CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
I am going to give it a little time, but I believe that I am most likely going to have to shorten my thumb strap. I was hoping that someone could tell me how to remove the tack (I think that's what it is) in such a way that it can be reused once I shorten the strap.
You may be playing with fire Ryan. Haven't you just started to play Cajun accordion? If yes, then how are you to possibly know that the Hohner thumb strap is too long? For all you know, you're putting your thumb in it all wrong. For all you don't know, that lengthy thumb strap may have been designed exactly the way it is so as to allow you to shift your thumb round the back of the key board and consequently, your hand over and upwards to be able to play the top buttons of that Hohner. Be very careful my good man, very careful.
Oh, and as a side note, DO NOT EVER stick your thumb in upside down and twist that got dam strap around to make it tighter (the mark of a true dumb bell) accordion player)!
Another helpful hint...if that thumb strap gets slippery inside, take a fiddle bow full of rosin and rub it all around inside of the thumb strap every once in a while. It'll help to keep your thumb from suddenly flying out of the strap when you're playing at break neck speeds and really cranking on them bellows.
By all means, give it a little time like you said, like 25 years of so. It'll come.
Man, I forgot to say, Nice Hohner! Don't ever sell it! If you can keep from breaking or messing up those reeds inside over time, they can be taken out and re-installed into a new Cajun handmade accordion. Produces a sound that will accelerate your playing to the highest levels if you were to have them re tuned once inside of that new handmade, to 15 cents wet. At that point, you could play along with 92% of all Iry Lejeune's songs on the re mastered recording named "Louisiana's Brightest
Star." When you can play like Iry once played, you will begin to notice his and finally, your own awesome fluidity and knowledge of the keyboard. When you master his unique rhythms, no one but a very few will be able to match you.
All the while that you're practicing on Iry, if you're able to purchase a "D" accordion also, you should also delve into Nathan Abshire, Amedee Breaux, Aldus Roger, Angelas Lejeune, Elise Deshotels, Pee Wee Broussard, Lee Sonnier, Austin Pitre, Lawrence Walker, and Joe Falcon. These players will eventually reveal the "subtlety" of the real deal original Cajun sound and style to you. That way you won't sound like one of these pansy assed modern day players that think they're awesome because they can play a few songs like Marc Savoy or Steve Riley.
Subtlety Cajun - (especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe. Elusive or difficult to understand or perceive. Obscure, perceptive, refined. A certain style having or marked by keen insight and ability to penetrate deeply and thoroughly into the listeners soul. Cunningly made or contrived : ingenious. Artful and crafty all the while operating insidiously like a hidden yet addictive poison!
Oh, and last but not least, DO NOT hippy up or liberalize our Cajun music! God knows we have about enough of that crap being done by these college degreed, musically educated imposters. You got players applying Beatles techniques and such to Cajun music and turning it into some Flufffolet unrecognizable and nauseous rendition of a remnant. You got these jackasses rock and rolling up Cajun music in order to impress the crowds that don't know crap about Cajun music. You got these Charletons that never spoke Cajun French or heard it spoke by the old timers, that are taking it and turning it into some kind of weird flowerchild Anglesized Parisian French that gives them away every time they try to sing Cajun lyrics on some crappy cover of our Cajun music on an undeserved McCD. As in McDonalds CD. A dime a dozen CD that do no one any good.
Did I say shift your thumb to the back of the keyboard to play the upper buttons on your accordion? Well, that's not exactly right.
The proper position that the thumb should sit after it is inserted into the thumb strap from the bottom is in such a way that your thumb knuckle is showing above the strap. Then comes the secret part....you wedge your thumb onto the side edge of the key board block by pulling outward and away on the strap with the part of your thumb that's inside or making contact with the inside of the strap. Your thumb should be making contact with the block outside edge on the side of your thumb even with the tip of a well manicured thumb nail on down to the top area of your thumb knuckle. Your thumb will not be straight up and down, but as if it's pointing at 11 o'clock. Or maybe 11:20 LOL. Work on it you'll eventually get it. Warning, you will get blue thumb or numb thumb if you play too many songs without taking the thumb out to rest and catch it's blood and breath. Resting the accordion on the knee and relying only on that and your base block strap are not quite enough for the skilled more advanced player. If you want to play chank a chank, you gotta have a good hold.
Know to play the top most buttons, there is a little "Over The Top" Sylvester Stalone "sly" trick. The thumb will slide upward about 1/2 inch and you will place your thumb print on the back rounded edge of your keyboard block. Doing this will allow you to shift your 4 playing fingers upward and around the front of the keyboards block easily reaching the top buttons in a way that you don't lose the muscle memory of your fingers. Yes, some reels and turns can be played with the top most buttons as they closely mimic buttons 5,6,7,8 but not quite exactly. That is where you have to get crafty and have a good sense of Cajun music.
Oh that's right, Hohner and Weltmeister don't or didn't take the time and effort to round off the edges of the god dam button block. Good thing the Cajuns figured out the right way to do it so's we could play long time without cutting our thumb on that sharp edge. If worse comes to worse, take a file to that sharp edge and then repaint it black or just take the pain and adjust yourself to the accordion. Not the accordion to you.
Thanks for all of the info.
I am going to give it some time, but I am pretty sure the strap is too large. We'll see.
I just got a puppy so I haven't had any free time as of late to practice.
Well, that puppy won't be around as long as your accordion, so by all means, tah tah the lid puppy while you can. LOL.
Proper Wet Tuning....for that Iry Lejeune sound using ha-114 hohner reeds.
M M L H or Medium Medium Low High. The two mediums will be the two reed banks closest to your chest as you hold your accordion.
Only the 2nd row of medium reeds gets the 15 cent wet tuning. The rest of the rows get the traditional dry tuning.
When wet tuning is done this way, you can push down that 2nd stopper from you, shutting off those wet mediums and play your accordion dry. It's the same as when players push down (or shut off) that 3rd stopper of low reeds from you and get that high pitched sound to play the song Marie by Aldus Roger, or god forbid, that got dam song called "No Good Woman".
So, in this case, you get 4 accordions in one.
Wet tuned, Dry Tuned, High Pitched, and if you push down that last stopper farthest away from you and kill the "High" reed bank, you get a softer and fuller old time 1900's sound. Granted, not all accordions are set up the way I described, but mine is. Very versatile.
If by chance you learn how to play all 4 keys or (positions) of an accordion that is tuned and set up like this, you essentially have 16 accordions in one! So much for that endless and troublesome got dam expensive search for the perfect accordion that you may never find.
That's some million dollar information for you Ryan, and it's absolutely free with nothing held back. And you'd better believe that there are some people that won't like me giving it away on the internet because it takes away their secret advantages over the uninitiated. Like I said, your greatest resource is right here on the Cajun Accordion Discussion Page. Yes, most every faucet of life contains conspiracy. There is always some selfish Bast***s about looking to get one over on you. Especially in the Cajun Accordion community! It is my job to move and shake B**terds like that.
If I Remember right it is a rivet that you have to drill out from the inside of the keyboard. You will have to replace with another rivet and washers on the top and bottom.
You can use a rivet, but you could also use a small bolt and lock nut. I wouldn't use a rivet because you can expect any thumbstrap you use, especially leather, to stretch at least a little. I like these single point attachments as opposed to the 2 screws usually used on handmade boxes. In fact, on the box I made for myself, I put one screw. I like that it allows a bit of swivel.
And ahhhhh the endless search for the magic accordion begins. It is a long and lonely road.
I know of two Zydeco players that do not have a thumb strap on their Cajun accordions at all. Jeffery Broussard and Leroy Thomas. Jeffery plays a note or two using his thumb! Leroy uses his thumb around the back of the button block to grip the keyboard. Both however, use a shoulder strap to play the accordion.
That thumb strap was originally designed and fitted correctly Ryan. Now, it's up to you to adjust yourself to the accordion, or, begin the long and arduous trek of adjusting the accordion to fit to you.
You speak like there is an easy access accordion shop nearby. Which one is it? Is it a Louisiana Builder? What if he tells you that there is nothing wrong with the thumb strap? Are you prepared to argue with him and if need be commit to physical violence if necessary? Good luck my friend. Go forward carefully....Or you could just stay put right where you are and make do with what you got.
Let me told you a story about them thumb straps. When I was finished growing, in my early 20's, I ended up with a regular ole medium sized hand with medium length fingers. My old mentors in their 80's had the same sized hands and fingers more or less. I had my accordion thumb strap tight as o hell because I needed to feel dat security of tightness, lol like wit my women. But when the ole masters would hand me their old black accordions, every one of them had old, loose, and stretched out thumb straps. I feigned playing on them because they didn't feel right. And my songs came out mediocre in quality. But when I'd hand the accordion back to the old gents, every time without fail, they with their same size thumbs as me, would blow my mind with what was coming out of that same ole black accordion with the broken in thumb strap. They had long since gotten over needing a new, tight, and virile thumb strap. That had learned how to work around that by making do with what they had. One of them put a handkerchief over my thumb and told me to stick it in their accordion thumb strap to see how it would be. To my surprise, it changed the feeling of the looseness. LOL. He then proceeded to tell me that I should always keep a handkerchief with my accordion and to always wash my hands before playing my accordion. He also said to use the handkerchief to buff or wipe the accordion every once in a while to get the hand grease off of it's skin. LOL again.
Baloney. Thumb strap should be adjusted to the individual. It is definitely not a one size fits all. Thumb size and playing style come into play.
I know many play with no thumb strap. It's not for me. I made one for an Irish player who wanted a thumb groove. Those players don't use a thumb strap, they put their thumb in the groove and put the shoulder strap tight on their playing hand shoulder and push the thumb to put pressure on the shoulder strap, holding it in place. I see the attraction that it allows freer movement up and down the treble side. But I tried it, and it just isn't for me. Maybe if that's the way I started, it would work, but I'm pretty hooked on a thumb strap.
Even where the strap is placed can vary. There is at least one professional player I know of who puts his thumb strap one button higher than what is standard. I think I prefer mine that way, also. Allows the #1 button to be reached easier. For my accordions, I like a single screw attachment in the middle of the thumb strap, as opposed to 2 like the norm. It allows a bit of movement. There's room for all flavors.
Okay Greez, you belittle folks, of their playing, because why? Let's hear you Feck-Arse.
Well my approach is to do with what you got. It serves me well and saves me a lot of trips to the accordion maker in search of what I don't know and neither does the accordion maker know in many cases. Yes, I have been cutting and or moving my thumb straps since I began playing the accordion. Tried nylon, and what seems to be 3 different kinds of leather from 3 different old cows. Yes they all stretch except for the nylon. But I don't like the feel of nylon, it don't give enough. Meaning not flexible enough for me. I am at my best playing level at this time since I started and I stopped worrying over my thumb strap as of 5 years ago. That's the last time I had the thumb straps changed out by Greg Mouton. The guy never measured my thumb or my reach nor did he ask me to show him how I played at the time. He just took his best educated guess and put two leather thumb straps on those accordions. And I'll be ****ed if they didn't fit my thumb like a glove!
But imagine this. If a guy can play completely without a thumb strap like those few zydeco players, you gotta wonder just how tight or loose the thumb strap has to be when you do have the privilege of having one installed on your accordion. I say, as the old man adjust his techniques to keep old stretched out woman pleased, then so can the accordion player adjust themselves to make pleasing music on the old stretched out accordion and it's loose and wore out thumb strap. That was the direction I was leading to.
Jim, maybe you only perceive me as "belittling folks". Go back and re-read everything from my 1st post to my last since I began about the time you stormed off from the discussion. You will see, that I am on your side. You're just not familiar with how some Cajuns act toward their fellow man. Cajun men do speak to each other with a lot of irony, pun, friendly insults, chiding, pecker pulling, etc.
Maybe it's because I'm typing my comments and I'm not allowed to make gestures and subtle signals with my hands like Cajuns like to do, that makes it seem like I'm belittling folks. LOL. You know the old joke..."If you want to keep a Cajun from talking, tie his hands behind his back." LOL
Do yourself a favor Jim, and unring this bell between us. I've already apologized to you and asked you to come back to the "Discussion Board". Welcome back old friend. Besides, arguing with me will only serve to get you worked up and you'll end up injuring yourself more than what you already are. I know about those shoulder blades man. Bad lick. I cannot believe the accordion done that to you. It's not supposed to hurt a man in that way. Accordions only hurt a man's soul, not his shoulder blades.