1960’s Tiger Combo ‘Cordion / 1920’s Flow Tone Accordion
Reading/writing about the 1960’s Tiger Combo ‘Cordion accordion that Faithe Deffner and Bill Palmer (both since passed on) developed for Pancordion and Titano (both accordion brands owned then by the same company).
In this post Faithe mentions that they came in a tiger-print bag. I’d love to see one of those. Anybody ever seen this rare Tiger accessory? [See the photo I added in the comments.] I gather it came with a vocal mic on top for singers too? Why didn’t these ideas save the accordion?
The concept behind the Tiger seems interesting. A cheap, light, flashy design to reach young people playing combo-organs in rock bands. Deffner talks more about the Tiger here.
I believe Pancordion sold the “Tiger Combo ‘Cordion” while Titano sold theirs as just a “Combo ‘Cordion,” which I think lacked the Tiger’s swept keyboard.
The “Combo’cordions” were obviously modelled on the similarly colour-reversed Vox Continental combo-organ that all the British invasion bands were playing.
The Tiger had an unusual keyboard setting to play in fifths (single-key power-chords?) I wonder if it might have been more useful on the bass side, so you could build on them with the right hand keyboard? This vid (below) may show that they had them on the bass? I wish they’d been able to keep experimenting with the design. Developing a decent amplification system way back then would have made a difference for the accordion I expect.
Deffner talks more about the Tiger here. Sad I couldn’t have interviewed her, she sounds like quite a lady. First female head of an accordion company, she obviously worked really hard to keep the instrument going, even when it got into the “exodus” period of the 1970s and on. But the Tiger feels like one of those places where the timeline could have split. If they’d had young players trying it out and tweaking the design, working on the amplification to play in loud bands, dealing with those problems we still deal with today, then “things might have been different.”
Interestingly, while looking for pictures of the still elusive tiger-print carrying bag, I found a photo of a “Flowtone Combo” which appears to be another version of the combo-cordion. It looks like the Titano to me, but the control-knobs are in different places.
So I look up “Flowtone” and find this fantastic old 1920s-30s item that has the same swept-back keyboard as the Tiger. This is an incredibly beautiful accordion.
I was pretty sure I’d seen that kind of keyboard before, but was the 60’s “Flowtone” version modelled after this old one with the same old Flowtone brand? Were they prototypes? Marvellous mysteries.
Holy crap, this old one sold online for $150! That hurts, it does. Hope it found a worthy home. This thing belongs in an art gallery. Dreaming of my accordion coffee-table book.
I should mention that Marion Jacobson may have introduced me to the Tiger phenomena in her “Searching for Rockordion,” paper which is very worth reading. Some of that story then reappears in her Squeeze This! book.
One more jazzy vid of a Titano Combo ‘Cordion from Liberty Bellows.