Blog,  Repairs,  Tuning

Accordion reeds: old, used or brand new?

We have all been there, deciding if the old accordion reeds should be tuned one last time or be upgraded to brand new ones. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do. If you are uncertain, open up the accordion and have a look at which state the reeds and valves are in. Sometimes you are lucky and the reeds are still in good condition to be tuned again. Maybe some valves have to be replaced but that is usually a quick fix unless the majority have to be changed. However if you have bought an old Hohner Erica on a flea market and it has never been serviced, or not serviced fairly recently, it’s very likely the reeds will be rusty and the valves not in a very good state anymore. If tuned, the tuning will most certainly not last very long.

What now?

One option is to remove all reeds from the reed blocks and clean them. First the old wax and valves need to be removed before the reeds can be derusted. After a special cleansing bath, it’s time to dry the reeds and revalve them. When the wax from the reed blocks has been removed the reeds can be waxed in and tuned. Even though there wasn’t a lot of material involved in cleaning the reeds, the procedure is expensive as it cannot be automatized and takes a lot of manual work per reed.

Rusty reeds with old and bent leather valves

In case the reeds are beyond saving, it’s good to know that another option is to replace the old reeds with either used reeds in better condition or brand new ones. Sometimes it’s difficult to get one’s hands on good used reeds. If you are lucky your repairman has just your tuning in stock.

Used Hohner reeds with plastic valves | Not waxed in by Accordion Doctor

If you want to treat yourself with a nice gift you can always go for brand new ones. This option will most definitely knock your socks off. With the right tuning and reed quality, the button accordion will sound marvelous again. The first step in replacing the reeds is to remove the old ones. The reed blocks also have to be cleaned so no old wax is visible anymore. Usually some woodwork needs to be done to the reed blocks. If not, the new reeds won’t fit perfectly as the size usually differs from the old reeds. Finally, the reeds can be waxed in and tuned.

Brand new reeds with modern plastic valves – Waxed in by Accordion Doctor


  • Ross ILETT

    I bought a new M.Gerarda 16 bass accordion for AU$700.00. I am not happy particularly with the bass, sounds a bit tinny, I would like it richer and deeper.
    If I was to take the reed blocks out and send to you would you be able to turn the accordion into a better sounding instument?

  • James Cloonan

    Hello, I’m looking for G G# reeds to put into one of my accordions, I play traditional Irish music and love the sound of that particular key, I tune up on the guitar and it sounds great for practicing and playing. Any suggestions on finding those reeds. Thank you

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