Saturday, February 12, 2011

A few words and some helpful links about restoring, repairing, retrofitting, customizing, or modifying accordions

It happens to everyone - for whatever reason, your beloved instrument just does not sound or play as you would like it to. This throws your senses into a tailspin. Have you changed, or has the instrument? Can the problem be fixed, or have you arrived at a plateau in your own musical progress that requires a new type of accordion? Maybe a reed won't sound or a key is a little sticky. Should you attempt to fix it yourself? Response time of the reeds is not what it used to be! Is this normal?

For a machine with as many components as an accordion, it's natural to have a lot of questions when something comes up.

Like other machines, accordions require regular tuning and maintenance to perform optimally. Old accordions which have gone unplayed for a long period of time will always require overhauls involving certain repairs and new parts to become playable again. Some of these jobs can be done at home by a skilled novice with a few simple tools. Others require that the instrument be brought to a professional. Alternatively, the player can undertake a climb up the learning curve and be on the road to complete self-service. Experience is valuable. Thankfully, there a number of very helpful discussion forums and websites filled with people who have similar passions and enjoy sharing their experiences.

I am sure that I know of more places around the Web to visit for repair advice, general discussion, or other types of free reed fun. I will add to this list in the future, as time allows. But off the top of my head, the following links will lead you to some places that you cannot go wrong by visiting, especially if you seek advice or have questions about anything related to a free reed instrument:
There are not enough superlatives in the English dictionary to describe, its administrators and its forum participants. Although populated primarily by players of diatonic accordions, or melodeons as they're known in the British Isles and elsewhere, this website contains information that players of other systems may find useful. In addition to a wonderfully friendly and upbeat discussion forum, there are also diagrams of keyboard layouts, links to videos by accordionists from around the world, a listing of helpful websites, a series of terrific articles for beginners, listings for sellers and repair shops, and heaps of other great stuff. is a "go-to" resource for any accordion or melodeon player.

Reyes Accordion Forum
Supported primarily by American tejano/conjunto/norteño players, the Reyes Accordion Forum is another website that is heavily geared toward players of the diatonic system but may be of assistance to players of other systems, as well. The members of the discussion forum are every bit as friendly, resourceful, and Hohner-mad as those at Look for additional resources at

Geared toward concertina players (well, obviously) there is also much cross-over appeal for a player of the accordion. The discussion forum is fun, feisty, and informational. Highly recommended.

Talking Reeds
Any accordion repair person should be familiar with how an accordion reed works before attempting to repair one. The fundamentals and physics of the speaking free reed are explained here in an upbeat and easy to follow style. Makes great bedtime reading for those with a good cellphone or iPad.


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  2. I want to suggest another great link. It is devoted to piano accordions but there it has extremely detailed repair instructions that can be useful for the restoration of any accordion type

    1. Thats a good site, too. I think I added it to my accordion repair links sidebar, but I'll double-check. PAs have their own specialized problems but much PA repair acumen will correlate with the other free reed systems.