Accordion Repair and Tuning
Changing the world 1 accordion at a time.
You've got accordian questions? I've got questions about your questions!
By Gaines I. " Ike" Milligan
Click here for information on my economical repair service for shipped accordions!
Here are some links to my other accordian webpages:
Ask me anything about accordions.
I can be contacted and I regularly answer accordion questions. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes it is possible for me to help you repair your accordion yourself by answering a simple question or two. Other times the answer would be complicated, and require writing an article. You can send me accordions or sometimes parts of accordions to fix.
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 email "Ike" for free help and advice on your repair questions.
What's this Accordion Worth? (A hard 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 by an experienced player. I am interested in hearing about any accordion you have; if it interests you it interests me.
Notes on how accordions work, repairs, et cetera
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. If the wax has deteriorated too much from age, ther reeds won't sound to their full potential. For it to hold well, it should be applied very hot. that meains using wax spoons, wax spatulas and an alcohol flame.
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. Some people buy them, try to repair them a little and re-sell them. It might be fine for you to play a tune once in a while, but if you play much, you will need an accordion in really god condition, with good reeds.
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 measurements of the bellows need to be accurate to about a millimeter. For a few 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. An acoustic 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 and pulling the bellows.
- On the treble side, 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 medium to large 120 bass accordions, or 2 sets for student size 120 bass accordions down to most 48 or 12 bass. Each reed plate has a reed on each side of it, for when the bellows are pulled or pressed.
- The performance capabilities of accordion reeds can vary, 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. The reed is 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 amateur repairmen can easily completely ruin an expensive set of reeds.
- Usually the reeds are held in place on chambered wooden blocks using a mixture of beeswax and pine rosin. In a few accordions, though, the reeds are mounted on leather gaskets on the blocks. The reed wax is carefully poured around and between the reeds so that as it cools, it contracts slightly in volume and grips them tightly in place, so that good acoustic transmission of the wave vibrations can occur. If the wax has gone bad with age, 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 might necessitate complete cleaning of all the reeds and application of new wax. If only a few notes are out of tune, it just might be possible to fix those few reeds individually without doing a complete reed overhaul.
The reeds all except the highest notes have a flap on each side, ether a plastic or leather one. The leather ones often with age will not lie flat, this causes snuffling or hesitating in the note when played. It the accordion was stored flat instead of vertical, over time half the leathers will be deformed by gravity. If the reed valves are plastic, they can get stuck from hot storage, or the glue can give way and they fall off the reed plates. When the reeds are in this condition, they may need a complete overhaul, new wax, new reed valves, cleaning, etc. That job can take 20 hours more or less.
Compared to proper piano maintenence, it costs about the same or even less, but the accordion maintenance occurs mostly alll at once, so instead of the cost being spread out over years...
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.
We repair accordion bass buttons and other mechanical problems including sticking keys, constantly sounding notes, etc. with fast turnaround! For bass repairs, you don't have to send the whole accordion if you don't live around here. Just take off the bass side, but email or call 301-649-1266 for instructions first.
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:
c/o G. I. Milligan
10803 Keller Street
Silver Spring MD 20902