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My workshop

atelier-bertrand-gaillardIn 1978, I discovered the diatonic accordion and traditional music. Back then, I was a cabinet-maker by profession. As my interest in the musical instrument grew, so did the awareness of the need for better quality accordions in France. The idea of designing and making my own accordion started to mature. I took the plunge in the spring of 1980 and created my very first model. Several musician friends took a real interest in my work thereby paving the way for two other prototypes in the following year. After exhibiting these instruments at the Saint-Chartier International Meeting, I decided to dedicate my professional life to accordion making.

   Ever since, my purpose has been to create high quality accordions. I make my instruments within the framework of a craftsmen’s workshop and therefore, production is limited. From the start, I chose to use local types of wood rather than imported ones. My research and experience led me to favour walnut as the main source of wood, for it gives the finest results.

   I carry out most of the work-designing the instruments, making the boxes, keyboards, blocks, etc.- by myself and personnally assemble, decorate and varnish all my accordions. In addition, I work in close collaboration with highly skilled craftsmen in some specialised fields (e.g. reeds, bellows or mechanical components). Musical tuning specialist Stéphanie Simon puts the finishing touch to this long and elaborate crafting process.

   Thanks to constant research, my instruments have become more refined in the areas of tone and acoustic projection of sound. The same applies to playability and handling. My meeting with some artists has been instrumental in the evolution of my craft : Joe Burke, Tony Mac Mahon, Jackie Daly, Joe Derrane, Benny Mc Carthy, and in France, Stéphane Milleret and Norbert Pignol, to only name a few.

   I work essentially for musicians who are extremely demanding in terms of quality, yet thoroughly aware of the amount of time involved. My accordions are designed to be played over a span of several decades. Each and every model is made with the finest components (reeds, mechanisms, bellows, etc.) and I take special care not to overcharge the instruments; in other words, I aim at letting them “breathe” so as to produce the best dynamics and the richest expressiveness on the entire range of the keyboard. My production is entirely order-based and, therefore, I have no instrument available on stock. The delivery time is directly proportional to the amount of work involved for each individual order. My customers are based not only in France, but also in other European countries and even farther away (USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia, etc.). The musicians who call upon me come from a variety of musical horizons. This has led me to custom made creations where keyboard and bass layout and tuning are tailored to each client's needs.

   I have been a diatonic accordion designer since 1980. My craftsmanship has always been a passion, and I have remained faithful to my initial goal: to continually perfect my  work and produce instruments that will allow musicians to express their emotions to the fullest.

Bertrand Gaillard            

The rumour of my early retirement has been going around for a few years now. It is entirely groundless. I have no plan to retire before 2025 and if I cease my activity then, it will be after full training of my successor. So, there will be no interruption of production.

Photos : Laura Perera San Martin             

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walnut boule wood, felt, fabric, leather hand tools wood bits and drlls planing a wood part keyboard in the process of being made inside of a keyboard bellows frames laying an inlaid thread miter cuts set of handmade reeds melodic blocks finishing an accordion final test

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