c.1930 Hohner 3-Row Diatonic Button Accordion

Update 2013: I've been enjoying this diatonic a lot since fixing it up but I feel like it should be getting regular use with someone who'll be using it a lot or at least more than I do. It's a nice enough instrument to warrant that! I've had the chance since working on this guy to play a number of Hohner 2 and 3-row diatonics from the 1930s on up to recent ones and I've got to tell you -- this one is really one of the better boxes I've played. There are a number of features on old guys like this that contribute to it being a pleasant player: smaller, faster buttons and a sweet, mellow, but loud voice are the two stand-out features. This thing is also ready to go, plays in tune with other instruments -- a couple single notes on the bass side may be slightly flat since last tuning (these things settle), but it's in 500% better shape than you'll otherwise find shopping around on fleaBay!

Now, back to the original post...

It's done! It's finally done!

I've been working on this all week getting my accordion restoration skills up to snuff -- and I'm so overjoyed to actually play the dang thing it's ridiculous. The work involved included trimming of reeds and tuning all of them (192, that is) as well as gluing up all the old leather valves. After going to the effort of doing this for myself I can totally see why accordion repair is so costly. It's time consuming!

The benefit of doing it myself, however, is that now I can do all of this stuff a heck of a lot faster than before so I'll be restoring more button-boxes in the future, which should be fun all around.

At any rate -- this box dates to around 1930 and is of typical Hohner build for the time. Because this retained its case the instrument itself is in a fantastic functional (ie, the moving parts) and aesthetic state. The finish looks great. A friend of mine who stopped by the workshop thought it was a recent instrument.

Here are the rows for G/C/F. I've tuned this accordion somewhere between "dry" and "musette" which is where it was to begin with.

I'm so happy that each of these buttons is actually held on by a tiny screw. This means they're very unlikely to pop off in the future. Glued-on buttons can be a pain!

The decorations appear to be a decal at first until one realizes that they're actually pressed into the wood -- which means they'll hold up really well.

Pearl buttons are used for the bass notes and chords. With this arrangement I can play G, C, D, F, Bb, Am, and Em which gives me lots of options as far as song material is concerned. I'm still thinking about removing the thirds from the chords, though, to give this more of a modal sound.

Note that the dust netting behind the covers is a Kelly green color which stands out in a cute way. Also note the big black bar to the left of the strap. That's the air release valve on this guy! Way cool -- no way the fingers will get lost fumbling for it when it's so large.

The bellows are in good shape, too.

And there's the case!

But as accordion players will let you know -- never store the instrument on its back like this as the valves can warp simply from the pull of gravity. It should be stored upright (in playing position).

Ready to travel!


Anonymous said...

I have one exactly like your's, except it has two rows of buttons instead of three. I need to tune mine and one of the notes isn't playing correctly, but other than that, mine is in great shape as well.

I'd love to ask you a few questions on what to expect when I open mine up... my email is zundowner@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I too have a two row hohner almost identical. It is in A/D with 12bass pearl keys. I've kept it in good shape since it was my grandfathers, but it must be difficult to find parts or people who know how to repair them. I can be reached at commissioner_ca@hotmail.com should you or zundowner wish to talk about these instruments.