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Bellows Care

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Hello, All:


I've had my Ceili for a few months, and it seems that suddenly the bellows have loosened up nicely. What should I be doing to maintain them? Saddle soap? Chamois cloth?


As always, thanks for your input.



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Saddle soap tends to migrate through the leather, and stain the papers.

Using nothing at all is as good as anything. If you're reasonably careful with it, you should easily get a hundred years out of the bellows.

If you only get 90, let me know, I'll buy you a new set.

Nothing at all sounds good to me. Thanks for the good advice. I wish I could apply the same action to house maintenance!

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Steve Dickinson told me to get in there with some shoe polish for the black bellows he made for my Jeffries!!! He said it would nourish the leather and keep it in condition ... I'm afraid I haven't dared do that yet as it seems a little severe but it was definitely the advice I was given.

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I'm one of the "do nothing" lobby!


My Stagi Anglo was a bit stiff in the bellows when it was new, and I had a tub of leather balsam - all nice, natural products, mind you - that kept leather jackets wonderfully pliable. So I applied it to my bellows. Not long after, the bellows started collapsing on the draw. When I looked inside, the card stiffeners had come unstuck from the leather. Apparently the balsam had seeped through and dissolved the glue. No amount of re-gluing helped, and I had to get a new bellows made.


This was a Good Thing in the End, because my only source for bellows was Concertina Connection (then still in Holland), and the bellows they made for me brought a 100% improvement in the instrument, with regard to volume, dynamics and control.


That was 10 years ago, and the Stagi reeds and Concertina Connection bellows still give sterling service, though I've had to tinker with the action now and again.




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