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Tips for Accordion Care: Cleaning, Tuning, and Storage

    Accordions are beautiful and complex instruments that require proper care and maintenance in order to function at their best. Neglecting to care for your accordion can lead to a variety of issues, including poor sound quality and even permanent damage to the instrument. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to accordion care, including tips on cleaning, tuning, and storage.

    Accordion care - Featured Image

    Cleaning Your Accordion

    Cleaning your accordion regularly is crucial to maintaining its sound quality and appearance.

    Exterior Cleaning: Removing Dust and Debris

    The first step in cleaning your accordion is to remove any dust or debris that has accumulated on the exterior of the instrument. This can be done with a soft cloth or a brush.

    Tip: Never use alcohol on celluloid as it can cause discoloration, resulting in a whitish and dull appearance.

    Interior Cleaning: Reeds, Bellows, and Moving Parts

    Cleaning the interior of your accordion is a delicate operation that should be performed only by an expert. Attempting to clean the reeds, bellows, and other moving parts without proper knowledge and experience can cause permanent damage to the instrument. If you’re unsure about how to properly clean the interior of your accordion, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional accordion technician.

    Key Cleaning: Warm Water, Mild Soap, and a Small Brush

    A mixture of warm water and mild soap can be used to clean the keys, and a small brush can be used to remove any dirt or grime that has accumulated in the crevices. When cleaning the keys of your accordion, it’s important to ensure that they are dried thoroughly.  It’s important to ensure that water doesn’t reach any wooden components of the accordion. Water can cause the wood to warp, bend, or even rot.


    Tuning Your Accordion

    Tuning your accordion is a crucial step in preserving its sound quality. Luckily, under normal conditions, accordions are able to maintain their tuning for extended periods of time.

    Adjusting the pitch

    The process of tuning an accordion involves adjusting the pitch of the reeds, which can have a significant impact on the overall sound quality of the instrument. The tuning process can be quite complex, and should only be done by a professional accordion technician who has the knowledge and experience necessary to properly adjust the reeds. The technician uses special tools and techniques to make precise adjustments to the reeds, ensuring that they are in perfect pitch and alignment. This process can take some time and it’s important to find a professional who has experience and is able to tune the accordion to the player’s preference and style.

    Identifying the Need for Tuning

    A properly tuned accordion should produce a clear and consistent sound across all of its notes. Each note should be distinct and in harmony with the rest of the notes. It should produce a well-balanced sound across the different registers, with the bass and treble notes being in tune with each other. If you notice that certain notes sound muffled or out of tune, it’s likely that your accordion is in need of tuning. It’s important to have a professional accordion technician check and adjust the tuning of your accordion in order to restore its optimal sound quality.


    Storing Your Accordion

    Proper Storage: Cool, Dry Place, Away from Sunlight and Heat

    Proper storage is a critical aspect of preserving the condition of your accordion. It’s important to ensure that the instrument is stored in a cool, dry place that is free from direct sunlight and excessive heat. Exposure to high temperatures and humidity can cause warping and other damage to the wood and reeds, leading to poor sound quality and even permanent damage to the instrument.

    Tip: Never leave your accordion in a car or near any source of heat such as stoves! The intense heat in a car under the summer sun can cause the wax that holds the reeds in place to melt, resulting in irreparable damage to your beloved instrument. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting the proper storage of your accordion and risk losing the ability to play it forever. Keep your accordion in a cool, shaded area at all times to ensure its longevity.

    Avoiding Humidity: Warping and Damage to Wood and Reeds

    It’s also extremely important to avoid storing your accordion in areas with high humidity. High humidity levels can damage the wood and the leather parts of your accordion. It can also cause the reeds to rust and become unresponsive, making it difficult to produce a clear and even sound. High humidity can also cause mold and mildew to form inside the accordion. Mold and mildew often have a musty smell, so if you notice a strange odor coming from your accordion, it may be a sign that it has been exposed to high humidity. To prevent these issues, it is essential to store your accordion in a cool, dry place with low humidity levels.

    Protecting from Dust and Debris: Keeping in Case

    When not in use, it’s a good idea to keep your accordion in its case to protect it from dust, debris, and other potential damage. A sturdy, well-padded accordion case not only keeps your accordion safe from external hazards, but also provides an extra layer of protection against scratches, dings, and other cosmetic damage.

    Long-term Storage: Keeping in Playing Position

    When storing your accordion for an extended period of time, it’s recommended to keep it in the playing position. This is because keeping the accordion in the playing position allows gravity to have less impact on the leather valves.

    Avoiding Scratches from Buckles and Watches

    Buckles of the shoulder straps

    Shoulder strap buckles can easily scratch the body of your accordion, especially when lifting it in and out of its case. When placing your accordion in its case, it’s important to ensure that the straps are positioned properly to prevent damage. Specifically, the straps should be passed over the keyboard to prevent the buckle from resting under the weight of the accordion and potentially scratching the celluloid.

    Bracelets and watches

    Another potential danger to your accordion is a wristwatch or any metal bracelet. Wearing a watch on your left hand while playing can cause scratches on the bass panel and wrist strap. To avoid this, it’s highly recommended to take off every metal object from your wrist when playing your accordion.

    Belt buckle

    Finally, keep in mind that when playing in a standing position, the buckle of your belt can potentially scratch the back of the accordion,  sometimes even if you’re wearing a thick sweater.



    In conclusion, proper care and maintenance is essential to preserving the sound quality and longevity of your accordion. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can ensure that your accordion stays in top condition for years to come.


    Author: Giovanni Lucifero




    1. I acquired an accordion from a friend who had not played it in years. So far I have replaced the straps (original straps were very dry and stiff. Now I am looking to find a way to make the bellows latches easier to unsnap and resnap. Can a mild lubricant be used for this (very small amount applied with a cotton tip applicator). Thanks for your advice.

      1. Hi Sarah,

        Lubrication may not be the best solution for this issue with the bellows latches. Instead, you can try reducing the metal (or rust) on the latch plate by sanding it with very fine sandpaper, such as 1000 grit or higher. This can make the bellows latches easier to unsnap and resnap. Remember to use a light touch and avoid over-sanding, as it could weaken the metal or cause other problems. The metal clips should be shiny and polished, so if there’s any oxidation present, be sure to remove it before trying any other solutions.

        Let me know how it goes!

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