Thursday, October 1, 2009

The things people say!

Between browsing online auctions and reading the classifieds, I've encountered a lot of accordion "salesmen" who don't know the first thing about what they're trying to sell. That's almost understandable, given that accordions went out of style with the general public about 50 years ago. But when attempting to sell a busted instrument that's missing parts and is full of holes, some of these claims go beyond shameless and become simply shocking. Here are a few ringers:

In his description of the Regal shown above, advertised for sale at a firm $75, the seller says:

"A nice little old Squeeze Box that I would say dates to Circa 1900. Made in Germany under the REGAL MELODEON Brand it is in good condition for age..."

Good condition, huh? Golly, I'd say this 109 year old instrument looks pretty screwed up! But if you say so...

"It is missing two shutters and one wooden shutter button. I would think both could be easily enough replaced."

Missing shutters? Shutter buttons? Okie dokie, I like to fix stuff. And they sell those shutters down at the Home Depot, right?

"The cloth hand hold also needs replacing. Also the loops that hold bellows together are missing."

Hey wait a minute, there sure seems to be a lot wrong for an instrument that you said is in "good condition." But wait, it gets better:

"Tone sounds good. A bargain here!"

Seriously folks, with a pitch like that, this seller should go into politics! When I try to sell something, I try to be knowledgeable about the item. I do a little research beforehand and try to answer my own questions. I learn some basic vocabulary. Between Europe and the United States there are some notable linguistic and orthographic differences in accordion lingo, but I've never encountered "shutters" or "shutter buttons." I stand to be corrected, and if this slang is familiar to you, please tell me!

Here is the perfect place to illustrate the distinctly different markets buying used accordions today: the "Americana" junk collector, the prop locker buyer, the TGI Fridays decorator, and the accordionist. If you're buying an accordion to hang on the wall above table 16, you might not care about missing shutters and shutter buttons. But if you're looking for an old box to fix up and play, take everything the seller says with a grain of salt... or in this case, perhaps the whole shaker.


  1. Yes, this is the problem generally with auction sites. When you look through the endless list of 'Genuine Antique' instruments, usually with a ridiculous price attached, with slight external marks but plays perfectly - I wonder if i'll ever need to repair an accordion again?

    I was looking at a 'Plays Perfectly' instrument recently and the photo's clearely showed the bass buttons jammed & broken. It's no wonder beginers get their fingers burnt!These totally unscrupulous people have no interest in accordions or people for that matter, it's all about money! What a sad world.

    Keep up the good work, it's a great site.

  2. Cheers, Mick!

    If you don't mind, I've added your website to the 'Interesting Sites' sidebar on Gumshoe. You also have some great stuff. I love the examples of various tunings you've posted, as well as your writing on Cornwall.