New FR-8X Cable

September 17, 2019

Wow, this is my first post since I had my medical procedure near the end of last August 2019.  I’ve been layed down and out of action since then, and in fact, it is about 3 weeks since that event and am finally able to slowly get back to things.

The Challenges:

The three things that a Roland FR-8X accordion user faces is the issue that when using external amplification and needing to use the jacks are that:

  • The jacks exiting the accordion are close to the left leg and can get pressed/pushed or even break the jack board because of this.
  •  Because the wires fall straight down, it is possible to rip the cables out of the accordion causing one to lose external amplification or worse, again damage the jack board.
  • Most of these cables are often much shorter than we need them to be, something between 6-8 feet.  Having a much longer cable would be much more convenient.
  • If one wants to go the stereo route, one has to then use two cables, and if you ever thought that managing one cable was cumbersome, two just doubles all the above issues, is both messy and a constant source of concern!

The Solution:

My solution to this was to first make a cable that was:

  • A single thin high quality wire, but still had stereo capabilities
  •  Two inputs/outputs on the cable, but because the plugs are all 90 degree plugs, much lower in profile and it becomes near impossible to break them as they are almost flush with the accordion
  • Because of intelligent cable routing, I am going to get the cable to be routed to the right strap of the accordion, decreasing the chances of the musician stepping on the cable, and if by chance the musician does, because the strain relief given offered by the Velcro straps, they pickup the strain, leaving the plugs in the accordion much safer from accidents or damage happening.

Today I picked up 40 feet of cable, 8 connectors and shrink-wrap.  Tomorrow I hope to complete the project.

But wait… 40 feet of cable???  Yup!  First of all I will be making 2 sets of this cable, one for me and one for my good friend Ed, and secondly, though most accordion cables are 6-10 feet long, mine will be a superior 15.5 feet long each!

At the time of the making of this project, I have the parts but the assembly has not yet started… here are the parts:

  •  40 feet of high quality cable
  • Eight 90 degree 1/4″ mono plugs
  • Velcro ties that will hold the cable in place

The Assembly:

Though the process took me about 4 hours for one cable (I *really* was having fun, taking my time and being careful, and took two breaks for snacks and drinks… haha), I found it very enjoyable and it was something that I was able to do without stressing my recently operated body.

The process in a nutshell:

  • Cut the 4 end pieces to specific lengths
  •  Attach the 1/4″ 90-degree mono connectors to the ends
  •  Attach two ends to each side of the long cable

Here are a few pictures of the process:

A few points that had to be considered were the fact that the plug heads were wide and therefore could not sit perfectly side by side, so I had to make the wires of one side loop over a bit.

I also had to find an unobtrusive way of identifying the right and left handed cables, and I did that by slipping some small clear shrink tubing on one side… that’s the right hand side cable. 

One side the two ends are the same length, that’s the end that goes in to the recorder or mixer.  The other end the two cables are staggered, that’s the end that goes in to the accordion, with the LONGER cable going in to the R/MONO (bass) plug.

Strain relief is SUPER important on these cables as the inputs are made out of fragile plastic inside the 8X, so supporting the cable on the strap via a small loop and holing that loop with a Velcro strap eliminates any changes of pulling out the jacks roughly, damaging the accordion.  Because the wire is also now behind the person wearing the accordion, it makes it a touch harder to step on the cable… win-win!

That’s it for now… enjoy!