At Fonteneau Accordions, we have the great privilege to work since 2020 with a brand particularly appreciated by accordionists: Castagnari. We would like to introduce you to this remarkable brand, which has proven itself over the decades.
1 - The History of Castagnari
Castagnari accordions originate from a family workshop created more than 100 years ago in the Marche region of Italy.
In 1914, Giacomo, the great grandfather of today's Castagnari, began making his first accordions as a craftsman, after completing his apprenticeship with a Master Violin Maker.
Towards the end of the 1970s, in the midst of the folk music revival, the diatonic accordion experienced a renaissance after having been almost totally supplanted by the chromatic accordion for several decades.
In 1979, the meeting with the accordionist Marc Perrone was to be decisive.
Born in Villejuif of Italian parents, Marc Perrone was a member of the group "Perlinpinpin Folc". He had participated in the revival of Gascon and Occitan dances and devoted himself to collecting traditional dances and music in the Gers and Landes. He then convinced Mario Castagnari to resume the manufacture of diatonic accordions. Mario accepted on the condition that he would make a full-fledged instrument of excellent quality.
From that day on, Castagnari accordions will play a major role in this revival by generating a new evolution of the diatonic accordion.
2 - The Transformation of the Diatonic Accordion
Starting again from the evolutionary stage where the instrument had stopped, the members of the Castagnari family will make it evolve by leaps and bounds, especially in these 5 aspects:
- They will make the sound of the diatonic accordion evolve by removing its tremolo to adopt a finer and more subtle tuning. They will also bring a great requirement on the precision of the tuning.
- They will add additional keys that will allow the diatonic accordion to enlarge its repertoire. For example: a third row of buttons on the keyboard of the right hand composed essentially of notes out of key or accidentals will give this instrumentaccess to the twelve notes of the chromatic scale.
- The left hand keyboard will be enriched with additional basses. From the 2, 4 or 8 basses of the older models, the instrument will be expanded to 12, 18 or 24 basses.
- They will create a new aesthetic by using carefully selected woods: first cherry and walnut, then maple, ash, paduk and wenge. They will pay attention to the path of each tree trunk, taking into account the traditional drying methods that optimize the acoustic qualities of each species. Each piece of wood will be used to make 1 accordion by hand, respecting the natural design of the fibres and the nuances of the grain. They will work on theergonomics of each instrument, always ensuring the right balance and providing a very demanding finish. Thetightness of the accordion and therefore its general compression will gain an efficiency never reached before by the diatonic accordion.
- They will use better quality blades, steel reeds mounted on duralumin frames, and hand-made voices by the best craftsmen. The reeds were previously machine-mounted on soft aluminium frames.
To find out how to properly maintain your Castagnari, follow our free accordion maintenance tips:Discover our tips
3 - The Diatonic Reference
Castagnari accordions will quickly become the reference for diatonic accordions from the end of the seventies.
The Handrywith its 3 rows, its 12 basses and its registers on both hands, will be the flagship model, adopted from its creation by most of the monsters of folk music, Marc Perrone of course, probably the most emblematic accordionist of the folk revival movement of that time. We can also mention Alain Pennec, Yann Fañch Perroches or Ronan Robert for Breton music. Bruno Le Tron, François Heim, Jean-Michel Corgeron and many other major players in French folk music. The Handry model was subsequently developed in many variants: 12, 18 or 24 basses, 3 or 4 rows of right hand, stepped or flat keyboards, etc.
The range quickly expanded and was played all over the world by a wide variety of musicians and artists, for example: Sharon Shannon in Irish music on a flat keyboard model specially designed for her and named after her, Marc Berthoumieux in jazz on a chromatic button model, the Magica 3 etc.
4 - A Very Rich Range
The Castagnari range is very complete and is aimed at the most demanding accordionists, let us show you a good overview:
- In addition to the Handry in all its forms, there are all the modern modern models with closed keyboardsThese are the most popular models, using an aluminium keyboard inside a wooden cupboard. Amongst them we can find models with 2 rows and 3 voices like the Trillythe Sonu and the Tenoreor 4 voices like the Montmartre and the Wielly, 2 rows + 2 buttons like the 19142 rows and a half like the Dony (2 voices) or the Mory (3 voices), as well as models with 3 rows and 2 voices like the Rik with 12 basses, the Evothe Matris and the Mas with 18 basses and the Mas 24 with 24 basses as its name suggests.
- Les grands classiques à claviers traditionnels, c'est à dire utilisant un clavier main droite en bois. Ces modèles sont montés avec des voix de qualité Super Dural. Parmi eux on trouve 2 modèles à 2 rangs: Le Niko (à 2 voix) et le Sander ( à 3 voix) et 2 modèles à 2 rangs plus 2 boutons: Le Jean-Pierre (à 2 voix) et le Vicky (à 3 voix).
- The classics with traditional keyboards edited with quality voices Tipo a Mano with 2 rows like the Laura (2 voices) and the Fazzy (3 voices), with 2 rows plus 2 buttons like the Stephania (2 voices) and the Alain 8 or the Alain 12 (3 voices).
- The small sizes which have largely contributed to the reputation of the House of Castagnari, a pioneer in this field, such as the very famous Lilly model with its 2 rows and 8 basses for only 1.8 kilograms, the 3-voice models like the Roma or the Tommy and the 3-row models like the Benny or the Big with its 18 basses for 3.3 kilograms! Let's not forget the smallest of them: the Giordy just 1 kilogram.
- Chromatic models in solid wood with buttons like the Magica K2 (2 voices), the Magica K3 (3 voices) in 4 or 5 rows and the professional models with 96 basses and 5 rows like the Magica 3 (Marc Berthoumieux's accordion), this last model is also available with a piano keys.
5 - Conclusion
Today, the Castagnari family and their team continue this traditional, artisanal production in the small village of Castelnuovo in Recanati in the Marche region of Italy in an atmosphere of harmony and serenity. They pass on their professional and human cultural values to the new generation. Always listening to the musicians and proposing new creations. Castagnari has become a reference in the international musical panorama, always paying particular attention to the aesthetics, the beautiful sound, the functionality and the perpetual evolution of its accordions. Its reputation has been built up over time and continues to flourish thanks to its passion for craftsmanship, even in the modern world.
The quality of manufacture has remained, more than ever, the trademark of the House of Castagnari.
If you wish to discover the full range of the Castagnari brand, we invite you to take a look at the catalogue in our shop right here:
Sources : Our experience, the Castagnari family and their website