At The Accordion Shop, we always have a large range of new and used Hohner piano accordions for sale. We can also order in any accordion or Melodion from the Hohner range that we don’t currently have in stock.
The Hohner Company was founded in 1881 in the German town of Trossingen by Matthias Hohner. The factory was initially a manufacturer of harmonicas, which it exported mainly to the USA, the UK, France and Russia.
At its peak, the Hohner factory was the largest manufacturer of harmonicas in the world, and by the turn of the 20th century, employed over 1,000 workers. In 1900, Matthias Hohner handed over control of the business to his five sons, Jakob, Matthias, Andreas, Hans and Will.
In 1903, shortly after the death of Matthias Hohner senior, the Hohner factory began to produce a small number of accordions alongside their harmonicas, and in 1912 opened a separate factory to cater to the demand for these increasingly popular instruments.
In the years leading up to the First World War, the factory went from strength to strength, with production increasing yet again to cope with the demand. However, with the outbreak of war in 1914, many of Hohner’s workers left, which combined with the scarcity of metal and the lack of exports to newly hostile countries, slowed down accordion production considerably, forcing the factories to refocus more on their traditional product of harmonicas, which were cheaper and easier to produce. After the war, accordion production resumed, but was on a much smaller scale than before, and was mainly just a sideline to Hohner’s once again booming harmonica business.
However, in 1928, the then company director, Ernst Hohner, in a bid to increase accordion production to it’s pre war levels, brought the experienced Italian accordion designer Venanzio Morino over to Trossingen from Geneva where he had been living at the time. Although initially hired on a freelance basis, Venanzio introduced numerous technical innovations to the range such as the Casotto chamber and free bass converter mechanism, and was soon put in charge of the design department with the range topping Hohner Morino model bearing his name.
With the high quality accordions designed by Morino, the popularity of Hohner’s products, and likewise sales, began to increase. The instruments from this period were renowned for a rich tone and a light action and thus became the make of choice for many professional players. The following year, Hohner bought out Koch, another manufacturer of harmonicas and accordions and Hohner’s largest German competitor, who were also based in Trossingen.
In the early 1930’s, the harmonica market was hit very hard by the great depression, with many factories being forced to close. Accordions however, were becoming increasingly popular throughout Europe and in fact this decade was to become the heyday of the accordion.
With Hohner’s workforce almost doubled after the acquisition of the Koch factory, production increased significantly, and a new range of more affordable instruments were launched. These latest models, the Imperial, Student, Tango and Verdi were built and sold in huge numbers alongside the well established high end accordions such as the 5055, 5555, and of course the range topping Morino.
Some of the most striking and unique accordions from this era were the range of beautifully decorated curved keyboard accordions, which were introduced in 1932. However, these proved so expensive and labor intensive to manufacture that production ceased in 1938.
Around this period, the accordion also became extremely popular as an ensemble instrument, with many accordion orchestras springing up across Europe and North America. Hohner themselves founded two world class orchestras, Handharmonika-Verband and Hohner-Konservatrium, with whom they successfully used to promote their products at competitions and concerts across the continent.
In 1939, with war once again in Europe, output slowed considerably and as many of the workforce left to fight, and, although Hohner was one of the few large companies in the area to escape major bomb damage during the war, the conflict was never very far away as production was increasingly switched from accordions to munitions.
With frequent power cuts and allied bombing raids, accordion production finally ceased entirely as the last few instrument makers left at the factory were conscripted to man Trossingen’s anti aircraft batteries and, in 1943, many prisoners, predominantly women from Poland and the Soviet Union, were assigned to Hohner to increase the production of items related to the war effort.
On the 21st of April 1945, Trossingen was occupied by French troops and ironically, after having survived the war mostly intact, the entire contents of Hohner factory was promptly looted. However, in late 1945, accordion production resumed on a much smaller scale, under the direction of Ellis Messner and Dr. Paul Dorner, with design led once again by Venanzio Morino. Over the course of the next few years, production expanded to a level not far below that of the pre war days.
In 1952, following Venanzio Morino’s retirement, Ernst Hohner, who had regained control of the company during the post war years, began the search for a replacement accordion designer to continue the evolution of the Hohner brand. Through a mutual friend, Swiss accordionist Albert Achermann, Ernst was introduced to the Italian accordion maker Giovanni Gola, who was at the time employed by the Dallape Accordion Company in the Italian town of Stradella. In 1953 Giovanni Gola agreed to join Hohner and took over the day to day running of the design department.
A selection of new models, the Atlantic, Lucia, Pirola and Marchesa were added to the Hohner range, and, like his predecessor, Giovanni gave his name to his flagship creation, the Hohner Gola, which boasted, among many other features, the very best hand hand made reeds that money could buy, which were specially imported from the Italian town of Castlefidardo, widely regarded by many as the birthplace of the accordion. Giovanni Gola remained with Hohner until his retirement in 1975, when he returned to his hometown of Stradella, where he remained until his death in 1978.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, several changes took place within the Hohner company, such as moving production of the high end Morino model to Italy, as well as withdrawing many popular models such as the Verdi, Atlantic and Concerto, only to reintroduce them under different names a few months later. Production of Hohner’s more affordable models, such as the ever popular Student, was also shifted overseas to Czechoslovakia.
Unsuccessful attempts were also made to diversify the Hohner brand into new product categories and markets, and for a short while, Hohner was even developing and producing computers. However, this and other similar ventures were met with little success and in 1987 the last member of the Hohner family, the great grandson of company founder Matthias Hohner, resigned from the board of directors. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Hohners market share dwindled as the company went into a rapid decline following a series of bad business decisions combined with incompetent management and poor advice.
After a number of severe setbacks, the Taiwanese investment consortium The HS Investment Group, who also own several other musical instrument manufactures including the wind instrument giant Jupiter Woodwind and drum manufacturer Sonor, stepped in, purchasing a seventy five per cent share of Hohner. Since then, the firm has undergone considerable restructuring, with the majority of accordion production being moved from Trossingen to China, where twenty of Hohner’s master craftsmen spent over three years in the specially constructed factory training the three hundred strong Chinese workforce, and instilling into them Hohner’s high standards of quality and workmanship. In 2001, Hohner once again began to return a profit for the first time in years.
Hohner’s economical entry level instruments, including the popular Bravo, Amica and Nova models, are now produced in China, as well as some of the more labour intensive components for Hohner’s more expensive models, such as the casework and bass mechanism. However, the Hohner Ventura, Morino and range topping Gola are still completely built in Trossingen, where around two hundred staff are employed in both production, research and development, and Hohner’s service department
Today Hohner is once again a modern, progressive company who, through high quality products constructed with over one hundred years of experience and know how, and a highly competitive pricing strategy made possible by the Chinese connection, is slowly but surely starting to recover the ground that it lost to its Italian competitors during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Here at The Accordion Shop, we have a wide range of these great quality accordions from one of the worlds most famous manufactures, and can order any model not in stock on request. Contact us today to find out more about new or used Hohner Piano accordions for sale.
London Road (A30)
Sunningdale (Near Ascot)
Berkshire, SL5 0DJ
Telephone: 01344 873717