CAJUN ACCORDION DISCUSSION GROUP
Let me first say that I love Cajun music, I grew up with it and I've always wanted a box. I'm sure I can learn it pretty quick.
I was at Savoy's Music Center last Saturday at the Jam session and I was looking at their Hohner models (Ariette and H114(or something like that)). The Ariette "Looks" like a hand built box and has dry tuning but it's kinda hard to play. The bellows isn't airtight and it takes some practice to make it work. The H114 (or whatever the model is) is actually a great accordion, but it looks a little different and is wet tuned . Are there other boxes that I could get to learn on before I get a hand made one? Or does any of these accordion makers make a less expensive beginner model?
You'll get lot's of differing opinions...
I started on an Ariette--and moved along to a Savoy Acadian in 'C'. The Ariette was a good box to learn on-- however others will disagree. There is a level of support for the Hohner 114 box, but I can't say since I've not played one.
The box that most here will support is a LA handmade. That being said, if you're beat for bread a new one is probably out of reach. There are many that show up on eBay and in local pawn shops.
The most reasonable prices for a new handmade is from the less well known makers, such as the La Capitaine by Danny Dyson of Lac Charles. A couple of posters here have boxes from Danny.
Check your local pawn broker--many good bargains to be had.
I started on a Chinese box. I lucked out. It plays well, but a little thin on sound. I bought a box from Danny Dyson. The Le Capitaine. I play that one when I'm sober and serious and want good tone and volume. It is a very good box and was priced less than the better known handmades. Hopefully Danny is recovering from RITA and will be able to continue his enterprise.
Where can I get a Chinese box or besides it not being made in LA, why shouldn't I get one? What's the brand name?
I'll check out Danny Dyson and see if he can build me a box.
I would follow the others advice and avoid the Chinese E bay boxes. Your best bet for a lower cost box is to find a used HA-114 Hohner. www.lecapitaine accordions.com should get you to Danny's website. He has a phone number listed there. He lives in Lake Charles, which got slammed by RITA. He may be temporarily out of commission right now. Check people here for used boxes and "Playing the Cajun Accordion discussion page" as well as Reyes Accordions. Try Zydeco@www.ezboard.com as well. The good boxes hold their value. The cheap ones don't. I knew what I was getting with the cheap one. The money would have been better spent on a Panther triple row.
The eternal question it seems. If you know you love the music and you know you will learn how to play, just be patient, save your money and get an La handmade box. Put the word out that you are looking and a used one may fall your way. If you can't wait, One of Marc Savoy's reworked Ariette's may be the way to go, But you will wish you had waited once you get a little familiar with the instrument and can play some tunes. I know this doesn't really answer the question but playing on a good box is just so much better and so much easier.
I think I may be the voice in the wilderness on the issue of a cheap starter box. Even for those dedicated to learning the instrument, laying down a grand or more may forstall their jumping into the learning process. Buy a cheap box, its poor action and sound make no difference for a while as it takes time to develope the 'muscle memory' that allows players to forget about fingers and think music. I played my Ariette for a year and a half befor getting a Larry Miller accordion. My play leaped forward on the Bon Cajun box but the roots were developed on the Ariette. The confidence that I could learn this instrument and had sufficient interest to do so was confirmed before I laid out a large sum of cash. Leslie
What Leslie said...
I could see if Marc can do an Ariette for me, But after paying the $350 or whatever for the Ariette and paying Marc to "fix" it, I might as well have bought a real one. So my choice is a used handmade box or an Ariette. The Ariettes aren't as tight as a HA114 or handmade box "loose" feel might be easier for a beginner. The problem is HA 114's is the "spoon" bass leaves no room for fingers. The Ariette has button bass which fits my hand perfect and I was able to hold it better.
I just bought Dirk Powell's instructional videos. He demystified alot about cajun playing for me and when I get my box, I'm sure I'll be playing tunes in minutes.
Thanks for all the tips and hopefully when I save up some money I can get an accordeon
My first Cajun get together was Feb. 2004 at Folklore Village in Wisconsin. It was a bit embarrassing to be the only one in my beginner class without a Lousiana handmade accordion. Later I realized that it was playing and not ownership of a great instrument that was important. Anyone can buy stuff, not everyone can make music. I also have a cheap ($100) Bessler from E-bay. Bessler at work to play lunch hour in the parking tower and Ariette at home. It was a way to start, to get an instrument into my hands. Leslie
That was my plan. It worked. Now I want a triple row as well.
the quality/price "gap" between cheap and good 3 rows
is even higher than a one row.
cheap chinese boxes are .2k
good italian boxes are 2.5-3k
the cheap ones are definitely good enough
to learn on.
. . . does anyone ever play Cajun music on a Hohner Corso? Maybe the question to ask is: will Cajun music ever sound like Cajun when played on a Corso?
Personally, I find the Corso is O.K. for waltzes and slow music because the treble buttons are slow. I'm learning a few Cajun pieces, but for something on the faster Cajun side, I'm not so sure . . .
I'd appreciate your opinions, with thanks.
The tuning is different, and you don't have the full complement of reeds. Corso is, what, two stops?
It won't have the same edge. However, you can use it to learn on.
Your purchase of Dirk Powell's video volume I was definitely a good investment. Once you master the basic technique, you should acquire Volume II, which will take you to another level when you are ready. That's how I learned. Like Leslie, I also learned on a Cheapo Made-in-China, as I didn't want to spend too much money upfront. Once I developed a passion for this wonderful instrument and music, I invested in a couple of LA made boxes(Marc Savoy Acadian and Larry Miller Bon Cajun). Larry (in Iota) has a few boxes left, which start at $1,200. Good investment.
I think Arrietes are total junk and a waste of money. The HA-114 is a better choice, or at least used to be. I have heard that they are now made in China too, so perhaps they are not what they once were.
I have not kept score, but of the people who bought an Arriete, my impression is that there have been many more statements of regret than there have been on the positive side.
But, as Tom says "your mileage may vary".
David is SO right.
I briefly thought about the Ariette as my first accordion because the Australian Dollar/US Dollar exchange rate was terrible at the time, and, on the face of it, the Ariette was within immediate budget reach.This was looming as a decision based on budgetary restriction and impatience rather than good musical sense...not a good formula in my opinion.
I'm SO glad I was persuaded ( by joanieblon ) to wait for an opportunity to get my Louisiana Hand Made Master C and later the Bon Temps Bb from Jude Moreau.
It's tempting to be impatient and want that accordion ( ANY accordion ) in your hands, THIS week,Right now, then start playing like the big boys...MY advice, just hang in there, get some finance organised SOMEHOW,SOMEWHERE, then talk to Jude Moreau in Texas, or whoever, in Louisiana.
You'll NEVER regret the wait.
The more I think about it, the more I lean towards a hand made box. The Ariette and HA114 don't even sound cajun because of the wet tuning, so they need to be pulled apart and tuned right from the start. An LA made box will be ready to play right in the music store as soon as it reaches my hands.
So I guess my final answer is just wait and get the real thing.
I'm gonna contact Martin and see what he can do for me. A real 10/2 button box with cajun tuning that I'm sure I'll enjoy and love for a long time.
It was interesting following this string and reading the opinions and experiences of contributors. I hope the discussion helped you make a decision and that what you do works for you. Keep us posted on your progress when you get your box. Leslie
You won't be disappointed. If playing one isn't for you, ther are plenty of people who will buy it from you at a fair price.
Once again--- the sole pro ariette voice:
I thought it was a fine box for the $$ ($200 tops!) and the BEST thing about it, for the beginner, is that it isn't very loud---saving wear & tear on family members & pets.
The newer air-iette (tsk tsk) is better than the old ones. If that's all you can afford go for it. Get a shop adusted one by Marc Savoy.... Unless you can find the current model for cheaper. Current models have the metal plate which says "arriete." They seem to sound better and are better made
Thing is, if you really want to learn Cajun accordion you should get a hand made from LA, a couple good videos.
Problem is, the vids don't show what the air regulator must do very well. I keep saying this, but it's true. Use it slightly (when playing in and out a few inches) unless you're drawn out too far, then push it until you are back in the correct position with the bellows to play..