An accordion reed is a structure inside the instrument that produces the instrument’s sound. In order to produce a pitch, these structures use the principle of free vibration. Each accordion reed is made up of a number of smaller parts. The reed plate, which is a flat piece of metal with two long holes or slots in it, is the first. The second is a vibrating metal strip that moves as the player performs. Two of these strips, or tongues, are held on each reed plate, with the strips on opposite sides of the plate. Rivets connect the strips to the reed plate.
The tongues of accordion reeds are almost parallel to the reed plate, with the tip of the tongue a little above the plate, according to accordion makers. When an accordion player plays, air pressure builds up against the reed and pushes one of the metal tongues through the reed plate’s corresponding slot. When the pressure is released, the tongue returns to its original position. This is what happens in one reed vibration cycle, with many more occurring per second to produce a pitch.
In accordion reeds, the tongues only move in one direction. This means that instead of passing through the slot, air must first pass over the tongue. The reed only bends when air is blown in the wrong direction, so no sound is produced. One tongue vibrates when a player expands the instrument. The other tongue vibrates when he pushes in the accordion’s sides.
There are several different types of accordion reeds, each with its own set of characteristics. Machines are used to make almost all commercial reeds. These are the cheapest accordion reeds, but they’re also the worst. Tipo A Mano reeds are medium-quality imitation hand-made accordion reeds. The best reeds are made of Duraluminum and hand-polished to a high shine. The wax used to secure the reeds to the reed block may have obscured the base of the tongues.
An accordion reed’s tongue is usually made of steel. Some tongues are made of brass, but this is a rare occurrence. The type of metal used in accordion reeds has a significant impact on the sound and durability of the reeds. Because each type of metal has a different density, different amounts of air pressure are required to vibrate different metal tongues. Different metals oxidize at different rates as well.
The length and profile shaping of the reed tongue, in addition to the metal used, influence the sound of the accordion reed. The sound is also affected other factors such as the accordion’s size. Master accordion makers work hard to create reeds that account for these factors, ensuring that players get the best sound possible.