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Melodeons

The story of Black Diamond Melodeons ...

When Black Diamond introduced our Standard D/G Melodeon in 2011, we had one simple aim: to provide a good-value, reliable, entry-level instrument. This Chinese-made model, with Italian Cagnoni reeds, proved so popular that it quickly became (and remains) our best-selling instrument. Perfect for beginners, it's also gained a reputation as a great 'spare', or 'wet-weather' box for experienced players.

 

Many players who learned on our Standard instruments have since returned to ask us for our recommendations for an upgrade. It's been a difficult question to answer. There are many good instruments on the market, the majority of which are made in and around the town of Castelfidardo, Italy, the historic home of the accordion. The Italians have been supplying the world with accordions and melodons for the last 150 years and their expertise in manufacture is unparalleled. But there are hundreds of models – which to choose?

 

An obvious solution for us would have been to import selected models from the well-known brands, but there are already plenty of shops doing just that and we felt it wasn't the right solution for us, for two reasons: first, we'd be competing directly with our friends and secondly, it wouldn't offer customers anything new.

 

Instead, we chose to commission a co-operative endeavour selecting the very best makers of each component working together to create new Black Diamond models designed especially for the British market. After several trips to Italy to visit the workshops, we settled on the team of craftsmen who would build the Black Diamond Italian range.

Designed in England by Jon Loomes, one of Britain's leading experts on free reed instruments, the first four models specifically address the needs of British players.

 

We have given all our Italian instruments lovely names rather than boring model numbers, and named them after members of our families. All models are in D/G, Anahata layout, 4th button start: we believe this is the most useful layout for Morris and English Session repertoire. Other keys and layouts are available upon request, and we are very happy to discuss custom instruments.

Initally, the Italian instruments will be made to order (lead time 6-8 weeks), but we will be building up stock later in 2017 to allow them to be purchased on a buy-now basis.

Other melodeons 

Below you will also find our best-selling Black Diamond Standard D/G melodeon, the Cairdin "English Box" 3-voice D/G melodeon and the Fisitalia "Elite" 2.5 row. Scroll down for soundclips.

Angela
Compact walnut three-voice melodeon

The compact three-voice Angela has been designed to Jon Loomes's personal specification and is named after his mother, Angela Loomes.

 

Walnut casing gives bright trebles and rich basses with no mid-range muddiness and has the lightest volumetric weight of any of the traditional tonewoods used in melodeon manufacture. The reeds are a brand new, recently patented type of 'a mano', with greater flexibility and responsiveness than any other hand-made reed. These are, quite simply, the very finest reeds ever made. The 8ft 'dry' reeds are on brass shoes for a brighter, fuller tone, but the 8ft 'sharp' reeds are on aluminium for depth of tonal colour as the brass and aluminium rows interact. The 16ft reeds are also made on aluminium shoes, as are the left hand reeds to avoid adding unnecessary extra weight.

 

We have spared no expense with this model. Every aspect of it has been considered from the ground up by one of Britain's leading experts on free reed instruments. It has been built by the very finest accordion craftsmen in the world. We believe it to be one of the best melodeons ever made!

Walnut case

Hand-made Ciccarelli reeds

21 Treble keys

8 Bass buttons

3 Voices

 

Sound clips and videos available October 2017

 

 

£3,299

Giulietta has been designed partly with cost in mind and is an exercise in providing the most 'bang for buck' while still retaining first rate quality. The physical dimensions of the instrument have been optimised for tonal response and balance during playing. The recessed bass buttons and right hand keyboard layout put the player’s hands in a better ergonomic position than most other models. This allows greater bellows control and decreased risk of RSI.

 

Built in marine-grade plywood and finished in smart black celluloid, the instrument is strong, light and responsive. Standard reeds on aluminium shoes minimises weight and helps keep the cost down. However, as with the world's very finest accordions, the reeds are pinned to the blocks (rather than held in with beeswax), which adds volume and punch and makes tuning and repair a much easier, cleaner job.

 

Loud and easy speaking, Giulietta will carry excellently for outdoor performance and make its presence felt in any session. We've named the instrument after Black Diamond's co-founder, Juliet.

Black celluloid on plywood

Standard Ciccarelli reeds

21 Treble keys

8 Bass buttons

2 Voices

 

Sound clips and videos coming soon

 

 

£1,999

Giulietta
Celluloid two-voice melodeon

Olivia is our top-of-the range two-voice melodeon. Native Italian Olive wood has a unique tonal character and looks absolutely stunning. However, it's getting harder to find in big enough pieces for instruments. It works easily and takes a finish well, but due to it's high oil content, it can be hard to glue. Because of its scarcity and the added challenges in the manufacturing process, Olive wood instruments do tend to cost more. Nevertheless it makes into exquisite looking, and more importantly, amazing sounding instruments. The dimensions on this model are identical to Giulietta and you can really hear the case responding to the reeds.

 

The reeds themselves are 'a mano', hand made and pinned to the blocks. For this model we have selected brass shoes for the right hand side. This brightens the sound and adds a lot of punch at the expense of about 2 oz of extra weight, which we consider to be a worthwhile sacrifice in order to achieve this extraordinary tone. Pushed hard, Olivia has volume and power in abundance, but it's a subtle instrument with incredible dynamics and response. It's ideal for the musician who likes to explore shape, tone and phrasing. Perfect as Morris instrument, it was also designed with the concert stage in mind.

It's named not only for the glorious wood it's made from, but also after Juliet's elder daughter.

Olive wood case

Hand-made Ciccarelli reeds

21 Treble keys

8 Bass buttons

2 Voices

Sound clips and videos coming soon

£2,899

Olivia
Olive wood two-voice melodeon
D/G Melodeon

Black Diamond's best-selling D/G melodeon is an ideal "starter box" for beginners as well as a popular "second box" for experienced players looking for a robust little workhorse for session and outdoor Morris work. Made in China with Cagnoni reeds for a great Italian sound at an irresistible price.

Cagnoni reeds

21 treble buttons

8 bass buttons

3.3 kg, excluding straps 

(3.9 kg incl straps and soft rucksack-style carrying case)

 

£499 

“For the price I was very impressed. The keyboard had a nice feel, the action was light, the Cagnoni reeds were very responsive and the bellows not at all stiff. Generally the box felt like it was well put together.“ melodeon.net

 

“A very good starter/intermediate box and with the Italian reeds, very sweet. Held its own for speed when we really got going. Nice left hand sounds.“ melodeon.net

 

“Very good value indeed ... nice to play and sounded good as well.“ melodeon.net

 

“Impressed by sound, movement and quality in general ... a bargain.“ - a happy customer

 

“A real gem ... a great little box, very light, very quick and a beautiful Italian sound.“ James Delarre

Scroll down for videos

"Elite" 2.5 row 3 voice D/G melodeon

Black Diamond Accordions are UK agents for Fisitalia of Castelfidardo. The Fistalia "Elite" was designed in Italy especially for the English market and has proved a steady seller since we started showing it at folk festivals four years ago.

Made to order. Lead time usually approx 4-6 weeks (but longer in the summer owing to Italy's traditional month-long August holiday).

Scroll down for sound clips by Owen Woods

Maple wood

Binci "a mano" reeds

27 treble buttons

12 bass buttons

3 voices

3 stops

 

£3,299 

“Very responsive instrument and relatively light for a 3-voice 2.5 row. The Binci a mano reeds definitely contribute to the playability. I enjoyed playing it and in my opinion it definitely has the edge over a Saltarelle Connemara 3 or Pastourelle 3, and a serious rival for a Castagnari Mory ... Overall this is a fine instrument!" Steve Dumpleton, melodeon.net

"What a cracking box! Lovely and airtight, with nice bellows action. It will do all I ask for, in treble voice selection, ie, I can select any single voice, due to the three treble stops." melodeon.net

Black Diamond Accordions have teamed up with Cairdín Accordions of Ireland to produce the “Cairdín English Box” (3-voice D/G Mini Deluxe) available in the UK exclusively through us. Designed by Michael Searson in partnership with us, specifically for the English market, and with Morris players particularly in mind, this versatile, yet light, three-voice D/G melodeon really cuts through for outdoor playing. ​

The Cairdín English Box is made with painstaking traditional craftsmanship, to rival Castelfidardo’s finest.

Cairdín Button Accordions were launched in 1996, following many years of research and development in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Made by hand in Moneygall, Co Offaly, Ireland, they are designed to give the musician the ultimate freedom of expression when playing. All instruments are fully guaranteed. 

 

Cairdíns are played by some of the finest Irish musicians, including Sharon Shannon, John Whelan and Liam O'Sullivan. 

 

Now the new Cairdín D/G English Box opens the way for English players to experience the joy of owning and playing one of these superb hand-crafted instruments. Individually made to order in Ireland. Please ask about the current waiting time. 

Available in American Walnut (shown) or American Cherry

Voci Armoniche reeds

21 treble buttons

8 bass buttons

3 voices

 

£3,299

“Very impressed ... the response was terrific at any pressure. Really solid build quality too. If I was after a high quality 3-voice 8 bass box, this would be a top contender.“ melodeon.net

"I was very impressed ... compact and solid in feel, but not over-heavy, with a full-sized keyboard. The bellows worked easily with no stiffness. The response from the VA reeds was tremendous, easily going from a whisper to full High Street morris volume. I think the reeds had been very carefully set up for this demo instrument, with the gap obviously just spot-on correct. The external finish of the instrument was excellent and tasteful. If I didn't already have a Castagnari 3-voice box, I would be seriously considering the Cairdin D/G; it's as good as that." Steve Dumpleton, melodeon.net

"English Box" 3-voice D/G Melodeon
 
Eleonora
Compact celluloid single-voice melodeon

Eleonora, the smallest and least expensive model in our Italian Range is a compact, single- voiced instrument that packs a lot of punch.

Ideal for younger players, Eleonora has a huge sound for its tiny size. It's also perfect 'second' box for those times when you don't want to carry a heavier instrument.

 

While there are comparable instruments on the market, most are built to a very high spec and are commensurately expensive. From the
outset, we designed Eleanora with cost-effectiveness in mind. We wanted to create an affordable version of the classic single-voice instrument. 

 

To achieve this, we have used high-quality marine plywood and celluloid, rather than solid tonewoods, for the case and machine reeds rather than the hand-made type. The resulting instrument punches well above its weight, with a pleasing tone, great volume and response.

Eleonora is named after Greg's daughter, Ellie.

Black celluloid on plywood

Machine-made Ciccarelli reeds

21 Treble keys

8 Bass buttons

1 Voice

 

Sound clips and videos available in October 2017

 

 

£1,199

 

Black Diamond Melodeons

Italian Range Melodeons

 

Videos and sound-clips coming soon ...