I'd be grateful for any suggestions. I've been studying Dirk Powell's DVD and Larry Miller's book and CD and I've made some progress with my right hand...but I've got no clue what to do with my left (aside from pumping the bellows).
I'm playing a Hohner 114 with the spoons (so the DVD and book are no help) and it occurs to me that I haven't a clue which fingers are best to use on the bass and chord button. And what part of my thumb should be on the air button? And how far should my hand be into the strap?
As I said, I'd appreciate any help.
Best wishes for the new year!
I play a Hohner 113. Same setup. I use my pinky and forefinger for the spoons. The middle two fingers sort of 'float'. If you try and anchor them they get pinched by the spoons. The air button (spoon) rests in my palm just below my thumb and I find it easiest to just use palm pressure on this. I have found you need quite a tight fitting bass strap to make things work.
Hope this is of some help.
Thank you John for help. That's pretty much what I've been doing so it's good to confirm that I'm on the right track. And the strap does fit tight. Many thanks, also, to everyone on this list. I've learned a lot here.
The Dirk Powell should explain what to do with the left hand.
Your pinky should be positioned on the bottom button, and your index on the top one. You should imagine that you have crazy glue on your two middle fingers holding the handle in between the two bass buttons.
As for the air valve behind, this would be pushed with your palm only when needed. Your thumb should be positioned upward to hold the accordion.
He's got spoons, not buttons, on the bass side. That's why he was asking about it. I can't remember how I used to play my old one.
You'll come near peeling your fingertips off trying to play spoons as you would a modern box.
A year or two after I first bought my HA-114, I sent it off to Charlie Ortego to replace the Hohner spoon type bass box with a button type bass box. It worked for me!
Charlie passed away last year, but I know that other builders like Larry Miller have done the same type of modification.
Thanks for the suggestion David. I wasn't thinking of getting rid of the spoons as much as I was wondering how people generally play them, which fingers they use, etc.
But since you raised the subject please tell me more. Why you like this setup better, and about how much did it cost (if you don't mind me asking). Did Mr. Ortego recycle the reeds you already had?
You know, I bought the 114 as a "starter" with the thought of getting a Louisiana box further down the line. So my theory (based on not much) is that I would do better to save that money for the future La. box rather than invest further in the 114.
What do you think?
I don't remember what the exact cost was, but it may have been around $100. I also had him put on a better quality hand strap on the bass box, a better thumb strap and better bellows straps and snaps. He did reuse the old reeds, as there was no reason to replace them.
By the time I made this change, I already had an Acadian in D, and I just liked the buttons better than the spoons (more comfortable, easier to play), plus it dressed up the accordion a bit, and made it look more like a "real" Cajun accordion.
One change I didn't get around to, but would like to one day is to replace the plastic keyboard with a wooden one.
All in all, it was a small investment to improve the HA-114, and I think it was worth it.
If you stick with the spoons, I think the suggestion to use the pinky and index fingers while keeping the middle fingers hovering above seems like a good one. That way, when you get a better box, you won't have to relearn which fingers to use. It isn't quite the same because you can't anchor the middle fingers on the bass box and use them for leverage, but maybe that doesn't matter that much.