I bought this old Accordion a few years ago, and have always blamed my lack of skill on Julia not letting me practice it in the house (too loud!) The real reason is that a couple of the keys became “sticky” since I bought it, making it basically unplayable. Recently, I discovered that my friend Jason Orfanon, filmmaker and journalist, is also an avid accordionist.
Like a farmer, an accordionist needs to know much more than just how to push the buttons - he needs to be a part-time mechanic and be able to run diagnostic tests on complex machinery without knowing exactly what’s wrong. The following is a step-by-step account of how we fixed my sticky accordion keys.
The accordion is comprised of keys and buttons, multiple sets of reeds set in wax, and baffles through which the player pushes air, letting it flow through the reeds uncovered by the keys and buttons. We knew that the problem was with the keys, not the baffles, reeds or buttons, so we took off the casing covering up the keys. It’s only held in by a few screws.
Next, we realized that the only thing holding the keys in place was a long metal rod with a bulbous end sticking out of the side of the instrument. We carefully twisted and pulled it out, releasing the entire set of spring-loaded keys. Once the rod was removed, we knew that the problem was that the rod had a very slightly bent section, which likely made the one sticky key rub up against the keys next to it. Jason straightened out the rod as best he could and we lubricated it with three-in-one oil (it was all we had on hand.)
The white keys are numbered from 1-22, and the black keys are numbered separately, so that the builder knows where to place them and the reed covers line up correctly.
This is all the white keys lined up in order:
And this is what the accordion looks like with all the keys removed. The holes in the metal part of the instrument are where the air flows through the reeds when a key is pressed.
After cleaning out and lubricating all the springs and metal parts on the keys, we placed the keys back in place, pushing the rod through each hole carefully and making sure all the mallets lined up.
Huzzah - no more sticky keys! I’m looking forward to annoying friends and family alike, with amateurish renditions of La Vie en Rose and Jumbalaya. Stay tuned…