The company moves its first steps in 1937 … What has changed in all these years? Has there been an innovative process in the accordion construction or have you been faithful to the techniques of the past?
Our type of work in the family “shop” (as we like to name it) has remained very crafty and we are proud it. The “handmade” instrument is, in our opinion, more well finished and polished, because in the production process it passes several times for the hands of a person and not for the “arms” of a equipment. In the past, a lot of attention was paid to the quantity without leaving the aesthetic finishing touches. Today, on the contrary, the musician demands the care of every single detail. Innovation is, therefore, in search of materials, woods, skins, rather than using machines or accessories to simplify the production process.
The Ottavianelli brothers are probably among the youngest bussinessmen in Castelfidardo. How important is the contribution and experience of the older figures in the construction of an accordion, and how important is it to include “new forces” in the productive cycle of companies?
The oldest figure, the supervisor, is always a key point of reference and without our grandfather Amedeo and Dad, Ovidio, we would not have gained any kind of expertise in this branch. With the exception of family people, however, we have noticed much mistrust among the old workers jealous of their work and unlikely to convey their experiences to young people. Even among the companies there is not much collaboration and everyone thinks about cultivating our garden (mors tua, vita mea …), there is no entrepreneurial spirit, for example, if you buy raw materials in synergy you could get better prices and consequently the final product would have a lower cost. That being said, it is clear … the future is young and we believe that all the companies must put new forces to continue the project, young people capable of maintaining quality standards that are both capable and able, at the same time, to promote and place the product on the market.
Are you, like other Castelfidardo companies, pointing to a specific production line or covering the whole branch? I know you are very well placed in the folk, popular and anyway in traditional music in general, but browsing your site I also saw free bass accordions … What are the differences of your instruments?
Originally our instruments were mostly aimed at folk music, musette and dance music. Today, the Italian market has slowed down a bit and we have focused on overseas with a more complete production, especially with classical, jazz and low-key conservatories for fifth and thirds. We are also very well introduced in Brazil with a particularly suitable for Forrò. Our accordions, without seeing them, are recognizable by sound. One of the peculiarities of our product is the high compression of the instrument and the immediate response of reeds to the touch.
How does a musician stand out among the many offers of Castelfidardo companies? What should an accordionist be intrigued in purchasing a new instrument? Clearly the sound, but I think there are other peculiarities …
The musician usually has the ideas fairly clear and he knows what he is looking for … Sound is decisive, but an accordion has a lot of prerogatives … the weight, the silence of the mechanics, the excellent air tightness and a quick response to the touch.
Over the years, it has been able to reduce the weight of the instruments and produce more functional bellows, to name a few details that are not entirely negligible. In your opinion, where do you think you can still intervene to improve the accordions that will come?
We have already made great steps and we believe that there are no big margins to improve the already excellent instruments. Experiments with plastic and carbon prototypes have been made, but clearly the sound response cannot be the same. It might be interesting to find solutions to further silence the mechanical parts, but ultimately we talk about a valve and a leather that strikes on an aluminium base and at the moment we do not believe there are any big disturbances in the horizon.
How much do you care about the competition of foreign companies and especially those from China, as long as it can really affect a level market such as that made up of Castelfidardo’s historic factories?
At first we did not bother them, because their product was still very poor even if it was affordable at the economic level. Nowadays, especially Korean companies, they have reached slightly higher qualitative standards, and although the differences with our instruments are noticed, they are particularly appealing to those families with children moving their first steps in the music world.
There was, undeniably, a rise in values even among accordionists; the way to play has changed considerably over the last 30 years, and even in the Italian Conservatives, as in the major foreign institutions, there has been an increase in registrations. This undoubtedly entails a greater demand for production, but also, probably, a constant innovation in the face of the various requests of musicians …
We work mainly, about 80%, with distributors and work proceeding quite standard. In other cases, we try to match the demands of musicians that vary from the choice of the reeds, to the tuning, the weight, the lightness of the keyboard …
It is a solid spruce instrument, a wood with excellent and particularly light sound. Its is a cassette accordion called “Z double 16″ with 2 low octaves in cassette tuned differently and out with an 8 “(natural / clarinet) and a 4″ (small / acute) whose combination of sounds gives the instrument an entirely original and exclusive sound especially suitable for jazz music. The items are handmade pro model and are mounted with leather and nails instead of wax. He also claimed changes in keystrokes and bass mechanics, which in his instrument are 90.
When you experiment with improvements such as those made in Simone Zanchini’s accordion, they are automatically applied to standard instruments or … is there an out-out of the artist?
Zanchini’s accordion is a custom instrument that is not made in series; we produce the same model with some variants, such as the number of bass and registers. The technical characteristics remain unchanged.
In May we decided to give us this new showroom located in a very strategic position (Porta Marina) that allows us to have more visibility among the many tourists and enthusiasts who arrive systematically in the town. In Castelfidardo, almost all industry companies are located in the 3 industrial zones and visitors are down to the centre and do not find an exhibition. As far as we are concerned, we also think that we have contributed an image to the “Accordion City”, and for our customers it is easier to try the instruments in a particularly comfortable environment.
What’s cooking in the following future?
In this last year we have launched a further line of intermediate accordion that is between studio and professional models. The line is called “Superior” and is having a lot of success especially abroad.
This article is available also in: Italian