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Chemnitzer restoration questions

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Hi new to the forum.  Although I have been trying to read and follow how  your forum works. I usually don’t do forums so please forgive any errors I may make.

First I have an antique chemnitzer (I am pretty sure thats what it is).  From what I have been reading here most of you don’t do chemnitzer but there are a few on this board that will pop in and help out if someone posts on one.  Hopefully that is what will happen.

The chemnitzer belonged to my grandfather and has been stored for like 50+ years.
I would like to restore it to look as close as possible to the original.  (within my budget)
I realize it won’t be cheap but hopefully not way out of my range.
I have never “opened” to see if any identifying information is inside to scared I might mess it up.


I know pretty much nothing about concertinas other than research online.
I am not musically talented beyond the ability to turn a nob on the radio.
But I have wanting to learn to play it so I am working on restoring it and getting the learn how to play material.
I want any input others could guide me to make sure I do everything right
I live in Washington state and so far haven’t found anyone that I can take it to to look at it.
Does anyone know of anyone credible in Washington?
I did find gentleman in Wisconsin his business/name  was listed on another website on concertinas.
 He gave a quote based on photo’s I sent but made sure I understood that without looking at it personally he could not accurately give me a real quote.
I am a bit nervous about shipping it as one it is fragile. He assured me if I did send it for repair he would tell me the best way for shipping as he has done a lot of others that way.
But it is also scary to let something you feel an attachment to go to someone you have not at least shook hands with.  

Few things I can say just by looking at it.  A few buttons loose or off ( I have them all)  the the black edging that goes around the bellows some is coming off.
My brain tells me the bellows are something I am sure that he will have to replace.  
The original bellows as far as I can tell is fabric over the bellow leather.  
 he sent me a pic of bellow papers that he could use to to replace if needed.
They are shiny and bright kinda like christmas ribbons.  
It might look nice on todays concertinas but maybe not on an 100+ year old concertina.  
That maybe all that is out there and that is what I am trying to find out
Are there places I could look at other choices that I  might be able to say how about these?  

I saw some people on this forum make there own has anyone ever made some for a chemnitzer?
other than size are they different from a regular concertina?  Could I just go to my local hobby store and buy acid free paper and use that cut in to the correct sized strips?  
or is it possible to do what was originally done and cover it with a light “calico” style fabric?

Any other input that I may have missed would be helpful.
Sorry for the long post.

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Hi inrhearts.  I'm not going to advertise myself as any kind of Chemnitzer expert, since I've recently acquired two of them myself, but I can share with you what I've learned.  What brand is your Chemnitzer?


If you haven't seen it yet, there is a US Concertina Assn facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/usconcertina/?fb_dtsg_ag=AdypplhOWHyuMEeDWcfKf8QGpxWQASiIQAkLiP39yeADdA%3AAdx_t_KsW60SVw3qzeXT7ofTwxYGZzJ8ACgtR0jX2cGLoA) that you might want to have a look at and pose some questions to.


I'm told that St Cloud Concertina Service is a top-notch facility.  Dan Standersen had his (now mine) Schoma Bandoneon overhauled there and he's a pretty knowledgeable concertina guy, so I'd trust his judgement.  You might also talk to Smythe's Accordion Center in Oakland, CA, http://www.smythesaccordioncenter.com/.


If nothing else, you might also look in your area for a good accordion repair shop, since Chemnitzers are a bit closer to accordions than english/anglo/duet concertinas are.  A google search yielded Petrosa Accordions in Lynwood and Bell and Reed in Seattle. 


There's a book, "The Chemnitzer Concertina, A History and an Accolade" by Lavern Rippley that you can get from Amazon that will give you a pretty good history.


I currently have a turn-of-the-century Lenk Bandoneon in with my local Tucson free-reed guy, so we'll see what happens there.


I'd at least post your same questions out on the US Concertina Assn FB page to see if they might have some local recommendations!



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Thank you for your reply and infomation Saguaro_squeezer .

There is no info on my chemnitzer other than the silver metal engraving of Chemnitzer. 

It has 38 buttons (16 + 22).  It is wood  the bellows have 4 sections then a thick section then 4 sections a thick section then 4 sections ) If that help identify it for anyone.

So other than opening it I don't know how to tell and I have not opened it for fear of damaging it since I don't know what I am doing. 

I did purchase the book "The Chemnitzer Concertina, A History and an Accolade" and will work on reading it as time allows.
I don't do Facebook so other than sometimes able to see stuff can't do that. 
I did contact Petosa as that is who my local music store recommended.  They said it would be at least six months before they could even look at it.  If they did do it probably would be thousands of dollars to repair and suggested the button box in Mass.  Who said Unfortunately we are not very familiar with Chemnitzer concertinas and do not do repairs on them.  Sorry about that.  I also contacted the Concertina Connection in Spokane basically they said the same thing but gave me a link of which I was already working on that lead me to the gentleman in Wisc.   I haven't talked to Smythe's Accordion Center yet it might be a thought.  I also have not followed up with a name my sister got from the Leavenworth accordion festival of a gentleman that might be able to fix it but he sounded like he just did it for a hobby and I thought going professional was best.  I think the gentleman in Wisc will be a great choice for repair is price is almost right on target of my first thought of what I thought it would cost.  I just want different bellow choices and if I could walk into a repair shop I would probably feel better.
I know several years ago when I had my Great grandmothers mantle clock checked out I walked into the clock repair place It was hard to hand over something precious then but but it I had actually met him in person and it was from me to him no delivery man involved:)


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Well, inrhearts, I'm sorry that I gave you so many things that you'd already thought of.  The US Concertina Assn does have a website - https://concertinamusic.com/ - but most of the activity has moved to their FB page.  Ease of maintenance, I'd expect.  I don't suppose the gentleman in WI is Gaylen Haas, is it?  He's who I bought my Bb Slimline from and is super knowledgeable ... but I don't think that he rebuilds.  Anyway, good luck with your repair.  If it doesn't pan out, I can give you the contact for my guy here in Tucson.

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No I really appreciate your information that is why I am here in case someone has information on something I haven't found yet.
I did try to google your information on st cloud concertina haven't found it yet do you have a link?

I did find the concertina music.com I think that is where I found the gentleman in Wisc.  It is not Gaylen Haas I can't remember if I saw that name been doing so much research trying for the last couple of weeks to get everything right  my mind is in a muddle right now. 

Part of my big focus at the moment is getting the bellows right!

I thank you again with your reply and good wishes with input from people like you who have been there done that it will work out.

 For example I have a civil war document that was my great grandfathers spent weeks going back and forth between all the local frame shops and online frames shopping. Asking everyone what they thought & finally found a local framer who understood what we wanted it was simple in our price range and now that its on the wall looks perfect at least to us.

But if not for asking others with knowledge about the right way to go about it

and opinions on looks it may have not have.

Your a peach for jumping in and trying to help me so quickly :)

thank you

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I recently restored a 38 key Chemnitzer. The bellows were generally ok, but I did patch a leak on one gusset with a thin piece of leather stuck on the inside, and I replaced the gasket with modern foam gasket strip. A couple of keys were off...reglued these with hide glue. Also added a felt buffer under the keys to improve the action.  Some of the keys have an interesting leather pivot though they were all ok. Had I needed to I could have created new ones. I didn’t replace the pallet leathers, but this could have been done, by ungluing the pallets and regluing (with hide glue). This would also improved the general compression. The Reed plates come out easily but I carefully numbered them as I took them off. One reed block was a bit loose so I reglued that.

I cleaned all the reeds and replaced all the valves - using leather accordion valves but many cut down to size. Three reeds were broken and I sent the reed plates to Harmonikas and they repaired (25eur each). Obviously you need to create a map of the pitches so you know what to ask for. Then I tuned (I pretuned some before valving). The difficulty is getting the octaves in tune, so it involves quite a lot of fiddling about for fine tuning. My aim was to get it into a playable condition, which I managed to achieve.

As an approach, get the compression up to scratch, and the keys working well, before turning attention to reeds etc. Pointless wasting time on reeds if the thing doesn’t hold air or the keys aren’t functioning.

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Thank you RogerT  for your reply.  I think it may take more work than yours.  Although It is good to know that it is possible to do your self, but as I pretty much know nothing about musical instruments probably best if I stay away from trying to do it my self or it may end up worse than when I tried to fix my coffee pot one day parts all over the kitchen table and me in tears.

I just found out  the gentlemen in Wisconsin that was possibly going to fix it has decided not too.  So I am on the search again for someone to do the restoration. 

 Saguaro_squeezer gave me some contact info I will probably start with

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