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Buying first accordion... to ebay or not to ebay

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Hi all,

Ive recently started to learn the accordion and Im on the lookout for an instrument. I was browsing ebay the other day and I stumbled across this beauty: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/132860086634?ul_noapp=true

Strap damage aside (I would definitely need to get new straps, and probably a gig bag too) its exactly what Im looking for - a lightweight 72 bass accordion. But, of course, this is ebay, so Im really not sure whether to actually go ahead and bid for it in case its out of tune or something. In an attempt to get some more information I messaged the seller about it. Heres the reply I got:

My wife is a pianist & thought she might make a transition to this instrument but didnt. No reflection of the quality of the accordion, she just didnt get on with it. The accordion has a rich, deep tonal quality according to my wife. Sorry I cant expand further but I hope that helps.

It sounds promising but given neither the seller nor his wife are accordionists Im somewhat reluctant to go for it, even if it is so astonishingly cheap :? So I thought Id come on here and ask for advice. Would you buy this accordion? As a beginner, is it worth spending the extra money at a proper accordion shop? Do you have any general advice for buying accordions on the internet (or not, if you always buy in person)?
 

wirralaccordion

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The biggest problem you have is not knowing whether it is in tune. If it is not in tune you will not be able to get anyone to tune it for you as because of it's age it is 99% certain that in the tuning process other problems will surface.
Even if it is in tune it may not be the sound you want. There is no substitute for seeing and hearing it in the flesh.
 

debra

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"Excellent condition" doesn't mean anything on Ebay. Keep in mind that at best "you get what you pay for".
You should start from the assumption that the accordion will be out of tune so you need access to a repair person. It is also very likely that valves (leathers) will need to be replaced. You will quickly be looking at repair costs that exceed the value of this accordion if it were really in "excellent condition". The problem with Ebay is that you cannot try before you buy and with accordions this is essentially a must.
 

cat

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You can definitely score a great deal on a vintage box on online auction, but you must be willing to risk. In my experience, the way to go is to contact a seller and ask them to make a comprehensive video, or play it over the phone, etc.; this will enable you to at least assess the tuning.

When I buy something online, I also inquire if the seller is aware and/or experienced in shipping fragile musical instruments - given the special requirements of shipping an accordion.

Unless you're willing to gamble entirely on luck, you must do due diligence in communicating with a seller. Unfortunately, many/most sellers will say: "not an accordion player..." and are thus no help at all in investigating/assessing an instrument.

But if someone can demo the instrument, you may find a good deal. I've obtained most of my instruments (boxes) this way, as I live where no boxes are available. BUT!...without knowledge you're apt to get burned on a useless box.
 

Dingo40

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Even when buying in person (especially as a tyro), if you don’t know what to look for, you’re liable to make mistakes!
One of my early buys (in person) was a $20 bargain...except for the fact that it eventually cost me the best part of $400 to put it right, not counting a carry-case for it!<EMOJI seq="1f62f">?</EMOJI>
Remember the old adage about not buying a pig in a poke?
Generally, if you buy cheap, you’ll end up paying plenty later!
I’m sure there’s genuine bargains out there, but which is it?
The advantage of buying from a accordion dealer is you generally get some kind of warranty for a period of time during which they will either fix it, trade it or refund, as well as getting some knowledgeable advice!<EMOJI seq="1f44d">?</EMOJI>
Generally it’s worth it.
 
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Thanks everyone for your input - I suspected that it would probably be a bad idea but now I know it definitely is, haha. Off to a proper dealer I go! (when I get home from uni)
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hmmmm!

You have something of a dilemma here, but you have received some very sound advice from our members.

I own a 120/41 Arietta, which I love to pieces. They are a lovely accordion, though I would tread very carefully if I were you.

The only thing I can usefully add is to mention my personal preference for using a reputable dealer. You will certainly pay more for your accordion, but at least you have someone to moan at if it goes wrong.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Glug

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It definitely is possible to buy a decent accordion cheap on ebay.

But I would say if you want to avoid most risks you have to be able to go and try it out and be prepared to not buy it.

Got a Hohner Lucia IV P for £220 that way, I just about knew enough to give it a basic test. It only had minor issues I could fix myself (and Atlantic models are very easy to work on).

Helps a lot if the seller is fairly local and does 'collect only' - keeps the price down.
 

Dingo40

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A further advantage a dealer can offer is to let you either take the instrument home to try for a few days or to let you rent it for a week or two (for a reasonable amount) on the understanding that the rental becomes part of the payment should you eventually decide to purchase it: a win-win!
Not to mention the opportunity of trying out several varieties of instrument whilst you’re in the shop!<EMOJI seq="1f642">?</EMOJI><EMOJI seq="1f44d">?</EMOJI>
I would recommend several visits before deciding.
Most dealers would “hold” the potential purchase for a reasonable time, while you decide.
 

TomBR

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On Ebay it's well worth using the "nearest first" search results sorting option on Ebay. Don't set the search parameters too narrow.
It's just a matter of luck, but you might find something suitable within range, and if the seller won't post that keeps the price down.

I'd never intended to buy one, but when a Hohner Atlantic 120 bass came up at a good price near home I went and tried it then bought it with the only bid for a very good price, had a lot of fun with it, then got my money back when I sold it after changing to CBA.

Further away buying on Ebay is a gamble. You've got to buy cheap enough to make the risk worthwhile.
Be canny
- Look at photos and imagine what the accordion really looks like, look at the details.
- Lots of accordions are offered with just a couple of lines of description - often indicates the seller doesn't know much. If they have useful knowledge and some enthusiasm, the listing will reflect this. Longer is better, if it's not an obvious cut and paste.
- Ask if the seller will protect the bass machine before shipping. Most won't know what you're talking about. If they don't know, or aren't confident to look it up and do it, the accordion is travelling at greater risk.
- Don't "go out on your own" in bidding. Unless you're very confident you don't want to place the first bid on an auction that starts at a price close to what you reckon the value to be. You may "Win" the item on the first and only bid, but you may have paid too much. If possible you want the security of other people bidding to confirm your valuation.
- If other people bid, and the item is pretty much as described there's always the chance that you can sell it again for something similar to what you paid if it doesn't turn out right for you.
- Obviously don't get carried away in your bidding! If I'm not sure I'll sometimes do what Ebay suggests and place a bid of "the amount I'd be happy to get it for" in good time, then not look again until the auction has ended.
- Ebay makes a lot more sense if you are, or can get, interested in doing your own repairs and refurb. It's not hard, you don't need lots of tools or equipment, there's a huge amount of info online, and it's a lot of fun!

If you don't want to try Ebay etc I'd say look at the dealers who operate from home. Without premises overheads they can offer better pricing than "a shop." Accordions South West and Fair Deal Accordions come to mind.

Good luck!
Tom
 

donn

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There's such a thing as taking a risk, and don't let these guys kid you, we don't ever buy an accordion risk free. Even if you can try it out for weeks, in a year you may well be dissatisfied and sorry you're saddled with it.

Online auctions are about elevated risk, for elevated gain. The fact that you even asked, suggests you're averse to risk, so maybe it isn't for you, but you decide. As for bidding, decide how much you're in for, and then keep it to yourself - don't bid your price until the very end, and I mean the last few seconds. Bidding wars are for people who make a sort of sport out of making each other pay too much (and once in a while a shill bidder who's doing it for profit.) How much you're in for, depends on how much you can afford to lose on a bad bet, and not be real sorry.
 

george garside

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look at the sellers other items! If they are only selling one accordion and other very varied things it could be from a house clearance or similar dealer who has no clue other than to describe the visual look of it,

You need at least photos of the inside i.e. of reedblocks etc etc. .

However some reputable dealers use ebay but this will show up on their 'other items'

Gumtree can also be worth looking at and I have both bought and sold on that site.

BUt best go and have a look and if you can take somebody with you who knows about boxes

I suppose the bottom line is if you buy a bummer you can alsways shove it back on ebay!!
 

Dingo40

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A few more things I would advise a first time buyer to avoid are:
Avoid side couplers (switches), as they tend to get in the way of playing by being very prone to being unintentionally activated during playing (highly annoying!)
And, avoid any instruments with all the bells and whistles, as it will be a very long time before you need them and the instruments that have them tend to be quite heavy, and that will become very irksome quite quickly!
Some more suggestions for the first time buyer:
Do seriously consider a basic design with no bass couplers and only a “high” and a “low” treble couplers ( i.e., two only ). This will be sufficient for a very long time! (Also, cheaper and lighter!)
Look for a fairly “dry” tuning as very “wet” tunings
tend to become off putting quite quickly ( unless needed for your genre of music).
If at all possible, make sure you get a “carry case “ with your purchase, as it is great for protecting your instrument from knocks, dirt and insects (the felt pallets etc are attractive to moths), and cases are surprisingly hard to find and expensive bought separately.
If you are slightly built, a “ladies “ model (eg 17 inch keyboard) will give you a much lighter 120/41 instrument, with easier (shorter) stretches for the fingers. I have two accordions with 17 inch as well as other wth 20 inch keyboards and I play them interchangeably: it makes a nice change!<EMOJI seq="1f601">?</EMOJI>
 

george garside

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as a beginner you don't need and I would not recommend a 120 bass box be it 17'' or 20'' keyboard. 72 bass is more than enough and 48 bass is more than adequate. Plenty of hohner student accordions on ebay and they are solid workhorses devoid of complication. In fact many 'non classical' players stick to 48 bass

a small lightweignt box is also far easer to learn on than a 120 bass box and progression , if desired, from a smaller to a so called full size (120 bass) box is not a problem.

george
 

donn

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Dingo40's right, accordion weight is mostly a function of the treble reeds, so if you want light, make do with two couplers. The bass buttons are all hooked up to the same few reeds - a 120 bass has no more reeds than a 72, just more buttons and the little rods to connect the buttons to the same reeds. I'm surprised though that the smaller ladies' keyboard would affect the weight much. It's kind of hard to make generic predictions about accordion weight, because we don't really have so many examples where all else is held equal - a 72 and 120 bass with the same number of treble keys, a small and normal size accordion with the same reeds and construction, etc.
 

george garside

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two thoughts from the various posts!

'protect the bass machine' which is something I routinely do if sending a box by courier. Its very easy to do and I include written instructions for the buyer to remove the protection. To do it remove the bass end board usually 4 screws and if necessary uncouople the bass strap from one end , Insert pieces of thick cardboard below the bass mechanism until the bass buttons can' be pressed down. reattach end plate and strap.

If you are thinking of buying on ebay contact the buyer via ebay of a phone number if given and ask if they are prepared to protect the bass mechanism. If they havn't a clue what you are talking about take it as an indecation that they know nothing about accordions!

As to bidding I NEVER bid until the last 60 seconds as bidding early is only of help to the seller as each bid raises the selling price, and then some other fool thing ''Ill get it if I bid more'' and so on and so on. I also decide when watching an item what my maximum bid will be and if it goes over that figure I stop warching it.

george
 

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