If you are looking for a button accordion, you may wish to let me know what you are after and I
will contact you if/when I have a suitable box available - please note that it may be some time before you get a
reply, apart from the automated response, which will be sent when you submit your message.
This is a website about accordions, also known as button boxes, accordians, squeeze boxes, accordeons, melodeons and probably many more names.
I buy, restore and sell old button accordions, converting them to Irish tuning where necessary.
I work mainly with "Made in Germany" Hohner
boxes (and the occasional Paolo Soprani) and generally tune to C#/D or B/C, but I also work with other makes and keys.
While the term "Irish tuning" is commonly used, it would probably be more correct to say
"Irish/Scottish tuning", since the same "half-step" system is popular in Scotland. For example, a "Hohner Double Ray Black Dot B/C
Scottish Melodeon" is exactly the same as a "Hohner Double Ray Black Dot B/C Irish Accordion", except perhaps that
the Scottish one might (or might not) have a little bit more tremolo (vibrato) than the Irish one.
I also do some work on melodeons, concertinas and flutinas.
I am based in Dublin, Ireland.
I would love to work full-time on restoring old boxes, but, as of now, I can only do this work as time allows.
In practice, this means that it will be some time before I have instruments ready to sell.
If you have specific requirements,
you may wish to let me know, so that I can contact you if/when I have a suitable instrument available.
Hohner button accordions, made in Germany during the last century, especially those made from around the 1920s to around the 1960s,
have a classic Hohner sound, a rich beautiful tone, loved by many.
These button boxes were made in Germany in an era when the
quality of craftmanship was very high and it was economically viable to use only the best quality materials.
Some of these great instruments have been played regularly down the years and others have lain idle for half a century or more.
It gives great pleasure to bring an old accordion like this back to life and hear it emit it's beautiful sounds once more.
They're for anyone and everyone, from someone starting out, to professional musicians performing on stage.
Most Irish box players will have a box in C (i.e. B/C) or
in D (i.e. C Sharp/D).
Many box players will also have one or more accordions in other keys, such as C Sharp (C/C#), E Flat (D/D#), B Flat (A/Bb), etc.
Professional musicians will often bring several boxes on stage and switch between them during the performance.
My restored instruments can be played by anyone, from someone learning their first tune at home on their own, to professional
musicians on world tour.
I buy vintage Hohner accordeons, some of which haven't been tuned since they were originally made,
maybe 80 years ago.
I take them apart, fix anything that needs fixing, re-build them and tune them.
Where the original instrument was not tuned to the Irish/Scottish system, I move reeds around,
within the accordion and between accordians, so as to produce an Irish "Bosca Ceoil", tuned to C#/D, B/C, or other keys,
on request. By the way, I am not limited to half-step tuning, I also work with other systems, such as A/D, D/G, G/C, C/F, Bb/Eb, Eb/Ab, E/A, as well as
Club System boxes.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) re. button accordions for sale in Ireland:
Is there a list of the accordions you have for sale?
There is a brief list of the typical type of accordions I have for sale here, but
the best way would be to let me know what you are looking for via the contact form.
Can you send me photos, videos, sound-clips, or a detailed description of the accordions you have for sale?
I would rather meet you in person and show you the actual instruments I have available - if/when I have an accordian for sale that
meets your requirements, I could meet you in Dublin, or elsewhere in Ireland.
This way, you get to see and try out the instrument before making a decision and, in the event that you decide to buy,
there's no waiting around for the payment/shipping process to be completed, you can pay me directly and take the accordion
away with you right away.
- I'm interested, how do I proceed?
As a first step, let me know what you are interested in. Click here to contact me by email -
please note that it may be some time before I get back to you and even longer before I have an instrument available.
How many voices/reeds are in the accordions you have for sale?
The most popular Hohners for Irish music are two-voice and
three-voice, for example:
Four and five voice models are also available and an old American Baldoni or F.H. Walters box could have up to 8 voices, i.e. 8 reeds sounding simultaneously
for each note.
- the Hohner Erica / Double Ray Black Dot and certain Club models are 2-voice,
i.e. they have two sets of reeds per note,
- the "Deluxe" version of the Double Ray Black Dot, the Corso and certain Club models are 3-voice, i.e. they have three sets of reeds per note,
Can you describe the tuning?
An old Hohner accordian which hasn't been touched for maybe 70 years is typically tuned "flat and wet", i.e. it is in old pitch, with
a lot of tremolo/vibrato. Unless asked to do otherwise, I re-tune to modern "concert" pitch and reduce the tremolo somewhat,
resulting in a box which is in tune with other "concert pitch" instruments and has the distinctive Hohner sound.
If you have specific requirements, I can tune wet/dry, high/low, or whatever way you want.
Do you modify the fingerboard to limit button travel?
Yes, on Hohner boxes where the buttons go deep into the fingerboard, I take the keyboard apart and
modify it to prevent the buttons sinking into the fingerboard.
This makes it more comfortable to play
and in the opinion of some musicians, allows it to be played faster.
This modification is completely hidden once the accordion is put back together and, if you prefer playing it the way
it was originally made, I can remove the modification in just a few minutes.
What else do you do when re-building a box?
The most time-consuming part is working on the reeds.
I generally remove all the reeds, clean off the old wax and valves and then re-valve, re-wax and tune all reeds.
Other than that, I'm a great believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - if something needs fixing, I fix it, if not,
I leave it alone. My main focus is on sound and playability, I don't generally try to do anything about the minor marks and
scratches that an old instrument will most likely have picked up during it's lifetime - they show that previous
owners of the instrument considered it to be to be worth playing!
I'm new to all this, what's the difference between C#/D, B/C, C/C#, D/C# & which should I choose?
C#/D (C-Sharp/D), C/C# and B/C instruments are all exactly the same, except that each is tuned a semitone lower than the other, i.e. if you
play up/down the inside row only, then you will be playing in D, C# and C, respectively.
B/C and C#/D are the most popular for session playing, C/C# is popular among professional musicians.
The main difference between B/C and C#D is in the style of playing - for example, you can play a tune in the key of D on a single row of
a C#/D by playing "up and down the row", since the D row has the full D scale.
To play the same tune in the key of D on a B/C box, you play "across the rows", since neither the B row nor the C row has the
full D scale. Neither style is better than the other, they're just different.
D/C# is similar to C#/D, except that the D row is on the outside. This layout was popular in the USA up to around the 1960s and many fine
Baldoni and F.H. Walters accordions from this era still exist today, often with the name of the musician for whom it was custom-made prominently displayed on
the front. These boxes, typically with between 4 and 8 sets of reeds per note, were designed to be heard by dancers in large ballrooms in the days before
amplicication and are now rare and sough-after. If you are lucky enough to own a Baldoni or an F.H. Walters, the one thing for sure is that you will be heard!
Most musicians stick with one style, so it's worth putting a bit of thought into which style to start out with.
If you don't know which type of instrument to select and you plan to attend classes, then the easiest way would probably be to ask your
teacher which key your should go for.
If you plan to teach yourself, or if you haven't yet selected a teacher, then one way would be to choose based on the playing style
of your favourite accordion player. For example, the C#/D style of playing is favoured by many musicians from around Kerry and Cork
and especially by players of Sliabh Luachra music.
The B/C style of playing across the rows is popular throughout Ireland and in many places around the world, where Irish music is played.
In most cases, you can hear the difference between the two styles and it is generally possible to make a fairly accurate guess as to which type of box is being
played by listening to the music - however, there are exceptions, for example Paudie O'Connor plays beautiful Sliabh Luachra music on a B/C box.
Here are some examples of the main style of some Irish box players, past and present:
- Joe Cooley
- Breanndan O Beaglaoich
- Tony McMahon
- Paddy O'Brien
- Joe Burke
- P.J. Hernon
After playing for a while, in whichever style you choose, there may come a day when you decide you'd like a second box
(or third, or fourth - be warned, it's addictive!) and, at that stage, you might like to explore the various keys you can
play in by switching to another box, while keeping the same fingering.
What about the bass side?
By default, I set up the bass side in the most popular layout for the relevant key, but I can set it up any way you want, for
example, if you have an existing accordion, I can match it.
- Do you have accordions suitable for left-handed players?
There are two types of conversion that can be done to cater for left-handed players:
1. Air button only: the simplest way to play left-handed is to take a standard box and turn it upside-down, such that
the treble is played with the left hand and the bass with the right. Apart from perhaps switching the shoulder straps over for
comfort, so that the buckle is not on your shoulder, the
only modification required for this type of playing is to move the air button, so that it is under your right thumb, rather than
your little finger. With this method, the low notes on the treble side are now at the bottom and the high notes are at the top.
I can do this modification for most boxes.
2. Full mirror: the alternative is to switch all the reed blocks around, to mirror a right-handed accordion. With this method,
the low notes on the treble side are on top and the high notes are on the bottom, like it was before being turned upside down.
I don't generally do this type of modification, but I do have a Double Ray Black Dot in stock at the moment, which has been
modified in this way.
Given that left-handed players are likely to be left-handed from the day they start out and are unlikely to suddenly become
right-handed, option 1 seems to be the most logical choice. It has the advantage that the modification is simple and can
be easily reversed, which makes things easier if/when you ever decide to sell the box and/or buy another one.
It also has the advantage that you can pick up any
accordion and knock a tune out of it, using your little finger for the air button - not something you want to do all the time,
but perfectly workable to try out the sound of an instrument, or play a tune on someone else's bosca cheoil when you
forgot to bring your own. The downside is that you are on your own when it comes to learning fingering - the standard books, tutors
and classes will be based on the low notes being on top and the high notes on the bottom.
In any case, fingering has to be learned either way and my guess is that, if you're teaching yourself, it's no more difficult
to learn with an inverted keyboard than with a "standard" one.
Option 2 has the advantage that using tutors and books will be easier than with option 1 - in fact, you may even have an advantage
over your right-handed classmates when it comes to copying the fingering of your teacher, since your instrument will be an exact
mirror image of the teacher's. The downside is that you will not be able to play any other accordian at all, until it has
been modified and, since the modification is not easily reversible and the number of left-handed players is limited, you may
have to wait longer to find a buyer if you ever decide to sell it.
- Do you also sell boxes in other tunings?
Yes, while most of the demand in Ireland is for two-row semitone-tuned accordions, such as B/C, C#/D, I can also supply instruments
in other tuning systems, such as:
Two row, fourth-tuned ("Quint") boxes with two diatonic rows spaced a fourth apart, with low notes or accidentals, such as: D/G
(popular in England), C/F (popular in Germany), G/C (popular in France), A/D, Eb/Ab, E/A, Bb/Eb, etc.
Two and a half row fourth-tuned "Club System" boxes with one diatonic row, one "almost diatonic" row, spaced a 4th apart, plus a half
row of accidentals.
The "almost diatonic" row has one button in the middle of the row that plays the same note in
both directions. All other buttons on the row are in standard diatonic layout, so this row is missing
one note from the scale - the missing note is available on the adjacent row.
This one button, referred to as the "gleichton", is the only unisonic button on an an otherwise bisonoric instrument.
"De-clubbed" club system 2-1/2 row boxes with the gleichton re-tuned, resulting in a standard fourth-tuned accordeon, with two diatonic rows and a half-row of accidentals.
Three row fourth-tuned boxes with three diatonic rows spaced a fourth apart, with low notes or accidentals, such as: G/C/F or A/D/G,
generally with 12 bass.
Three row Irish accordion with three diatonic rows spaced a semitone apart and 12 bass, e.g. C/C#/D, C#/D/D#.
- Do you take trade-ins?
Yes, I will be happy to have a look at any button accordion as a trade-in.
What is your refunds policy, e.g. what if I take it home and then decide I don't want it after all?
If you change your mind, you can return it, in the same condition, for a full refund within 14 days of purchase.
This is useful where, for example, you are attending classes and you want to get the opinion of your teacher.
I'm interested in the technical stuff, can you describe the tuning in a bit more detail?
You may wish to skip this section, unless you are interested in the nuts and bolts - most musicians are more interested in what it
sounds like, rather than how it's made, but, for those interested in the technical detail, here goes.
Unless asked to do otherwise,
I generally tune in the standard way for an Irish accordion, i.e:
- two diatonic rows, spaced a semitione apart in the Irish/Scottish "half-step" system, e.g. c#/d or b/c, giving a
chromatic range of almost 3 octaves.
- in modern ("concert") pitch of A4 = 440Hz,
- in equal temperament,
- not as wet as original Hohner tuning, but somewhat wetter (more tremolo) than is typical of many modern instruments.
However, I can tune as dry (less tremolo/vibrato), or as wet (more vibrato / tremolo) as you want,
If you have specific requirements, just let me know - I can tune any way you want, for example:
Pitch: many vintage instruments are in old pitch (A4 = 435Hz), so they would sound flat if
played "as is" alongside other instruments in modern concert pitch.
I re-tune to concert pitch as part of the restoration, but, if you would like to have a box in old pitch,
let me know and I'll be happy to tune one for you in old pitch.
Temperament: the commonly used Equal Temperament is a "one size fits all" compromise, made many years ago, and accepted
pretty much internationally. It has many benefits, such as enabling individual instruments to be played in different keys
without having to be re-tuned and enabling manufacturers to produce components which can be used in many different instruments,
regardless of key. Some musicians prefer other temperaments and I'll be happy to explore any specific
requirements you may have.
Or, if there's any other "special" you need, just let me know and I'll be delighted to explore whether or not I can meet
I want to do the work myself, do you have any old instruments that need a bit of work?
I don't sell unrestored boxes, just ones that I can stand over.
I'm thinking of buying an old accordion I saw advertised, what do you reckon?
A decent quality accordion will last "forever" if it's well cared for. But, just like a vintage car,
a dusty old accordion will need to be serviced before "taking it on the road".
When considering what price to pay for an unrestored secondhand accordion, you should factor in the cost of having it serviced.
At the very minimum, an old box will need to have all reeds removed, re-valved, re-waxed and tuned before it gives optimal
performance. If you can do this work yourself, then an unrestored box is worth considering, but,
if you don't plan to do the work yourself, then it will almost certainly be more cost-effective to buy one which has already
been fully serviced.
- I have an accordion of my own that I want tuned/repaired, can you do that?
At the present time, I don't have the capacity to take on maintenance work. I have a collection of vintage instruments
waiting to be given a new lease of life and my current plan is to focus on getting these ready.
Do you sell concertinas?
I sometimes have a 20-key German concertina and I occasionally also have a "standard" 30-key C/G anglo concertina,
but I don't have any to offer for sale at the moment.
You mention that you also work on flutinas, what's a flutina and do you have any for sale?
A flutina is an old instrument, typically made in France during the 1800s, which pre-dates both the accordion and the concertina.
Flutinas look somewhat like an accordion, but sound more like a concertina.
The typical flutina is single-voice, with brass reeds, although other variants also exist.
The notes are reversed compared to other diatonic instruments, i.e. on a flutina, you pull to get the tonic note, whereas on an accordion, melodeon, concertina,
mouth organ (harmonica), etc. you push/blow to get the tonic.
There are not many flutina players about, partly, I think, because of the reversed notes and partly because brass reeds are generally slower to respond
than steel reeds and so fast reels and jigs can be a bit of a challenge on a flutina.
I don't have any flutinas for sale at the moment.
Do you sell piano accordians or chromatic accordions?
No, just diatonic button accordions and the occasional concertina.
Are the different spellings intentional?
There are many spellings of the word used to describe these instruments, including accordion, button box, squeezebox,
accordian, melodeon, bosca ceoil, bosca cheoil, accordeon and probably a few more.
To keep everyone happy, I use them all!
Some music terms can be interpreted differently by different people, click here for a glossary of the intended meaning of terms used on this site.
How to order:
I do not sell online.
The content of this site is intended for information purposes only and is not an offer for sale.
Each instrument is priced separately and the price and terms that apply to any sale will be as agreed at the time of the sale.
If you are interested, please contact me and I will get back to you as quick as I can.
In addition to restoring old accordians, I also teach set dancing in Dublin and Sligo/Roscommon, everyone welcome.
Please note that, due to work commitments, it will be some time before I have accordions for sale.