Are you thinking of purchasing a used accordion? Have you found one on Craigslist or Ebay that looks like a steal? A typical accordion has over 1000 parts inside it, so the old adage of "Buyer Beware" definately applies. Here are a few things to watch out for when purchasing a used accordion, especially one that you cannot inspect or try out before making the purchase:
1. Leaks - Does the accordion make sounds when the bellows are moved without any keys or buttons being pressed? Or does it sound like air is coming out of the instrument? If so, it has a leak somewhere and these are often hard to nail down.
2. Reeds - Would you buy a used car without looking under the hood? In an accordion, the reeds are the "engine" or the heart of the accordion. If they are damaged in any way, while the accordion may look good on the outside, it will either sound poorly or not work at all. Here is an example of misrepresentation from an accordion auction on Ebay where the seller said that the instrument had "great condition and fabulous sound":
Note how the reeds in this accordion are rusted and corroded. The only option available to the buyer of this instrument, if he wants to restore it as a working accordion, is to have new reeds installed - an expensive repair. Unfortunately, many of the sellers on the internet have never looked at the reeds inside of the accordions they are selling so it is very risky buying an accordion this way. Here are three Buyer Beware signs to watch out for:
A. The seller knows nothing about accordions. Usually, they will tell you this. This means you have to rely upon what you can tell from a distance and this a crapshoot at best.
B. Know the accordion's past environment. Sometimes the seller tells you that it has been stored in the attic or in the garage . Chances are, with the high temperatures that attics and garages can get to, the wax that holds the reeds in has partially or totally melted and the reeds have fallen off the reed blocks. There is usually "something rattling around" inside of these boxes. In this case, certain notes refuse to make a sound when a key or button is pressed. And a loose reed can easily puncture the bellows (the lungs) of the accordion. Sometimes the seller tells you that it has been stored in the basement. Chances are the accordion has been subjected to dampness which, as the picture above demonstrates, causes the accordion reeds to rust or corrode. These accordions will often sound out of tune or certain notes will not play at all. A sure sign that an accordion has been subjected to dampness is a damp or mildew smell coming from the instrument or its case.
Harsh environments can also cause the leathers on the reeds to curl up. If this happens, the notes will gurgle or make a double-sound. Again, this requires repair or replacement.
Note: We thoroughly examine the reeds, leathers, and valves on our accordions to make sure that you are getting an instrument with a good "heart".
3. Bellows - Are the bellows in good condition with no holes or leaks? Are all the metal corners attached or has someone put tape over them?
4. Keyboard - Do all of the keys press down and return to their up position? Do any of them stick or rub? Is the keyboard "level" (all keys returning to the same flat position?
5. Bass - Do all of the buttons press down and return to their up position? Do all of the buttons make the correct note?
6. Switches - Most accordions have switches that change the sounds of the keyboard (treble) side and the bass side. Do these switches operate smoothly and correctly?
7. Tuning - Does the accordion sound in tune, with itself and with other instruments?
8. Other things to watch out for:
A. Sellers that list Chinese-made accordions as Italian made. Chinese made accordions are okay for students but they are seldom up to the quality standards set by European or American-made instruments.
B. Does the seller offer you a guarantee on the instrument or a money-back policy? If you buy it "as is", this is a sure sign that you are taking a high risk on what could be a steal...or a piece of junk.
C. Will the seller pack the accordion and its case well for shipping? Does he offer insurance (always highly recommended)?
Granted, if you are simply looking for a pretty accordion to nail to a wall in a music room or restaurant, all of this advice means little. But if you are looking for an instrument that you can play now and in the future, we hope this advice has been helpful to you. Don't forget to check out our used accordions! We stand behind each and every one of them!