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Advice about reed pads for an old button accordion. Is leather necessary?

Jim

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I found this old button accordion at a yard sale. It didn't work at all. Over the past few month I have slowly fixed everything and I am actually getting sound out of all the buttons.

But it's wheezy. I fixed all the leaks in the bellows.

But I went to Joann's and got synthetic patching materals for the reed covers. (I'm not sure what the technical term is for them. This is the cloth that covers the reeds.) I know they should be leather, but this seemed like a good substitute.

This is the material you use to patch clothing. It's sort of clothe on one side and plastic material on the other. Thin. I cut it into thin strips that matched the old leathers.

I have worked on every angle of this accordion, so I'm thinking maybe this is causing the weak response. I'm astonished that I got this to make sounds. It was in bad shape. So I feel like continuing on to see if I can make it sound stronger.

Any suggestions?
 

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Tom

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Welcome Jim! Good work so far! Actually, those pieces are called "leathers," even if they are synthetic. I can't say if the particular material you used will work as well as the original.

But, unfortunately with an old accordion like that, there are many areas where you may be losing air. For example, where the bellows meet the button boards (when you take it apart), at the "palettes" that close off the air on individual keys, etc. There is also the leather behind half of the reeds that you cannot see. It's a magical mystery tour to find all the leaks.

Good luck!
 

Jim

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I was wondering about the palettes. The covering is flat and hard. Should it be soft?

Leather behind the reeds. Well, I had no idea!

Thank you Tom. I will pop it back open and see what I can do. I have completely stopped all leaks in the bellows and at the edges where it connects.

Jim
 

Jim

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Welcome Jim! Good work so far! Actually, those pieces are called "leathers," even if they are synthetic. I can't say if the particular material you used will work as well as the original.

But, unfortunately with an old accordion like that, there are many areas where you may be losing air. For example, where the bellows meet the button boards (when you take it apart), at the "palettes" that close off the air on individual keys, etc. There is also the leather behind half of the reeds that you cannot see. It's a magical mystery tour to find all the leaks.

Good luck!
Oh and I found leathers on Ebay, but do you recommend a place that sells them? Thanks!
 

Tom

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I'm sorry, Jim, there heve been suppliers coming and going lately and I'm not sure of the best source now. Possibly someone else here will have advice for you.

The palettes have to keep all air from escaping. Some people put a piece of thin paper under the palette. If it's too easy to pull out, you may be losing air.

Good luck!
 

SamW

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I had a good experience buying some accordion repair materials from bossettoaccordions on Ebay (not leathers, though). But it doesn't look like they sell a package with a mix of sizes, which is what you'd want to redo a whole accordion. CMG Musical Services sells a nice package of leathers (a.k.a. valves), but then you're on the hook for shipping across the pond.

Bossetto and CMG both sell felt-backed leather you can use to reface the pallets. It's a pretty straight-forward job. Youtube walkthrough.
 

Jim

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I had a good experience buying some accordion repair materials from bossettoaccordions on Ebay (not leathers, though). But it doesn't look like they sell a package with a mix of sizes, which is what you'd want to redo a whole accordion. CMG Musical Services sells a nice package of leathers (a.k.a. valves), but then you're on the hook for shipping across the pond.

Bossetto and CMG both sell felt-backed leather you can use to reface the pallets. It's a pretty straight-forward job. Youtube walkthrough.
Thank you. I was wondering if the pallets had special leathers. I will check those out. I ordered the leathers off of Ebay and I can just cut them to fit.
 

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