Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Accordion reference shelf?

I am a librarian. Well... okay. I'm actually the assistant to the librarian. But I'm nothing like Gareth Keenan. Or David Brent. I promise. So it was only a matter of time before I would post a list of books about accordions, accordion repair, and related things. Like anything else, the best way to learn about accordions is through experience and learning from past mistakes, however, it's always helpful to have a few printed references on hand. I've been able to obtain some of these titles as interlibrary loans because they are not included in my library's collection. You can probably do the same! Just visit your local library to find out how.
I begin with three common titles, but will add more when I have the time. If you know of other books in any language, please don't hesitate to add them in a comment. If you seek an online resource of accordion repair, try browsing the links on the right side of this page for relevant discussions forums and websites. The Melodeon.net discussion forums and the repair subforum at Accordionist.org are especially helpful resources.

History unfolds: 100 years of Hohner accordions in pictures.
by Haik Wenzel, Martin Häffner, Petra Schramböhmer.
9783932275784; 3932275780
Full color photographs of many rare accordions. Text covers the "official" version of Hohner history. There is also an extensive, albeit incomplete, spreadsheet of Hohner models and their dates of production compiled from Hohner's own collection. The German title is Ewig Jung trotz vieler Falten, which when translated directly to English, makes a playful pun: "eternally young despite many folds." I think this is a better title! 

Accordion repair made easy.
by John Reuther
Comprehensive guide to accordion maintenance, repair, tuning, tools and more. Covers mostly piano accordions but much of the material is applicable to other types of free reed instruments. Illustrated in black and white. Helpful as it can be, this book was written by an accordion technician from North America in 1956 so some of the vocabulary is either specific to North America or otherwise archaic. This doesn't make it difficult to understand, you just have to pay attention to what you're reading. Still, I thought it'd be prudent to mention that when Reuther is talking about things like "valves" he is referring to what I call "pallets" and when he talks about "leathers" he is referring to what I call "valves," etc.

The ins and out of the accordion.
by Thierry Benetoux
9782951718418; 2951718411
Full color photographs, and technical drawings. Text describes the major components of accordions, how they function, and how to troubleshoot repairs for common problems. Highly recommended, especially if you are confused by or disagree with any sections in the Reuther book!

The golden age of the accordion 
by Ronald Flynn, Edwin Davison, Edward Chavez
An essential reference for the history of the accordion in the United States. If you collect vintage accordions or just like to play the accordion, you will probably find something useful in this book. It contains tons of illustrations, photos, and copies of catalogs. The narrative describes the history of the accordion in its key centers in the US and includes biographical information for its chief proponents. It might be the most significant book on accordion history published in the United States.

The Infography website hosts a very useful bibliography of accordion history, repair, and tutelage. View the bibliography by clicking here. I wish whoever posted it would have cited the name of the "professor" who supplied the list. 

Accordeon en voetbas in Belgie
by Hupert Boone
Focuses on Belgian manufacturers with a special chapter on the foot bass. Link is here.

To be continued...


  1. Hubert Boone, Accordeon en voetbas in België, Leuven: Peeters Uitgeverij, 1990, 252 p.

    He focuses on Belgian manufacturers, but also on players, with a special chapter on the foot bass.


  2. Hey, thanks! Can never have too many good sources on accordions. Information on Belgian manufacturers is scanty on my side of the ocean. I'll have to track down a copy of this book.