Read the first instalment if you haven’t already.

The thot plickens! I have now visited a genuine purveyor of accordions: Hobgoblin Music in London – on Rathbone Place just between Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road. It’s a cracking little shop, rammed full of instrumental exotica. I struggled to pull my gaze away from the extensive selection of tasty banjos, but a helpful assistant saddled me up with a weighty accordion and off I went.

I didn’t go far though, managing only to randomly jab keys and buttons in a tuneless mêlée of fumbling fingers. I learnt some useful things:

  • The left hand is incapable of reaching even the limited 72 buttons on my test model, without resetting the hand position within the strap. That strap has to be quite tight to stop your hand sliding up to the top due to the effect of gravity on that end of the machine.

  • The tighter the hand strap, the less gravity is a problem but the less freedom you have to move, even though the only way you can move is upwards – due to that pesky gravity.

  • You can’t see that huge field of identical buttons under the fingers of your left hand, so all you’ve got to go on is feel. One of the buttons has a concave top to differentiate it from the others, and presumably everything else is relative. Einstein himself would struggle to find that one dimpled button in the first place, let alone suss out the others. Figure out those buttons and you’ve figured out the accordion I reckon.

  • If you don’t squeeze hard enough on the bellows, you don’t get any sound at all from the piano side. All the air rushes out of the bass reeds instead, given there are more of them open and they’re bigger. It stands to reason, but the more notes you play at once (including chord buttons, or using multiple reed banks) the more air you need to keep it all going.

  • The bellows trap your t-shirt when compressed. Remember to free yourself when unstrapping.

  • Even for £900 you just get a smallish, plasticky accordion, albeit a Czech one. You’ll pay about £350 for the Chinese equivalent, which seemed largely identical in most respects, but had almost no feedback from the buttons used to select treble reed banks.

I decided not to buy right there and then. I think I need to see a larger selection and maybe some second hand instruments to find what I’m after. Quality is important to me, but it’s going to be difficult to find that elusive feel of solid craftsmanship for the cash I have to splash. I’ll report back on the quest.

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