The V-Accordion goes diatonic in Roland's FR-18

(ShackMan | Posted 2011-01-23)

The V-Accordion goes diatonic in Roland's FR-18

Apparently the demand for the electronic button box keeps coming, and Roland keeps producing. Introducing what Roland calls the "world's first digital diatonic accordion -- the FR-18 V-Accordion, which features the same setup and feel with a host of new features and sound sets, including 12 virtual diatonic accordions as well as a variety of orchestral instruments, Virtual Tone Wheel organs, percussion, and more.

The biggest difference here is that it's a hundred and forty-four and more different accordions in one. It models 12 different diatonic accordians, and each of those models is adjustable into any tonality and scale with the touch of a button, even mid-song. It also has plenty of other instruments on it, from orchestral instruments, world and ethnic instruments, brass instruments, percussion and even a tone-wheel-based organ modeling section for Hammond B-3, Vox, and other sounds, including, of course, a Leslie emulator. Three sets of User-loaded patches allow you to save your settings for fast recall.

No matter what sound model you're playing with, the accordion tablature is fully adjustable. For guitarists (or novice accordion players) who are reading this, that means that you can adjust which notes the buttons play when the bellows is pulled apart or compressed and group them individually. Tablature settings are available for download online through a USB connection to the FR-18. To create your own tablature requires extra editing software, which is completely free. Users can even exchange custom tablature sets. All of this is compatible with both PC and Macintosh operatins systems.

The FR-18 is kept light with a speakerless design. This does mean, however, that you'll need an amplifier to play it otherwise. The FR-18 comes with a set of earphones so you can play it right out of the box, but you'll need some sort of amplification to play it for anyone but the person who has the headphones on. To keep the traditional feel of accordion playing, the FR-18 supports wireless systems (sold separately) and battery (sold separately) play instead of using standard 1/4" cable and a power cord. Then you can roam endlessly outdoors or on stage without fear of cables or clutter.

The red and black tones are classy and elegant, striking a good contrast between cool looks on stage and grace in a high class setting. In addition, there are exchangeable inlay sheets, and Roland welcomes users to create their own and interchange them to make the FR-18 their own personal instrument. Switching them out is simple, with just a slide in and out until you're all set to go again.

For more information on the FR-18 V-Accordion and to hear samples and see video of it in action, visit Roland's website.

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook.

Got questions? Comments? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at

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