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What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

"Me,I don't like dat wet tuning." was a phrase I've heard all the years I have been playing Cajun accordion. It was most often used by accordion players of the older generation in Cajun land. Older than me anyways. It was said that fiddle players didn't like it either. It was used to criticize some of the local accordion player's choice of tuning and style. Iry Lejeune (15 cent wet and criticized because his music was so hard to mimic), and another particular more modern accordion player, that I will not name, who plays wet tuned Martin accordions exclusively. The aforementioned phrase was even used to criticize Zydeco music or the tuning choice of many black accordion players. It was used in and of ignorance in most cases in my opinion. It was used because the ones saying it didn't quite know how to express what they were thinking. But still, the wet tuning always drew me. Not exactly the sound of wet tuning played on other accordions by other accordion players, BUT THE FEEL OF WET TUNING when I played on accordions that had it. "THE FEEL".
Get ready now, here it comes.
"It is easier to play on a wet tuned accordion. There, I got dam said it! It is easier because as you play a wet tuned accordion, therein is a lingering vibration after every button press that sticks around in the air just long enough to blend into the next button press real nicely. This lingering vibration and or sound enables your wet tuned accordion to be very forgiving of the stumbling bumbling finger pressure of the novice or not so accomplished Cajun accordion player. That lingering wet vibration is very pleasing to some Cajun accordion players, but not always pleasing to those listening to it being played. Wet tuning is a "cheat" or a "hack" folks. It is a misunderstood advantage. An advantage not shared from one accordion player to the next until now. I have a little more to say on this wet tuning, but for now, I think I need to stop and gather my thoughts before I say it."
Greezy McGill

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

It's possible some old accordions, like Iry's, may have been just badly out of tune. But good players could make any accordion sound good. I bet there was not a lot of accordion tuners around prior to Sidney Brown.

Me, I don't like dat wet tuning, much either, but then, I can't make even the best tuned accordions sound good.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

You're a very modest man, Bryan.
I don't like the wet sound either when it's used in Cajun Music.
Am I right that the accordions of Jo-el Sonnier and Bruce Daigrepoint(both very good accordion players) are wet-tuned.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Hey Bryan, I know exactly what you're saying about lacking the ability to make the "best tuned" accordions sound good. That is a sign of humbleness, and it comes after one spends time with the Cajun accordion and learns that there is always someone who can play it better, or you're not as good as you thought you were after awareness and wisdom set in. But let me assure you, that the meek shall inherit the accordion world again. There will come a time, if you don't give up on that accordion and the old music, that you will no longer be humble. You will have all the possible patterns and how and when to apply them under your "black belt" of accordion kung fu, and you will speak, or sing and play with a subtle conviction. When you begin to demonstrate such conviction due to the confidence and peace of mind that comes from knowing, your are granted a certain amount of authority by those that witness it. It's what you do with that authority that will determine your success or demise. Me, I would give all that authority away to the A Holes that want it, to only keep playing that music simple, accurate, and with conviction.

Notice Wilson's joy of the Monarch accordion. Look at his face and expressions. Now this is a musician that has access to as many alternately tuned accordions as he can stand, the guidance of his father, family, and fellow musicians. Look at his reaction to "THE FEEL" of that one old Monarch. Does that Monarch sound wet tuned to yall? Well, does it?

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Sounds like DIX reeds.. as to wet or dry.. not dry.. dry is unison..
but how wet is wet. ?

Definitely "just" tuned.

The comment about Falcon.. delete delete, delete ..

I disagree with the notion that "wet" tuning is a way to mask inept playing.
This implies that French Musette, Scottish extreme musette and other forms of wet tuning to include Quebec players (some of the best 1 row players in the world) is an indicator that highly skilled players are hacks.. Quite frankly, yer fulla vaca caca.

Wet tuning a "Cajun" accordeon (an accordeon made by a Cajun) might be just because some folks like to hear something that doesn't sound like a concertina.

As to Wilson and the MOnarch.. shut dpown the low and piccolo reeds and I'll tell you if it's wet ( anything other than dry/unison) or dry tuned.

Playing has a lot to do with hanging notes, legato vs staccato and all that.

There is also the arena of "difference" tuning.. but we'll save that for those who understand such things..
Not obviated by comments about "wet" tuning is for charlatans.

Y'all have a nice day..


I prefer "dry" tuning for Irish or classical or jazz.. a bit of a tremolo ( oh, my that word,, yes that word, tremOlO ) for lots of other music to include Cajun and Zydeco.

Tremolo creates interest.

Dry tuning is for playing with other instruments.

What I find comical..
I once had a custom made "Cajun" box..
right side was wretchedly/inaccurately tuned to some kind of "just" tuning and some notes had some tremolo, others did not,, and the bass was tuned 12 TET.

BTW M. Savoy does NOT tune to the traditional "Cajun" tuning.

PPS Wilson's playing of the Monarch was less than inspiring.

G McG 15 cents wet.. where.. at the middle of the keyboard.. low end, high end..
or 15 cents all the way down which would be idiotic.

15 cents is in the realm of the much maligned Hohners.. which I happen to enjoy. I have 3 of them currently and more than 25 over the years.

Tremmed yer low dude : )

Then of course there is DEDIC tuning.. but we'll let that go for the cognoscenti to respond.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Greezy, that does sound wet to me.

I don't tune straight dry, either, I make it sound good to my ear, which may or may not sound good to someone else. I don't like wet tuning in Cajun music, and I'm talking about 15 cents or more. But, especially in the lower keys, a little tremolo sounds nice to my ears.

Tuning is like colors, there's a lot of personal preference involved. There's also a lot of compromise in tuning a 10 button box. The good news is anyone can have any accordion tuned the way they like it, and everyone else can just deal with it.

Jeff brings up something I've wrestled with. Having 2 mid rows tuned exactly the same only adds a little volume, to me. I imagine they were originally meant to be tuned off from each other. In tuning dry, I've experimented with using 2 different brand reeds in the mid rows, to get some character difference. I like it that way, some may or may not.

The other good thing about some degree of dampness, is it hides reeds getting off tune a little. A perfectly tuned dry accordion that gets a reed slight off is very noticeable, not so much in one tuned wet to any degree.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Two reeds in unison ( dry and only unison tuning is dry, all else is wet to some degree) sounds like two reeds to me, fuller maybe but not louder.

There is a thing called "difference" tuning. As applied to free reeds.. even the slightest variance.. let's say 2 cents, will sound louder that two unison tuned reeds.
Generally, anything under a three cent variance will not be detected by most humans.. certainly I cannot tell, but, if the second reed is tuned a bit off ( higher or lower) it will be different and sound louder that dry/unison. This is stuff that is NOT usually revealed by the masters at reed tuning.. (I am not such a person, but I knew a couple ) RIP.

I recently had the experience of playing a Quebec Melodie accordeon. Lots of people own and love these (I am not a fan) It was mint and used and offered for sale.. It was rtepresented as having BINCI reeds.

I thought it sounded odd.. bizarre, discomforting, not musical, disturbing..
I opened it up.

Half the reeds were NEW Salpas. not the old Salpa Salpas, but the new Salpas)

It sounded like excrement . Awful. I returned it. It sold the day after it was returned to someone who just had to have a MELODIE and neither cared or knew anything about accordeons or tone.. The power of BS.

A bit on DEDIC tuning.. something that the Italians have been doing for decades and commony done by Quebec builders and was the tuning on my CLEMENT BRETON accordion..

take two middle reeds.. and instead of 440 plus a bit on the other reed.
one reed is tuned low of 440 and the other a bit higher than 440.. something like 5 cents low and 5 cents high in the middle of the keyboard and modified to taste.

That is a common distinction of Quebec boxes.

It does not sound "right" when playing with other single pitched instruments like flute etc.. and as such, not used in Trad Irish accordeons.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

LOL dam! Well it looks like you two guys nailed wet and dry tuning down pretty well. But then there's that other factor. Which tuning and choice of song and style (Cajun) will produce the most nostalgic effect? Which song and sound will bring people back to the times of the Grandfathers, or to a reflective moment that brings joy or even sadness? I mean, isn't that the whole point of pursuing the Cajun genre of accordion play? To reproduce some aspects and events of the past?
So we have this technical factor of tuning Cajun (which does not sound too exact by any means) and then we have this (dream and seek) factor, and it's slightly different for each accordion builder, and each Cajun accordion player. How do we begin to nail that down? How do we establish a constant that will bring us more onto "Center"? Closer to the correct path? Do we go back to the "Jam Sessions" and address differences of accordions openly and without guard and shame of who thinks what? We have to do something, because we still have Cajun accordion players out there that don't know and can't find out which brand accordion and what tuning they need to produce the best results of and for their own efforts. We still have guarded information and tuning and building technique. We still have prejudice and clique behavior. But the one thing we do have right for the lone accordion player is this Cajun Accordion Discussion. If you come here and truly study all the subjects and comments, you will be light years ahead of any beginner and intermediate accordion player who doesn't come here.

Learning Cajun accordion is a series of climbs and plateaus. Until you reach the highest peak. And then nature and the universe take over and destroy every skill and song you've learned and earned. At some point you can't even teach it to another. You don't know the words to speak and when to speak them, and they couldn't understand them even if you did. Your hands, arms, and mind begin to fail and you can't play the song correctly enough to show them how its done. And yet they will start at the bottom just like you did, and climb toward that peak and......fall off just like you did. LOL, sounds like the fate of lemmings doesn't it?

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Oddly enough, the nostalgic sound I like most, is the sound of the big single plate chord reeds on the base side of the old German accordions.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Some HOHNERS come close.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

I like the Hohners too. And I also know the the base side reeds do bring a certain resonance factor to Cajun accordion play. Wrongly tuned or the wrong type of base side reeds can be your Akilleez Heel, no doubt.

For beginner accordion players and your first accordion. Listen to recordings of Amedee Ardoin or Angelas Lejeune, Iry Lejeune, Austin Pitre, Aldus Roger, Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker, and Alphee Bergeron (Shirley Bergeron's daddy), Leo Soileau, etc. As many of the old players that you can. Figure out which sound and style you like the best of these men. Tell your accordion maker, or bring a recording so he can hear. Then discuss it and hope for the best possible outcome.
Maybe have one reed row tuned wet that you can close the stop and play dry with the other 3 reed banks when you were tired of wet tuning. Or, play on other people's accordions if they let, and if you find one that grabs you, go to where it was made and ask for the exact same thing. Bring it with you if possible. Or.....refuse to purchase before you actually play on the accordion whether new or used. Do Your Homework for god sakes, or you'll be like all these other lost souls that have bought and sold 20 freakin accordions and they still don't know what they want. Good Luck, because luck is the big factor with Cajun accordions in my experience. It would be a whole lot easier to accept the lucky or unlucky factor if the got dam things weren't so expensive.
Don't forget! double thick felt under them sheep skins on the fingers over the sound holes, and have that button spring pressure adjusted to make your playing easy, but not too easy. Too light of a button press will betray you in ways you cannot imagine, in both leaks and bad habit forming.
Oh, one more factor is choosing the correct Cajun accordion. Know how to play. I mean, really know how to play. Learn those combination keys and patterns for all 3 positions of play (playing in the Primary 3rd="C", the 4th="F", and the 5th="G" for a "C" accordion, buttons 3push,4pull,and 5push respectfully)(Forget about calling them the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions)that brings bad juju or is it jewjew?. Oh, I forgot, you have to buy an accordion before you learn how to play. LOL. What a conundrum!

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Judging by the lack of comments to my last post, I CAN SEE NONE OF YOU CAUGHT THE VERY LAST PART ABOUT THE 1st,2nd,3rd or the 3rd,4th,5th, or the "other" 1st,2nd, and 3rd positions? LOL, I'll have to break it down for you all one day.

To give you a small hint...."ALL OF YOU WITH "C" ACCORDIONS, with my new and less confusing system, you would now magically all have "G" accordions. Oh oh, what the f*** did he just say?!

I'm here to tell you folks, you were purposely given the run around. "Come, let us go and confuse their language." Yes, that's right, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions of the accordion that you all think you know is horse sh**. You have been fooled into not knowing by an old "jewjew" trick. No worries, I will straighten up this matter in due time. No, it won't be that long. I'm figuring out a way to tell you without video, and that, my friends takes cunning and a little time. Me,I got both. LOL

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Not baffled by the info baffled by the lack of follow up on your part.

Theoretically you could play in 5 keys on a one row diatonic.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

A follow up to me saying I don't care for wet accordions. I like slightly damp ones. Just finished my first E, and after installing the pretuned reeds, which had a slightly wet sound before final tuning, I determined I really like the higher keys slightly damp. Gives it a very old timey sound and take some of the piercing away.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Oh, hell no Hildreth, don't tell me that! 5 keys? As if it wasn't difficult enough! I'll have to increase my meds because of this new information. Got Dammit! LOL

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Bryan, an "E" accordion? Let's see...an "E" can be played in the primary push which is "E". And then on the pull it would be "B", and on the third position it would be the key of "A".

Who ordered such an accordion? How does it smoke? LOL. I mean, how goes the singing with that accordion? Is it easy to sing along with.

About how damp are we talking here? 7(seven)cents? Lucky ole #7?

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Castagnari's one row tuning is usually
Dry.. unison tuned or
"swing" tuning at about 5 cents.
Not so common is "Americano" at about 10.

They do another tuning about 15 but this is often on 3 reed instruments used for French Traditional music or Italian.

Castagnari's "swing" is dryer than Saltarelle or other Italian makers.
Other do
Swing at about 7-10
Americano at about 10-15 and
sloppy stuff above that.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Hildreth you are one technical son of a gun! Obviously, you know more about accordion than the average Joe. I see what you're saying. So where does "Cajun" wet tuning fall within all them numbers? I mean, it's not Americano. Its not swing? Oh, wait, I see....its French! 15cent wet'll do! Or is it the way the accordion is played that can make a Mexican accordion almost sound Cajun if done right? I've heard a Cajun player not long ago whose accordion sounded like it was stuffed with tacos. ahahahah. But the guy is most definitely a Cajun and plays Cajun music. I wonder if his accordion builder messed up and put him a Mexican tuning? Hilarious!

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

The Tex Mex guys have some interesting tuning..
I'm going to go back and refresh my memory banks...

Keep in mind the majority of the Tex Mex/Norteno players use
Hohner Corona 2 reed boxes as their primary weapon or:

The grossly overpriced, substandard quality Gabbanellis. Here they are 2 reed or 3 reed.

They are some fantastic players of what was originally German and Czech (think Polka) music.

Here's a youtube channel showing the various tunings:

Link 3 https://www.youtube.com/user/esTUNINGandREPAIR/videos?disable_polymer=1

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

I've tuned some 5 cents that I thought sounded pretty good. I don't like them much wetter than that. But just personal preference.

I also decided I really like the key of E. Uses almost no air and is easy to play. I don't really understand why I like some keys better than others, but the more it goes, the less I like C.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Bryan, were those "E" reeds smaller than normal? Is that the reason they don't take much air? I don't know.

First time I picked up an "E" accordion, if I remember correctly...I was able to easily play Wayne Toup's version of "La Barg Qui Brille" (The Ring That Shines). I could not play it before that moment, but the second my ears heard the match to the accordion Wayne was playing when he recorded this song, presto, the song came to me as easy as a Bourbon Street hooker.

Go try to play that song just for sh*** and grins, I think it'll work for you too. Good luck. If I remember correctly, the singing went real easy for me with that "E" accordion. That "E" accordion was a "TECHE" accordion. The maker Elton Quibodeaux, now deceased. I was surprised that an old fashioned type guy like him had made an "E" accordion. If I would have had the money, I would have gotten an "E" me too, but alas, I didn't. So I made do with my only accordion at the time...that dam "C". But hey, you had to have a "C" to be able to play along with so many recordings and at the jam sessions. Around that time, the sheep were all in an uproar about Bflat accordions. Had to have a Bflat accordion! It makes me sick to think about it. If I could erase those times, I would wipe them away never to be heard of again. Got dam a Bflat. Got dam them!

Let me know what key the song is in.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

I don't understand an "E" accordeon, but I do understand "Eb"

Savoy made a couple.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

I'll give it a shot, but never really listen to Wayne much. It's gonna be real hard to give this box to its owner. I love the sound of it, and I always scrunched up my face at the thought of a key that high.

Yes, the reeds get bigger and smaller as you go up the key scale. That's why a G seems to use more air than a C, and a high key like E or F seems to use less. Almost feels like the bellows are hardly moving.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

I still do not understand "E". Except A blues.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

All quiet on the "Louisiana" Front.

OK.. Louisiana was named after which French King ?

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Hey Jeff, that King would be which ever Louis was married to Anna at the time. I only ever heard of 14 Louis's, So it must have been one of them 14 uppity rich silver spoon fed sons a ****** Louises that they named Louis e Anna after.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

Hey Jeff, most Cajuns don't understand "E" accordions eeeeeither. But we sure can play the living hell out of them if one gets put into our hands. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's the new and seldom heard sound and feel that comes out of an "E" accordion.

Re: What The Masters Could Not or Would Not Say

"Am I right that the accordions of Jo-el Sonnier and Bruce Daigrepoint(both very good accordion players) are wet-tuned."

Anything/everything not unison tuned is "wet" tuned.

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

Brett's all new Cajun Accordion Music Theory for all keys!

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