I'm starting to explore options for an entry/intermdediate level box for Blues/Zydeco. I'm aware of the Hohner Panther for about $400 including case(see this link on EBay)and Corona II & III (which are a little more expensive)...
What are your thoughts? Would the GCF keys be the appropriate keys if I'm to buy only one?
Thanks for your input. What's a decent video to learn from?
Further to my last, I've reviewed prior discussions on the same topic. It seems that keys of F/Bb/Eb for a triple row would be the norm, folowed by G/C/F... Any thoughts on that? Most blues I play on the guitar is in E (or E something) with my harmonica in A. From that perspective, wouldn't it make sense to get a F/Bb/Eb? Any feedback on the Sofia Mari ha3048 which seem to be in the same price range? Thanks kindly for your input folks.
Not to throw a fly into the ointment,
if you already play a 1 row please disregard the
following, however, if you are new to the accordion
consider also a Piano Accordion or a Chromatic Button.
You can play in any key. I play alot of blues, I was
a harp player for 35 years. I started late in life on
a corona II diatonic, moved to a beautiful Beltrami and
then discovered the chromatic accordion and never
turned back. If you have not made the commitment to
the 3 row yet it is worth thinking about.
May I ask you to expand on some of your comments? And I'd be interested in how other people view chromatics vs. triple-rows too.
You seem to be saying that if you already play a single row you ought to go with a triple-row diatonic. Is that because you have a head start if you're already used to a diatonic instrument? Other reasons?
Speaking of zydeco, there's a substantial body of work on the triple-row. The only zydeco musician that I know of (I'm no expert) who played a chromatic was the amazing Beau Jocques. Can anyone name others?
Finally, it seems to me that sometimes when you go from a "simpler" instrument to one that's more "versatile," say from a ten-hole diatonic harp to a chromatic harp, or from a single-row to a piano accordion, there's a trade-off. You gain something but you lose something too--especially where there's a traditional body of music built around that "simpler" instrument. So, I wonder if there are disadvantages to the chromatic versus the triple-row, specifically in regard to zydeco?
By the way, a couple of weeks ago I was in Lafayette and saw Cory Ledet and Cedric Watson at the Blue Moon (this was a couple of hours after having seen the Pine Leaf Boys). "Wow" pretty much sums up the whole evening. Anyway, Cory had a whole arsenal of single-rows, triple-rows, and a piano accordion, and I jokingly asked my wife, "what, he doesn't like chromatic accordions?" Not much of a joke but seriously, don't you think that the chromatic system is surperior to the piano keyboard layout (unless you already play piano etc.)?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
yeah, if you are already commited to the diatonic,
there is no reason to switch to a chromatic or PA
unless you have a real desire to go in that
direction. There is nothing to equal the sound
of a one row, in the same way a chromatic harp
cant sound like a diatonic harp.
Although each instrument has its own beauty.
I was really just saying if he has not
made a committment to the diatonic at this time that
there are other accordion options as well.
But who knows if I had not fallen in love with the
diatonic first I might never have found the CBA with
full basses. Now if I can only learn to play well.
To me a chromatic is just like a PA and can do all
the things a PA does, so it is suitable for
zydeco/blues or whatever else. American zydeco
players that play PA and not CBA do so partly
because CBAs are hard to find and really not an
american instrument, but you can get the same
sounds from both PA and CBA so it does not
really matter which one you play.
Some people argue the merits of CBA over PA, I think
it is whatever you are most comfortable with.
CBA's are harder to find instruction for and harder
to find instruments, PAs are more plentiful more
people play them so it is easier to get lessons
and tips on how to play.
I play CBA (chromatic button accordion) because I
never got along with a keyboard, I invested a lot
of time in the diatonic and lost alot of time in
the switch to chromatic because the fingering s are
I am a diatonic harmonica player, but play a little
chromatic harp. It is funny that I should prefer
the CBA over the diatonic.
You are absouluty right there gains to the
diatonic that the cba/PA does not have, for me
if I can only play one Ill take the CBA, but that
is just my personal taste.
I envy the musicians that are familiar with many
instruments What a gift. I love Beau Jocque.
Lots of the Zydeco literature can be played on the
PA/CBA or 3 row some difference in sound, many
purists may not accept it but that CBA can rock.
I also like the ability to switch keys without major
rethinking of what I am doing
having all keys available at your
fingertips and all basses as well is awsome.
Again, I wish i could play well to do the
No matter the body of work built around the 3 row accordion just remember what the King of Zydeco Clifton Chenier played. A Piano accordion! It had every thing he wanted or needed. You just can't beat that.
Beau Jocque did not play the CBA very much, and came to it late in his career. Most of his music was recorded and played on single row and triple row diatonics.
Yes, he is pictured holding a CBA on one of his later CDs, and I can discern a couple of songs that sound like the CBA was used. My take on that is that he did it somewhat as a novelty, that it was far from being his "main squeeze", and he used it only rarely. Kinda like John Delafose and the piano accordion - he did not really play it that much, and did not have as high level of mastery of it in comparison to Clifton Chenier or Buckwheat. (However, two of the songs that John did record on the PA are among my most favorite of all his recordings: "Nobody But You" and "Broken Hearted")
i was never sure that accordion wasn;t a
5 row diatonic..
also, i can;t really think of any song he played
that sounded non-diatonic, to me..
david, which ones were you thinking of?
i actually saw him 4 days before the end, he
played in atlanta, for the first time, and last
time, played the whole show [an hour, outdoor
festival gig] on b flat single row, mostly
i know because a friend recorded it and i have
listened to it..
The whole story seems to boil down to money period. Now I can understand that because I also have to think about money when I buy things. But after watching this discussion page for quiet a while. Every one wants something cheap but it must play and sound like the more expensive item. Well, it does not work that way. In musical instruments you get what you pay for. For zydeco music the piano accordion is the best. Early musicians like Buckwheat built their music around the piano accordion. So did Clifton Chenier. Younger ones don't want to take the time and money it takes for a good 4 or 5 reed 120 bass piano accordion. Maybe the bass side takes too long to learn as most but not all don't even play the bass side anyway. In MHOP they should be playing the piano accordion and maybe one day they could be as good as Clifton or Buckwheat
I don't know if it boils down to money, PA's can be had for a
decent price (in the same range as one rows) and are
fairly common. CBA's are hard to find and not played
much by americans. It is much more popular in europe.
I agree Beau is much stronger on the 1 and 3 row,
man I would love to own that 9 switch Gabbie he is
pictured with. His chromatic style is much lighter
and jazzier than his diatonic, but very nice.
I try to make my CBA sound like that pumping
driving 3/1 row rhythem, Keith Frank, but man it is
hard. I can just imagine how difficult that is on
a push pull box.
Yeah the bass side is hard, especially for me.
One of my far away goals, but one I believe I can
achieve is to be able to play solo gigs, as well as
with a full band - best of all worlds.
I wish I could experiment with different tunings.
And find the richest tuning for my chromatic that
would get as close as possible to that great zydeco
sound. I am not really happy with my current
tuning, although it sounds really good,
I think there might be something better out there.
My H reed is really loud and a overbearing when
mixed in with the LMM.
All you PA players how do you have your boxes tuned
- anything special?
If you go back and do a little research you will see that Clifton Chenier played on some very nice Hohners with the real wet musette sound. Perhaps that is the sound you are looking for. Most would agree that he was the gold Zydeco standard and was pretty much responceable for its popularity back then.
Yeah I have seen pictures of him with some Hohners.
I Know CJ Chenier plays a LMMM with a French Mussette
tuning (and accordion) done by Baldoni, I wonder
did his dad prefer the LMMM or LMMH set up.
You got me on that one Russ. Perhaps some at Hohner would Know.
As you play a key of "A" harmonica to have the appropriate blues scale notes in the key of E, you can also calculate the bluesiest sounding keys on your triple row. For bluesy tunes, F-Bb-Eb would probably be played on the pull, in C-F-Bb. And also in their relative minor keys of A, D, and G. If you wanted to play in the key of E, you'd want a row on your accordion either in A (like your harmonica) or in C, which would let you play bluesy scales in G and in its relative minor key of E. I'm awaiting arrival of my first triple row, a Baffetti in F-Bb-Eb. I chose that setup partly because it's standard, partly for key variety beyond what I can play on my single-row C and Bb accordions (Bon Tee Cajun!), and to suit vocal range.
your first 3 row should be in f/bflat/eflat
forget harmonica and guitar!
i have heard that panthers can be gotten in this
i have a sofia mari in that key and i love it -
for a chinese, 2 ree-per-note, accordion, it;s the best.
but i wouldn;t pay over 375 for one..
Here's another 3-row I found on EBay (see link above)... Any thoughts on this brand? $150 with case...?
it;s not gonna be great
key is gcf
shipping is $50
none of these cheap accordions will have any
1. bass or
I agree with Larry -- if you're looking into learning zydeco, an F/Bb/Eb triple row would jumpstart your repertoire. That said, Corey Ledet has a new instructional video out that has an option to review the audio in either F/Bb/Eb or G/C/F. A very cool feature indeed. Corey's video is available now through many retailers, but I got mine from the source: Wilson Savoy at http://www.almenapictures.com/
F,Bb,Eb is the choice for a first Zydeco box IMHO. EAD is also a good choice because you get the key of E certainly on the middle row pull as well as B and D for Motor Dude Special instead of Eb. That being said, GCF is also very popular. You might try Castiglione in Detroit. They have an extensive web site with many used boxes. I picked up an as new GCF there a couple of years ago. If money is an issue, I have seen pictures of Roland Ledet playing a Panther that is internally miced so you know that it works for Zydeco. As far as instructional material, there is virtually none for Zydeco. The only recent exceptions are Wilson Savoy's DVD's that are brand new. Cory Ledet's is a must have. Once you get his version of Zydeco Bogaloo down in C (FBE) you will learn how to cross the rows to play all kinds of songs and licks. Likewise his version of Bye Bye Catan (AKA Motor Dude Special). I would also get Wilson's Horace Trahan DVD. It is much too short, BUT it has a great version of Zydeco A pas Sale that Horace plays on an FBE box in Ab that is worth the price of admission. Hope this helps.
I bought a Panther under the same circumstances and questions. Playing the triple row for me is quite different than a single row. Google Senor Maestro. This is a useful program for learning scales, cords, etc. on the 3 row. It is set up for Tejano/Tex-Mex, but it's all good. If I ever learn to play, I have my eye on a Baffetti.
Wow, there's lots of brain power and insight on this site. Thanks everyone for your two cents' worth. It seems that the Panther is the way to go, but in F/Bb/Eb. I think this would be a good compliment to my existing Acadian & Bon Cajun in C and D.
Although it seems the Panther only come in key of GCF, a few mentioned that it was available in F/Bb/Eb. What's the best way to get that?
Merci beaucoup à tous!
i said it, but i don;t really know
may just be a rumor
source may have been talking about chinese
corona II, now that i think about it
they are only about $700
All the advice included should help you make a decision but personally I think you would do better with a FA#D# accordion. This would be much better for Zydeco and blues.
i know that;s supposed to be cute,
but there is actually a reason why
Bb and Eb 'go with' F, and
A# and D# do not
and there is yet another reason
why, technically, Bb is not the same as A#,
neither is Eb the same thing as D#.
and it;s even more true for diatonic
instruments, than say for the piano,
where they have to compromise and
jam them together on the same key.
Glenn is absolutely correct. 3 reeds or more per note delivers the punch needed for zydeco. I bought the Panther because of a great deal. I will learn on this and add another box to the collection at a later date.
I placed an e-mail to Tina at Savoy Music Center. We'll see soon if we can get a Panther in FBbEb. They carry the Panther there at $365.
Saw T. Broussard last night. He is playing a GCF Panther with an internal mic. If you closed your eyes you would think it was a 3 or 4 reed Gab, Baffetti etc. He had a killer sound system that he ran it through but to answer everyone'e concern, if you can play, the Panther will do the job. JMHO.