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Replacing reed boxes - is it possible?

wirralaccordion

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I saw a reed box or 2 for sale on Ebay for £30.
I did not think reed boxes ( complete with reeds, valves etc ) were interchangeable between different makes/models of accordions!!.
I have a 34 treble key, 80 bass Geraldo accordion ( bought on Ebay for £10 and collected close to home ) where all the leather valves in the two treble reed boxes are curled up. Would it be possible to replace the treble reed boxes in their entirety with boxes as were for sale here? It would be a cheap fix at £30 if it is possible!
The bass reed boxes are fixed in my Geraldo and so cannot be removed but the treble boxes come out easily with one rotation of a clip.

 

JIM D.

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Unless you find reed blocks from the SAME MODEL and SAME ERA of manufacture the blocks will in no way fit.
And even if you find reed blocks from the same model minor fitting will be necessary.
 

debra

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What you saw for sale is a set of reeds. The seller does not wish to remove them from the reed blocks but indicates the wax is brittle and the leathers need replacing. If you have a problem with the reeds curling up on your box then you need new leathers, which this ad does not give you (you get old leathers). Unless your reeds are rusted or broken they do not need replacing. You need new leathers and perhaps new wax. If you don't know enough about accordion repair I would recommend against trying things like reed replacement, leather replacement (also inside the reed block) and rewaxing. Replacing whole reed blocks can only be done if they are the exact same size and have the exact same way of tightening them left and right for a snug fit on the soundboard. Replacing reed blocks by other old ones with bad wax and bad leathers is certainly not going to help you.
 

wirralaccordion

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What you saw for sale is a set of reeds. The seller does not wish to remove them from the reed blocks but indicates the wax is brittle and the leathers need replacing. If you have a problem with the reeds curling up on your box then you need new leathers, which this ad does not give you (you get old leathers). Unless your reeds are rusted or broken they do not need replacing. You need new leathers and perhaps new wax. If you don't know enough about accordion repair I would recommend against trying things like reed replacement, leather replacement (also inside the reed block) and rewaxing. Replacing whole reed blocks can only be done if they are the exact same size and have the exact same way of tightening them left and right for a snug fit on the soundboard. Replacing reed blocks by other old ones with bad wax and bad leathers is certainly not going to help you.
Thanks for this. I did not realise that the sale was for reeds only and what you say makes perfect sense except that I would say that replacing reed blocks by other old ones would be advantageous only if the replacement reeds were in tune and the replaced reeds were not and I guess that you would have no way of knowing that.
 

Pipemajor

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Even the reeds are different sizes for the same manufacturer.
I have a 120 bass Paolo Soprani PA for parts and a 100 bass Paolo Soprani CBA, which is my current one to play, but the reeds are a different size.
Funnily enough, my 80 bass Maugein CBA has the same size reeds as my Paolo CBA as near as dammit.
 

debra

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Thanks for this. I did not realise that the sale was for reeds only and what you say makes perfect sense except that I would say that replacing reed blocks by other old ones would be advantageous only if the replacement reeds were in tune and the replaced reeds were not and I guess that you would have no way of knowing that.
The "replacement reeds were in tune" is always untrue. When you move reeds to a different reed block and/or place them in a different accordion they will be out of tune. You cannot even tune reeds on the right reed block on a tuning table and then expect them to be in tune when you place the reed block inside the accordion. The actual tuning is determined by many factors of the accordion and once you remove one of these factors the tuning changes, in some accordions more than in others, and also more for reeds in cassotto than for reeds outside the cassotto (because the pallets open less far in cassotto than outside). There is just no way you can get reeds from anywhere that you can just pop into an accordion and have them be in tune. I have even seen cases where just taking out a reed block and putting it back in changes the tuning of some of the reeds by several cents.
 

wirralaccordion

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So it appears that the answer to my question is Yes, you can change a reed box but only if the new box fits or can be made to fit. However, the "new" reeds would need re-tuning to suit the accordion housing it.
Would it matter if the replacement reed box had plastic valves?
 

debra

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So it appears that the answer to my question is Yes, you can change a reed box but only if the new box fits or can be made to fit. However, the "new" reeds would need re-tuning to suit the accordion housing it.
Would it matter if the replacement reed box had plastic valves?
Would it matter for what purpose? Leather and plastic valves each have their own advantages or disadvantages. Plastic valves are a bit more predictable but are noisier in opening and closing. But if you think one or the other would make it possible to get a tuned reed block and just pop it in and be ready, think again. Under no circumstances can you tune a reed block and then have it be in tune when you place it in an accordion. You can come somewhat close when you have a list of likely deviations between the tuning on the block or in the accordion (and this "pre-tuning" is done in accordion factories as they know the type of accordion the reed block will go into, and they can even already tune the reeds before they go on the reed block) but "final tuning" always remains necessary when you place a reed block in an accordion and have tuned it on a tuning table or anywhere else but in the accordion itself.
 

JIM D.

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I've been following the post now for 2 days and have hesitated to post simply because Paul has covered the subject here
quite completely and efficiently. My comments would be simply repetitive.
I however do have a suggestion to correct your situation. Since you only have 2 reed blocks you might consider
changing your reed valves. Changing your valves is really not difficult and with some patience can be done yourself.
First of all give this a read ---


Those machine made reeds in your box are quite forgiving with a valve change and should work out well.
If you have any questions on the process and material get back here for further advice.
 

Glug

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Yep, replacing the valves sounds much the best option. That's the first thing I learnt how to do a couple of years back.
If you're not all thumbs at DIY you can get it wrong with no permanent consequences, when you get it right it's fairly obvious and that's problem fixed.
With some practice it takes maybe 1-2 hours to revalve a reed block.
 
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debra

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Yep, replacing the valves sounds much the best option. That's the first thing I learnt how to do a couple of years back.
If you're not all thumbs at DIY you can get it wrong with no permanent consequences, when you get it right it's fairly obvious and that's problem fixed.
With some practice it takes maybe 1-2 hours to revalve a reed block.
The difficulty is the valves on the inside of the reed block. I have replaced a valve (actually not replaced but reglued one that had come off) once, using fine pincers (and glue of course). It's a precision job to make sure the valve is positioned correctly.
When an accordion is very old and valves all curled up it may be best to just remove all the reed plates, clean them and the reed block and then do a revalving and rewaxing job at the same time. Just revalving in say 100 minutes... that's 4 to 5 minutes per note. 30 seconds for the outside valve and 4 minutes for the inside valve (tricky job) sounds about right.
 

Ventura

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in general it may be worth noting that the older the build of the accordion,
the more likely such things as reedblocks and bellows would be less interchangeable
without "fitting" because in older times before we had precise computer controls
of such things as lathes and other tooling, the exact size of components was not uniform .
(except perhaps to the eye) and so the need to custom fit everything by hand.

even in consistently built accordions (some student line excelsior models were built
with the same dimensions for a span of over 60 years) and yes, many parts can
be used with a bit of finesse to repair another. the 601 went from round aluminum action
parts to flat, and pallets improved from rigid waxed to a flexible mounted aluminum,
and of course the grille cosmetically changed a number of times, but the core of
the accordion remained identical !

some accordions of course, giulietti student models for instance, were sourced
from several factories over the decades but look identical on eBay, and the
dimensional engineering for each series was different (the only uniform component
being the front grille) as they were just stock from the various factory lines.

though same factory student Giulietti's from early on were fairly consistent...
i once took a (round action era) cream colored student G and swapped one
reedblock and re-engineered another to create a lightweight MMM Meusette stroller
which i still (on occasion, outdoor gigs) use to this day

having said that, occasionally a student accordion pops out for sale that has
been stored in the back of a first floor closet since little Johnny or Jane stopped
their lessons waaaaaaaay back in 1963... some of these reedsets and leathers
are pristine, and it seems to my ear sound better than modern standard
issue reeds... just learn how to do the Waxing and swapping these reeds into
your project rebuild may be quite an easy improvement after all compared
to other approaches.

ciao

Ventura
 

wirralaccordion

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Would it matter for what purpose? Leather and plastic valves each have their own advantages or disadvantages. Plastic valves are a bit more predictable but are noisier in opening and closing. But if you think one or the other would make it possible to get a tuned reed block and just pop it in and be ready, think again. Under no circumstances can you tune a reed block and then have it be in tune when you place it in an accordion. You can come somewhat close when you have a list of likely deviations between the tuning on the block or in the accordion (and this "pre-tuning" is done in accordion factories as they know the type of accordion the reed block will go into, and they can even already tune the reeds before they go on the reed block) but "final tuning" always remains necessary when you place a reed block in an accordion and have tuned it on a tuning table or anywhere else but in the accordion itself.
"final tuning" always remains necessary when you place a reed block in an accordion and have tuned it on a tuning table or anywhere else but in the accordion itself.
Sorry for my ignorance but this implies that "final tuning" is done with the box mounted in the accordion? Is this so and if it is isn't access to the reeds a problem?
 

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