Part One is Here.
Andy Cutting does NOT have an accordéon collection. Listening to Andy Cutting, one is entranced, of course, by his playing, but one also marvels -- perhaps with a modicum of jealousy -- at the sound of his instruments. I asked Cutting about his instruments. Is he a gear hound? Does he have a collection?
I wouldn't say I was a gear hound at all. I'm primarily driven by
playing music on a machine and have the instruments I feel I can best do that.
I don't really have a collection, as such. Although my wife would say
otherwise! For those who are interested, the boxes I have are:
|with the beloved Mory|
- Hohner Pokerwork
D/G (my first box which I still play at home)
- Hohner one row four stop G
- Hohner Club 3 D/G
- One of those Chinese one rows
- A small two row CBA thing
that John Tams got in the Crimea when he was filming Sharp,
- Castagnari Mignon
- Two Castagnari Max, one in D and one in A
- Castagnari Lilly D/G (bought
- Castagnari Handry 18 G/C
- Oakwood (I've no idea what model. It was
made for me), two row 21 button, 8 bass with stop for the thirds, G/C Bandoneon
- Two Castagnari Mory C/F and, finally,
- Castagnari Mory D/G (my most
used and favorite box)
I also have on long term loan a Marcel Messervier
Melodeon in D. So as I said, not really a collection.
How has he come by them? How did he first move beyond the Pokerwork?
I have over the years tried and played just about all the makes of
boxes I've heard of. Some fabulous and a few dreadful. When I had been playing
a few months I had the opportunity to play a Castagnari and it was just so much
better than the Hohner I was playing. So after a lot of persuasive discussion and
an approaching 18th birthday, I somehow convinced my parents that I needed a
better box. We had been to Bromyard Folk Festival and I had been given a copy
of the Castagnari catalogue by Rees Wesson (a fine one row maker). I sat down
with my dad with a mind to get a Nik (two voice, two row, eight bass but with
hand made reeds). My dad said that from all that I'd been saying, it sounded
like I wanted something much more like ... and he pointed to the Mory. I wasn't
going to say no, and so, with a bit of translation it was ordered. Several
months later (!!) it arrived ... and I hated it! It was so much bigger and heavier
than my Pokerwork and I could barely reach the inside row of bass buttons, let
alone the stops. I thought about it and knew that I would have to change the
way I played. After a few days and a lot of work I totally fell in love with
Some items on that list are very intriguing! Two Maxes? Why two one rows?
When I started playing with Chris Wood it was primarily to play some of the Quebecois repertoire. The only one row I had was in G and not super so I got the Max in D. Later I got the A one so that Chris could play in A. Fiddle players like A. Now I mostly use them in my Solo concerts and a bit with Martin Simpson.
|With Chris Wood|
And why is the Mory his favorite? Not that this is a hard question ... why wouldn't it be his favorite? But he's got a Handry 18, G/C, the classic big box played by the likes of Bruno LeTron, Didier Laloy, and other Samurai. Why isn't the HANDRY his favorite?
I bought the Handry 18 about fifteen years ago. I really like it but it's just not me. It is in many ways too capable and as I've said before, I love the limitations of the instrument. With the big box it feels a little like cheating. I know it's not, but the challenges that box brings aren't the ones I'm so interested in.
It's interesting that the box is G/C and the rest are D/Gs. Switching between the two can be difficult for some (okay, me) as the center of the instrument seems to shift from the knee end of the box to the chin. What's the method behind Cutting's key choices?
I play in D/G tuning because that is where most of the music I play is pitched. It is the standard in England. I have always tried to play in both octaves. So, I've never thought the difference [between D/G and G/C] too great. When teaching in England I try to get people playing in the top octave and when in Europe I get them to play in the bottom. It's great practice and after a while you stop going eeak, the fingerings different! and just get on with it.
Most people I work with are amazingly accommodating. I got the C/F box so it was easier to play in D & G minor with the pipes and hurdy-gurdy. If someone wants me to play and it's in a daft key for the box. All it usually takes is a bit of explanation and nine times out of ten they'll shift the key. The singers I work with have mostly been more than happy to move key's.
In general, what does Cutting look for in an accordéon?
When trying out boxes it has to have a great action, an even tone
across both ends and most importantly for me, have a very good response from
very quiet to reasonably loud. I'm not into the bullworker melodeon, loudest is
right thing at all. Volume is easy. Subtlety is not. But that of course depends
on what you're trying to achieve.
For me Castagnari seem to fit the way I play, or rather, I have
learnt to play the way they work, better than any other make I've tried. That
is just my personal taste. I would like a Melodie box and would dearly love to try a Bergflodt.
And, as an aside, what about the electronics?
For miking up
the box I use an Audio Technica ATM 350 pro and for the left had I use the
element off a PZM (Pressure Zone Mic) made by Realistic (or rather, no longer
made by Realistic) mounted on the outside of the base plate with the mic
looking through a sound hole. This is wired internally to a jack socket. Of the
many mic systems I've tried this works best for me.
Labels: accordion purchase, Andy Cutting, blowzabella, Bruno le Tron, Castagnari, Chris Wood, Didier Laloy, England, Hohner, Rees Wesson