It describes in detail the construction and function of the various parts and how to test for and remedy practically every type of disorder that is likely to occur in accordions. A section on alteration and reconstruction with power tools and shop equipment and instruction for making special tools and equipment to facilitate repairs is included. In the tuning section there are diagrams showing the arrangement of notes on the keyboards of the almost every type of accordion. The entire manual is well illustrated with photographs, diagram and charts, making it very easy for any person to learn to repair and service accordions. The Accordion Repairs' book is an original and comprehensive reference guide which explains and describes in detail the construction and function of the various parts plus how to test for and remedy practically every type of disorder that is likely to occur in accordions.
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In fact, accordions are very low tech. But you don't even need that for most repairs. If you have a hack saw, a bench vise, a bench grinder, a small drill press, a belt sander, and a couple of files, you can make all the special tools you need. The most important things you need to repair your accordion are motivation, mechanical aptitude, some hand tools, a work table, a little coaching from someone with experience like me , and good sources for the correct repair materials.
Mechanical aptitude is really nothing more than the desire to fix things, the ability to remember or record how they came apart, common sense, and perseverance. The hand tools you need for simple repairs are pretty basic. To get any accordion apart and the reed blocks out, all you need are a screw driver and a pair of pliers the best kind is a bellows pin pliers that you can make yourself from an inexpensive end-cutter pliers - see the short article below.
For the most common repair, changing reed leathers, you will find a normally closed tweezers the kind you have to squeeze to open indispensable. You will also need a razor to cut reed leathers to the proper length. Your work table should be big enough to allow you to spread out the three major components of the accordion treble cabinet, bass cabinet, and bellows and still have room to work on a reed block or two.
Good lighting is essential, and an LED headlight that straps onto your forehead is essential for looking into tight places. Your work table should also include a tuning bellows, which you can easily make from an old accordion bellows. See the article on making a test bellows.
To return to the table of contents, click here. It is best to remove the shoulder straps and the back pad if any before opening the accordion. Once that is done, locate and count the bellows pins on the treble side of the bellows. There will usually be three or four on the back and three or four on the front, but there may also be one on the top and one on the bottom.
Avoid marring the pins or the plastic finish on the accordion when you pull the pins. If you don't have the special pliers made for this purpose, you can wrap the jaws of any pliers with tape to pad them. Stand the accordion on its feet, that is, with the bass plate and bass strap down. Grip each treble side bellows pin with the pliers and pull it straight out, steadying the accordion with your other hand as you do so. Some accordions have screws in place of the pins, in which case you will spin them out with a screwdriver.
To keep them in order, I stab them into a styrofoam block in the same order in which they are to be reinstalled, front pins in the front of the block, rear pins in the rear.
When you have removed all the pins from the treble side of the bellows, try lifting one corner of the treble section off the bellows. You may have to hold the bellows down while you pull up on the treble section. If you meet significant resistance, check for any bellows strap or snap mounting screws within a half inch of the bellows that might be penetrating the bellows frame and remove them also. Forcing the accordion apart while any screw or pin still penetrates the bellows frame can damage the bellows frame, necessitating a costly repair.
In lieu of bellows pins, some aluminum bodied Hohner accordions have two lever latches under the treble grille that release the treble side from the bellows.
On those models, remove the grille, rotate the levers degrees, and lift the front of the treble cabinet off the bellows, then disengage the hinge clips at the back. Do not remove the screws along the back. To separate the bellows from the bass side of these accordions, first remove the bass cover, then release the two thumb clips and remove the bass machine and bass button board as an assembly, and finally, remove the five screws that fasten the bass cabinet to the bellows.
The bass cabinet can the be lifted free of the bellows. When the treble section first separates from the bellows, peek inside to see if any internal microphone wires must be disconnected before lifting it far enough to tear those wires loose from their mounting, which is often very fragile. Once the wires are unplugged, turn the treble section over and set it on the table with the reed blocks facing upward.
Now you can inspect for bad leathers, cracked wax, missing reeds, loose reed blocks, etc. If there are four bellows pins on the front of the bass section and three on the back, then it will be obvious which way the bellows goes back on.
If it is not obvious, then mark the bellows frame with a pencil so you can be sure to put it back in the correct orientation, or the bellows frame will not seal and your bellows pins will not line up.
Be sure to unplug any microphone wires before lifting the bellows too far. If you are removing reed blocks, be very careful not to bend the register slides. In many older accordions, the slides are mounted in the reed block rather than in the foundation plate. If this is the case, lifting the reed block without first disengaging the slide from the switch mechanism can cause the slide to kink, rendering it useless.
Once bent, they are very difficult or impossible to straighten well enough to work properly. When reinstalling any reed block, make sure it is securely and rigidly fastened down so no air can leak under it. When you have finished your interior inspection, set the bellows back onto the bass section being careful not to snag any bass reed leathers in the process , reconnecting any microphone wires as you go, and install the bass side bellows pins.
Then set the treble section in place on the bellows, reconnecting any microphone wires as you go and making sure you have the bass buttons and treble keys all facing forward.
Install the bellows pins in their proper holes. If the pins are hard to push in, you can save wear and tear on your fingers by pushing them in with a small block of wood. However, if you have to push very hard, you may have the wrong pin in the wrong hole, or something misaligned.
Make sure you have the best fit for all pins before forcing any pin into any hole. Finally, reinstall any bellows strap screws you may have removed, and put on the shoulder straps and back pad. Access to the bass machine is easiest while the treble side is removed from the bellows, because this allows you to set the bass half of the accordion down on its bellows with the bass cover facing up. You can make it out of scrap lumber and a few drywall screws. I used 1 x 1 boards I ripped from some recycled 1 x 4, but you can make yours from just about anything.
You might want to pad it with felt, foam rubber, or carpet to help protect the finish on your accordion. Usually, you remove the bass strap by backing off the large knurled nut until that end of the strap comes loose.
Many really old accordions have the strap screwed directly to the bass cabinet, in which case you simply remove the screws. Others have a pair of machine screws mounted in the bass cabinet threaded ends facing upward that engage holes in the bass strap.
In this case, a rectangular washer and small knurled nuts on those machine screws clamp the strap in place, so just remove the nuts and washer. It is usually not necessary to disconnect the other end of the bass strap. Just pull the strap out of your way to get access to the bass cover fasteners.
The bass cover is usually held on by four screws near the corners, but sometimes just two screws, top and bottom, and sometimes with some sort of spring clips or sliding pins or push-button releases, and no screws at all.
Watch out for very tiny countersunk wood screws along the edges of the bass cover, especially near the center of the front edge. If there are any, you definitely want to remove them before pulling the bass cover off. Once you have the cover off, you can see the bass machine. When you put the bass cover back on, be sure to guide the air release button through its hole in the bass cover before you install any of the screws.
Proper accordion maintenance includes periodically checking the reed leathers and replacing any not in perfect shape. What is perfect shape, you say? Well, every leather should be soft and pliable and should return to position tight against the reed plate after each use. Reed leathers are small leather check valves mounted on the reed plates.
There are two on each reed plate - one on the side facing into the reed block and one on the side facing outward, that is, out into the bellows. Their function is to prevent bellows air from leaking through the reed vents slots over which the reed tongues are mounted not in use. Leathers should close under their own power whenever they are not forced open by air coming through the reed vent behind them.
When the bellows is expanding bass section moving outward , the reed tongues on the inside of the reed block are in use, as air is drawn into the accordion through any open note valves. The leathers on the inside of the reed block adjacent to those reed tongues close off the adjacent reed vents to prevent air from leaking into the bellows through those vents and through the reed tongues behind them on the outside of the reed block. When the bellows is being compressed bass section traveling inward , the air flow is reversed, bringing the reed tongues on the outside face of the reed block into play.
In this case the leathers on the outside of the reed block remain closed to prevent air from leaking out past the reed tongues on the inside of the reed block. Air rushing out of the accordion through any open note valves forces the interior leathers on those particular reeds to open, while the higher pressure within the compressing bellows forcefully closes the leathers on the outside of the reed block. This can make you think your accordion needs tuning, but simply replacing the bad leathers will probably bring it back into tune.
Those reeds will initially sound out of tune until their leathers close, at which time they will suddenly jump back into tune, resulting in an audible pitch change shortly after the reed begins to sound.
This leaking air momentarily relieves the pressure on the adjacent reed tongues, slightly delaying their response. Even though these marginally bad reed leathers may not sound bad, they will sap your accordion's performance, causing your reeds to respond more slowly and causing the accordion to use more air than necessary.
To get the best performance out of your accordion, you should keep all the leathers in perfect shape. Some people pay thousands of dollars extra for accordions with handmade reeds because handmade reeds respond just a bit more quickly at low bellows pressures, significantly improving accordion performance.
You may be able to get a similar increase in performance for much less money simply by replacing all your bad leathers. Make sure your glue joints are air tight. To facilitate anchoring it to your work bench with screws, bolts, or clamps, make these wooden end caps slightly larger than the outside dimensions of the bellows. A one inch margin all around should be sufficient. If your bellows still has its wooden bellows frame attached, as would be the case if the bellows had simply been salvaged from a junk accordion, you can use wood screws to attach your end plates to the bellows frames, then seal the joints with hot reed wax.
Alternatively, you can put foam weatherstripping or gasket material between the bellows frame and the end plate before screwing it together. This latter solution makes the most sense if you are going to put weights inside.
If you prefer not to anchor the bottom end plate to your work table, you can add enough weight inside to hold it down while you are lifting the top plate to expand the bellows. A couple of bricks or a big box of bolts or a bag of sand placed inside the bellows should do the trick. A hole this size will minimize the need to silence adjacent reeds in order to hear just the one you want to test, and is best if you will be using your test bellows just to check the operation of reeds and leathers.
However, if you will be tuning, it is essential that the hole in the bottom of the reed block be consistently placed completely over the hole in the top of the test bellows. In that case, a larger, rectangular hole is best. The drawback to larger holes is that air sometimes feeds to multiple reeds, forcing you to silence all but the one you want to test. Glue a piece of leather to the top plate, fuzzy side up, centered around this hole.
If you scribe index marks on the rail aligned with the edges of the hole, it will be easy to see whether you have it centered. To use the test bellows, place the reed block on the top plate with the hole on the bottom of the reed chamber of the reed you wish to sound aligned with the hole in the top plate.
Accordion Repairs Made Easy
Please login or register. News: Welcome to the new melodeon. I found it so. I bought a copy after I'd once again picked up the PA and became brave enough to venture inside.
Accordion Repairs Made Easy
In fact, accordions are very low tech. But you don't even need that for most repairs. If you have a hack saw, a bench vise, a bench grinder, a small drill press, a belt sander, and a couple of files, you can make all the special tools you need. The most important things you need to repair your accordion are motivation, mechanical aptitude, some hand tools, a work table, a little coaching from someone with experience like me , and good sources for the correct repair materials. Mechanical aptitude is really nothing more than the desire to fix things, the ability to remember or record how they came apart, common sense, and perseverance. The hand tools you need for simple repairs are pretty basic.
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