I was super excited to be invited to visit accordion factories in Castelfidardo with Chris Lovell who runs The Accordion Shop. I do a lot of tuning, repairs and renovations for Chris and the trip would mean we could buy a stock of spare parts and see some of the working methods in Castelfidardo’s factories.
Castelfidardo is a small town (Population 20,000) but is home to half the accordion factories in Italy. Arriving at Hotel Parco I was delighted to see accordions all over the place.
Pasco Italia make Paolo Soprani, Moreschi and E. Soprani accordions. I had a great chance to learn some tuning tips from Francisco who was doing the final round of tuning which is done with the reeds installed in the accordion’s body.
I had a great chat with Pasco’s boss Giansandro Breccia about wood and reeds and acetate coatings and loads of other stuff. I really can’t thank him enough for answering all my nerdy questions!
We also went for lunch (at Pippo’s).
Yep – if you know about Castelfidardo you probably know there is a museum with the worlds largest playable accordion (and not much else!). I went there and played it (Welsh tune!) and here is the inevitable photo with Chris and Julie Lovell.
Carini’s Accordion Parts
Carini’s is an Aladdin’s cave of accordion parts. You can get everything from the smallest spring to whole mechanisms. A big part of my reason to visit Castelfidardo was to go to Caini’s. I put together a trolley full of stuff: valves, bellows pins (like 10 different kinds!) grill cloth, strap brackets, wax, special glue etc. Having established a relationship and seen the stock I will be able to get what I need in the future. It’s a family business – here are the two sons either side of me and Chris. Luka on the right was very helpful to me so thank you!
Excelsior & Pigini
Excelsior have been making great accordions since before I was born, I have bought 2 brand new (from The Accordion Shop) and they feature heavily on most of the Pressgang CDs. More recently they were acquired by Pigini and the the model that I bought in the 90’s is still made in their new home alongside the Pigini range.
The welcoming staff at Excelsior/Pigini showed us round their bright modern factory with a justified sense of pride. Traditional techniques and values seemed to live happily next to modern innovations. Craftspeople and robots were literally working side by side “the robots do the boring jobs”.
Voci Armoniche Reed Factory
The tour of Voci Armoniche has forever changed the way I look at reeds! The passion that our guide (the manager) had for both the history and the future of accordion reeds was amazing. They make 4 qualities of reed and the top level handmade “A Mano” reeds are a world away from the budget “Tipo C” with different metals, shapes and production techniques. Voci Armoniche supply many top accordion manufacturers including Beltrami who built my 2 custom accordions that I use daily.
MusicTech MIDI and Microphone Systems
Another of the big reasons for me to visit Castelfidardo was to meet MusicTech. I have already installed one of their microphone systems and have their MIDI and microphone systems in both of my Beltrami accordions. It was great to meet Paolo Miles who did a great demonstration. I had a play on their newest version of MIDI accordion with boss/designer Claudio showing me the best sounds and combinations.
I would like to thank the other staff for showing me various installation techniques and especially Gary who helped me out with the language.