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What to look for when buying second hand

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I was offered some good advice on the other forum about what to check when looking at a second hand box. Sadly I cannot access that any longer. Would the more experienced members care to start a list of things to look at in a second hand box to ensure that a newbie like me doesn't buy a train wreck? Perhaps the administrators could set the post up as a sticky at the top of an appropriate section of the forum?

So I know enough to check each key and bass individually for sound on the push and pull.

Bellows should not move without pressing a key, bass or the air release button.

Listen to tuning.

Cracks that may indicate structural problems.

Rattles when you pick it up.

What am I missing? (Loads probably :D )

george garside

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May 11, 2013
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a few quick points 'off the top of my head'

if a box has couplers try all keys/notes using all coupler settings

if buying privately try to establish length of ownership , where stored etc and beware of boxes with stories like ' it was my grandads or uncle freds and it was in his loft, shed , outside lavatory or wherever! anad he hasn't been fit enough to play it for the lst few years.

press air button , apply nasal organ to nether regions of the box and work the bellows - don't buy if any obnoxious odours are emitted via the air valve.

take into consideration the conditions of all the straps - they are not cheap to replace.

good cases or gig bags are not cheap so expect to pay less for a box without a case or with a crap case.

listen carefully to the tone of the box - that is something you will have to live with if you buy it so only buy if you like the sound it makes. Never think 'oh its a bargain and I will get usedto it - you won't and it will not be a pleasure to play! - so you won't play it regularly and eventualy it will become a 'wardrobe' accordion.

play every bass button to check if any stick down -

play every treble key to make sure it doesn't catch on its neighbour

ignore sellers pitches such as 'that will be easy to fix - unless it is accompanied by a SUBSTANTIAL reduction in price

Try the box on - avoid one that feels too heavy - it won't get any lighter` m- it won't be a pleasure to play. Always better to go for a smaller box if a large one is not comfartable!

If possible get an experienced player to go with you to check it out.

The above checks apply to both private aand trade sales l. However any reputable dealer should offer to sort any probs before you buy and you will also be covered by sale of goods act in UK. my comments about tuning/tone apply to any sale.



All this has to be based on price - EG:- if you land a tidy condition Hohner Arietta-I for £99 and the tuning is a bit out, then don`t moan, get it tuned, but on the other hand, if you`re paying £2500 for a Pigini P36 the thing had better be absolutely perfect ..
What to check and what to expect is a sliding scale based on general fetching price of the box compared to what is being asked ...

I`ve found that Hohners fom the 50s or 60s is more likely to need a wax job than Italian instruments but anything made before the 80s is likely to need some attention so well worth asking the owner if its been overhauled and when .. "grandads accordion found in attic" usually means "likely in a state of disrepair" so there`s a good chance it`ll need fettling so pay accordingly ..

EDIT - typed this as George was so doubled up on the "Grandad's accordion" part - LOL


Been here for ages!
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May 1, 2013
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There's a S. Soprani on ebay quite cheaply at the moment and it looks nice and could appear a bargain if it stays around the start price - however it was on Guntree, may still be. In THAT description he said it was his late father bought it 45 years ago & hadn't been out of its case for the last...... 30 years! I think he thought people would be impressed. No mention now on ebay. Caveat Emptor


also when they say (more private sellers) plays well and in good tune when they dont play the accordion or know anything about them

i had couple bad experiences with e bay private seller purchases where you wouldnt believe the contrast and i even clarified some points

they said - plays well, good condition, in tune :b
i found - damaged, unplayable, out of tune :hb

this happened twice but i was lucky in both cases where i got 95% of my monies back

also on another occcasion - this time a dealer (albeit one in germany)after clarifying there was no broken or repaired keys - guess what .......it had a broken and repaired treble key but was similarly lucky with the return's outcome

i would still purchase off e bay but with CAUTION :geek:


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Apr 30, 2013
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To be honest I think you have to buy loically(ish) and go and see it before you part with your cash.
I know that limits your choice but otherwise you run a high risk.
Of course, as decent shop is safe but then you must accept that they make some profit.
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