The BugariEvo sounds to the uninitiated like a new racing car, to us it is the latest development in reedless accordions. This much anticipated BugariEvo is now in the UK and is the culmination of work between Bugari Armando and The Roland Corporation. We were recently given the opportunity to see and play this brilliant instrument
The Roland V-Accordion
In 1967 Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland Corporation travelled to Italy and during his visit he met a number of accordion artisans in Castelfidardo. So fascinated was he by the instrument, two accordions made the journey home with him. He then started to work on the idea of creating an electronic accordion. These efforts were supported by Francesco Rauchi and Luigi Bruti in Roland Europe (Italy). Thanks to their efforts Roland developed the V-Accordion or ‘Virtual Accordion,’ a reedless instrument equipped with powerful digital modelling technology.
The V-Accordion is a brilliant blend of traditional Italian accordion with Japanese cutting edge digital technology. Roland employed a new ‘Physical Behaviour Modelling’ technique which allows air to still be pumped by the bellows (in a totally authentic way) enabling activation of a high-definition pressure sensor instead of reeds to control the instrument. Coupled with sampled sound technology the instrument behaves and sounds very much like a standard reeded instrument via speakers.
This is just a beginning though as the V-Accordion can reproduce all the various models of traditional accordion including their different tuning features. Consequently you can change a V-Accordion immediately from an Italian accordion into a French musette, a jazz accordion or a bandoneon. This means that an accordionist does not need a variety of accordions – just one V-Accordion. Thanks to its electronic flexibility the V-Accordion can also be configured in many different ways and can for instance turn into a free-bass system instrument.
Roland’s engineers also thought to add other sounds often available in electronic instruments such as the Violin, Trumpet, Sax etc. This is why the V-Accordion also has multiple additional voices. The instrument brings many other advantages, headphones for practising, midi for computer connection, easy connection to amplification etc.
This manufacturer is famous for producing some of the finest quality accordions in the world. They have been producing high class instruments in Castelfidardo, Italy for well over 50 years. Using only the finest genuine Italian components put together by master craftsmen, every Bugari Armando accordion is an example of a long heritage of highly skilled workmanship, expertise and passion. Due to their continuous research and development into new materials and technologies, the powering of one of their instruments with a Roland V-Accordion engine is a perfect fit that will satisfy the demands of both many traditional and modern accordionists alike.
V Accordion – The Next Evo-lution!
The HARIA P41 (piano-type, pictured right) and HARIA B55 (button-type) Digital Accordion models mark the official start of the new BUGARIEVO division, which is dedicated to digital accordions. Great care has been taken to preserve the feel of the acoustic accordion and all the little details that have turned Bugari instruments into coveted classics that appeal to the mind the hands and heart of accordion players are incorporated. Make no mistake though, the HARIA-series is quintessentially about technological innovation Powered by ROLAND coupled with Bugari passion.
By coming together Roland and Bugari have created the BugariEvo accordions. They feature very similar state of the art electronics to the Roland FR8X series accordions but in a traditionally constructed wood body with real wood keys and an action which plays more naturally. This construction has enabled a weight saving of around 1Kg, and a much improved sound from the resonant wood body thus giving an excellent feel to the accordion. While this is a digital accordion without reeds, it answers many of the wishes of the modern accordionist. These include a good quality digital accordion which plays more like a regular accordion. Good accordion sampling, the benefits of additional sounds, bellows control and sensitivity, touch sensitivity of the keys and aftertouch all add to the product.
Furthermore, there are a number of finish options including bespoke colour finishes to make your instrument more distinctive. More information and purchase details can be found at BugariEvo.co.uk
BugariEvo – John Romero’s thoughts
The BugariEvo above has recently been exhibited and demonstrated at Celtic Connections Glasgow 2017, The Northern Ireland National Accordion Association Championships 2017, The National Accordion and Fiddle Association of Scotland 2017 and The International Accordion Festival Eastbourne 2017 which is where I had the chance to check it out.
Standard V-Accordions have a tendency to be like Marmite to many accordion players. There are quite a few accordionists that have been put off by the instrument. Unfortunately this is often not of its own fault. How many readers know the owner of a V-accordion who doesn’t know where the volume dial is? There are a number of players been thrown out of groups and orchestras for this failing. The revolution in electronic reedless accordions has grown since inception and improved along the way. I feel that I must confess my own bias with the instrument in order that any readers of this article should understand my thoughts. I play an advanced midi reeded accordion which is currently hooked up to a Yamaha keyboard. It is not a perfect solution as I have to carry this darn great keyboard around, however I do get fabulous electronically produced sounds along with the reeds of my accordion. I have been playing this system since before the birth of the V-Accordion and currently it is the best solution for my musical needs. Previous times I have played the V-Accordion have left me impressed but not that impressed I would delve into my wallet to buy one. I can see some great benefits, things like being able to practise on headphones, recording to midi, the lightweight version takes a huge strain off the back etc, etc.
With my experience in mind I was somewhat dubious and yet quite excited at the prospect of the new Evo. So when Colin at Scotland Accordions invited me to try the beastie I spent a good while playing it one evening after our show. I am not going to review the V-Accordion electronic operating system here as that has been covered by others. What I do want to tell you about is the leap forward that Bugari has brought to the party. The first thing that struck me was just how cool this thing looks and I was instantly impressed by the feel of the casing and keyboard once on. The spectacular black key finish is awesome and is a genuine pleasure to play. The next thing that grabbed my attention was the sound quality and oh my has that improved. The new wooden casing brings a marked advance in the tone quality of the accordion sounds inside. Musettes, Classical straight reeds, Bayan tonal characteristics all stood out in a much improved sonic experience and they are better than anything I have built into my Yamaha.
To be fair there are a few downsides. I don’t entirely get on with the bellows control but it is better than previous models. I’m sure it must be me but I just can’t quite put my finger on why I’m not comfortable with it. Perhaps I just need to play it longer. Whilst blown away with the reed sounds, the other sounds not so much. If you are new to electronics, just having some of the other sonic toys such as a Hammond organ sound will be a novelty and will bring much joy. I was disappointed though as I find the orchestral and others sounds thin. I think Roland need to do some work on these samples and their size and the engine driving the effects needs some more work. In comparison to what is currently available in the organ & keyboard market the accordion has a ways to go. The days of expensive memory chips are gone and to try and save money here is a mistake. Am I being picky?… perhaps, but its just us accordion players always seem to be left behind in the technology race and I find this frustrating.
In conclusion it is my opinion if you hate V-Accordions this new instrument will do little to change you mind. The more you like V-Accordions the more the EVO will exponentially increase your love of the instrument. The BugariEvo is a huge next step in the evolution of the instrument and I have seen nothing in the reedless category that even comes close to this new standard. I am truly looking forward to what may also come in the future and I have a wish list if anyone is interested.
I must pass on my thanks to Colin, Margaret and Alastair at ScotlandAccordions.co.uk and AccordionsDirect.co.uk for the chance to play the instrument and for giving us use of the pictures used in producing this article. They have asked me to make our readers aware of some very special deals that can include part exchanges which are available (just mention AccordionCentral.com). Accordions including Roland Digital instruments will be accepted in part exchange. Please check out their websites – Scotlandaccordions.co.uk & AccordionsDirect.co.uk
41 treble keys with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch to allow loud and quiet sounds depending on the force of key striking and end of key travel additional effects. Settings for accordion, organ, orchestra 1 and orchestra 2.
120 bass buttons with velocity sensitivity. Normal Stradella, 3 row bass/ 3 row chords and other bass systems selectable including free bass (play whole melodies on the left hand using minor third, Bajan, fifth, N Europe or Finnish systems). Settings for accordion, orchestral bass, orchestral chord.
Bellows using ‘dynamic bellows behaviour’ and bellows resistance setting. Bellows curve to enable no bellows movement to sound and various settings to vary bellows movement level for sound level.
128 note polyphony (up to 128 notes can sound simultaneously).
100 accordion type sets each with 14 treble couplers. & bass and 7 chord couplers. 7 free bass registers.
180 orchestral sounds, 18 drum sets
Accordion 7 octaves of registers, 5 bass, 3 chords, 2 free bass
USB sounds uploadable
Organ sounds 32 presets, drawbars
1400 user programs
Noise simulation to match an acoustic accordion includes reed stopping growl, closing valve noise, left button noise, reed simulation.
Special tuning settings include dry, classic, folk, American, N Europe, German, Alpine, Italian, French and Scottish. Adjustment of tuning up to plus or minus 1 semitone continuously variable in Medium reeds.
Reverb, chorus and delay numerous types
Rotary organ sounds, cassotto simulation
Knobs for volume, balance, reverb, chorus, delay, effect
Data edit functions, navigation switches, other on / off switches
3 chin switches (programmable), 6 function switches for bass
Drum switch, octave, bass to treble, mute part, programmable drum, MP3 and wave player, audio loop
MIDI in and out and added functions in MIDI
LCD colour display, 2 x 25 watt output, 2 x 9 cm speakers, 2 tweeters
Internal memory available for sound expansion
Rechargeable battery 24 volt 4500 mA giving about 8 hours of use
Connections for MIDI in and out, charger in, audio out mono or stereo, headphones
Included AC adaptor, battery pack, owners manual, reference caps for bass buttons, straps, soft bag
Weight 11.5 Kg, 543 mm x 280mm x 415 mm