Blog,  Repairs

Custom made left-handed Melodeon

Left-handed melodeons are not a common sight which is a bit surprising given that approximately 10% of the world’s population are thought to be left-handed (source: Wikipedia). It seems to us that the majority of left-handed players just learned to play the melody with their right hand. Our guess would be that this is at least partially due to the lack of (affordable) left-hand instruments. So here’s a neat little box that we have just turned from right-hand accordion into a left-hand one.

First one needs to realize that even though a melodeon seems perfectly symmetric, it’s actually not and here’s why:

The air button that allows you to quickly fill or empty the bellows without a note being played is operated with the thumb on the bass side of the accordion. When the accordion is turned around to be played by someone left-handed, then the air button is turned upside down and becomes unreachable.

Moving the air button up is no big thing and can be fairly easy. Once this issue is fixed, you could in principle flip the box and play it upside down. Just like left-handed Jimmy Hendrix played his ‘right-handed’ guitar.

Source= Be
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While this is certainly done by many people, we decided to take it a step further and also flip the reeds inside the accordion. For this the reed blocks need to be rebuild as they can’t just be turned up side down. Luckily that is also not an overly dramatic step.

In the end, the finished left-handed accordion can be played with exactly the same fingering as a right-handed player would play a right-handed box. Triplets and ornamentation – often played on the ‘’strong’’ index and middle fingers – can now also be played that way and instruction from a teacher can be followed one-to-one. This is the final instrument, apart from the switched air button, no modification is visible on the outside.

left-handed melodeons button accordion

If you are interested in a left-handed melodeon, do let us know. We always have instruments for restoration in stock as well as all common reed sets.


  • Geoff Le Blanc

    I’ve always been a left handed player, playing since the mid1970s and have both converted my own accordions and have accordions made for me that way by Castagnari and Marc Savoy in Louisiana. Both accepted and understood the job, giving me the impression they did do left handed models regularly. Other makers I approached refused to consider such a thing.
    Hohner Erica boxes are excellent for a beginner to convert themselves as there is no camber on the reed blocks, so the main issue is to alter the way the blocks fit in to the soundboard in reverse. Not a terribly complicated procedure. The air button is also a logical straight forward job. This is my recommendation to a left handed beginner as any competent repair person should be able to do this quickly and at modest cost. if you do it yourself it wont cost you a thing.
    Going down the right handed road will alter your playing but its still a viable alternative and there are some good upside down players around but you don’t have to be that if your orientation is very left handed.
    I once built a set of blocks for a four voice C#D Dino Baffetti Irish box. Its hard to buy a right handed instrument all ready to go, rip it apart and turn instrument maker when really all you want to do is sit down and play.
    If you are very left handed don’t give up. Be your self and don’t be put off by people who don’t have any qualification to comment.

  • Norman Holifield

    I also have always played left handed boxes. I converted my first one, a Hohner Erica myself and have had several Castagnari and an Oakwood made as lefties.
    Looking back, part of me thinks I should have just learned to play a standard right handed box but it’s far too late for me to switch now. My philosophy is this. Instruments evolve over generations of input from makers and musicians and they evolve to the point of making them the easiest and most efficient way to play. So playing the melody with your dominant hand has been found to be the way to go.
    Unfortunately squeezeboxes unlike many stringed instruments can be quite complex inside and not all are easily converted, its best to have a lefty built as a lefty rather than try to modify a standard instrument afterwards. So in my experience what you are really up against is the willingness of the maker to take on a special order, I have to say that Castagnari have been great and will build a special if it’s at all possible but you may have to wait, for some of mine it’s been a year or so.
    Having said all this you do get players like Andy Cutting who is one of the best in the UK, and guess what….? He plays standard instruments but he’s left handed.

    • OleCarstensen

      Thanks for sharing your insights, Norman. Happy to hear you found a way that works for you! Cheers, Ole

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