Tuning the reeds of an accordion is a very labor intensive task that involves multiple blocks of reeds, each with their own crucial role in determining the tonal options that are available to the player. A good accordion technician can realize the wishes of a client simply by listening to him or her play. For some, all that is needed is a description of the sound required.
Measure Twice, Tune Once
The act of tuning accordion reeds includes the removal of material from the surface of the reed, which is described as “destructive tuning”. This is a procedure that demands precision, because a mistuned reed is unusable and the time spent is time wasted. Also, the manner in which the material is removed has a bearing on the stability and lifespan of that reed. Furthermore, a reed “in the box” intonates slightly differently from a reed “out of the box”, making the task even more complicated.
Choosing the Right Tuner
Ultimately, as an instrument technician, you should aim to arm yourself with the best tools. Not doing so can impede your work, complicate the task further and waste valuable time. Your first consideration should be accuracy, and your second should be adjustability. You want an accurate indicator with adjustable parameters. Just as you adjust the pitch of a reed by precise amounts, your electronic tuner should be capable of consistently and precisely telling you the state of pitch at every turn.
How Accurate does the Tuner Need to be?
The short answer is that a tuner should be as accurate as it is adjustable. There is no point in a rated accuracy of 0.5 cents if the tuner cannot be adjusted by the same amount or increment. After that, the screen or display resolution should be a priority. If a tuner is to display minute changes in pitch, it needs to have a very high display resolution. Needle displays and LED displays are unsuitable because both types of display are too low in resolution to be seriously considered. Additionally, a tuner which can display pitch change in real-time, as it happens, will always trump one which cannot.
As a technician running a business, you want your customers to come back again and again. They may have liked your work on a particular instrument and would like you to recreate that tuning. These nuances that players grow to favor in a particular tuning or tremolo are not always obvious to a third party, so the ability to repeat or copy the tuning on an existing instrument by precise measurement is paramount.
Suitable Tuners for Accordion Tuning
Peterson StroboPlus HD™
This is an entry level tuner for tuning accordions that merges a precision display, extreme accuracy of 0.1 cent, versatility, adjustability and a computer interface (MAC/PC compatible) with solid construction, ergonomics and value for money. The StroboPlus HD features several tuning templates for accordion and offers the ability to create your own limitless list.
Featuring the unique true stroboscopic display, the AutoStrobe tuner series is the most popular choice among professional accordion tuners and technicians. A common sight on benches in Castelfidardo, with options such as “Provino style” audio tone generation and multi-octave programmability, this tuner is the choice of the true accordion professional.
As the most popular choice among manufacturers and commercial producers, the Strobe Center 5000 provides the ability to display two or more pitches simultaneously, thanks to its multi-window display. Along with the ultimate precision inherent in a true multi-display tuner, the layout is instinctive and suitable for situations in which vital pitch information is required from multiple sources.
The Node 8001 tuner’s single-motor operation and smaller build makes it an alternative choice for the accordion manufacturer. Quick access to a cent dial makes on-the-fly adjustment a breeze.