November 1, 2023
We just returned from our annual All Souls day trip to Ontario and stop off from picking up the Imperator from Keith. Several months ago we dropped it off to get some work done on it. The Imperator was there for some re-waxing, 140 valves replaced and a touch-up tuning. I am very happy to have the Imperator back, it is in fine condition with just one last thing to adjust that was not done, and that was to make the registers easier to use. Keith just did not have the time to do this as it is a time consuming job and is very difficult as the registers are riveted in placed and the rivets need to be removed and the entire mechanics of the registers disassembled, cleaned and re-assembled. I wish I could do this all myself, I am starting to not enjoy handing off accordions for long periods of time and driving thousands of kilometers to get this done. I really like Keith’s work and I feel his pricing is fair, but I certainly would benefit from having at least some basic accordion repair skills.
I also noticed that one right hand note, the middle “C” key was not functioning on all reeds, so I will take a look at it myself and if I cannot get it to work, it gets to go back to Keith for that adjustment and any others that I find it may need, like the registers work discussed above.
I know that normally that note would not have been missed by Keith, but he has been having some big life challenges and I feel the need to be understanding as I hope others would be with me, if I was in similar circumstances.
Addendum November 9, 2023
I’ve had some time to futz with the Imperator a bit more. That middle C note issue… I found that it also came with a noisy air leak so bad just pulling or pushing on the bellows without pressing any notes, it could be heard from the font grill.
Taking the grill off and looking things over on the front showed nothing, so I split the accordion in half and looked at the reed block where the C note was happening. Everything looked good so I removed the top reed block for a closer look to see if the sealing leather was sealing. It did not look as if it were sealing properly!
I was about to return the reed block back but I felt the steel rod that the frame holds on to clip to, was loose. It seemed to be a simple loose screw. I was able to tighten it with my finger nail and replaced the reed block.
Air leak resolved 100% AND since the note was now getting the requisite air needed, it was now voicing properly.
I spent about 4 hours over the last 2 days (Nov 10-11, 2023) using the Imperator and am really enjoying it. While playing the accordion, I still heard valve slap and growl, more than I would want, but this is something that I can now take care of myself moving forward.
A small added plus, I used some dry graphite lubricant on the register sliders (carefully, covering everything around them, of course!), under the grill and that made using the registers about 50% better. In the future, if I really wanted to make it factory fresh, I would need to drill out/replace 4 rivets and take apart the entire register mechanism, clean, lubricate and re-assemble… yet another future project.
All that said, I enjoyed it before but I am really enjoying the Imperator even more now. Is it as good as my Gola? Of course not, not even close, but that does not mean that I don’t enjoy it! Currently it’s in 90% perfect condition (good enough for any sane accordionist… lol), but in time I will want to work on it a bit more and make it even better!