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Soprani Midget Grand: Tiny Titan from the Golden Age of Accordions

December 5, 2014
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Midget Grand in Case!

I just got this interesting little Soprani, a “Midget Grand.” It is the same size as my daughter’s little 12-bass beginner’s instrument, but has 90 basses and quite a few other features that seem rare for such a small instrument. I’d love to learn more about it.

 

Settimio Soprani with “radio-button” registers (though they have notes printed on them, not numbers).

Comparison with another full-size Soprani discussed on this page with some similar features, suggests that this Midget is from the 1940s. At that time though manufacturers weren’t making many full-featured small instruments. Nowadays we hear from lots of folks looking for smaller ones to travel with (or help their aching backs) so I suspect I’d have no trouble finding a home for it.

Midget mute-flaps closed

Mute flaps closed.

Midget mute-flaps open

Mute flaps open!

Top view of the bass side with bellows-lock knob, and register indicator window.

It has swell little mute-flaps with a switch on the front giving a bright/mute lead option. Fun! And instead of outside fasteners, these Sopranis have bellows-lock knobs on top (with the arrow) that works fine but feels a bit flimsy to me. (Ironically of course, the idea didn’t catch on). Mine also has nifty register-indicators that show which reeds are playing (i.e. the right hand one shows “2” or “3”; the bass indicator is stuck on “4”.)

I’m assuming mine is a mid-level instrument. The reeds seem good (a few leathers and valves need help), the bellows may need repair or replacement, but they function well enough to play around with. The left-hand bass register doesn’t work, so I have to open that up and hope it will be a simple fix. The narrow “ladies'” waterfall-type keyboard is physically longer than my daughter’s little red accordion, but the “Midget’s” body is less deep than the beginner’s. It weighs a bit more as well. The Soprani Midget Grand compared with a child's accordion

Meanwhile inside, the “little-soprano-that-could” has 15 reed-blocs! My daughter’s by comparison has 4. The Soprani’s little blocks are packed in sideways and I suspect they’d be a pain to service. Look cool though.

kids' accordion two bass reed blocks

kids’ accordion two bass reed blocks

Soprani Midget Reeds Bass

6 of 15 Soprani reed blocks (bass side)

Soprani Midget Grand ?? 2

On the front it has the label “Soprani Inc.” and then “Midget Grand” with a little initial or something I can’t figure out, maybe “Midget Grand H2”? What would the “H” be for? No Idea, but look, I found an advertisement! And yes, it’s from 1941.

“Easy to Play, The smallest, lightest, full-volumed 90 bass accordion ever designed. It’s the new Soprani Ampliphonic Midget. Think of it! 34 treble, and 90 bass keys, beautiful tone, amazing volume. See and try this wonderful new Soprani at your dealer’s or write for a FREE booklet. Soprani, Inc. Chicago, Ill."  (Popular Science advertisement, Jan 1941, pg 43.)

Searching for “90 bass accordion” (an unusual number) hit on this Popular Science ad, Jan 1941!

I wonder why we don’t see more older accordions of this size? I’ve heard that dealers then sold (or even loaned out) bare-bones beginners’ models and later encouraged/pushed customers to buy full-size 120 base instruments. No price is listed in this ad from 1941. I wonder if it was at all cheaper than a larger instrument with similar features? At any rate, nowadays little ones with extras like this are quite uncommon.

Midget Grand, front view, with the mute flaps. This picture is crooked, sorry.

Now if only it was a chromatic button accordion instead of piano keyboard, my accordion dreams would be realized! Still, such a neat little guy. Which reminds me to mention that of course “midget” isn’t the friendliest thing to call anybody these days (if it ever was). Not making fun of people should be considered basic good manners.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tricia allen permalink
    August 15, 2015 10:51 pm

    Hi, I have one of these with the same label line appears a little larger. I know nothing about accordions and bought it to try to learn to play, but gave up. Have you learned anything more about it? Can I send you a photo of mine and let’s see if they’re similar? I’m planning on selling it on eBay or craigslist but have no idea of its value. It seems to be in great condition. My email is Pacificimagery@lava.net
    I have another much more elaborate looking older accordion as well that I’m trying to research. Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated.
    Best,
    Tricia

  2. Tricia allen permalink
    August 15, 2015 10:52 pm

    I don’t know if my previous message went through. I have one of these but my looks a little bit more detailed. I know nothing of accordions. Mine appears to be in great shape. I bought it hoping to learn and gave up. I plan on listing this as well as another older much more elaborate accordion on eBay. Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated. I would be happy to send you photos. Thanks!

  3. July 8, 2016 8:35 am

    I suspect that ‘H2’ is more likely A2 – A for Ampliphonic; 2 for the later/better model.

  4. Christina Tubbs permalink
    September 28, 2016 7:34 pm

    I have the same exact accordion except it’s a midget sopron A1. I know nothing about accordions and I can’t find ANYTHING about the A1s. Only A2s. Can anyone help?

    • September 28, 2016 7:50 pm

      I think I saw one of those on sale. Had less bells and whistles? Like less register switches maybe? I thought about buying it to try switching the bellows, since this one’s are a bit worn.

      You’ve encountered the sad state of “what is my accordion” information online. Most models will turn up almost nothing, and I suspect there were tens of thousands of models. (I wonder if anybody knows?)

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