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Any accordion repair technicians here? How can I become one?

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Hello everyone, I would like to repair musical instruments for a living, but with instrument repair being such a rare trade I am not sure where to start. I am mainly interested in pianos, keyboards, anything bass related, and of course... accordions! Accordions are at the very top of my list of favorite instruments, even though I haven't gone anywhere near one in my life (though I would love to one day).

From the research that I have done, band instrument repair seems to be a lot more popular. There are a few schools that teach you how to repair band instruments across the USA. But with accordions, no schools for accordion repair seem to exist here in the USA.

I can't help but feel a bit lost - and even foolish by pursuing this. I'm in my late 20s, I've had a late start in life, I'm not musical (though I'm challenging myself by learning how to play the keyboard), I don't have any experience repairing anything physical, and I've developed a dislike for technology. I cannot stare at a computer any longer. Music heals and empowers and I'd love to support musicians and potential musicians.
 

debra

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The world really needs more accordion repairers, especially well-trained repairers (not butchers who do things like tuning reeds using a Dremel with grinding wheel). The Accordion Craft Academy in Castelfidardo (started by Elke Ahrenholz from Victoria) organizes courses ranging from basic maintenance to advanced tuning. The courses have been suspended for a while due to Covid restrictions but should resume in 2022 (dates not planned yet). Check out https://www.accordioncraftacademy.com/en/ for details. The courses go slowly and carefully, ideal for people who start with no accordion repair experience at all. It does help if you are a bit of a "handyman" in general because not everything about accordion repair can be covered in a short time. Most of what is not covered is just handyman work. They do not throw an accordion onto the floor and then get you to put it back together, but as a repairer you may get such wrecks in for repair...
 

JIM D.

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It seems you have the determination, and with your young age, a fine candidate for your endeavor. There is a definite need
for accordion tech's these days and the work in most cases is not only profitable but quite rewarding. I've been mentoring
aspiring accordion repairmen for years now and presently working with 3 that are already making a profit with various
repairs.
If you care I'll give you advice on a proper start.
(1) Locate 1 or 2 old clunkers to practice on - there are plenty around and can be found in pawn shops & Good Will stores.
(2) Go to the website
https://accordionrevival.com/ First read the home page and the start of accordion repair 1 . At this point you will start
to have questions on the suggested repair processes. At that point return here for questions and applications.

And remember there is no such thing as a stupid question as in most instances they are really intelligent inquires !!
 

oldbayan

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The world really needs more accordion repairers, especially well-trained repairers (not butchers who do things like tuning reeds using a Dremel with grinding wheel).
I agree about the wheel, but the cone-shaped grinding stone can work well and save lots of time, if you know how to use one :sneaky:
 
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The world really needs more accordion repairers
That's good to hear! I once watched a video of a band instrument technician that stated that there's not enough music instrument repairers out there, which is partly what made me pursue this path.
The Accordion Craft Academy in Castelfidardo (started by Elke Ahrenholz from Victoria) organizes courses ranging from basic maintenance to advanced tuning.
It genuinely does look like a really fun learning environment, but the price is quite steep at 81,509.15 US dollars... and that's just for the tier 1 course! It also certainly doesn't help that the place is located all the way in Italy... I've never been to another country before. I'll probably get lost.
It seems you have the determination, and with your young age, a fine candidate for your endeavor.
I am flattered. In just another decade, I'll be almost 40! All jokes aside, it does seem like everyone finds their passion at a younger age than me.
There is a definite need
for accordion tech's these days and the work in most cases is not only profitable but quite rewarding.
I have low expectations in terms of monetary gain but that's really nice to hear!
(1) Locate 1 or 2 old clunkers to practice on - there are plenty around and can be found in pawn shops & Good Will stores.
I already see several accordions on www.shopgoodwill.com, many go as cheap as 20 or 30 dollars. I wonder if it would be better to visit a nearby Good Will store in person.
That's a really nice and detailed website on accordions, perfect! Thank you. I might even check out the book on Piano Accordions, as I am interested in piano accordions as opposed to the button ones. There's a small selection of tools lying around in the home, but I am afraid of making a ruckus because I live in an apartment. Exactly how much noise does repairing accordions make? I do have some rather nosy and hostile neighbors.
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Where are you located in the US?
I am in Long Beach, near the Queen Mary ship, so unfortunately I am not able to reach this gentleman.

Lastly, if anyone knows, is repair for electronic instruments such as Roland accordions a thing? I do feel that electronic instruments do have an important role for many instrument players, as many such as myself prefer, or have no choice than to practice quietly.
 

Corinto

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It genuinely does look like a really fun learning environment, but the price is quite steep at 81,509.15 US dollars... and that's just for the tier 1 course! It also certainly doesn't help that the place is located all the way in Italy... I've never been to another country before. I'll probably get lost.

If I remember correctly, this price is NOT correct ... even 8,000,00 USD seems more than what I can remember. I planned to do TIER 1 course just before the COVID-19 situation, and I certainly would not have considered this at such a cost. ymmv.

Edit:
Look here for more info = https://www.accordionists.info/threads/course-for-accordion-repairers-level-1-beginner.6801/
Eddy Yates mentions 800 USD + travel and lodging and extras ...
 
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Siegmund

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$800 sounds like a real bargain, compared to the cost of flying to Europe and getting a room for a week. Perhaps that kind of travel will soon be safe and feasible again...

Can confirm that progress is reallllly slow when you try to self-learn repairs.

But even doing really simple stuff is a great feeling - I remember first time I unscrewed the cover to a bass machine and "fixed a broken bass button" just by lifting a rod and placing it back into place in the lattice, and felt so excited about learning how to do more.
 

JerryPH

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A lot of being able to repair accordions is science, but most of it is simply art. If I was looking to learn how to repair accordions, I'd find myself a man like JimD and move in to his driveway for a month or 24... lol. Knowledge like his is gold. Finding a strong and generous mentor is the best and fastest way to learn!

In terms of repairing V-accordions... a lot depends on your level of expertise in electronics. Most repairs that are done on Roland accordions, at least, are IC board replacements (that are now becoming more expensive and harder to source every day), but if someone has a strong background in electrical repair, the ability to read and understand schematics, *some* kinds of repairs/upgrades would definitely be possible. Things like fixing broken wires, larger burnt-out parts, amps, speakers or things like the installation of wireless MIDI or analog stereo signal transceivers or the replacement of the plastic 1/4" plug to stronger holding metal ones are a few things that come to mind.
 

nagant27

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I’d agree with all the posts here as well. Jim is your man. Start reading and experimenting on a couple old junkers and see where it goes. Ask questions here, phone calls, visit people who share this.
I enjoy playing accordions, and I’m a total amateur who has found also enjoys repairing them. I learned everything from here and the internet, and have met sone great people along the way. It’s a great hobby, that has turned into an addiction that I love!!
 

Dingo40

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"...or the replacement of the plastic 1/4" plug to stronger holding metal ones are a few things that come to mind."
Not to mention the repair of a bass strap anchor arrangement!😄
 
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Oh! The course spans across 4 days. I thought it took place for several months for some reason. 800$ makes much more sense. It is still quite expensive when you consider the other expenses (airplane travel, hotel, food). After some extensive research on Accordion Craft Academy, I can conclude that there's not much information on it out there. Where are the blogs and vlogs? It seems like Accordion Craft Academy wants to branch out to other locations. Maybe there's a chance that we see it in the USA someday.
Can confirm that progress is reallllly slow when you try to self-learn repairs.

But even doing really simple stuff is a great feeling
Well, I better start getting acquainted with a broken accordion then!
If I was looking to learn how to repair accordions, I'd find myself a man like JimD and move in to his driveway for a month or 24
Where does he live. I'm going to start packing my bags now.
In terms of repairing V-accordions... a lot depends on your level of expertise in electronics.
Perhaps I should go pursue the electrician path, in hopes of repairing V-accordions down the road. Who knows, maybe I might open up a shop that specializes in repairing electronic instruments (I'm dreaming at this point).


When buying an old accordion, will any do? What price range should I go for?

Thanks guys, for helping a lost individual out.
 

debra

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Each of the ACA course modules spans 4 days (but really uses only 3 1/2). Tier 1 teaches you the basics, like how to take an accordion apart, how to clean and adjust different parts, how to solve old-age issue like leaks, and most importantly how to put everything back together so everything works. Tier 2 delves a bit deeper into that and includes basic tuning skills, waxing, leathers.... Often Tier 1 and Tier 2 are given back to back and that's what I did, so it's a bit of a blur as to what is really part of Tier 2 versus 1.
Tier 3 deals more with mechanics. You learn to replace keys, bass buttons, reed tongues (instead of swapping whole reed plates), change register functions, etc. Tier 4, which they call "Advanced Tuning" is all about tuning, obtaining correct tuning without damaging reeds, checking tuning by ear as well as by tuning app, etc.
About $800 for each module is quite a bit of money, but in my humble opinion, having tried some basic repairs and tuning before I started with these courses, the courses are well worth it.
Of course the other possible approach is apprenticeship with an older and highly skilled repairer, perhaps also some internships in an accordion factory... but these may be harder to get admitted into, especially if you do not plan on taking over from the skilled repairer or becoming a dealer for the factory you apply to for an internship.
 

Tom

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I'm going to make a wild guess here that less than 20% of competent accordion repair people actually learned in a formal setting. Like playing an accordion, if you really want to do it, you will, by following Mr. Nike: "Just do it!!!" Get any accordion you can find cheap, doesn't matter the cost, cheap for you could be $29 or $290. Any brand will do. Buy a junker on eBay or Craigslist. Take it all apart, put it back together. See if you can identify what's wrong and fix it. If you don't do it within 37 days it's just a pipe dream. Tough love. You probably will need some smaller, more delicate tools, though.
 

debra

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I'm going to make a wild guess here that less than 20% of competent accordion repair people actually learned in a formal setting. ...
There are few "formal settings" for accordion repair. To really become an accordion repairer you need to practice a lot but you also need some guidance. The "accordion revival" site is a great source of knowledge but you really need someone experienced to watch over you as you work and gives feedback. The master-apprentice relationship is common, and internships in accordion factories and workshops is also common. There are no "formal" degrees in accordion repair. Everything is a private undertaking. The ACA courses are the first "organized" trainings I found that are open to everyone. And an important benefit from taking these courses is that there is a common app-group where repairers share problems and solutions they encounter in their daily practice. By communicating between dozens of repairers you learn more quickly which types of issues you can encounter (and solve) than when you just learn by doing yourself (with trial and error).
 

dunlustin

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I don't know if it is peculiar to France ( most things seem to happen at European Union level) but they require specific studies leading to a CAP (Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle) for skilled paid work in around 200 jobs often with the chance to progress further.
There are a number of ways to study eg apprenticeship 2-3 years.
For the curious, more can be found with this search:
CAP Assistant technique en instruments de musique option accordéon.
I believe it is not legal to (do paid) work in a field covered by a CAP without the Certificate.
That said it is possible to sign up for a 2-week course which leaves you with a completed quality Diatonic Accordion.
You have built an accordion but that does not mean you are a technician.
 

debra

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I don't know if it is peculiar to France ( most things seem to happen at European Union level) but they require specific studies leading to a CAP (Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle) for skilled paid work in around 200 jobs often with the chance to progress further.
There are a number of ways to study eg apprenticeship 2-3 years.
For the curious, more can be found with this search:
CAP Assistant technique en instruments de musique option accordéon.
I believe it is not legal to (do paid) work in a field covered by a CAP without the Certificate.
That said it is possible to sign up for a 2-week course which leaves you with a completed quality Diatonic Accordion.
You have built an accordion but that does not mean you are a technician.
France is indeed "over-regulated" a bit. In most other countries there are way fewer jobs that actually require a certain degree. About everything in the pharmaceutical and medical world comes to mind, law (lawyers, judges, notaries), and some electrical work... Other than that companies may of course require that applicants have a certain degree/diploma but that then is not a legal requirement. Here for instance you are not required by law to have any degree in order to get a job as a university professor (but of course universities nowadays will rarely give anyone a job as professor without a doctorate). Musical instrument repair is not regulated (nor any other job in the music industry).
 

AdamJoseph

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There are tons of YouTube videos that show how to do single task repairs and such on the accordion. Some are good. Some are not so good. Is there some sort of structured video course for accordion repair online somewhere? Even though it would not be as good as an inperson course, it would be very helpful for the hobbyist. I think about buying an eBay accordion to overhaul. I just don’t know how realistic it it is for a goal.
 

96Bass

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Hello everyone, I would like to repair musical instruments for a living, but with instrument repair being such a rare trade I am not sure where to start. I am mainly interested in pianos, keyboards, anything bass related, and of course... accordions! Accordions are at the very top of my list of favorite instruments, even though I haven't gone anywhere near one in my life (though I would love to one day).

From the research that I have done, band instrument repair seems to be a lot more popular. There are a few schools that teach you how to repair band instruments across the USA. But with accordions, no schools for accordion repair seem to exist here in the USA.

I can't help but feel a bit lost - and even foolish by pursuing this. I'm in my late 20s, I've had a late start in life, I'm not musical (though I'm challenging myself by learning how to play the keyboard), I don't have any experience repairing anything physical, and I've developed a dislike for technology. I cannot stare at a computer any longer. Music heals and empowers and I'd love to support musicians and potential musicians.
I might have a lead for you. There was an accordion repair person near where I live. She has relocated to the Palm Springs/Joshua Tree area, about 120 miles from Long Beach. I have not had any experience myself with her repairs. I believe there was a local accordion player that was apprenticing with her when she was in Petaluma. I am guessing she doesn't have a store front but works out of her house.
Her business is Accordion Apocalypse in Yucca Valley.
From her website:
"Skyler Fell is highly trained in Advanced Accordion Repair Techniques by Vincent J. Cirell, Factory Trained Accordion Builder (Colombo & Sons of San Francisco) and Master Craftsman of Cirelli Accordion Service (since 1946), as well as having an apprenticeship with Boaz, of the former Boaz Accordions in Oakland."


This is her.
 

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