Proudly serving our customers for 50 years  |  (262) 250-9990  |  email

Value Inquiry  |  About  |  Accessories  |  Artists  |  Policies  |  YouTube










Baldoni Accordions

By Manya Kaczkowski, Wisconsin Trails, July/August 2011


Rows upon rows of shining instruments line the shelves, some decked out in black and white, like musical tuxedos, others jewel-festooned bedazzlers. All, though, are emblazoned with one proud word: Baldoni.


These are not your average garage-sale castoffs; Baldoni accordions are among the best. Customers have a strong allegiance to the name – and plenty of big-name musicians are customers, including Sheryl Crow and LeAnn Rimes. Joey Miskulin (Riders in the Sky) plays his on the Grand Ole Opry Stage, and Brandon Bush (Sugarland) played one on American Idol.


“We get a lot of email after a performance on TV,” says Ivo Baldoni, who runs the business with his wife, Beverlee.   Baldoni follows in his father Alfonso’s footsteps, selling accordions and repair services. But the story began long ago, with Baldoni’s grandfather, Emilio Baldoni.


Emilio was a master reed maker with his own shop in Italy. During World War II, however, Emilio’s shop was bombed, and he knew his career was over. “He didn’t really rebuild; he sort of lost interest,” Baldoni says. “Only a few of his tools were left.”


Alfonso, though, was one of the best accordion tuners around, and he made the move to America in the 1960s, eventually going into business for himself on Milwaukee’s Brady Street. Later, Alfonso (who has since passed away) and Ivo moved the business to Menomonee Falls.


Today, Baldoni accordions are made in a small, family-run factory in Castelfidardo, Italy, a town famous for its accordion makers. In Wisconsin, meanwhile, Baldoni works with customers to determine the design of each accordion, then meets with his brother-in-law and uncle (who run the Italian factory) every day through Skype to manage the business. Although there are specific models, Baldoni can customize an instrument to the needs of the musician – with some limitations. “We will not make something that’s a monstrosity,” Baldoni says. Often, the solution to a customer’s problem is already in their accordion, and Baldoni can show them how to coax out that particular sound. After working with Baldoni, one man discovered he was using only two of his three reed bars. “He was shutting out the other voices in his accordion,” Baldoni says.


Like his father and grandfather, Baldoni has a discerning ear for tuning. It’s a delicate operation that involves making sure the wax is applied appropriately on each reed and the tiny leather flaps are opening and closing. Each reed is then cleaned and tuned with a tiny file, until it has the correct pitch and vibrato. That care pays off in a high level of customer satisfaction.


Michael Ramos, who has played with the BoDeans and John Mellencamp, owns several Baldoni accordions. “When I first moved to Wisconsin to join the BoDeans, I met Ivo and his dad.” he says. “They were so dedicated and sweet, and their accordions are just incredible. I think it’s because they’re made in the family. There’s a lot of attention to detail.”


Baldoni learned his craft in the Brady Street shop as a child, preparing glue pots, cleaning reeds and disposing of rubbish. Perhaps most important, though, was learning how to handle customers. “When I was growing up, my father stressed that you want to give your best to people, treat them honestly and equally, and you’ll never have to look over your shoulder,” he says.


It’s true: Musicians like Ramos keep coming back. He’s convinced Baldonis are the best. “It’s the difference between a compact economy car and a Porsche,” he says. “I was in Austin, and my accordion was out of tune. I took it to someone there who was supposed to be an expert. When I took it in the next time to Baldoni, Alfonso opened it up, and it wasn’t 20 seconds before he said, ‘Who’s been inside my accordion?’”


- Manya Kaczkowski makes her own music on a computer keyboard in Menomonee Falls.


More Reading