In the early 19th century, Christian Buschmann created the earliest known accordion. Naturally, he patented it but he called it the Handaeolion. This is a free-reed instrument is a cross between a piano and a wind instrument. It creates music using buttons, bellows, a set of piano keys, and bass. It’s still a far cry from today’s units since it didn’t have accordion reed valves.
Some call the accordion the perfect instrument. It is because no other instrument can produce the rhythm, harmony, melody, and bass that it produces.
There are two kinds of accordions: piano and buttons accordion.
A piano accordion has piano keys on its treble side (right) and a set of buttons on its bass side (left). While in the button accordion, there is a set of buttons on both treble and bass sides.
What are accordion reed valves?
The Italians call accordion reed valves voce. In English, this translates to voice.
Accordion reed valves are the heart and centerpiece of the accordion. They are the part of the instrument that creates beautiful music.
The bigger reeds produce low notes, and the small reeds give out high notes.
How many reeds are there in one accordion?
When it comes to everything you need to know about accordion reeds, there are many factors.
Accordions contain a different number of reeds. The number varies according to the size of the instrument and its model.
A small accordion product can have at least 60 reeds. Full-size piano accordion treble can have 250 reeds.
I know, 250 is a lot.
How do accordion reed valves help in creating music?
In the air chamber of an accordion, the reeds are fitted by wax on a long wooden piece. These are called reed ranks. The set of ranks are arranged in rows.
The ranks contain holes that fit with the slots on the plates. The plate has two slots.
Each slot has opposite functions. One lets air enter, and the other pushes it out of the instrument.
Reed valves (leather valves) are attached to one end of the reed plate to cover one slot. The other end of the leather valves is left disconnected to let them be free to move.
When the accordionist draws and presses the bellows, the air goes through the reeds. The air movement creates tiny vibrations and causes a sound to come out.
What are accordion reed valves made from?
Originally, accordion valves are made of leather.
Back in the middle of the twentieth century, plastic products took over the manufacturing industry, including the manufacturing of accordions.
Some manufacturers began using plastics to make a new products.
Plastic reed valve can be easily be tweaked to achieve the desired thickness and flexibility.
Mylar, vileda, vinyl, and polymer were some of the components of plastic valves.
Mylar plastic or synthetic plastic composes most reed valves. It is a product created by Dupont Company.
Even so, some still use traditional leather.
What are tired reed valves?
A reed valve is made with specific measurements so that its width will cover the slot of the reed plate. It is essential to maintain the good quality of the sound.
When the leather valves are worn due to use, they will curl outwards exposing the slot. It’s called a tired valve.
It may cause air to leak, which changes the sound.
How to repair tired valves
Fixing a tired valve can be done without having your accordions serviced by a repair shop.
Owners can easily remove the tired valves and uncurl them with their fingers. Some also use a flat iron to straighten them out.
Another method is using buttons and springs made from a suitable plastic. These make the valve lie back on the plate.
Sometimes, the valve gets worn beyond repair. In this case, you will need to find a new reed valve to replace it.
If you’re restoring an old accordion, you may need an overhaul. In which case, you need to buy a new set of reeds.
Today, accordion parts and accessories are now available online.
Search the menu, and for the item or product, you need.
Before buying the product, search and check product reviews. It gives you information and ensures that you get a good quality item.
How to tune accordion reeds valves
The definitive guide to how accordions work may seem complicated, but accordions are low-maintenance instruments, but they may need to be tuned every once in a while.
Take note that each reed plate is removed for cleaning before tuning. So it may take some time.
It will be put back into place with new wax.
Here are the different ways that accordion reeds can be tuned.
Mostly vintage accordions are dry tuned and have a classical sound.
This method is more modern and produces a wavering melody.
Produces tones that are in between dry and wet tuned sounds.
Bonus information: Best accordion models
Each product or model is different in its way.
Here is a menu of the best accordion models, according to a 2021 review.
Summary-accordion reed valves
The vibrations of accordion reed valves create the beautiful music produced by the accordion. It is the soul of the instrument.