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I'm taking my accordion on a road trip and I need to leave it in a car while I'm camping outside. Its going to be below freezing at night, 25F.

Its a used vintage accordion that did not cost me much and has a little life left, but it is still very much in tune and I want to keep it this way

Would it cause any issues to leave it in the car inside its case while its below freezing outside for 1 night? Maybe wrapped in some extra blankets

Thanks,

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    I knew someone who left an accordion in the back of his car while shopping. He came back 30 minutes later to find the car window shattered,... and someone had tossed in another accordion. ///I'll let myself out. – Carl Witthoft Feb 22 at 13:47
  • My friend left his guitar on the roof of the car. When he drived away the guitar was shattered. :) – Albrecht Hügli Feb 22 at 16:52
  • Well I don‘t want to be responsible for a frozen accordeon. I‘m going to delete my advice. – Albrecht Hügli Feb 22 at 17:40
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No. Not a good idea. The reeds are set in beeswax in general (or maybe a more modern type of wax.) The beeswax can freeze or at least harden and the reeds may become loose. Similarly for being too hot. Accordions are sensitive instruments (as are all musical instruments.)

  • Just a nit: it's basically impossible to damage a brass instrument by heating/freezing/dehumidifying/soaking it. – Carl Witthoft Feb 22 at 13:49
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You write "the wax is on the leather valves" which is nonsense. Valves are fixed with glue, typically contact glue (which retains some flexibility and is comparatively easy to remove). If you have a vintage accordion or a Texmex accordion (or something else intended for export to countries with similar temperatures) or a soloist accordion, there is some probability that no wax is being used but the reed plates are mounted (using nails or screws) on leather gaskets. Those accordions are the most weather resistant. There are rather few vintage accordions for that market where the reed plates are fixed with glue ("Helmitin"). Those are also weather resistant but a complete nightmare to repair. Most current-day accordions (French accordions being an exception, as well as some other categories mentioned above) have the reed plates fixed in wax.

Wax recipes have been various and changing over the time. Universally they won't stand for excessive heat, but how prone the wax is to becoming more brittle (or flake off when it is already brittle because of being old) really depends on the individual state of instrument and wax.

Another place where wax is used in some vintage accordions is for fixing pallets to key levers. Those fixtures are considerably less vulnerable than the reed plates but could also be affected.

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I did this anyway as an experiment. I don't mind having to re-glue some flaps on a $200 used accordion to know about this if I'm ever going to purchase an expensive new one in the future.

The reeds themselves are stamped steel and don't really get affected by this temperature change, the wax is on the leather valves/flaps, which did not fall off. But these don't take part in controlling the pitch of sound.

I didn't notice any change in tuning, seems like these instruments are more durable than I thought

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Steel and aluminum have different thermal expansion rates: high quality accordions (reversibly) become unplayable at lower temperatures for that reason because the steel reeds start touching the aluminum plate. A more permanent problem can be that the rivets may loosen temporarily and reeds may shift then, becoming stuck or noisy. Of course, if the car is then driven after one night with the accordion still being at very low temperature, the probability of shifting reeds is acerbated.

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