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Concertina Care

  • Concertinas have metal reed assemblies. Reed assemblies are metal, the frames being brass or aluminium and the tongues being brass or steel, sometimes a nickel alloy. Victorian concertina manufacturers used clock spring steel for the reed tongues (stainless steel not having yet been invented) and thus the reeds are very susceptible to rust. Reeds do not like damp storage, or condensation.
  • The wood work is Victorian cabinet making, held together by animal glues and is not water or damp proof. The wood work has different types of wood and varying thicknesses making it susceptible to shrinkage cracking, warping etc, some of the features are held together with a wedging action and shrinkage can affect fits between reeds and the surrounding woodwork.
  • The bellows are the product of the Victorian book binder’s arts, and are held together by what in essence is wall paper paste.
  • The leather components can dry out, split or curl.
  • Some of the end bolts are very long and thin and can easily shear off if over tightened of allowed to corrode into place.


  • Do not allow a concertina to get wet or very damp.
  • Do not expose to excessive temperatures (such as might occur if stored in sunlight or in a hot car).
  • Storage is critical to the ongoing playability of a concertina: use a hard case, that holds the bellows firmly compressed, with the bellows horizontal, the concertina should never be stored stood up on its end.
  • Avoid knocks and bumps.
  • Do not leave a concertina on a chair when you are not sitting holding it.
  • Do not drag an instrument out of its box by one end, straining and splitting bellows.
  • Do not play a concertina with its bellows resting across the knee; it wrecks the bellows internally as well as increasing leather wear. Rest a wooden end on the knee if that is your style, but not the bendy part of the bellows, 
  • If bringing in a concertina from outside in the cold, into say, a warm and crowded room, allow the concertina to warm for a few minutes to avoid moisture condensing on the reeds.