Author Topic: Paolo Soprani 96 bass air bar  (Read 2551 times)


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Paolo Soprani 96 bass air bar
« on: November 13, 2018, 11:45:14 PM »
Soon after getting my Paolo Soprani 96 bass I realised there was a problem, or problems, with the air bar and air valve. When I operated the air bar to open or close the bellows, not a lot happened; certainly not the rapid inhalation or exhalation of air that I expected (and seem to need). I hoped the box had a decent-sized air hole that had been partially closed off with tape, as with two previous accordions I've had. (I've never understood the logic of people doing this).*
  Unfortunately, on opening up the instrument I discovered the air valve hole was a small, piano accordion type, a 14mm diameter hole of area 154mm². Wholly inadequate. By comparison, my Paolo Soprani 80 bass has an oval air hole of approx 420 mm². After a bit of DIY the PS 96 now has a similarly-sized air hole and a bigger pallet, and control of the bellows is much easier.
  On to two further problems: the actual air bar is made from a black plastic piano key which has hard, uncomfortable edges; and it is too short. On the PS 80, the air bar is a nicely-rounded wooden wedge which reaches down to level with the A bass button. It feels comfortable under the hand, though at times I feel it could do with being a bit longer. On the PS 96, the air bar only reaches down to level with the E bass button. Not a big difference, but noticeable; on occasions when playing my thumb is below the end of the air bar, and I don’t have particularly small hands (size L glove). I intend to fit a longer, more comfortable, different material air bar on the PS 96, after reviewing the extensive discussions (and photos) there have been previously on this forum.

* I don’t know how the previous owner managed to play this box with such a restricted air valve, or why some people tape off the air hole to restrict the air flow. That gives the options of closed or very little air, whereas having a big hole allows a wider range – off, a little, some, a big gulp – simply by feathering the air bar. I'm still mystified by the chap I sold the Guerrini Gala to – speaking to him on the phone a couple of days after he got the box he said “The ferst thing Ah did wis tae tak’ off the air bar – it jist gets in the wey”.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 12:27:50 AM by Bill »

John Macrae

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Re: Paolo Soprani 96 bass air bar
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 04:19:49 PM »
Hello Bill,

I have only recently come across your current post relating to the Paolo Soprani air valve. There is a previous discussion on the forum relating to lengthening of the air-valve bar on various instruments in which I mentioned modifications relating to the size of the air valve opening.

The size of the air valve opening is dependent purely on personal preference. Jimmy Shand, Jimmy Blue and Sandy Tulloch always partially closed the air-valve opening on their Shand Morinos because with their playing technique, the bellows control was principally dependent on efficient choice of the treble alternatives which prevented large bellows excursions. If they hadn't partially closed the air-valve opening, the bellows would have been prone to collapsing closed. Partial closure of the hole also facilitates "feathering" of the valve rather than the "all or nothing" response with a large opening.I tend to play the same way and I have the opening closed by 1/3 on each Morino with a piece of card attached with double sided adhesive tape. Sandy Tulloch told me that Jimmy Shand would experiment with card and when satisfied with the degree of closure, would glue a piece of wood in place. Jimmy Shand and Jimmy Blue achieved fantastic bellows control mainly by using the treble alternatives rather than a "fast" air valve action.

In contrast, when I took delivery of a new custom-made Fantini Sharino several years ago, the instrument was unplayable because the air-valve did not respond quickly enough. The reason was that the air-valve opening was too small in relation to the volume of the case which meant that the air could not pass quickly enough. This is the complete opposite to most British Chromatics and sounds similar to the problem with your Paolo Soprani. John Crawford enlarged the opening, almost doubling its size, and all was well after that.

I hope that clarifies the issue. Hopefully you can modify the valve to suit your playing technique.

Best wishes,



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Re: Paolo Soprani 96 bass air bar
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 06:20:04 PM »
Thank you John. Yes, I found the previous posts anent this subject very helpful. What I discovered on this Paolo Soprani was exactly as you describe for your Fantini – a small, piano accordion type air valve hole. The cure was to enlarge the hole to a similar size as on my Paolo Soprani 80 bass.

Alas, my playing level is nowhere near that of Jimmy Shand or Jimmy Blue! I have limited ability to manage the bellows by choice of treble alternatives; the air valve is a bit of a necessity. (The previous owner – I don’t know who it was – must have been an expert, to play with the original small air valve aperture).

Daniel McPhee

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Re: Paolo Soprani 96 bass air bar
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2019, 07:20:10 PM »
People often don’t know how important it is to have the box set up properly.
Little adjustments can make an awful difference.
Beautiful 96 bass PS Bill, by the way.


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