© 2010 By Gaines I. " Ike" Milligan
Accordion Repair and Tuning
Changing the world 1 accordion at a time.
You've got accordian questions? I've got questions about your questions!
Antique and "Vintage" Restored Accordions
I have personally resurrected these old accordions, and have thoroughly tested and played each one.
It is possible for you to own one of these extremely rare, often unique instruments. Many hours of work have been done, in order to tune and restore the original hand made reeds condition, check and recondition, or make new bellows, new valve pads, mechanical and keyboard work, etc. on each one.
Some of these accordions were custom made for specific person, and are the only ones in existence. Others are uncommonly rare and may be the only known examples of a restored one of that type.
Here are some links to my other 'accordian' webpages:
Get New Custom Made Bellows. Straps and Accessories are also available from Ike!!
I can be contacted and I regularly answer accordion questions. firstname.lastname@example.org.
I enjoy hearing and answering personally your accordion questions. Occasionally I can tell people how to repair their accordions themselves, but often it is not possible to give a definitive answer without seeing it.
I can fix or replace most parts of all kinds of accordions including keyboard accordians, button boxes, restoration, tuning, repairing shipping damage, new straps, bellows, cases, and accessories. Please e-MAIL "Ike" for free help and advice on your repair questions.
What's this Accordion Worth? (A difficult question I sometimes get)
I can't usually give you a firm opinion as to what an accordion is really worth. Often value can't be determined with much accuracy, but a picture of the accordion can give me an idea whether it is collectible, professional, student, decade of manufacture, etc., To really judge the quality of an accordion, it needs to be played. But I am interested in hearing about any accordion you have; if it interests you it interests me.
Accordions are complicated; a full size professional accordion has at least as many reeds, as a grand piano has strings. Nearly all accordions contain perishable materials. The reeds are usually held in place by a mixture of beeswax and pine rosin. This grips the accordion's reeds tightly in place on the wooden chambers, and is airtight when properly applied. It makes it possible to remove the individual reeds and clean and service them. When an accordion is more than 40 years old, the wax will usually need to be replaced. If you buy an accordion online without trying it out first, you are asking for problems. If you buy it online from a reputable dealer or accordion maker, there should be some sort of guarantee in writing, or at least by reputation.
Ike can fix your bass machine fast and right! *Click*here !
Accordion BellowsThe acoustic accordion will be operated by air passing over the reeds. there are reeds in both sides, in the box parts, called the casings. The casing on the right side of the accordion is called the treble casing, and on the left, the bass casing. In between the two casings there will be a bellows made of 4 pieces of pleated cardboard covered with cloth lining, and joined at the corners by leather gussets and with a metal corner pieces. If the bellows starts to leak due to age and wear, it can be temporarily repaired, but the repair may not last, and it is best to have a new bellows made. The cost of custom made bellows is now about $475, but may vary for complexity. The bellows from one accordion will rarely fit anther accordion, so very accurate measurements have to be taken. For some smaller accordions, a standard-sized stock bellows of the sort made in quantities, will be less costly. I can obtain these stock bellows and custom-made bellows of very high quality in various colors to match your accordion, or your outfit, or the decor of your home, garden, or whatever.
- Pricing for complete reed restoration is usually based on the total number of reed plates in the accordion. The reeds are cleaned, new reed valves installed and new wax is poured.The acoustic (non-electronic) accordion contains multiple sets of reeds. Quite often there are more reeds inside the accordion than the number of strings found in a Grand Piano. Diatonic or 'button" accordions, which play a different note when squeezing or pulling, have about half as many reeds as larger accordions have.
- The left (bass) casing contains several sets of reeds, usually 4 or 5 sets times the 12 notes in the chromatic scale, e.g., 48 or 60 reed plates, with a reed on each side of the plate, one for each direction of air flow when squeezing or pulling the bellows.
- The situation is similar on the treble side, except the number of reed plates is equal to the number of working keys, in most 120 bass accordions that would be 41 keys times the number of treble reed sets, usually 3 to 4 sets, for mediumto large 120 bass accordions, or 2 sets for student size 120 bass accordions down to most 48 or 12 bass. (But most intermediate sized, i.e., 60, 80 or 96 bass, have 3 sets of reeds). Each reed plate has a reed on both sides, for each air flow direction when the bellows are pulled or pressed.
- The performance capabilities of accordion reeds can vary greatly, depending on the precision, skill, and method by which they were made and the quality of the metal. After the reeds are made and put into the accordion, they have to be tuned together as sets. Unlike piano strings, the physical properties of accordion reeds are permanently altered when the note is adjusted by tuning. The reed is tuned by scratching the metal in a carefully chosen location, by a highly skilled accordion tuner. Tuning by hack repairmen can easily completely ruin an expensive set of reeds, which might cost more to replace than you originally paid for the instrument.
- Usually the reeds are held in place on chambered wooden blocks using a mixture of beeswax and pine rosin. This material is carefully poured around and between the reeds and whn it cools, it grips them tightly in place, so that efficient transmission of the wave vibrations can occur. If the wax has gone bad with age, which is often the case, the wax has to be re-poured when reed work is done.
- When the accordion goes out of tune, there are a number of causes, all of which may very likely necessitate complete cleaning of all the reeds and application of new wax. If only a few notes are out of tune, if it is relatively new, it just might be possible to fix those few reeds individually without a complete reed overhaul, but the best solution is often a complete reed renovation.
- The cost of a complete reed overhaul ranges from about $250 to over $1200 depending on the number of reed sets and the number of keys.
- Tuning by an amateur should not be attempted on a non-expendable accordion, since a very valuable set of reeds could easily be absolutely ruined. To tune accordions is a highly specialized science.
- Hand-making of accordion reeds is done by only a few people, and the reeds in an accordion, if hand-made, might actually be irreplaceable, if that reed maker is no longer making reeds.
NOTE: I am now presently accepting shipped accordions, for free analysis, and repair estimates. Please pack carefully. All work is guaranteed. I recommend the U. S. Postal Service for shipping, in which case please mail to the P. O. Box listed above.
Squeezeboxes on Usenet !!
Did you know that you can ask accordion questions on usenet at the newsgroup rec.music.makers.squeezebox? Your ISP might have a "news server"! If you don't already know how to set up your news reader, call up your ISP's tech support. I regularly read and reply to many of those public messages to the great benefit and edification of all peoples. The heading link above -- http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&safe=off&group=rec.music.makers.squeezebox -- is to Google newsgroups. You may use it without a news reading program, to post questions to the accordion "netizen" community.
FAQ: I bought an accordion on Ebay and the seller told me it worked perfectly, but I received it and it was in poor condition, plus all the bass buttons were stuck down as a result of rough handling during shipment and poor packing.
Answer: Most people should not buy accordions over the internet except from reputable professional accordion dealers, like might be found by posting a message on rec.music.makers.squeezebox, to get input and recommendations from the accordion community. If I were to receive a broken accordion I could fix it, but I would not pay top dollar for an accordion without physically looking at it. If you have experience repairing accordions you might want to take a chance on an internet accordion sold by someone who knows little about it. To even know what kind of questions to ask of the seller, you need some repair experience. Anyway I can fix it.
When you receive it, if the only problem is stuck bass buttons I could fix it for you in as little as 5 minutes, if it's not badly damaged, or 2 or more hours if someone bent it out of adjustment or broke something inside. All the chord buttons stuck down, might a small repair job; let's hope. However, if your accordion has systemic problems like bad wax, rust or corrosion, moth damage, or worn out bellows, it needs restoration work (see above comments under "Tuning").
For repairs or support on any kind of squeezebox, including button boxes, don't hesitate to contact me directly, please.
I do complete tuning, restoration, and repair.
Ike's Boxpital for Sick Accordions is headquartered at:10803 Keller Street
Silver Spring MD 20902Phone (301)649-1266
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