FR-8X Too Fatiguing To Play?

August 13, 2019

I’ve had 2-3 emails and a couple of comments on my latest FR-8X educational video “Roland FR-8X Mild to Wild #2“, all about one point concerning the 8X… that it’s too strenuous to play, that people who play it, get tired fast, and what can they do to make it easier?

I myself experienced the very same thing a few days after getting my 8X.  I found the bellows very stiff, and playing this accordion compared to even my behemoth Hohner Morino VI N accordion, much harder.

Still, being a fairly robust and strong buck of a man (lol), it did not affect me more than that, and even after practicing only a month with it, I was able to take this accordion out and perform for over 3 hours with it, and did not experience anything more than minor fatigue.

That said, not everyone is me, and some are way stronger, but this post is not for them, this post is for those that want to play the accordion without it becoming an isometric exercise… no “feel the burn!” wanted here!

Ok, so I promised via YouTube the couple people there, that I would work on it in a couple of weeks… but I could not wait that long… I was curious to see how I could improve it for them, and so I would like to offer you a couple of hints and settings to use, to try and see if we can make playing your FR-8X a little bit easier.

Now, first lets set some expectations.  This is a digital accordion and is never going to feel/act 100% like a real acoustic accordion.  If that is what you want, please pick up and use an acoustic, you will be much happier.

That said, let’s set a couple of goals, first we want the V-Accordion to be easier to pull and second, we want the volume to be louder with less effort.

To that effect, we need to make changes in two places:

Menu Section 14.1:
– Status: ON
– Resistance: Between 10 and -20… choose what works best for you!
– Min Bellows between 0 and 20
– Bellows Curve:  X-Light

Here we have done 3 things… lowered the resistance of the bellows a little, potentially started you off a bit louder with no effort and make the bellows as easy to pull as possible… but we can do a little more!

Menu Section 14.4:
– Audio Boost:  ON

With the above option, we’ve made the entire accordion louder at any given volume setting, forcing you to play softer and basically also forcing you to play with less effort.  Now, after using this option, don’t go and lower the volume all the way down, that kills the reason we use this “trick”, leave the accordion louder than you want and play softer/normally!

Let’s take a look at a stupidly short and easy video I made with my cell phone camera that shows exactly what I am talking about:

Don’t forget to leave the volume at maximum or close to maximum… no need to do all this work and cut it all back via the volume knob, right?

There is one thing that we can do to also make it a lot easier to play, but I kind of hesitate to put it here.  The reason is because it sounds a bit strange, and I am not sure how much of a chance others want to take, but I will say it here anyway and leave each one of you to make up your own minds about it, ok?

Physically, the bellows are STIFF as heck, and the way that I dealt with it was that the first month that I owned the 8X, I pulled a lot harder and a lot wider than ever and this kind of loosened things up for me (or I got stronger and thought it got easier… haha!).  Well the thing that I want to share is that I heard (did not see it, read about it somewhere a long time ago, so PLEASE use your own judgement with this ok?),  that another 8X user found the bellows very stiff, so to loosen it, he hung the 8X by either the bass strap or the accordion straps (to I believe it was a door handle), and left the accordion there for a good while, and apparently this stretched things out enough that he was much happier with it later.

Ok, I will say this a third time… please try this at your own risk, ok?  If you hang your accordion to anything other than your own shoulders and it falls down, crashes and breaks in to  45 individual parts… its NOT MY FAULT, alright?

So, quick review… We gave it a relatively low resistance via software setting, we gave it a very light bellows curve (less effort to play louder) and finally we’ve boosted the entire volume level of the accordion, permitting you to play gentler without loosing any volume (and if you get aggressive, it gets louder than before!).

I hope that this makes playing your 8X a little easier and more pleasurable!

That’s it for now… enjoy!