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Do you oil the leather bellows on a concertina?

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Don't would be my first response.  I've seen bellows ruined by generous applications of neatsfoot oil and other conditioners.  The oil has penetrated the leather, soaked into the under laying card causing it to delaminate.  The result is "talking puppets" which is the term Rosalie Dipper uses to describe bellows sections which no longer stay in synch on the push and pull.


"Never" is a different case.  An older concertina which has not been stored properly may have a bellows with leather that has dried out.  The gussets are particularly vulnerable in this case and "could" benefit from a light and judicious application of shoe cream or "Fredelka compound".  I can't emphasize enough that LESS is BEST.  Even a product like Fredelka which helps control the penetration of oils into leather can compromise a bellows if used in excess.  If you must recondition the leather on an old, dried out bellows stay away from the liquid, penetrating oils like neatsfoot and mink.


For a new bellows NEVER condition them.  There are no short cuts in breaking in a bellows other than playing them in.





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I go with Gregg 100%, just remember that all creams and oils have a carrier medium which evaporates off or is soaked into the leather it migrates into glued joints and weakens them. It can also seriously prevent any future need to glue onto the leather from being effective, you cannot glue onto a waxy & oily surface very easily.  Oils & waxes also stain and lift bellows papers.


Final point: if the leather has been lacquered at some point, how is the treatment  supposed to be absorbed into the leather?


Keep the bellows clean! and avoid treatment with anything, even ale.



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