Survival Tips

 ACCORDION CASE TERROR:   Ever see an accordion fall out of its hard case when you or someone else was carrying it?  It happens when it snaps open and if you are not carrying the case correctly, it will fall away from the case and smack to the ground. OUCH!

How old is your case? Are the snaps getting finicky when trying to close them?  Maybe no one ever told you how to carry the case? I never saw it in any book.  A friend told me and that is why I want to pass it on.

Carry your case with the top of the case next to your leg.  If it does open, the accordion will fall against you and not away from you!  This will  give you a chance to quickly put the case down to catch it.  This is not a guarantee that you will save it, but it will minimize the damage!  TAKE A MAGIC MARKER and draw an ARROW on both locks on the case.  These arrows should be pointing to your leg when carrying the case!  DO IT in case someone else wants to “help” and carries your case the wrong way!  GOOD LUCK!

Using a soft case?  On a regular basis, check out the stitching on the straps.  They carry a lot of weight and can wear out.  I’ve seen straps let loose on soft cases that looked almost new.  Maintenance: do it.

CARPAL TUNNEL DEVELOPING ON YOUR LEFT/BASS ARM?    This can start as a a sore bump 3 to 6 inches above your palm where your arm rubs against the accordion.  It may not be a problem if you do not play that often. 

I play quite often and sometimes bellow shake for a couple of hours when the band is cranking on Polish polkas!  I solved it by “padding” the bass side so my arm positioned on the pad instead of the side of the accordion.  For a “pad,”  I bought a smooth (vinyl) finished bass strap, cut off the ends and used velcro to hold it in place.  With this setup, my arm is between the bass strap and the pad and is much more comfortable.  It works for me!

SHOULDERS GIVING YOU PAIN FROM YOUR STRAPS?   All the accordion books that you start with will show a “proper” sitting and standing position when you perform.  Pull one of your books and see where your chin should be like almost on top of your accordion.  This might be “proper” but it does not help your shoulders and back.  All the weight is up top.

It was starting to get to me  many years ago probably because I always stand when I perform.  Hey, you can’t jump up and down if you’re sitting!  Hey, I’m fooling about the jumping thing!  I coined the phrase “real men stand when they squeeze!” 

First, I bought the best straps that I could find and for me, they are the Baldoni neoprene-like straps.  They stick light glue and are very comfortable.  Unfortunately, they are no longer available!

Secondly, I repositioned my strap brackets on the top of the accordion.  Some are set back too far and the accordion tends to fall forward.  Some have both straps in the same bracket.  I had Brian Slosarik (see REPAIRS) mount another bracket positioned closer to the front of the accordion for the right-side strap.  This will pull the accordion closer to you and distributes the weight better.

Thirdly, I readjusted my straps to lower the accordion closer to the floor and down from my chin!  WOW!  I wasn’t feeling the weight as bad because it is off my shoulders.  The center of gravity is now on my lower back!  Now this may not be for you, but it works for me.  When I first started wearing my accordion noticeably lower, I was called a “cowboy” and other names.  “What are you doing?  Showing off?? wise guy!!”  Well over the years I happen to see other accordionists with the lower-look.  So it works for some of us!!  Try it.  If you stand when you play, adjust those straps down a bit, and you will feel the difference.

All of my  accordions, a Petromilli acoustic double tone chambered, and FR-7X’s, are all equipped the same way.

I.D. TIP Number 101:  put address labels on everything that you have that is musical: accordions, music cases, music stands, amps, sound modules, extension cords,keyboards, signs…..EVERYTHING.  Make sure that your PHONE NUMBER is on the label.   I have had items stolen and if you have a “hidden” I.D. tag it is easy to tell the police that it is yours!


More TIPS are coming.  Check back!!