Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
david broadbent

Starting To Repair My French Accordion

Recommended Posts

Greetings from Australia.


Thank you to the Administrator for accepting my registration. I hope my probably limited posting will be of value to all that read them.


I am 66yo and very technically skilled [both hands on and in theory]. I own and maintain and repair a wide variety of antique scientific-engineering equipment/instruments and vintage computers {circa 1960's to 1989}.


However I have never owned nor played a musical instruments, other than a 78 hand crank gramophone.


My lady friend says I cannot even sing or hum in tune whist in the shower, or anywhere else for that matter. :rolleyes:


So now I have decided to work on repairing this beautiful early French Accordion I have. Then I am going to try and learn to play it IN TUNE :D, and hopefully post a few youtube videos.







and I felt I would add some pics of accessing the internals.


Thank you so much to Stephen Chamber's for his post back on 27th March 2004, on this very site on giving the clue of how to access the insides. :mellow:






and yes you DO slide the key plate FULLY out before lifting the reed plate out.


My photo of it mostly out, was taken to give a general idea of the instruments 3d structure


It has number 150 inside.


My accordion has a tiny hole in the end folds of 2 bellows, a few keys are missing felts, a couple are 'sticky', and there appears to be missing leather flaps on back of a number of reeds on the reed plate.

Otherwise it appears in quite nice condition.


I have made a photo album on imgur and added the link here,


https://imgur.com/a/ckQay my full photo album on my instrument


I will retake some of the photos with a better camera and on a more neutral background







Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I have done some more homework and found the following Illustrations from the 1852 book by J. Cruckshank called

"Cruckshank's Accordion and Flutina Teacher".


I am not sure where I read a comment that the learner should have the keys facing away from one eyes, so as to learn by feel.


If I follow that statement and hold the instrument in way shown in the figures 1 though 5, {attached) then I do wonder if there was actually a Right hand version of the instrument and a Left hand version of the same model. If I hold mine with the treble board in the right hand and keys away from me, and my left hand facing up and though the leather strap on the bottom, the two buttons on side of bottom (what are these for ?) are not in position to operate, and the "main valve lever" {if that what is is called) is positioned under my wrist.


Also what are the two levers on the top of the raised part of the treble board for.

The one with the ornate cover is above a large chamber with 2 sets of 3 reeds of different lengths. The other is also above a large chamber with 2 sets of 1 reed. In both cases I note one set is use during drawing out, the other when closing the bellows,


I guess I need to sit back and think and wait for some replies.








Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello David,


it is a very long time since I had one of these so I cannot help much with your questions directly , no more than give a little encouragement for your project. It does look as if it can be played left or right handed, whichever is convenient and perhaps a convention for playing accordion type instruments with melody on the right hand had not come into being at the time of writing this' tutor' or inventing this instrument.


To start with the obvious:


Restore the workings and get as good an airtight system as possible.


Replace the valves that are missing or defective, clean the reeds very carefully but do not attempt to tune them as they might not need any adjustment.


Then see what each individual key produces in the way of notes before deciding how best to hold it for playing .


Good luck and I look forward to reading of your progress.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Geoff,


Thank you for your response, and I appreciate the encouragement.


I concur that I will leave the reeds well alone for now, other that the absolute lightest touch/ finest clean of any rust, though i don't recall seeing any.


As to the valves I am of two minds:-


a. replacing just the ones missing ( this is if I can work out what the leather type and characteristic of the existing one is and can get a +85% material match.)


b. replacing all of them. ( If can find no similar material with matching physicial properties, then I may opt to replace all for now with as close a material as I can get, while retaining the original ones in a bag {with written reasons about them}, that stays with the instrument.


However before I do either, I am going to do quite a bit of research on the period leather and how it was made.


I am committed to trying to keep the instrument as original as possible, in both materials and thus sound.


In the following link, Paul S. Storch in a article 'Caring for musical instrument part 1 and 2" from the Minneosota Historical Interpreter, talks about various materials from the early instruments.





One comment he makes in the article is :-


" Leather is used in various forms and preparations on both European and non-European instruments. To make it durable and moisture resistant, raw hides to be used for instrument construction must be treated with chemicals known as tanning agents. Vegetable tanning is used where flexibility and water resistance are required. Mineral tanning agents such as alum impart durability but do not have great water resistance. Their use also results in lighter surface colors. Organ bellows, bagpipe bladders and other instrument components of European manufacture are generally made from vegetable-tanned or combination-tanned cowhide or goatskin."



So that give me some extra homework to do over the festive season

Edited by david broadbent

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this