Accordions Worldwide Celebrity Interview, Massimo Pigini
Celebrity Interviews

Castelfidardo, Italy. 14 June 1999


Q: Your father Gino Pigini (see picture below) started the Pigini Accordion Factory in 1946 and managed it for many years. What part did your father play in your early music and accordion manufacturing education?
A: It was fantastic to start with my father, in fact everything was born by him. Unfortunately we lost him 5 years ago on the 1st July of 1994. For us it was a very bad thing, but he had already organised everything for continuing the success story of this development and factory in the hard world of accordion manufacture. My father Gino, started in this hard world making "voci", (reeds) - in fact he was a popular "vociarolo", and then in 1946 with his brothers, he started to make and sell accordions. In the first sales book, we can see accordions sold in USA on the 2nd October 1946, in Canada and Sweden on 15th December 1946 and Argentina, Egypt, USA and Pakistan in 1947.

I joined this factory many years after him, starting in 1978 when I was 20. I didn't know the accordion very well, but it was fantastic the help and the liberty that my father gave me. In fact, Gino was a perfect teacher for a lot of workers who are still in our factory and who have taught me so many things.

Gino said a lot of famous words and the best was : "the accordions never finishes", a sentence that in Italian can have two meanings. The first is that an accordion can never be finished completely because there is always a little note in late, a little graze onhe celluloid, a very little noise on a button. The second meaning is that the accordion never finishes, never stops to play even after 100 years.

Q: Did you spend much time at the accordion factory as a child?
A: Yes. When I was a child, I spent much time at the accordion factory which at that time was called "Bottega". An old worker often reminds me, that when I was child, I wanted to stay near the "Big air drill" and then I made the same noise with my mouth. But after few minutes I was banned because I was disturbing those who were working.

Q: I believe you have formal qualifications in areas not directly related to accordion manufacture? What are these?
A: Yes, I was qualified in industrial chemicals, a subject not needed for make accordions, but at 15 years of age, I liked chemicals and I couldn't image my future as an accordion manufacturer.

Q: What made you decide to make your career in accordion manufacture?
A: I have already partly answered this question but I can add that my father obliged me to work like a normal worker learning different types of work. Then for 3-4 years, half the time was manual work and half the time was office work. Now, when I haven't meetings, I make accordions with my hands and for me it's a great pleasure.

Q: Your father was often at the factory until shortly before his death. How did access to his enormous experience contribute to the ongoing success of the Pigini Factory after you were the Manager?
A: With the help of Gino, (another picture alongside) everything was simpler, although work with him was pressured because in his last years of life, he was very very fast. He could work 12-14 hours a day at a very high quality. But I think, that his best quality was to be able to supervise at the factory and also give me have the freed om to make mistakes, the freedom to try different ways, even when he wasn't in agreement with my ideas/opinions.

Q: You work closely with your sister Francesca in the business and frequently travel to music and trade events together. Tell us about how you work together and share responsibilities.
A: It's good working with my sister Francesca, particularly because we often understand each other without even talking. We divide the work, I work in the production and she works in the sector of Marketing, but our factory is small so everyone helps to do whatever is needed.

Q: Just recently, you built a new factory. Tell us a little about it. (size, type of construction, any special features for accordion manufacture, specialized machinery etc).
A: It was an idea of "Babbo Gino" who bought the land some years ago near the "Bottega" where "my sons better than me certainly will make a new factory". Really, we weren't better than him but we took advantage of his FONDAMENTA (wish) to build a modern factory. We now have a 2,000 square meter factory separated into 7 departments:
- Machine shop: for preparing the many small indispensable mechanical parts, made in the factory to maintain production of a constant quality
- Carpentry: working with liuteria for the construction of the wooden "casse"
- Meccanicari: production of the left hand
- Tastierari: production of the right hand
- Rifinitura: assembly of the parts of the accordion and quality control
- Tuning: assembly of the "voci" (reeds) blocks and tuning.
- Consignments: shipping

Q: Tell us a little about the range of standard production models you manufacture (types of accordions, how many different models, colours, etc).
A: We have in the catalogues more than 60 models, and with the different versions for some countries, we arrive at 100 different modesl of accordion. Surely we have the largest number of free bass models in the market with: 60, 72, 96, 108, 120 bass and with 34, 37, 41, 45, 46, 52, 58, 64 notes on the right hand. For more detailed information of all the different models and specifications, you can see our web site on-line at www.pigini-accordions.com

Q: Would your factory be one of the larger factories in the Castelfidardo area?
A: Yes, it's true, our factory is one of the biggest factories of the area.

Q: Could you describe the steps of the accordion production line for building the accordion. (These can be quite long answers as the details of manufacture seem to be of great interest  to readers.)
A: A good level accordion like the Convertor 55/B de luxe has about 7000 pieces, a Suber Baian Sirius more than 1000 and all are very important, so I can't describe all the construction in detail. It needs too much time.

We received several quite technical questions from readers.
Q: Is it possible to build a Sirius or Mythos with a bass configuration 8 8 4 or 8 8 4 2 if it does not have standard bass OR a Sirius with 8 4 4 with standard bass?
A: Theoretically it's possible to make everything and in the past we made 8 8 4 and 8 4 4 2 accordions. At the end, there will always be a compromise of the "desire technique - artistic" of the player and "the weight - dimension" that the player can withstand. The bass configuration solutions 8 8 2 or 8 4 2 are considered the best results.

Q: Another reader would like information on how the treble side 4th and 5th row buttons are coupled to rows 1 and 2 to maintain the same key pressures and depth of touch as rows 1, 2 and 3?
A: It's a very technical question and we should talk about lever, point of pressure and forces, making necessary a good engineer and complicated mathematics calculus. However, the "Maestro Tastieraio" (the man who decides the construction design of the right hand) makes it with the experience of his many years of manufacturing design.

Q: Has the Pigini Factory ever designed a left hand manual which could be played using all fingers with slightly larger buttons like the right hand manual. Why or why not? Could it be available on a Sirius model?
A: I'm sure that we had tried more than 2 particular systems every year since the constitution of our factory so we have now made over 100 prototypes. We made different models with big and small buttons on the left, in the 50's and in the 80's and also these last years we made Super Baian Sirius with big buttons and gradini on the left.

Q: Please tell us about Peter Soave's special Mythos bayan instrument?
A: Peter Soave and some other famous players have got a Mythos. It's a fantastic instrument played by a fantastic artist. There isn't an accordion better than a Mythos with a weight of 13 kg, an extension of 64 notes on the right and 58 on the left. With a sweet and clean sound or when you want, a powerful sound. With perfect silent mechanism that is indestructible. In 20 or 30 years, these will be instruments of an inestimable value. You have to know that we will make a maximum of 33 of them. But… I'm not the right person to talk about Mythos or Super Bajan Sirius, they are parts of me, parts of our factory. You have to ask the artists their impressio n and ask their public, they can be more impartial.

Q: The Pigini Factory under your management developed new instruments such as its Sirius and Mythos models. Can you tell us about your factories development and research policy? (The reader actually wanted to know what you are going to be developing in the future but of course you may not want to answer that. There might however be other developments now in production that you want to talk about.)

A: A factory like ours to always be modern, has to work in research and development (r&s). Certainly, we have different projects at different levels of development but they aren't public yet and we will show them at the right moment, if they are valid. In spite of the great experience of our workers and designers, we can take a decision which seems right but on the contrary, is wrong. Our research and development during1999 had a lot of success.

1) Sirius Millennium: a Super Baian Sirius' development. In this model there aren't the registers and they are replaced by "multichin rest", which is a patent of ours. On this way the sound of the right hand betters a lot. We make also others improvement but I don't want to talk at length.

2) Wing 374: an accordion dedicated to whom is looking for the lightness. It's an instruments with the keyboard of 37 notes F-F with 4 reads and 9 register at the right hand and with 120 basses and 4 register at the basses. All these features with only a weight of 6.8 kg. Let's stop with the instruments of 13, 14, 15 kg.

Q: A number of famous artists play Pigini and your instruments are very prominent at international competitions. What are the qualities of your instruments that you believe have attracted competition players to them?
A: I believe that I have had a lot of very good teachers, I mean teachers of life. I can't mention them all, but I want to name two of them.

Mogens Ellegaard, unfortunately we lost him few years ago and Fernand Lacroix, still operating and always very informed on everything about the accordion.

Both had always helped me and always said to me: be careful Massimo, you have to always stay near the artists and try to understand what they wish, what are their needs, listen to them with a lot of attention, learn and try to give them not an accordion, but an instrument through which they feel themselves free to express their capacities.

This is our philosophy.
To provide a way, through which the artist can express themselves, to let them feel "the beauty and the good" that is inside each artist, to communicate with their public and impart emotions. I think that we produce an instrument able to give/impart emotions, not just accordions.

Q: Do you manufacture non standard instruments to order?
A: Yes, if we think it is a possible and an interesting thing.

Q: What other hobbies and interests aside from accordion manufacture do you have?
A: I love the sea and so if it is good and there isn't the wind I do sub immersion (diving) and on the contrary, when there is wind, I like going sailing …, in the years my passion for this sport has taken me from the Laser to the 470, the 505 and the Hobbie Cat 16, through which when there is the wind, I have fun with my friends.

Q: What do you see as the future long term direction of accordion manufacture?
A: We are going into the third millennium, the accordion is an instrument born at the end of the preceding century, and it becomes more and more a well known instrument, in the most exclusive cultural clubs of classical music, original music as well as the modern music.

At the same time, the accordion has had a lot of success with Ethnic music and the use of an instrument which gives happiness and is easy to play and this type of accordion continues with a lot of different shades: Tex Mex, Oberkrainer, Varieté, Gaupasa.

There also continues a lot of orchestras and music schools.

The accordion is a live and versatile instrument so I think that our factory, here in Castelfidardo will have, a lot of working years and that a lot of future generations of accordionists will perform with our instruments.
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