Category Archives: Repairs

Things inside the Box #3

I happily live in the Netherlands for a couple of years now. Before I moved here, I knew from the telling of fellow trad. musicians that the Irish session in Mulligan’s Bar in Amsterdam is top-notch and it surely is. However, what I did not know is that there exists a vivid Dutch button accordion scene outside the trad. Irish music regime.

The Dutch refer to a two row diatonic button accordion as a “trekzak” which probably translates best as “pull-bag”. There exists a variety of dedicated Dutch trekzak pages, one of which is The Harmonikahoek I already highlighted in a recent post. In general many tabulature is available for free and many workshops and lessons from notable players can be found online. There are trekzak clubs and dedicated trekzak festivals like the annual busking festival in Enkhuizen.

This episode of inside the box is dedicated to a very Dutch modification to the two row box:

De gedraaide 5de toets / The switched 5th button

So what is a switched fifth button supposed to be? It refers to the fifth button on the inner row. For this button the push/pull pattern is reversed. Here’s a look inside a box where someone has switched the fifth button by himself:

As you can see it’s quite literally a switch, a switch of the reed plates! The two reeds that correspond to the fifth button are taken off, turned around, waxed on and tuned again.

So what is it good for? Honestly, the first time I tried to play such a box I found it very confusing and not particularly appealing. However, this initial confusion faded fast.

The concept

To explain the concept, I shall focus on a C/F tuned box. It translates to other tunings such as G/D or A/D as well.

On a C/F box the fifth button on the inside row contains the notes C and D as shown on the keyboard schematics below.

De gedraaide 5de toets, keyboard layout.

Main advantage is that – with the fifth button turned – both notes C and D can be played on either push or pull. The player can choose depending on the tune. This allows you too match the note to the basses more easily.

As shown in above figure, you can play half the scale on the same bellows movement. This will result in a much much smoother sound of the tune. However, if you want the old push ‘n draw style, you can just pick the C and D from the other -non turned- buttons.

De gedraaide 5de toets, sheet music.

I have to say, after serviced a couple of accordions with a gedraaide 5de toets, I grew quite fond of this keyboard modification. It’s easy to adopt too and fun to play.

If you are curious and consider to try de gedraaide 5de toets, contact me for info and pricing. It is a fast, cheap and above-all reversible modification.

➡ things inside the box #2

➡ things inside the box #1

Custom restoration of a 1950ies Hohner Erika

I just finished the restoration of an old Hohner Erika with a lovely wooden keyboard. Judged by the characteristic recessed grille, black bellows and black wooden keyboard, this is one of the first Erika accordions made by Hohner in the mid-fifties. One of the first in this incredibly successful button accordion series. Certainly this is one of the oldest Erika boxes I have seen so far. Above all, it sounds nice too!

Here is a sound sample of the converted accordion.

Drop me a note if you would like to have a custom made accordion too.

Same hohner box – very different tunings

Custom button accordion tuning: same Hohner box, very different sound! Listen to a side by side comparison below.

Recently I have fitted a vintage black Hohner box with a set of new Super Dural Reeds.

The tuning I choose was a medium wet tuning with +-10ct A.

Vintage black Hohner in C#/D with a medium wet tuning

Following the new owners wish, the box was re-tuned to a much wetter – Paolo like – tremolo. I am quite surprised what difference that makes but have a listen for yourself:

Vintage black Hohner in C#/D with a very wet -Paolo like- tuning

Personally, I love that new sound! So from now on, this particular – non-standard – tuning has a firm part in my tuning repertoire.

If you have any custom button accordion tuning questions or requests feel free to contact me.

4

Things Inside the Box… (New mini series #1)

I get to experience the evolution of accordion technology first hand while working on old accordions. Often times I find myself smiling over dirty hacks or creative solutions after opening up a box. In this loose mini series I will showcase some fun and interesting things I find inside old accordions. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

When asked to fix an air leak on an old Hohner Club, I noticed a considerable leak on the bass side of the instrument. To my surprise the cause was not the usual misalignment of the bass mechanics but a very creative repair of a broken air release valve spring

The construction worked surprisingly well for a surprisingly long time (talking years, not days). Eventually, one of the rubber bands gave in and the loose orange end got caught below a flap preventing it’s full closing.

I replaced the broken spring but if I should ever face a broken air release valve spring and I am in the middle of nowhere without a proper spring at hand, I might revert to this temporary fix…

➡ things inside the box #2

1

What’s up next?

Almost done: Antique Hohner 3-voice C#/D

I have some very interesting boxes coming up soon! This is a look behind the curtain of the workshop.

An old, stylish box, fitted with brand new super dural reeds. A longer lasting project is finally nearing completion.

In the past weeks we have been fitting new reeds, new felt pads, cleaning metal parts and adjusting keyboards. Yesterday I played a first tune on it, today I put it on the tuning bellows for the first time. I can’t wait to hear the sound of it once properly tuned…

Antique Hohner 3-voice C#/D
soon finished: 3-voice C#/D

Work on the Hohner Liliput is making progress. The first Liliput has entered the workshop for an overall check-up. The original reeds in the moody key of Bb/Eb are in good condition. It seems they can be used for the restoration.

Drop me a note if you are interested in the Antique Hohner 3-voice C#/D.

1

Workshop warranty on all my boxes

Button accordion workshop warranty for 1 year on all my work. Every box I sell has been thoroughly set up and serviced in my workshop. In the unlikely event that there is an issue within the first year, I will fix it for you.

This applies for:

  • Problems with the buttons or keyboard
  • Leaking bellows
  • Blocked or out of tune reeds
  • etc

If you have not made use of this warranty after one year, it turns into a 50% voucher for refreshing the tuning of your box.

Conditions

  • Shipping has to be paid by the box owner
  • The warranty holds for defects in material or my workmanship and does not include damage that has been caused by (obvious) misuse or accidents such as water damage, damage from non-expert tuning attempts, etc…
  • Warrant is issued at my discretion

Contact me for if you have any questions regarding the button accordion workshop warranty!

1

Why are the buttons on my accordion making so much noise…?

If your accordion makes a lot of clickedy-clack sounds when you play it, you might want to consider having the felt pads exchanged.

Often the pads on mid-range accordions are only covered by a thin leather strap. This is not enough to dampen the sounds of the closing pads.

Comparison of a proper felt pad, against a mere leather strap

Exchanging all the felt pads will make your accordion play quiet. Since the height of the pads is different this requires a re-adjustment of the button mechanics to correct the button height and make sure everything is airtight.

A Hohner Erika fitted with new felt pads will play as quiet as any modern box!

I can change the felt on any accordion, also on yours.

Price: 75 EUR + 21 % VAT (work & material for a 2-row box, request price for more rows…)

Contact me if you have questions regarding accordion felt pads exchanged.

1

DIY Box repairs

I started a series of small accordion repair instructions. Simple things that are easy and good to know for every accordion player.

For those of you who took the effort to visit this page: Thanks you! Here’s some exclusive blooper content from the video for you.

The pair of pliers that I use – that are light and can be operated with one hand – are available from Amazon via this (affiliate) link:

If you want to know more about accordion repairs or have a suggestion for a specific topic for the next video, just let me know.

1

Restored Hohner B/C for sale

I decided to sell my recently refurbished black Hohner B/C melodeon to make some room for new boxes.

The box was fitted with new TAM reeds in B/C as well as new felt pads. It’s 2-voice and the bass layout is standard G/D, C/G, A/E, C/F without thirds. Here you find some more info about the instrument.

refurbished Hohner B/C melodeon

I have uploaded a sample of what the box sounds like:

Play Keogh's - Dom and Ole

Played by me and Dom in an Amsterdam session.

Price: Sold

1