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accordion is too stiff

leeneia 19 Apr 16 - 02:00 PM
Dave the Gnome 19 Apr 16 - 02:42 PM
leeneia 19 Apr 16 - 03:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 19 Apr 16 - 03:42 PM
leeneia 19 Apr 16 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Apr 16 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler 19 Apr 16 - 07:49 PM
Stanron 20 Apr 16 - 03:28 AM
John J 20 Apr 16 - 05:50 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Apr 16 - 06:09 AM
leeneia 20 Apr 16 - 10:17 AM
mg 20 Apr 16 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery 20 Apr 16 - 02:55 PM
leeneia 20 Apr 16 - 04:01 PM
The Sandman 20 Apr 16 - 04:17 PM
leeneia 20 Apr 16 - 09:51 PM
Gurney 21 Apr 16 - 01:32 AM
GUEST 21 Apr 16 - 07:19 AM
leeneia 21 Apr 16 - 12:03 PM
Lester 21 Apr 16 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Tracy Fiddle 21 Apr 16 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Guest (Tracy) 21 Apr 16 - 02:07 PM
leeneia 22 Apr 16 - 11:45 AM
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Subject: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 02:00 PM

I have a friend who conducts an Accordion Rescue Operation. She buys accordions at garage sales and finds homes for them. She's given me one, an old Hohner student model, and the peer pressure is on for me to master this thing.

I like trying, but I've reached the conclusion that the bellows have stiffened with age. It's hard to play, it seems stiff, and it makes my shoulder and wrist sore. I've tried gently stretching them, as seen on YouTube. It helps, but not enough.

They seem to be made of leather. Any ideas?

I can't locate a dealer, so I can't just go in a store and see how a new one feels.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 02:42 PM

Where abouts are you leeneia? No mudcat accordionists near you?


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 03:00 PM

Kansas City


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 03:42 PM

What ever you do don't respond to suggestions like -"Put it in a bucket of water for a few days". Stay cool and Members of ABBA ( The Accordian, Banjo and Bodhran Alliance) will give you good advice.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 05:02 PM

Well, I have put it in the bathroom in hopes that it will soak up moisture from showers.

I'm shocked to see that a new model of this little thing costs $1301.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 06:18 PM

"Saddle Soap"

"Linsfoot Oil"


Are traditional treatments for leather.

Sincerly,
Gargoyle

Look to the outside 16 possible corners of the bellows frame...there may be a small leather "pressure relief" flap that is stuck. It is "high season" for Good-Captain-Bird-Swank....but I bet dollars to pounds he has a solution that is more than my guess.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 07:49 PM

1) Have you a maker's name and model? Does it use piano type keys or buttons?
2) I had a melodeon with very stiff bellows, and expert advice was to open it up as far as it would go and hang it up open, so that the heavy end is at the bottom. Leave it overnight and see if there is any improvement. If there is winone, try leaving it for a longer time.
3) Playing it regularly and often, will almost certainly cure your problem.
4) Are you certain the bellows are leather? Conventionally, most are made from cardboard.

Good Luck,

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Stanron
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 03:28 AM

GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler wrote: 4) Are you certain the bellows are leather? Conventionally, most are made from cardboard.
The flat bits are card. The flexible bits, the joints, are leather. Try treating these with a leather softener.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: John J
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 05:50 AM

Take care that neatsfoot oil (or whatever) that you might use to soften the leather bits doesn't attack the adhesive that fixes to the cardboard.
Dangling the instrument open and vertically sounds like a good plan - playing would be better.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 06:09 AM

Just thought. It may not be to do with the bellows. Maybe the reeds and/or stops are not letting the air pass through as they should? How does it feel if you just use the air valve?


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 10:17 AM

That's a good question, Dave. The air valve works fine, however, letting air out with a satisfying whoosh.

I think the idea of hanging the accordion up and letting it hang bellows is too dangerous. The weight could tear it apart.

Gargoyle, I will look for the pressure-relief flap.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: mg
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 12:29 PM

I would have someone else work with it who plays regularly and see what he/she says. Perhaps you could just tell your friend that it is not the accordian for you as it hurts your shoulders, and could you trade it in for a more flexible one...


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 02:55 PM

I have been playing melodians for 20 years and I have Never seen either a melodian or Accordian with a "Pressure release flap" best thing for a stiff bellows is to play it !!!


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 04:01 PM

Several people have said that it will loosen up if I play it, so I'm trying that. I had another idea - I got my husband to open and close it a number of times. He agrees that it's much too stiff.

I think it was snapped shut, put in its case, put in a dry attic and forgotten for 40 or 50 years. We'll see what happens, but I'm not going to keep trying to play it when it's such an effort.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 04:17 PM

some advice from others
A very extreme solution, not recommended unless you know what you are doing:

Take the bellows off, spray the inside with water to dampen all the cardboard, then work the bellows in and out. Once the card is all nice and damp then clamp it very firmly with pressure applied to the bellows frame, and to the interior of the folds so they are clamped tightly. Then leave to dry for several days at room temperature.

I have used this method successfully on new concertina bellows, but I've not tried it on big box bellows.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for the consequences if this goes wrong
2.It may also not be the cardboard but the surface cloth or paper. There can be an enenermous increase in bellows stiffness after the surface cloth is glued compared to what it was without it. If the cloth is glued carelessly, or the material is too thick, or you use wrong type of glue or too much of it, you get very stiff bellows. With same disclaimers as Theo the water trick might work applied on the outside as well...
3.I was revisiting this thread which started a year ago. I just found a new Ariette for very cheap, the owner bought it 2 years ago and never played it... The bellows is the older model with the brown tape, very stiff indeed! It stayed closed for 2 years.

I found that stretching it (lots of cracking noises!) often and to its maximum, and playing the thing as much as I could significantly loosened it, to the point that it is now very playable and not so stiff.

I understand it's a cheap chinese box but it sorts of grows on you, I spent time fixing little details, adjusting the stop mechanism so stops now move freely, etc. Not bad after al
4
There IS a simple and good tried method, used many times with 100% success.
Take the accordion, open the air valve or depress all the buttons, and stretch it to the limit, then some more.
You'll hear slight crackling from the bellows - it's the excess of glue, it's OK. Keep it there for a few seconds (10-20 if you can keep it up), then relax. Try playing - already wa-ay better, isn't it? Do it a few times It took 3 days of such excersize (once a day!!!) for my Parrott to loosen. It served me for 3/5 years, then I sold it. When I pick up Chinese made Ariette of the cheaper version (the better version has very good bellows indeed) - this strertching gets it to the point of playability. Otherwise it's just some funky box with semi-flexible middle part.
Hanging it with air valve taped over and weights attached also works, but marginally. You never know how much is enough. When you stretch it, you feel the pressure and do a better job.
I guess the key here is the quality of the cardboard. In cheaper boxes it's ... cheaper and softer and can be stretched this way.
On more expencive boxes it may not work this way. My Castagnari Lilly didn't stretch much. It was new and with very stiff bellows
Gargoyle piss off.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 09:51 PM

Today I visited a person who has been playing for seven years. She thinks the accordion is fine, and she played some beautiful songs on it.   My problem has been that I have been playing righthand notes but no bass notes. She says it will easier if I always play bass notes, so now I have to work on that.

You'd think the lesson book would have mentioned that.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 01:32 AM

I would apply a treatment to the leather sparingly just where the leather folds over the edges of the bellows, outer folds and inner ones. Sparingly each time, but not just once.
Neatsfoot oil/Neats-foot-oil. A neat is old English for a cow or ox.
Coacholine. A proprietary leather conditioner brand.
Furniture shops sell other leather conditioners.

Dry leather is more likely to split.
I don't know if you know how free-reed instruments work, so here goes.

The only connection between the two ends is the bellows, and if the leather has dried, it may be fighting you.
Each button or key opens a flap which allows air to flow through a hole and through a reed, making the note. If you are only holding one key down, then the effort you are making will seem harder than if you are depressing several, so make sure that every note is sounding, whichever way you are working the bellows, in or out. Also that each right-hand note is the same volume.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 07:19 AM

So it feels free if you use the air button.

It's easier if you allow more paths for the air to get out (left hand and right hand).

I'm not an accordion player (pretty much ex melodeon player though) but that sounds much better to me than an instrument that is wasting air through leaks or sluggish reeds.

I'd guess just keep playing it.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 12:03 PM

Thanks. I am getting more motivated all the time.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: Lester
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 12:19 PM

Bellows freeing video

Don't waste time applying anything to the leathers on accordions/melodeons they are in no way structural, the stiffness will only come from the cardboard folds.


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST,Tracy Fiddle
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 02:01 PM


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: GUEST,Guest (Tracy)
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 02:07 PM

The word I heard in Cajun country was tie your new accordion to the front and foot of your bed (extended, of course) for a while, then try it to see if it plays easier.

Go easy with pulling on the bellows and you shouldn't have any damage.


good luck!

Guest


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Subject: RE: accordion is too stiff
From: leeneia
Date: 22 Apr 16 - 11:45 AM

I'm making progress, am up to the third song in the Palmer-Hughes book.

Lester, I've seen that video and done the procedure again and again. But thanks for posting, because others may read this thread to get advice.

Tracy, I think you are right about going easy. I don't want to tear anything.


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