REEDLESS ACCORDIONS

A MIDI accordion is in general a standard accordion with the addition of a MIDI connection to an external sound generator, 'module', synthesizer etc. The sounds from the reeds and from the sound generator are usually combined. A reedless accordion is exactly what it sounds like - an accordion without reeds. The reedless accordion is used as a controller of an electronic sound source that may be internal or external, MIDI is used in most cases. To be able to use the accordion AS an accordion, a bellows sensor may be included to provide control information that is used to simulate the normal bellows action. If successful, a reedless accordion will sound and behave as a real accordion but with an additional selection of many other sounds as well.

See also my review of the Orla Quartet Reedless Accordion and a review of the Titano/Master Reedless Accordion.

 
Feature Standard acoustic Reedless
Weight (full-size)
Weight (small-size)
~12 kg / 26 pounds (lbs.)
~7 kg / 15 pounds (lbs.) 
~8 kg / 16 pounds (lbs.)
~4 kg / 9 pounds (lbs.)
Sounds Authentic Never really authentic but may include a huge selection of different accordion sounds as well as the normal sounds of a MIDI instrument. Sound samples available for some models below.
Response Authentic Depends on the implementation of the key switches and the bellows control. Solid state magnetic or optical switches are used to ensure reliable and carefree operation. The bellows sensor is usually a pressure sensor that measures the pressure inside the bellows relative to the outside enviroment or relative to an internal  reference vacum. Below are examples of magnetic switches using a small permanent magnet and a detector. The picture in the middle is a pressure sensor.
Tuning Fixed, re-tuning may be needed. Always in tune. Different accordion sounds with various wetness may be selected. Transposition of semitones or octaves.
Bass section Standard Stradella, melody (free) bass or converter system. Standard Stradella, melody (free) bass or converter system. Some models use stand-alone switches instead of a mechanical bass mechanism, giving the flexibility to switch bass arrangement using software.
'Noise' May disturb neighbours or rest of the family. Headphones may be used.
Portability Heavy but stand-alone. Light-weight but requires electrical power and amplification.
Cost Depends on condition, new or used, the number of reed sets etc. ~$1500-10000+ for new instrument. Has been even more expensive than a new accordion but the prices are dropping. ~$3000-100000+ including sounds, ~$1500 for the cheapest controller without any sounds. Retrofit kits are available that may be used to convert an existing accordion to a reedless for about $1000, not including the work.

The market for reedless accordions is rather small today, concentrated towards performers with a heavy budget. Since the prices are dropping and the instruments are becoming more versatile, more and more professional and amateur players may buy a reedless accordion as a second instrument. The light weight may be an important factor, the possibility to be able to use it as a practice instrument using headphones is another.

Reedless accordions are available from several accordion producers today, complete or as separate kits to be retrofitted into an existing accordion. The feature list is constantly growing, similar to the development of electronic keyboards and synthesizers. Exemples of available models are:

 
Model Information
Cavgnolo Odyssee, the perhaps most famous reedless accordion with several models, wireless MIDI etc. http://www.accordion.co.uk/cavagnol.htm
http://www.musicmagicusa.com/cavagnol.htm
sound files from Jean Louis Noton CD's at http://www.cincfr.com/noton/
Orla Trio/Quartet MIDI Virtual accordion.


http://www.orla.it/ (sound files for XM800 at http://www.orla.it/media/demo_eng.htm)
http://www.castiglioneaccordions.com/orlavox.html
http://accordionsusa.com
Review of the Orla Quartet Reedless (see also the image of accordion sounds below, included in the XM20 sound card)
Master Melody, Millennium, Symphony etc. http://www.mastersound.it/
Petosa Millennium http://www.petosa.com/millennium/millinfo.html (including sound files)
Iorio "K/KSR" series reedless "Accorganette" http://www.syn-cordion.com/
http://polka-store.com/directory/NJ/njersey.htm
http://www.jayfoxband.com/new479.html
Piermaria Véga http://www.accordeonspiermaria.com/midi.htm
Fratelli Crosio Futura 2000 http://www.fratellicrosio.com/CATFRATEL/centre.html


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Hans Palm 2009, hans.palm@mailbox.swipnet.se , snail address