‘Tuna Anyone?

May 28, 2023

If you have been following my stories about my most recent visit to the New England Accordion Museum in the right order, by now you are probably thinking that I had gone through a lot of accordions… and indeed I had!

There were Petosas, Dino Baffetti, Hohner, Scandalli, Excelsior and a several names that I cannot even recall this instant. But you may be asking me if out of all those accordions did any stand out for me? 

Well, yes that Petosa AM-1100 for the Quint, it was simply a very strong instrument and fun!

A Hohner FS400 stood out and put a smile on my face… no, it was nothing really high end, but it was an accordion that I had been looking at in my old PDF files and was one of the cool ones with a distinctly pleasing sound (I had wondered looking at the specs if it sounded like it’s looks suggested… it did). A Hohner Verdi III, and Tango III renown workhorses in the accordion world, solid and fine sounding were fun to play.

The Excelsiors (there were several and each was a joy, but one stood out)… it had that typical super smooth bassoon that just screamed “Art Van Damme” and invited you to improvise something just to hear that pure jazz sound, up until you hit the musette switch where it screamed excessive tremolo with a strong Scottish tuned musette reeds… how rude!!  🙂

The tiny Giullietti free bass, straps so small that I could barely fit one shoulder in it, but that had a pure sound and would be the perfect starting box for a young guy or gal wanting to walk the path to the conservatory. Sweetness in a tiny box!

There were so many, but when I played this one specific accordion, it just instantly resonated with me. Hands fell on the keys almost identically like my Hohner Morino, except it was 41 keys and was a lighter box, but still with a super fast and silky smooth keyboard perfectly weighted. The “sordino” effect was strongly pronounced and a tinge of high-end released when open and silky smooth with a touch less volume and high-end smartly muted down when closed. Similar to the Imperator, it basically “sonically” turned a 5/5 in to a 4/5 when closed. A very interesting effect!

The sound was very dynamic from soft and subtle to strong, clear and vibrant. Playing it back to back against the Petosa is sonically comparing a Cadillac to a Rolls Royce. Both were nice, but driving the Rolls (the Beltuna), was simply much more enjoyable.

By the 2nd time I wore this accordion, it felt like “coming home”, it was already familiar, eager to respond and it delivered… this box in a different way, took me places and reminded me of songs long past that I really needed to bring back in to my repertoire. 🙂

In comparison, when I play the Morino, I tend to go off in to my own little private world where no one can enter and I am happy. In a different but very real way this also happens with the Imperator and though I am still off “somewhere”, because there is no Free Bass, it’s just a slightly different world.

The 2nd time I played this accordion, it was the next day, we were close to wrapping it up and start the journey home, but I was asked to play for some people that came in to visit the museum, and was asked to pick one of the accordions I had enjoyed the previous day… and I gravitated to this one accordion again, but when I played it this time, an event that rarely happens when I play for people… happened.

I slipped in to my happy place… to heck with the audience and just enjoy the darn box hanging off my shoulders for the sake of hearing it sing for me. 

It was a very pure moment which was again just so much fun to experience, and after those songs were done, I took the accordion off and placed it back in its place on the wall.

Thoughts turned to the coming long trip home coming up, but I was happy inside for the gift that this accordion gave me… a peace and happiness that reminded me why playing accordion was so special.

It was then time to go and a little sadness was definitely felt. We’d definitely miss our friends.

My mom and I had said our goodbyes with hugs and promises to keep in touch and try to come back as soon as we could, and slowly we made our way back to the car.

Before we could take off, I had to re-arrange a few things in the car and move bags we had on the back seat in to the trunk before driving off.

Just as I had gotten out of the car to start the quick little clean-up, my mom looked at me and said that she needed to do a quick bathroom break before leaving and that she was OK to make the short walk back inside the museum, and for me to finish what I started.

I should have suspected something, but dense as I was, I just completed the packing and waited in the car for her to show, so I could help her make the way back to the car (my mother has arthritis in her spine and that makes walking painful, difficult and sometimes a little hazardous, so she normally holds my hand or arm when walking).

She seemed to be taking a little more time than I thought was appropriate and I was about to go check up on her when I saw her come out the main door and lean out over the railings, waving me over.

My first thought was “uh-oh, something is wrong”. I half jogged the distance back and asked her if she was OK, which she smiled at me so that dissipated the fear I was feeling, and Paul just comes out by us and says with a big grin on his face “Jerry, you are the new owner of the Beltuna! “

The world kinda shifted a little… mind spinning wild, words were thought but nothing came out of my mouth.

I must have looked like an idiot staring at them both for several seconds and finally put 2+2 together, understood what happened, leaned over and kissed my mom… but HOW had that happened, I had no idea… my mom had gone back in and she and Paul had made a deal for the accordion!

Long story short (too late for that! 🙂 ), we went to find a case (that in itself is a small story, but I’ll leave that out here… lol), me still well deep in a bit of shock. Paul still refused to give me any details, and to this moment as I write this post, my mom is not talking either… I have no idea what went on, just that I came home with this:

A Betuna Leader V accordion!

Some quick specs:
– 41 treble and 120 bass
– 5/5 reeds model with “A Mano” (highest quality hand made) reeds
– A light (for me) 12.5kg/27lbs
– Double Tone chamber
– Amplisound (sordina)
– Tuning of A=440 and Demi-swing musette (very easy on the ears)
– A Limex MIDI setup with the pro mic setup (10 mics on right hand, 3 on left hand)

Now, I know absolutely NOTHING about the included Limex MIDI, just that it has one of the best mic systems around, but short of that… zippo. I’ll start with some of the PDFs, I suppose, and take it from there. YouTube surprisingly had nothing of educational value, but I will keep checking.

So that was the big surprise, my heart is still pounding a day later… I may need to seek out an accordion doctor to see about tempo reductions… LOL

Addendum 1:

Awesome coincidence! I think I found the VERY SAME ACCORDION I HAVE TODAY (not just the same model but THE VERY accordion I now own!), online and it offers some info about the Limex MIDI:

So how do I know this? Well, a few things… first we were told that the last owner had previously paid $6000US for it and that this accordion has something a bit unique, the MIDI/Power/Audio cable moved from the treble side to the bass side. which you can can catch a glimpse of that cable on the bass side in the above video… this is something that not many people at all would do, so I have a fair amount of confidence that this accordion above in the Liberty Bellows video is indeed the exact one I own today.

There is also a small nick in the treble side grill that I will be able to buff out once I get in to cleaning it properly, but that same nick clearly appears in the video several times. Also, Paul confirmed to me that the owner purchased it from Liberty Bellows. This video has to be my accordion! 🙂

Bought new, this is not a cheap accordion… they list in the 5-digits!

Converting Euros to Canadian dollars, that new accordion is a cool $21,500.00!!

Used they seem to go around the $6000 to $10000 range, with the odd good deal here and there for the more “heavily used” boxes.

Definitely an accordion to be proud of and referred to as a strong contender for member of the “Future Classic Accordion” category by many. I’ll not ever likely know, but I do know that this is one amazing very high end accordion.

Addendum 2:

I am going to state something crazy here. I was laying in bed last night and actually reliving the moment that Keith Anderson let me play his Gola 414… the sound, the feel of the bass, the feel of the keyboard, the experience, and how amazing it is… know what? The ‘Tuna is right up there VERY CLOSE with the feel of the bass, the speed of the keyboard, the experience.

Although the sound personality of the amazing Gola is undeniable, I have the opinion that the ‘Tuna may have a different sound personality but it offers a performance and sonic experience just as good AND offers more registrations. The Gola 414 is a 4/5 instrument with 11 registrations while the Beltuna is a 5/5 with 15 registrations.

Where my ‘Tuna excels over the Gola is in the Musette area.

The Gola has 1 musette registration while the ‘Tuna has 3 VERY usable Musette tones (called Musette, Violin, Vibrato), and the other registrations like the bassoon and clarinet are just as tight and smooth as the Gola though without doubt, as mentioned earlier, the ‘Tuna has it’s own very distinct sonic personality… but it is one that really meshes with me… AND it has that (aggravating) LIMEX MIDI system with excellent microphones already built in.

I may be out of line here, the Gola has always been my golden standard that no one could touch, the prize that I’ve sought… but with this accordion, think me crazy, I think it is as easily as good as, or even a little better accordion than the Gola 414 at 1/5th the price!

That said this lovely ‘Tuna is still not a MIII Free Bass instrument, and though I am getting well past my prime and it would be a complete waste of time and money, that 60’s-70’s Gola 459 will ever be at the pinnacle of my accordion desires.

Addendum 3 – May 29, 2023:

The financials taken care of, I finally found out the price of the investment my mom and I made, and though it was a bit of a financial set-back for us (the timing was a bit off, and so it was challenging to make happen), we did make it happen and the ‘Tuna is ours for life. 🙂

Addendum 4 – November 7, 2023

Well, an additional comment had to be made… after all, I finally did get my Gola. So, fact time… damn, that Beltuna is an amazing instrument and I cherish and enjoy it, but it really is a notch below the Gola. Besides the fact that it is an instrument for a completely different style of playing and all, the reed response, dynamic range and playing experience of the Gola is a strong notch above the Beltuna. As much as they are different instruments, there is no way that you can realistically compare the two, and the best way to experience this is in a back to back comparison, that is when you will best experience the then very evident differences. This in no way means the Beltuna is inferior, indeed it is high praise that any accordion is close enough to be compared to a Gola, that makes it a very special instrument!