That magic Cooley sound.

Not many people are aware of this - as the most well-known picture of him shows him holding a grey 4-voice Paolo Soprani - but the box Joe Cooley played on most (if not all) tracks of his only album is a red Paolo Soprani 3-voice box, tuned in D/D#. This was the box that was given to him by a group of friends as he left for America, the one he christened The Box.

I recently managed to get hold of a very similar box, though this one is about 6 or 7 years older.

Full view of 3-voice Paolo

It is also in D/D# (tuning still factory-original !), with the basses set up to be played based around the inside row. So even though you have a D row, playing in D is a bit impractical.

It has very much the same sound as you'll hear on the Cooley recordings, so he obviously also just used the tuning the box got at the factory in Italy - which is a very wide tremolo by today's standards. Oddly enough, if you play at a decent speed the wide tuning isn't as annoying as you would expect. But if you play slower, the waviness isn't too pleasant.

The good thing about a 3-voice is that it has one reed block less than a 4-voice box. So it can be made less deep (1 cm less - 17.3 instead of 18.3) and is noticeable lighter. Which of course makes it easier to handle than a 4-voice.

As you can see in the photos, this box is in near-perfect condition. Not too strange, as it has not been played much. The only visual damage is a missing piece of the black plastic trim along the grille, and some scratches on the lower inside pair of button. Of course none of this affects the way it plays.

Full face view of Paolo 3-voice D/D# Back of Paolo 3-voice D/D#
Back/serial# of Paolo 3-voice D/D# Bass end of Paolo 3-voice D/D#

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