Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mystery Castagnari 3-row, 18 bass, the "Matris"

Here's another new model from Castagnari's new catalog, the "Matris," depicted in maple (also available in Wenge).
     It compares to the "Evo," which also has the same treble configuration, 2 voice treble, 18 two-voice bass/chords on the left hand.  However, unlike the Evo, the Matris has a curved grille (in a beautiful new pattern) and the dimensions are somewhat smaller, yet still larger than a Benny.
     The mystery is what this means for the development of 3-row designs (and especially 3 row, 18 bass boxes).  The Rik/Handry chassis has been pretty much the standard in 3-row, wooden-bodied melodeons for over two decades, with notable very close designs like Saltarelle's Ocean and Stelvio's large 3-row.  The Benny represents the other end of the spectrum, with an almost shockingly compact size for a 3 row box.  Now comes the Matris, somewhere in the middle, along with new mid-sized 2 voice 3 row boxes, with 18 basses, in Saltarelle and Serenellini's lines.
     Here is a pic from an Italian classified ad, in which you can see the grille design.

  And here is the classified ad (on eBay).

Castagnari for beginners

Looking through Castagnari's beautiful new catalog, I spied a new addition -- the "Brio," a beginner's melodeon.  I have to say, I don't think that I've ever seen an entry-level musical instrument as elegant as the Brio.  Walnut is such a lovely choice for diatonic accordions, and the simple lines of the Brio leave nothing to distract from the beauty of the wood.  Photo from Castagnari/Maison d'Accordeon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gorgeous Castagnari Catalog -- now viewable online

     Sometimes I wonder whether the top melodeon builders even need to publish marketing materials -- I would imagine that the Castagnaris would still be swamped with new orders even if they never bothered to make a catalog.  But their line of diatonic accordions is stunning and it would be a shame if no documentation existed for posterity! 
     On the catalog page of the Castagnari website, the viewer can click through to a digital edition of their latest, gorgeous catalog, which includes photos of the family-run factory and workers, components of accordions-in-the-making, and of course, a presentation of the currently available line of some of the finest button accordions ever made. 
     I can't resist embedding this beautiful piece of marketing here. Or you can view it here

Serenellini Dona: Full-featured three-row in a compact size

Hat tip to Steve Jones on melodeon.net for pointing out that Serenellini has updated its website to reflect its most recent designs.

     Of particular interest for three-row players is the Serenellini Dona, which is a two-voice three row in a package that is only slightly larger and heavier than Castagnari's Benny.  Serenellini offers this box in several colors, and while super durall reeds are standard, Serenellini offers upgrades; they also offer a flat keyboard option on their two row boxes, which may be available on the Dona by request.

     Compared to Serenellini's previously available wooden 3 row, the Dona is better equipped for a standard 3 row tuning with its full-length rows (12-11-10).

     I'm particularly interested in how the bass is configured, since Serenellini indicates that the basses have 5 voices.  I have found that accordion makers follow two conventions when describing the left-hand voices -- Castagnari lists how many reeds sound when a single bass or chord button is depressed, whereas some other makers indicate the total number of reeds that will sound when a bass/chord pair of buttons are pressed.  I imagine that Serenellini is using the latter convention -- and this means that this relatively little three-row box could possibly have a low bass voice!

     If any readers of Melodeon Minutes get a chance to play a Serenellini Dona, please let me know, and I will add your comments to this post.

Photo by Serenellini

Early work on a new waltz

Several weekends ago, I found a few peaceful moments to play tunes while my son (5) was building fantastic structures.  The result, my first original tune for melodeon, "Nikolas Builds."  It's played on a three-row G/C/F accordion (on the C/F rows -- easily played a whole step higher on a D/G melodeon).  The B part makes extensive use of the "accidentals" button on the inside row (in both directions) -- in a sense, the tune is a study in using that oft-neglected button!  In any case, I have become much more fluent in using that button since this recording, and I now play the tune at a faster clip -- I'll post a newer recording when I get the chance.

For now, here is the early, slow version of "Nikolas Builds," copyright 2012.