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

pillbugg

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How fascinating - an accordion shop in the middle of nowhere. I've read a bit about her background and she sounds like a very interesting person (will likely read more about her later on, as I am kind of hooked). Unfortunately, I can't quite reach her as the shop is too far away for me. But I really appreciate the lead 96Bass.
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 donโ€™t know how realistic it it is for a goal.
It's quite a bit away from you but there's an accordion shop known as Liberty Bellows located in Philadelphia. From their website, they are apparently hiring apprentice technicians. "Prior experience is helpful but not necessary as we provide all on-the-job training."


346 4.JPG
The old and broken accordion I ordered online has finally arrived. It cost 9 dollars (plus a whole lot of shipping...). It has a woody smell, as if I was inside an old library. I wonder how old is it? The leather straps are all broken so they'll need to get replaced if I want to strap it around my body. The keys and bass buttons seem to be in relatively good condition, but could still benefit from tweaking. I felt a bunch of air on me as I pressed the bellows. It turns out that part of the wooden flap structure on the key side was loose and tearing off, letting a bunch of air escape.
347 2.JPG
The bellows themselves seem pretty good - I saw no holes or tears on them, nor did I feel any air leaking through them. Now the big question is, did the accordion make sound when the buttons were pressed down? It does make some shallow sounds, but only when you press down on the wooden part that is tearing off to prevent air from escaping from it. Some notes and chords struggled more than others to produce sound. There are some apparent problems with the reeds inside as I discovered when I disassembled it.
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353 2.JPG
Is that hot glue that the previous owner used? I know we're supposed to use special beeswax. The reed blocks also don't seem to be aligned with the holes below them. I'm assuming they have to be aligned to produce the proper sound. The leather strips covering the metal brackets are also old and droopy.
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As I was putting the accordion back together, the faulty wooden flap structure fell or broke off. I wonder if the wood is all rotten. I managed to force it back in as I put everything back together.

I guess I'll try to figure things on my own from here with lots of reading and watching videos.
 

Dingo40

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Looks like an ideal subject for a restoration project!๐Ÿ™‚
I'd say it's from the 1930s and possibly has suffered a bad fall: this would explain the damaged panel and displaced reed blocks.
Most (if not all) of the leather valves will need replacing. The good news is, the materials (and any tools) required are all readily available on the web๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ‘.
The reeds themselves will probably need retuning.
I'm sure many of our members will be forthcoming with helpful advice.
This should make an excellent first project to put you on the road to becoming an accordion technician!๐Ÿ™‚
It should "scrub up" pretty well!
 

96Bass

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Check this out. I just ran across an accordion repair shop in Bellflower.
Just minutes away from Long Beach.
I lived in Long Beach from 1984-1990. Near 7th and Ximeno.

 

Tom

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How fascinating - an accordion shop in the middle of nowhere. I've read a bit about her background and she sounds like a very interesting person (will likely read more about her later on, as I am kind of hooked). Unfortunately, I can't quite reach her as the shop is too far away for me. But I really appreciate the lead 96Bass.

It's quite a bit away from you but there's an accordion shop known as Liberty Bellows located in Philadelphia. From their website, they are apparently hiring apprentice technicians. "Prior experience is helpful but not necessary as we provide all on-the-job training."


346 4.JPG
The old and broken accordion I ordered online has finally arrived. It cost 9 dollars (plus a whole lot of shipping...). It has a woody smell, as if I was inside an old library. I wonder how old is it? The leather straps are all broken so they'll need to get replaced if I want to strap it around my body. The keys and bass buttons seem to be in relatively good condition, but could still benefit from tweaking. I felt a bunch of air on me as I pressed the bellows. It turns out that part of the wooden flap structure on the key side was loose and tearing off, letting a bunch of air escape.
347 2.JPG
The bellows themselves seem pretty good - I saw no holes or tears on them, nor did I feel any air leaking through them. Now the big question is, did the accordion make sound when the buttons were pressed down? It does make some shallow sounds, but only when you press down on the wooden part that is tearing off to prevent air from escaping from it. Some notes and chords struggled more than others to produce sound. There are some apparent problems with the reeds inside as I discovered when I disassembled it.
349 2.JPG
353 2.JPG
Is that hot glue that the previous owner used? I know we're supposed to use special beeswax. The reed blocks also don't seem to be aligned with the holes below them. I'm assuming they have to be aligned to produce the proper sound. The leather strips covering the metal brackets are also old and droopy.
358 2.JPG
359 2.JPG
As I was putting the accordion back together, the faulty wooden flap structure fell or broke off. I wonder if the wood is all rotten. I managed to force it back in as I put everything back together.

I guess I'll try to figure things on my own from here with lots of reading and watching videos.
Good learning project. Rip and tear, heve fun!
 

pillbugg

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Check this out. I just ran across an accordion repair shop in Bellflower.
Just minutes away from Long Beach.
I lived in Long Beach from 1984-1990. Near 7th and Ximeno.

It seems to be a new shop that opened just recently. Even if they don't hire or teach me, at the very least I could maybe buy some supplies such as wax. Thank you!
The good news is, the materials (and any tools) required are all readily available on the web
Sounds a black Friday shopping spree is order!
 

pillbugg

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leathers.PNG


I've just learning just how much leather strips accordions need - even my small one requires quite a lot. Would you guys say that this is a good deal when it comes to buying leather valves in bulk?
 

pillbugg

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Also, what are your favorite places to buy accordion parts online? I tried to buy some stuff from ernestdeffner.com, but it keeps spewing something about the server failing.
 

debra

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Most repairers get stuff from Castelfidardo, Italy. Carini (carinidena.it) is the largest supplier. For some stuff (some tools, valves, felt) some repairers also use a lady called Bonifassi. There are a few other shops there for things like straps. But Carini is easy and has an on-line webshop.
 

debra

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Check out CGM Musical Services in Scotland. Charlie has a very good reputation and has super fast delivery to all parts of the globe
That looks like a very useful site as well. Thanks! First one I have seen that has Hohner letters readily available. (Hohner letters for words like MORINO or ARTISTE keep falling off quite frequently. Few of these older accordions still have all the letters...)
 

tcabot

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Yep, I've recently bought some parts from Charlie and he's a great chap to deal with.
 

pillbugg

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Alright, Charlie's shop it is (mainly because he has the same name as me). Thanks again!
 

Spikedog123

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Just found this ad on the SF Bay Craiglist. I do not know anything about him.

Accordion educational journey - $4,500 (san jose downtown)​

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ยฉ craigslist - Map data ยฉ OpenStreetMap
After 51 years of repairing accordions, I decided to transfer this beautiful trait, talent, and passion into an educational journey. This work shop will be one month in length full of learning how to repair accordions from A- Z. I will be able to take four students at a time. Putting into consideration the amount of education provided, it is decently priced for what you will be able to achieve.

Some things being learned in this course will be as described below:
- Treble Side Rebuild
- Overhaul Keyboard
- Key Removal
- Key Top Removal
- Valves and Valve Holder Removal
- Valve Replacement
- Valve Rewax
- Replace Keys
- Replace Valves/ Valve Holders
- Replace Keytops
- Level Keyboards
- Rewax Valves
- Clean Register Switches and Mechanisms
- Remove Scratches from Celluloid
- Buff Celluloid
- Replace Backpads
- Overhaul Reeds- Treble Side and Bass Side
- Remove Reed Blocks
- Remove all wax
- Remove all leather and wire springs
- Rewax all reed plates into reed blocks
- Reinstall Reed Blocks
-Tune Reeds

BELLOWS-
- Bass Side Rebuild
- Complete Disassembly of Bass Mechanism/ Machine
- Clean all elements of the Bass Machine
- Remove Valves and Valve Holders
- Replace Valves
- Rewax Valve Holders
- Repair Piston Guides where required
- Test and Adjust Action of the Bass Mechanism/ Machine
- Clean Register Switches and Mechanisms
- Remove Scratches from Celluloid
- Buff Celluloid

For detailed questions and answers, please feel free to email or call me directly @ show contact info . I am the only officially certified accordion repair shop in all of San Jose. After completion of your course, you will receive a certificate of completion.
 

pillbugg

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Seems like a another option to learn accordion repair. I can't afford it, nor am I anywhere near that area, but thanks for letting me know!
 

Siegmund

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Assuming the hotel and food is a wash... I think I'd rather take the 4 x $800 class in Italy and spend the extra thousand dollars on the plane ticket to Europe.
 

Scuromondo

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I do not understand why would anyone choose this over the he ACA course. The ACA course seems to have all the advantages: an experienced faculty, a proven curriculum, an established reputation, all the required classroom and technical resources, partnership with a major accordion builder, and probably the most ideal location in the world for accordion resources and culture. The only reasons one might take the increased risk of choosing an unproven course like this would be if it was substantially less expensive (and it isnโ€™t) or out of convenience. While he is still establishing a network and a reputation he should probably lower his price a bit to attract more students or at least break up the course into more manageable sections as ACA have done.
 

AccordionUprising

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Hi from Vancouver, Canada, where we don't have an accordion shop because rent is probably at least 3 times what you could make repairing accordions. A friend comes through from Montreal every year on a traveling repair circuit. That's a cool gig.

George Bachich at AccordionRevival.com is a great resource. His book is a fine intro to the instrument and what issues may arise. His basic thrust seems to be that people may well have to learn to repair the instruments themselves since soon there won't be anybody to do it for them.

Traditionally, you'd find a shop and apprentice with them. But there's so few shops now (see rent above). For a good time, call up Kimric Smythe in Oakland and he'll probably tell you the sad economics: People buy cheap accordions and don't expect to pay a living wage to repair them. It's possible he has openings for helpers? http://www.smythesaccordioncenter.com

I'd definitely search your region for the few local shops and call to ask if they need help. Even volunteering will get you started. I knew someone who went in to a shop and cleaned wax off reed blocks as a nice break from his day job as a surveyor.
Near LA, I think Dave's Accordion School is well-known: http://davesaccordion.com

That said. In the States Helmi Strahl Harrington at Wisconsin's World of Accordions Museum has offered a months-long training program. I don't know how much they cost. But I'd love to just visit the museum! (Among the biggest collections in the world.)
http://www.worldofaccordions.org/a_technician.html
No idea how covid has impacted their work.
The curriculum looks quite comprehensive:
http://www.worldofaccordions.org/graphics/course_repair.pdf
 
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pillbugg

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Hi from Vancouver, Canada, where we don't have an accordion shop because rent is probably at least 3 times what you could make repairing accordions.
It's the same here in California unfortunately, renting is mighty expensive, but somehow an accordion shop managed to open somewhat close to where I live - and fairly recently too. Also... it is hard to believe that there's not a single accordion shop in the whole country of Canada!
George Bachich at AccordionRevival.com is a great resource.
His wonderful website is what I am been using mainly, with a small side of YouTube videos to help me visualize the repairs.
Traditionally, you'd find a shop and apprentice with them. But there's so few shops now
Meanwhile guitars, violins, and especially band instruments seem to have a ton of repair shops - and even a few trade schools and classes to learn how to repair them here in the USA. An example is this one for band instruments in Red Wing Minnesota - http://redwingmusicrepair.org/band/overview.html
Kimric Smythe has quite an interesting background! Unfortunately, he's too far away. I might hit him up with questions through his email.
Near LA, I think Dave's Accordion School is well-known
Dave's Accordion School is actually the first accordion shop that I've read about thanks to my favorite accordion player/singer, who took lessons there.
That said. In the States Helmi Strahl Harrington at Wisconsin's World of Accordions Museum has offered a months-long training program.
From the PDF: The school will provide students with available job opportunities.
Oh that's nice!
 

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