positive responses. I guess the idea is mad, even though I have two five row versions of the same make and model, from which I could learn or steal the parts needed... The old CBA's I am thinking of committing to surgery do not have linked fourth and fifth rows but use extension arms that sit just above the levers of rows one and two so as to depress them remotely from four and five.

The four row model still plays very well , nothwithstanding its 86 years, and I should leave well alone, besides my time and effort is probably better spent working on paying projects .

My desire for a 5 row keyboard has more to do with transposition ... sometimes I need to shift a tune to another key on the fly...
Thanks again... I will focus my attention on finding an accordion that has all( or most of) the features I think I need.

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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by maugein96 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:20 pm

Geoff,

In my experience there aren't all that many occasions where the 5th row is absolutely necessary, unless you have learned or taught yourself to change rows according to which key you are playing in. I do believe you have to play along with other instruments, which is something I've never done with anything other than a guitar, and we all know we can alter the tuning of those with relative ease.

In most English speaking countries there were very few teachers who would entertain anything other than 5 rows, but in the countries where the CBA is the most common type of accordion, there has always been a tendency to teach pupils to get everything down on three rows only. A lot of Russian bayans only have three rows, and you are bound to have seen photos of Yvette Horner and other French pros taking the stage with 3 row boxes.

There is absolutely no doubt at all that players who can play their whole repertoire on three rows only achieve better flexibility and strength in all 5 fingers of their right hands, compared to those of us who love to go a wandering all over the buttons. Quite a few players end up with little or no strength and flexibility in their little fingers if they use all 5 rows, and whilst I am in no position to be critical of the hundreds of excellent players I have seen using the 5 row technique, it doesn't quite cut it if you want to play the old style French musette repertoire. Even the very few old school French players who made prolific use of their thumbs seldom used the 5th row, if they had one at all.

I started off with five rows, but after I was able to watch a lot of players on videos, and later You Tube, I realised my technique was not quite right for the style of music I was attempting to play. Eventually I disciplined myself to come off the 5th row altogether, and only use the 4th row if I found I was ending up with my fingers in an awkward position.

If you are up to persevering you might want to try and learn those tunes in three different positions, so that any change of key will come naturally in time. Having said all that, my main instrument is actually a 5 row, but all the 5th row buttons do is make the box look more complicated than it actually is.

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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by Geoff de Limousin » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:43 am

I agree with you M96 that most players here tend to use the outside three rows and many of the older players hardly use their thumb. I also learn tunes using the first three rows ( but with five fingers) and I have put some time into changing keys using just the three rows... perhaps I should practice that some more... but surely most players will learn a tune in the key intended and stick to it ?

My current repertoire consists of early Musette /Paris Cafe/Auvergne dance music....( Vacher, Segurel, Cayla, Vaissade) and tunes learnt from my Cabrette playing wife. Now although much of this repertoire is played in C (and G) in this area, the Cabrettes do come in a variety of sizes ( pitches) which will require the accordéonist to transpose. My wife's current stable of cabrette pitches ( in a C playing sense) are D, C, B, and A. OK that only involves two scales, but a straight transposition would require the 5th row....

Perhaps I am just lazy or want to make up for starting the CBA at 64...

Thanks for the thoughts,
Geoff.

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Re: Adding another row to a CBA keyboard.

Post by maugein96 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:08 pm

Geoff,

I can remember the keys of most of the classic musette tunes, and when you play some of them you realise that the composer was using keys which adapt themselves well to C system CBA. In the early days I had trouble working out what Louis Ferrari was up to until I realised he played a PA! Same with Verchuren. Just couldn't work out what he was doing at all until I realised he played a B system. Jo Privat moved onto CBA from diatonic and some of his fingering was a bit awkward, although his tempo was flawless, probably on account of his diatonic bellows discipline.

Some of the old pro players from The Auvergne used 5 rows, presumably so they could do precisely what you want to with the different tuned cabrettes. Christian Peschel rings a bell in that respect, but there must have been others.

I suppose we are all influenced in our choice of instrument relative to the styles of music we want to play. The style of music I am playing at the moment means the accordions haven't been out of their cases for months. It's electric guitar time here again, and I think the neighbours prefer that to my accordion playing, as I never play at anything like the volume my accordions are capable of.

I'm still getting pleasure out of listening to the accordion, but can no longer find the stimulation to play much. Maybe if I lived in France it would be different, but that will never happen now. If I could get into Scottish music it would maybe help, but forking out another few grand on a monster 4 voice box with window smashing musette tuning capabilities doesn't really appeal.

If I win the lottery I might go to Brazil and pick up a few tunes over there, as their accordion music does inspire me. If only you could learn it from books!

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