How to Care for Your
often expensive. A little preventive maintenance can save $$$.
I repair and can replace every part of all kinds
of accordions including keyboard accordions, button accordions,
restoring vintage accordions, repairing damage, new
straps, bellows, cases, and accessories. Please write or E-mail with
I. Your accordion should be stored
vertically, resting on the bass end. That is why there are usually
four little pads or "feet" for the accordion to rest on. Most
accordions have the reed valves vertical when the accordion is
vertical. If the accordion is stored flat with the keyboard
horizontal, half the reed valves will hang down upside down. When the
accordion is kept in this position, the valves (or leathers) as they
are sometimes called--being usually strips of special accordion reed
valve leather glued at one end, to prevent back air flow when the
reed on the other side of the plate is not sounding--will permanently
sag open, causing an unpleasant snuffling or rattling sound when the
accordion is played. Repairing this condition involves removing
scores of reeds from the blocks and straightening the leathers. New
special "accordion wax " usually** has to be poured around the reed
plates. *Some accordions, 'way less than 1%, have reed blocks that are positioned with the reed leathers parallel to the floor when placed on the "feet". This includes a few types of button accordions and some tone-chamber accordions. In those unusual cases the accordion should be stored horizontally. ** Rarely accordions have the reeds attached with something other than wax, but the labor involved is usually about the same.
Should Be Kept Upright!!! with rare exceptions*
II. Accordions should never be left in
the sun or in a hot place like inside a car in the summer. For
instance, an accordion was displayed in a store window with the sun
shining on it with no ventilation. The reed wax holding the reeds in
place melted, and many of the reeds fell loose inside the accordion.
This caused a lot of the notes to not play, and a whoosh of air to be
heard instead. This caused an immediate and severe depreciation in
the monetary value and salability of the instrument.
Is Not So Hot!!!
III. If you keep your accordion in the
basement, humidity is sure to make rust on the reeds, corrosion on
the mechanical parts, a depressing musty smell, swelling and warping
of the wood parts, and damage to the bellows due to deterioration of
the bellows cardboard and leather. Best for it to stay in the closet.
IV. If you have a cat, and leave the
accordion case open, your cat is likely to pee in it. If you don't
notice this and put the accordion back in the case, gaah! I can't go
on. (Actually I could.) This actually happened to me in 1982. I mean,
not me, but an accordion case.
"LOVES" Your Accordion; So?
V. If you bring your accordion on an
airplane and check it thru baggage, count on it being severely
damaged unless you put enough cushioning around it inside the case to
immobilize it. However, never put so much stuff inside the case with
the accordion that there is any pressure on it, and never put it in a
case that is too small for it to fit easily. Incidentally, it seems
at least 4 out of 5 accordions I have glued back together got that
way in airplanes. the baggage handlers seem to treat their jobs like
an athletic event. This is also true of UPS personnel, and/or package handling machinery. I've had far fewer problems with having shipped accordions via the U. S. Postal Service. If you know how to disassemble the accordion from the bellows, it's better to ship it in 2 separate boxes, to minimize the gravitational forces when or if dropped.
VI. When placing the accordion in its
case, put the keyboard in first, gently and carefully; don't pull up
on the edges of the keys as this may bend them up. Do not grab or
crush the bass buttons, and make sure the accordion is sitting firmly
on the bottom with the bass strap not caught against the back of the
accordion case. The buckles of the shoulder straps should not catch
against the lining of the case, damaging the lining. That is why I
often fold the straps under the key bed with a loop sticking up on
the right. This also can add support under the place where the key
bed joins at an angle to the shell of the accordion. When carrying
it, the side of the case with the handle should be the side away from
your body in case the case lid accidently pops open, but with old cases beware of little nails coming loose from the case edge and shredding your polyester suit.
Accordion, Just in Case!!!
VII. When the accordion is played, the
bellows should not be rubbed by the shoulder straps. Try crossing the
loops in the bottom bracket if you notice the bellows rubbing on the
VIII. Never. ever play an accordion on
or near enough to the ocean to allow salt mist to get inside, as this
is certain to make the accordion completely beyond repair and
restoration. First of all, the reeds will be so pitted and corroded
by rust and corrosion on the reed plates, that they will be
untuneable, not to mention the destruction of all metal mechanical
parts. Also don't play in the rain, unless someone pays you a lot of
money, because you will soon need an expensive repair.
Give Me Some
Room to Blow Down the Accordionist, & a Yo-Ho-Ho, &c.,
The accordion case should be carried with the lid next to the body in
case it (the lid) accidentally opens.
The Accordion is Not a Toy, My
BoyX. If you
should have the occasion to open your accordion to look inside at the
reeds, resist the temptation to blow on them to test them, as they
are sure to rust and go out of tune. Also don't touch the steel reeds
with your fingers as they will rust at your fingerprint.
The Accordion Which Came In from the ColdXI. When you bring your accordion inside from the cold, and play it in a warm room, the reeds and reed plates will cause water to condense on the cold reeds from the warm air. This is one major cause of rust on the reeds. It would be better to let the accordion warm up slowly before playing it, so that the temperature inside is equalized with the room temperature before ever letting air in from the room. The greater the difference between the air in the room and the accordion, the drier the air needs to be before you start to play.
Also note that:
The cold accordion may have some bad sounding reeds until the reed plates warm up, as the metal plates will contract, sometimes causing some of the vibrating reeds to brush against the plates.
The colder the temperature, the more sharp the pitch, as the cold reeds are stiffer and vibrate faster than warm reeds.
Don't lift the Accordion by the StrapXI. If the strap were to break, the accordion might fall and be damaged.
Bellows, or Accessories for your Accordion
For "how to"
info on doing your own Bellows
For Tuning Explanation
Gaines I. Milligan
Phone me at
Ike's Accordion Boxpital is located at:
10803 Keller Street
Silver Spring MD 20906
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