Introduction: How to Fix an Accordion Keyboard

As much fun as accordions are, they can be quite intimidating to take apart, clean, or fix. There are very few accordion builders and very few accordion restorers as well- professional or amateur. Most accordions are antiques, which means that most accordions are in some state of disrepair. The most common problem with accordion keyboards is that they are dirty, and contain oxide and/or gunk thats gumming them up. This can be obvious, as when a key stays depressed when pushed, or subtle, like some keys might have a slightly delayed response that can be hard to recognize if you haven't played a recently cleaned accordion. There can be other probems with keys, however, which I try to get at in step #7.

Before we get started, though, I'd just like to disclaim a few things.

For one: All accordions are different. Chances are, your accordion will have a keyboard somewhat like this one's, however because so many companies make accordions and because they can be very technical instruments, there could be some accordions around that make this instructable completely irrelevant

Because of this, fanatical and meticulous caution should be taken. losing a screw could prove very hard to replace, and I like togo to the extreme of putting the same screws back in each same hole every time. Also, don't force your accordion to do something just because it was how mine was put together in the picture. Try to mechanically comprehend the process and look at your accordion from every angle to see if it works the same as mine. I'd love to answer any questions of yours if at all possible.

Enough of me worrying you, though. As important as being careful with your accordion is having fun and doing it for the love of your instrument.Onward, then...

Step 1: Tools/ Terminology

A rag, preferably somewhat clean
A green scrubby thing. (Its really the perfect amount of abrasiveness that I've found)
A toothbrush
All Purpose Oil.
At least one pliers. (you might need two if you have to bend metal things...)
At least one small screwdriver.

Not necessary, but ceartainly helpful is a mix CD/tape of the fastest accordion music you can find. It helps to remember why you're doing this when things get tedious.

For some of the terminology used, see the 2nd and 3rd pictures. I'll address other parts or things as they come up. Also, check out if you're bored.

Step 2: Removing the Faceplate/ Grill

This Accordion's grill has 7 screws. I have an accordion that has only 2 screws, and one that shoud use 4 screws (but uses duct tape instead because I lost all the screws travelling. Don't let it happen to you, it sucks) so your's is probably different

Also +100 Meticulous Accordion Fanatic Points if you can put each screw back in the same hole when you're done!

Once all the screws are unscrewed, CAREFULLY lift the plate off. Some of them are stubborn, so be patient. Also pay close attention to how the register switches relate to the grill. Remember to breathe, and set the grill somewhere safe to the side.

Step 3: Removing the Spindle (s)

On the bottom edge of your keyboard (past the highest pitch, or towards your feet when you're playing) is a small metal thing with a screw in it. Unscrew that screw to fing (one or) two metal nubs that are the beginnings of  the spindles. If your accordion is in not-too-good shape, getting the spindles out might be a little bit hard.
In my case, once they were about an inch or two out, they came out pretty easily. Don't bend the spindles, try to pull them straight out.

Step 4: Removing the Keys

This part requires more careful attention. First make note of what the lowest and highest pitches are (in my case G and E) just in caseyou forget, then start (I started from the bottom) picking the keys up from the valve side. On this accordion, I had to pick up the first 2 keys (G and G#) and the last two keys (E and Eb) at the same time. Also, look at the way the valve bars are arranged, as you may have to take keys off out of order (I did for the 5 highest black keys).

Its nice to look in from the side while picking up the keys. Here it becomes important to notice the difference between the white and black keys and how they fit in. (I once heard a jazz song about how white people made the C scale the "standard" to segregate music, on a side note) In my example, the white keys all were fixed on one spindle (closer to the camera) and the black keys on another (behind). Remember that you're about to be doing this in reverse. 

Also, Put the keys in order on some nice surface to make it easy for yourself later.
+20 meticulous points if you can do this without confusing yourself!

Step 5: Cleaning the Keys

Cleaning the keys

First, I would use the dry toothbrush or rag to remove any dust or crud on the wood before working on the keys. If this makes your toothbrush dirty brown, then just load it up with oil and scrub it out onto the rag.

As for the keys, I used and refined this process:
1. Put a drop or four of oil on the toothbrush (you probably dont need much- just enough to make the flanges look wet)
2. scrub the brass flanges on the outside with the toothbrush
3. Use the green scrubby to scrub off the oxide and gunk
4. Use the rag to clean up any left over oil on or near the flanges.
5. Clean the spring or slat if you need to.

If the actual tops of the keys (like where your fingers touch) are dirty, I've used just the slightest amount of Simple Green brand cleaner on a rag.

If there is oxide crust on the wooden spindle-slats, scrape it off with a screwdriver.

Step 6: Putting the Keys Back On

Putting the keys back on can be painstaking, but you'll get good at it fast.
As in step #4, you may have to put the keys back on out of order. Think ahead.

Begin by Putting the spindles into the holes they came out of(with the pointy side first). Then grab the highest key (or 2 highest keys, in my case) so that you're holding the spring up next to the key. Put the spring where it should be (in my case, in the wood slat-holes for black keys and just before the red pads for black keys).
Then Put the Slats in the Slat-holes and move the top of the key back toward the reeds so that the flanges fall into the spaces in between the spindle slats so that the holes in the flanges line up with the spindles. This is hard, and requires patience and trial and error. Look at how the valves line up for help.
Push the spindle through the flange hole gently until you see it come out of the next spindle-slat.
Then test that the key is on correctly by pushing it a few times.
Once your sure that it is, pull the spindle out just enough that the point of the spindle is hiding in the wooden spindle-slat-hole, waiting to be stuck through the next flange.

Then repeat. Over and over and over and over...

Once you get the first few keys of each color, use them as reference points in putting the next key of that color in.

Be sure to give each key a test-tap or two, because sometimes they look like they're in but actually aren't, and you don't want to forget to test the keys until after they're all put on and have to take a bunch of them back out...

Step 7: Done/ Troubleshooting

Alright! Almost done! Now screw the spindle-cover back on,

Screw the grill back on,

And bust out the jammzzzzzz!


If you have any problems with the keyboard action that still aren't resovled try taking it apart again and check these things (to name a few):

-Is the valve doing its job?
-Is the spring doing its job?
-Are the flanges/ spindle slats/ spindles clean? (if not, re-read this instructable)
-Are the register switches in the right place?
-Are the register switches cleaned and/or working?
-Are the keys and valve-bars set properly in place?

I can't think of anything else that deals strictly with the keyboard. Other problems with the melody side require taking off the bellows and checking out the reed blocks. (Instructable forthcoming?)

Ok so now go play your accordion and fix and build and learn and DIY or die and sieze the day!