Read the first and second instalments if you haven’t already.

With a renewed vigour I set out in search of a larger selection of accordions, courtesy of a dedicated shop stacked ceiling to floor with them: Accordions of London in Kilburn. The proprietor, John Leslie, is a fantastic player (he treated me to a bit of a show piece), teacher and all round accordion authority. At least that’s the way it seemed and I have no reason to doubt it!

I learnt yet more interesting things (as I am prone to doing):

  • His Chinese accordions are similarly priced and look near identical to the ones I saw the day before, though John says his are better as he’s very particular with the factory about exactly how they are specced. They certainly seemed a bit nicer to play, but I’m so far from being the authority on such subtleties that I’d have to place an expensive long distance phone call in order to speak to that authority.

  • His Eastern European Luciano accordions are a bit more differentiated and I understand they come from the Weltmeister factory, but again, specced to John’s exacting standards. The problem for me is that a half-decent size one of these starts at about £1000.

  • I had a go on one of the properly expensive machines (one of John’s own) and it certainly felt nice and played beautifully. One thing I noted was that the more expensive the machine, the better it was at evenly putting out sound in both bass and treble at the same time. The ones I tried yesterday were terrible in that respect.

  • A proper non-budget model starts at about £1200 and that’s second hand. One of the two rooms was filled with more serious models, ranging into the many thousands of pounds. And very nice (and heavy) I’m sure they were too!

  • John reckoned I should get a full size model (41 keys, 120 bass) because otherwise it wouldn’t fit me properly. He advocates sitting down to play with the accordion well wedged between legs and chin. Smaller models can’t be wedged in that manner.

So, all very exciting, but it was looking like a bleak prospect for me and my limited budget. It was either that or pay £1200 for a fairly good 120 bass model, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

John and his assistant scoured the somewhat dusty shelves and eventually found a Parrot accordion for about half that price, with the full complement of keys and buttons, 4 treble voices with 13 switches and 5 bass voices with 6 switches. And a decent pair of straps and a hard case. So, the right size and well specced! It’s a new accordion but it’s been sat on the shelf for a few years, by a Chinese manufacturer of not particularly special repute. It’s clearly not as good as most of the others in the shop, but it’s now mine!

I’d post a photo, but I’m not picking it up until later in the week after the metal strap bracket has been moved so as not to dig into my leg. All that remains now is to lug it home and learn how to play the darn thing.

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