Quick Links: One-of-a-Kind Accordions

  • Coin-Operated Accordion Arcade Jukebox
    Wow. I’m not sure where to start with this — it’s basically a jukebox/player accordion that sits on top of a barrel. Load music rolls in the barrel, drop a quarter in the slot and marvel as the automated accordion squeezes out classic tunes. Watch this video for a demonstration, but be warned — bidding starts at just under $4,000.
  • Topaz-1: Cold War Electro-Accordion
    Your fancy MIDI accordion is nothing new; Russian accordionists were squeezing electronic accordions (or bayans) back in the 1950s. This model had a built-in loudspeaker and amplifier, tremolo and vibrato frequency control, and more. Look ma, no bellows!
  • The Flaco Jimenez Signature Accordion
    Hohner has a new limited-edition version of its Corona II accordion, developed in collaboration with the legendary Flaco Jimenez. The accordion is tuned to match Flaco’s unique sound, has a noise reduction fingerboard, and sports a shiny gold finish complete with Flaco’s signature.

The (Accordion) Price is Right

Accordion on The Price is Right

I was a huge fan of The Price is Right when I was a kid — to the point that I would put on my own version in my grandmother’s basement and make her play pricing games. (Plinko! Cliffhangers!) Things haven’t been the same since Bob Barker passed his microphone to Drew Carey, but I’ve noticed one positive change: accordions occasionally appearing as prizes. The screenshot above comes from a December episode featuring a blue Hohner Corona II. Anyone who watched The Drew Carey Show knows that Drew’s an accordion player; I wonder if some form of regular accordion promotion is written into his contract?

eBay Find: Hohner Magic Organa

We’ve seen self-playing accordions before, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Hohner Magic Organa — an automatic accordion built in the 1920s. (Not to be confused with the non-magical Hohner Organa, which was a portable organ.) Music rolls inside the accordion are moved with a spring-wound mechanism over 44 tubes to generate sounds, while a foot pedal connects to the accordion via a hose to power the mechanism.

This particular instrument was recently up for auction on eBay and, while bidding reached $2,750, it still didn’t meet the reserve price. As fun as an automatic accordion sounds, $2,750 could buy you a lot of lessons on a real accordion…

Hohner Magic Organa  Hohner Magic Organa (inside)

[Found via The Automata / Automaton Blog]

New Hohner Accordions for 2008

Gilbert Reyes of Reyes Accordions recently shared some photos of the new diatonic accordions that Hohner will unveil at the NAMM Show later this month. These three new “Xtreme” models have 34 buttons (the standard Corona has 31) and include reed switches — three on the Tex-Mex Corona II Xtreme and five on the norteño and vallenato tuned Corona III Xtremes. They certainly seem designed to compete with Gabbanelli accordions, which have long been popular in the Conjunto/Tejano scene.

Hohner Corona II Xtreme (red)Hohner Corona II Xtreme

How to Build a Hohner Corona

Hohner Corona AssemblyOver on the Reyes Accordions forum, I found some excellent photos taken by Peter Unbehauen during a recent trip to the Hohner accordion factory in Trossingen, Germany. (Some readers may remember his photo tour of the Hohner factory from last year.) Among his latest photos are shots of the building and assembly of Hohner Corona accordions. It’s fascinating to see that the process is still done almost completely by hand — from molding the celluloid to assembling the reed blocks to the final tuning.

Peter has also scanned the entire Hohner spare parts catalog. While you can only get instruments from a dealer, you can order nearly any spare/replacement part imaginable directly from the Hohner factory in Germany. So next time you need a pair of accordion bellow nail pliers, you know where to go.

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Want to Work for Hohner?

Accordion maker Hohner is looking for an “Accordion Product Manager” to be responsible for “all aspects of sales, promotion, product development and marketing in the US.” Sounds like a great opportunity to help drive the product strategy for one of the biggest accordion manufacturers in the world. The position is based in Richmond, VA. Check out the full job description and then put in your two week’s notice.

[Found via Accordion USA News]

Hohner Gola Prototype on eBay

Hohner GolaFor over fifty years, the Hohner Gola has been the top model in Hohner’s accordion line. The instrument is named for master accordion builder Giovanni Gola, who worked for Hohner from 1952 to 1972. You can’t just walk into a music store and buy a Gola, though — each instrument is hand-built and made to the specifications of its future owner.

If you can’t wait for Hohner to make you one, though, check out this auction for a one-of-a-kind “sub-octave” Hohner Gola prototype dating from 1953 (three years before the line was introduced). It comes with a letter of authenticity from the Hohner factory in Trossingen, Germany, as well as a handwritten note from Giovanni Gola himself describing the instrument. The asking price is a mere €50,000, or approximately $67,000. Cheap!

[Found via the Reyes Accordions forums]

Hohner’s New Diatonic Accordions

We got a hot tip that Hohner will be introducing some new diatonic accordion models at the NAMM show in Anaheim starting January 18. But thanks to our accordion spies, we have a sneak peek for you today! Check out these three new Hohner models:

Corona II Supreme

To celebrate Hohner’s 150 year anniversary in 2007, a special edition model of the Corona II will be unveiled at the NAMM show. The Corona II Supreme will include upgraded materials, smoother keyboard action, and an improved look and accessories based on the Corona II Classic. Since it’s a special edition, it will have a limited production run.

Hohner Corona II Supreme (white)

Hohner Corona II Supreme (black)

Hohner Factory Photo Tour

Tuning setup at the Hohner factory in Trossingen, GermanyEver wonder how Hohner accordions are made? Peter Unbehauen has posted a fantastic photo tour of the Hohner accordion factory in Trossingen, Germany. If your Hohner was “made in Germany” — very likely if it’s a Gola, Morino, Genius, Ventura, or Corona Classic — it came from this factory. It’s a really fascinating look at the production process as craftsmen install reeds, wax reed blocks, and tune accordions before they’re shipped to players worldwide.

I highly recommend poking around Peter’s site — it’s full of fascinating and unique accordion information. For instance, he has some great photos of the old Hohner factory buildings in Trossingen, as well as the workshop of master tuner and builder Claudio Beltrami.

[Found via the Reyes Accordions forum]

I Won the Grand Prize!

History was made last Sunday at the Cotati Accordion Festival. I won the grand prize in the raffle: a brand new Hohner Corona button accordion!

Now, I’m a piano accordionist, but I had always wanted to learn button accordion. After initially pricing them, I realized I couldn’t afford one. So, for years, I had been eyeing them longingly, unsuccessfully searching eBay for deals, and hoping that some day I could get one.

Fast-forward to the Cotati Accordion Festival. Shortly after Chris and I arrived, there was an announcement: “Buy your raffle tickets for the Hohner Corona button accordion!” and I knew right away that I had to take a chance. Chris, knowing I’ve always wanted a button accordion, encouraged me to go buy a few tickets. I got 6 tickets for $5. What a deal! I was really excited. I felt lucky.

Chris and I walked around, browsing the accordions for sale. I mentioned that I wanted to check out some button accordions and he said “Don’t buy one. You might win the one in the raffle!”

And he was right! When they announced my name as the winner, I was completely stunned! I ran up to the stage and showed them my tickets. I couldn’t believe I won! I was ecstatic! When I looked back into the crowd, I saw Chris practically rolling on the ground with laughter. The kind and helpful Cotati Accordion Festival folks said “Congratulations!” and boxed up the accordion for me. Chris took a photo.

After much squeeing, I showed my new win to some people and was introduced to a potential new teacher. Chris helped me carry the squeezebox out to the car and we drove home to show everyone. I think my mom was the most blown away by my great luck. We took it out of the gig bag and saw that they included straps and a lesson book. Awesome!

I’ve been doing the lessons and just having a great time trying to play. I love my new accordion. It is a really cool, unique color, and it sounds really good! So I have just been thrilled to have won it.

Many, many thanks to the folks at the Cotati Accordion Festival, and to Hohner, who donated the accordion!