Travelling with the FR-8X

January 15, 2019

Those of you who are regulars here have read the story of my trip to Florida… and if not, you should!

One of the things that I took with me are the Roland FR-8X accordion, and in the process, I learned quite a lot.

A few months ago, I was at a Cory Pesaturo demonstration and one of the first things he discussed was travelling/flying with an accordion, and mostly about travelling with a V-accordion.  Now I believe that most of his experience in flying with V-accordions comes from using a FR-7X and though a lot of what he said was spot on (like how to choose the right kinds of airlines/planes to fly with), his info about how to split the V-accordion did not apply to me, because I own a FR-8X.  The one big difference being in that a 7X has bellow pins and can be split in that manner, an 8X does not have any bellows pins and therefore, has to be treated differently.

I had to do some learning and experimenting and in the end, I did discover the best way to deal with the 8X, and so this post was made.

The big secret about travelling with the 8X is not that we split it at the bellows, but rather, we remove the keyboard!  To best do this, follow this basic procedure:

Remove all top knobs:

Remove the 4 screws that hold the chrome grill in place:

Remove the 3 top screws that hold the main cover in place:

Remove the 3 screws on the side that hold the main cover in place:

Carefully roll forward the main cover:

Remove the 3 main plugs that attach to the keyboard:

There are 4 screws that hold the keyboard in place, remove those:

To place everything back together. reverse the above procedures. BE CAREFUL to not pinch any of those thin wires, they break pretty easy!

Doing this permitted me to have the keyboard separately from the accordion, and I placed the keyboard (all wrapped up and protected) in the checked in luggage and the rest of the accordion came with me as carry-on, just barely fitting in the carry-on measurement device while still wrapped in a thick bath towel and in a large cloth bag.  Thus, it neatly fit in the overhead bin of the airplanes and I was able to transport the accordion with me.

Now, this is why I won’t ever do this again… if you keep taking apart the accordion via it’s screws, the holes they fit in eventually become enlarged and strip.  This is because of the poly-carbonate materials used for this accordion.

If I was a travelling professional, I would just get myself a properly sized Pelican case and check it (a V-Accordion can handle the stresses of being checked in a lot better than an acoustic accordion) OR do three things to make the 8X better as a carry-on:

1 – Each screw would not screw in to the hole, but in to a metal threaded insert placed in the locations where each screw was currently and plastic welded in place.

2 – Custom electrical plugs would be made that are more easily put together and apart to not place strain on the wiring of the accordion

3 – Custom thin padded travel bags would be made for the keyboard and accordion, so that when being carried, are zipped together as one unit, but could separate in to 2 units to more easier fit in to the overheads.

This would make this normally incredibly stressful event so much easier and almost plausible for someone that is a regular traveler with an 8X, almost a pleasure to do so.

Suffice to say that I never again plan to take my 8X on any travels that involve taking it apart for airplane flights.  If it needs to get anywhere… it will be by car alone, with me driving!