New Baby in the Family

September 9, 2017

Today I’ve added a new tiny member to the family, another Hohner and another Free Bass accordion… to make a long story short, I am now the owner of a Hohner FB 36!

This is one of those tiny gems that you NEVER see anywhere, in fact, I cannot even find any information in any of the several Hohner catalogs that I have on my site here (though there is a similar sized Free Bass accordion in there, but it has different left and right hand layouts and no registers on the right hand.  It’s called the Hohner Starlet FB), and a google shows only ONE reference on the entire internet to someone selling a BLACK Hohner FB 36 one in the UK somewhere.  I will say it again… this baby is rare!

I picked up this little beauty at the New England Accordion Museum.  When I put it on and started making noses with this accordion, it just brought back all kinds of warm memories almost instantly and made me smile. I have long been putting off getting back in to the world of Free Bass, but with this little one, playing it makes me smile and anything that makes me smile, makes me happy and that means it gets played.  Let’s see what I can pull out of this little beauty in time!

A few pictures of the new baby:

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Here are 4 pictures of the ONLY other FB 36 google could find for me anywhere in the world!  What is interesting is that this one is black, not red, but more noteworthy is the fact that mine has a different set of reeds.  Where per the registers, the black one is MM (registers are M, MM, M), mine is LM (registers are L, LM, M).  You may have to use the browser zoom feature to see it on your page, but it is clearly there.

Another difference is that the black FB 36 seems to use the more traditional modern right-hand keys with rounded edges.  Mine uses the much older waterfall style of keys so that adds another hint to it’s age.  Mine just might be  an accordion from the 40’s or 50’s and if that is so, the shape it is in is nothing short of incredible!

That makes it even rarer!  I cannot even find another student model with these registration configurations and keyboard styles, they seem to be all MM and newer style keyboard!

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If you have any information about this accordion (years it was made, price when new or it’s approximate value now), please let me know, these are all things I would love to know about it.

I’ll finish this post with a bit of a humorous story.  Paul, out of the kindness of his heart, threw in a case for this accordion.  The thing is, the FB 36 is so thick that Paul had to use a case from a much bigger accordion just so that the lid would close!

It was funny seeing Paul needing to go out 3 times before he hit the right size, but in the end… we had a lovely case for our baby Hohner! 🙂

That is one chubby little accordion!

September 18, 2017

When I got this little accordion, the registers were a little stiff, and the shift from clarinet to bassoon was the hardest of all.  In the short time I had this instrument, it started to get a little harder to change registers, so I decided to check it out.  Curiosity set in so I took off the grill. Well that showed me nothing so I split the accordion at the bellows and first thing I have to say is how spotless it is inside and how beautiful.

The second thing I noticed is a grey powdery substance all over the register mechanism. A gentle and careful cleaning resulted in a minor improvement, but something was not quite right, so I just pulled out reed bank #1 and noticed that the metal sliders that blocked or opened the holes at the base of the reed block were not properly seated/inserted. Since the reed block was out, I used an industrial cloth (no dust, no strands) and cleaned off the rods that moved the sliders. I then replaced the reed block and more fully cleaned the register mechanism with electrical contact cleaner with micro thin layer of lubricant in between the layers and started testing things around.  With all of the mechanism now clean and slightly lubricated, I tested the registers, and the result was extremely gratifying.  Several test presses on the registers and… Amazing. Smooth. Effortless!

Now this is how I envisioned the registers moving with silky smooth clicks when it left the factory oh so many years ago!

THIS is my first minor foray in to accordion repair… glad I did not destroy anything… lol

April 5, 2023

Today I was looking around online and looking for pictures, I noticed an accordion that looked just like the FB36… but not! It turned out to be a Hohner Arietta 1M and it had the same grill, same waterfall keys, same colour, same number of keys on the right hand, and 72 buttons in a standard Stradella arrangement on the left hand, and it had a small change to the tuning… it had a wet tuning sound, meaning 2 center reeds instead of the middle/high dry tuning of my accordion… BUT that is where the roots of my accordion came from, even the general years of manufacture (the 1950’s) matches up!

Looking at some pics we can see that they kinda mixed and matched reeds with the Stradella and free bass models, as I have seen where they have models both with and without that wet tuning on the Free Bass models too, but the Stradella models all seem to be of the wet tuned variety.

One can see the different “master” registrations above on the Arietta 1M above (the 2 dots, side-by-side) and my FB36 below (the 2 dots one above, one below). There is no denying the family resemblances, but the differences are, in my opinion, appropriate. One does not want a wet sound for a Free Bass accordion, as it was designed more for classic music.

Now, the Arietta model was made from 1953 to 1957, so that’s a great hint as to when the FB-36 was made, since there were no other accordions that so closely resembled each other, so it figures that my little FB-36 is also made in that same era.

I love my little FB-36, its so rare!