Accordion Repair and Tuning

Changing the world 1 accordion at a time.

You've got accordian questions? I've got questions about your questions!

By Gaines I. " Ike" Milligan

Here are some links to my other "accordian" webpages:

Straps, Parts, Accessories Publications & Music Accordian Evaluation Tips Accordian Care Tips
Bass Button Problems? Tuning How to fix Your Own Bellows! Shipping Ideas
Get New Custom Made Bellows. Straps and Accessories are also available from Ike!!

Ask me anything about accordions.

I can fix or replace most parts of all kinds of accordions including keyboard accordians, button boxes, restoration, tuning, repairing shipping damage, new straps, bellows, cases, and accessories. Please e-MAIL "Ike" for free help and advice on your repair questions.

What's it Worth?


I will personally answer your questions! I can't usually tell you what an accordion is worth, due to the fact that it has to be played in order to judge its quality and condition. But I am interested in hearing about any accordion you have; if it interests you it interests me. Occasionally I can tell people how to repair their accordions themselves, but often it is not possible to give a definitive answer without seeing it.

A professional sized accordion has more reeds and moving parts than parts and strings in a grand piano. You should have your piano tuned at least once a year. By the time your accordion might go out of tune or need servicing, it could be 20, 40 years old, or more, but there is a roughly comparable yearly cost of maintenance, since all the reeds may need to be serviced at that time. If you buy an accordion online without trying it out first, you are asking for problems. If you buy it online from a reputable dealer or accordion maker, there should be some sort of guarantee in writing, or at least by reputation. However, reputable accordion dealers are very rare. Indeed many old brands have been purchased by companies, selling new accordions, which use inferior modular parts which are may be hard to repair properly. To get an idea how accordions used to be made, piece by piece, you might want to check out a rare manuscript, How to Build an Accordion by Alfred Fischer, which I can rpint and mail to you. Eamil me for details. It makes interesting reading. A few "accordians" are still being hand-made that way, but not by the "major" manufacturers. To have an accordion made the old way, and with "hand-made" reeds, will now likely cost you a small fortune.


Please write to Ike's Sick Accordion Boxpital Now! accordiondoc@mindspring.com

Is Your Bass Causing You a Problem?Ike can fix your bass machine fast and right! *Click*here !

For tech support on any kind of squeezebox, including button boxes, don't hesitate to contact me directly, please.
I do complete tuning, restoration, and repair.

Ike's Boxpital for Sick Accordions is headquartered at:

10803 Keller Street
Silver Spring MD 20902
G. I. Milligan

Phone (301)649-1266

Players Nationwide rely on Ike's Sick Accordion Boxpital. I have rebuilt accordions from Maine to Florida, and from East Coast to West Coast.

Send me your squeezebox to be fixed, call today or e-MAIL for instructions.

Write to Ike's Sick Accordion Repair Co. Now!!accordiondoc@mindspring.com

Ike's Boxpital


Accordian Restoration, Including Mechanical Repairs

Due to wear, atmospheric conditions, method of storage, etc., over a period of time one cannot avoid some deterioration in the tuning and mechanism of accordions.

Accordion Bellows

The acoustic accordion will be operated by air passing over the reeds. there are reeds in both sides, in the box parts, called the casings. The casing on the right side of the accordion is called the treble casing, and on the left, the bass casing. In between the two casings there will be a bellows made of 4 pieces of pleated cardboard covered with cloth lining, and joined at the corners by leather gussets and with a metal corner pieces. If the bellows starts to leak due to age and wear, it can be temporarily repaired, but the repair may not last, and it is best to have a new bellows made. The cost of custom made bellows is now about $450, and the specifications are sent to Italy, since the bellows makers in this country have now passed from the scene and their equipment has been lost or dissipated. The bellows from one accordion will rarely fit anther accordion, so very accurate measurements have to be taken,

    Accordion Tuning

    The acoustic (non-electronic) accordion contains multiple sets of reeds. Quite often there are more reeds inside the accordion than the number of strings found in a Grand Piano. (Button or "Diatonic" Accordions which play a different note when squeezing or pulling, often have half as many as larger accordions have.)
  • The left (bass) casing contains several sets of reeds, usually 4 or 5 sets times the 12 notes in the chromatic scale, e.g., 48 or 60 reed plates, with a reed on each side of the plate, one for each direction of air flow when squeezing or pulling the bellows.
  • The situation is similar on the treble side, except the number of reed plates is equal to the number of working keys, in most 120 bass accordions that would be 41 keys times the number of treble reed sets, usually 3 to 4 sets, for mediumto large 120 bass accordions, or 2 sets for student size 120 bass accordions down to most 48 or 12 bass. (But most intermediate sized, i.e., 60, 80 or 96 bass, have 3 sets of reeds). Each reed plate has a reed on both sides, for each air flow direction when the bellows are pulled or pressed.
  • The performance capabilities of accordion reeds can vary greatly, depending on the precision, skill, and method by which they were made and the quality of the metal. After the reeds are made and put into the accordion, they have to be tuned together as sets. Unlike piano strings, the physical properties of accordion reeds are permanently altered when the note is adjusted by tuning. The reed is tuned by scratching the metal in a carefully chosen location, by a highly skilled accordion tuner. Tuning by hack repairmen can easily completely ruin an expensive set of reeds, which might cost more to replace than you originally paid for the instrument.
  • Usually the reeds are held in place on chambered wooden blocks using a mixture of beeswax and pine rosin. This material is carefully poured around and between the reeds and whn it cools, it grips them tightly in place, so that efficient transmission of the wave vibrations can occur. If the wax has gone bad, which is usually the case after the accordion is a couple of decades old, or more, the wax has to be re-poured when reed work is done.
  • When the accordion goes out of tune, there are a number of causes, all of which may very likely necessitate complete cleaning of all the reeds and application of new wax. If only a few notes are out of tune, and depending on the age of the accordion, it just might be possible to fix those few reeds individually without a complete reed overhaul, but the best solution is a complete reed renovation, if the condition and quality of the accordion makes it cost-effective to do so.
  • The cost of a complete reed overhaul on most full-featured accordions often ranges from $700 to $1200 depending on size. The work can often take many hours to complete.
  • Tuning by an amateur should not be attempted on a non-expendable accordion, since a very valuable set of reeds could easily be absolutely ruined. To tune accordions is a highly specialized science.
  • Hand-making of accordion reeds is done by only a few people, and the reeds in an accordion, if hand-made, might actually be irreplaceable, if that reed maker is no longer making reeds.
    Mechanical damage due to shipping, for instance when all the bass buttons are stuck down, may be a 5 minute or several hours of work, usually depending on whether something got bent or broken, or not. Mechanical repairs without tuning usually take much less time, than when complete tuning and reed overhaul work is involved. If the accordion is delapidated due to age and heavy use, that might be another story, since it can turn into a sort of re-manufacturing project. Sticking keys, keyboard leveling, constantly sounding notes, can often be a very quick repair, or on the other hand might require mechanical overhaul, depending on the cause.

    NOTE: I am now presently accepting shipped accordions, for free analysis, and repair estimates. Please Send it to mepack carefully, and include $35 for return shipping and handling. The prices published here are of course subject to change. Once I give you the EXACT price, that is the maximum. All work is guaranteed. I recommend the U. S. Postal Service for shipping, in which case please mail to the P. O. Box listed above. For smaller accordions, the return shipping and handling is only $25 plus extra insurance, if any. Please include the return shipping check with the instrument made out to Ike's Accordion Boxpital

    Squeezeboxes on Usenet !!

    Did yall know that you can ask accordion questions on usenet at the newsgroup rec.music.makers.squeezebox?? Your ISP might have a "news server"! Microsoft Outlook Express or Netscape Navigator, as well as the AOL or Compuserve interface can create or read those messages. Also Google. If you don't already know how to set up your news reader, call up your ISP's tech support. I regularly read and reply to many of those public messages to the great benefit and edification of all peoples. The heading link above -- http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&safe=off&group=rec.music.makers.squeezebox -- is to Google newsgroups. You may use it without a news reading program, to post questions to the accordion "netizen" community.

FAQ: Ike, why do you sometimes spell accordion "accordian"?

Answer: glad you asked that question. It's because of search engine criteria. If I use a key word too many times, the engine thinks I'm "spamming" it for a higher ranking. Also many people mis-spell accordian when searching.

FAQ: I bought an accordion on Ebay and the seller told me it worked perfectly, but I received it and it was in poor condition, plus all the bass buttons were stuck down as a result of rough handling during shipment and poor packing.

Answer: Most people should not buy accordions over the internet except from reputable professional accordion dealers, like might be found by posting a message on rec.music.makers.squeezebox, to get input and recommendations from the accordion community. If I were to receive a broken accordion I could fix it, but I would not pay top dollar for an accordion without physically looking at it. If you have experience repairing accordions you might want to take a chance on an internet accordion sold by someone who knows little about it. To even know what kind of questions to ask of the seller, you need some repair experience.

When you receive it, if the only problem is stuck bass buttons I could fix it for you in as little as 5 minutes, if it's not badly damaged, or 2 or more hours if someone bent it out of adjustment or broke something inside. All the chord buttons stuck down, might not be a real big repair job, per se. There are only 12 springs holding up 80 chord buttons in an 120 bass accordion. However, if your accordion has systemic problems like bad wax, rust or corrosion, moth damage, or worn out bellows, it is an overhaul job, and it may be worth fixing, or mostly good for parts, more expensive to repair than it may be worth. That partly depends on whether it was above average when new, with fine reeds, or just a student grade instrument with cheap reeds.

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