A Guide to Buying: Used Accordions

These helpful tips to buying a used accordion are designed to assist you in your journey when selecting a pre-owned instrument.  

Signs to Be Aware of when purchasing a used accordion 

Overview:  signs of abuse, corrosion or rust on accordion carry case.   Strong mildew or musty smell.

Bellows:  inspect bellow folds if they are clean inside.  Inspect metal bellow corners - they should be flush and not missing.  Check bottom and back side bellows for extensive wear.

Compression:  push and pull bellows on Master without depressing any keys or buttons.  You should not hear any sound of air or audible reed sound.

Keyboard:  using your index finger only, depress each treble key one at a time.  Does each key have little resistance when traveled down and up?  Do the keys feel consistent from one to the other?  Check the lateral side movement for each key.  There should be minimal, yet equal lateral movement from one side to the other. The keyboard should be level to the eye when viewing from profile.

Bass Mechanics:  using your entire hand, depress all 4 rows of chord (Maj, Min, 7th, dim) buttons.  Quickly release your hand.  All buttons should quickly return to the up position.

Reeds and Tuning:  internally inspect the reed tongues and valves (leathers).  They should have little to no gap distance from reed plate.  Check each individual reed set that the pitch is similar or matching with both in/out direction of the bellows.  Make an attempt to determine quality of reeds.  Inspect reed tongues for signs of oscillating tool marks, this type of tuning can be detrimental to a reed’s integrity as it can severely temper and weaken the tongue.

Purchase from reputable Dealer  

Classification of used accordions for purchase

As-is:  an accordion that has not been maintained nor had any maintenance or repairs performed, but has been exposed to abuse, neglect and/or severe climate conditions.  Some part or parts of the instrument not functioning and/or not in proper working condition.

Original:  an accordion that has been well maintained but without any maintenance or repairs performed.  Has all original components and in working condition.

Repaired:  an accordion that has had parts repaired over time without replacement of any components.  The accordion has been maintained and in playing condition, but in need of refurbishing.

Refurbished:  an accordion that is original, been well maintained with repairs as needed, with no major components replaced but with major service work performed: a complete restoration of Keyboard and Bass Mechanics to original factory condition.  Bellows in original appearance and condition.  Refurbished exterior to minimize surface scratches and returned to original finish.  Original reed wax in good condition with no signs of cracking or loose reed plates.  Original reed valves (leathers) in good to excellent condition, mostly flat to the reed plate.  Reeds that have been tuned with minimal hand-file marks.

Rebuilt:  an accordion that has not been well maintained and with several major components replaced.  Rebuilt accordions are generally found with replacement of reeds, reed valves (leathers), reed wax, non-factory bellows tape, keyboard/bass mech valves, keyboard/bass mech springs etc.  In most rebuilt accordions, the original factory sound and playability is no longer present since the type of replacement material and labor is different.  A rebuilt accordion is not necessary the best type of accordion to purchase.  A well maintained original-refurbished instrument is considered the best purchase - maintaining its own original quality, performance and sound.

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