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The year 2010 marked a new success for Stephane Groleau: the creation of the world's first vegan accordion. Called "Eco-rdéon," this accordion is free from animal products, held together with vapourless glues, and finished with eco-conscious varnish. In the key of D, it has 11 buttons and 4 reed banks. This accordion is inspired by the single-row Quebecois model that is traditionally used in folk music.

His quest for a vegan accordion began several years ago when learning to play the diatonic accordion. Stephane was curious to understand the inner workings of this strange instrument, and, at the same time, to discover more about the musical roots of Quebec. As he became more familiar with the "squeeze box", he became less comfortable knowing that it contained animal products.
Soufflet main gauche

Indeed, the manufacturing of accordions generally uses a multitude of animal products. The most obvious are the leather straps. However, animal skin is also found on the reeds and the bellows, in addition to animal ingredients in the glue and the varnish. As a vegan, Stephane began looking for accordions that are free from animal products. After a fruitless search, he realized that to obtain a completely vegan accordion, he would have to build it himself.

With fellow accordionists, he organized a workshop with professional accordion-makers Emmanuel Pariselle and Marc Serafini. During this workshop, Stephane made his first instrument, a diatonic accordion with 2½ rows, in the keys of C and G with alterations. Here, he was able to learn the details of the hidden animal products in the manufacturing process, though he did not yet have every vegan alternative.

Generally, leather is found on all areas of the instrument that are subject to air leakage: next to the reeds (metal strips that vibrate to produce each note), by the valves, and at the corners of the bellows. This is the critical part, as each of the eighty corners of the bellows is insulated with an individual piece of leather.

Making flappers

The bellows are really the centerpiece of the instrument, and Stephane would have liked to have purchased it pre-made from a manufacturer. In the end, no one was willing to take the time to make the bellows without leather, even though some accordion-makers expressed an understanding of his mission. And so, Stephane had to construct the bellows himself. In place of leather, he used a high-quality synthetic textile from Lorica. To glue it to the cardboard, he found the non-toxic vegan glue Weldbond.

Bellow making

The design on the bellow represents the international vegetarian logo, the V-Label, created by the Italian artist Bruno Nascimben and used worldwide since the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) congress in 1985 in Cervia, Italy. For more information:

Logo making

For the reeds, these are usually attached to the wood and made air-tight by using beeswax. Here, Stephane chose to screw the reeds, and if needed, to use a little soy wax from a candle. Finally, to finish the instrument, he found an eco-vegan varnish from Ecospaints.

All of these steps explain why the prototype vegan accordion was called "ECO-rdéon"!


Press review

L'Eco-rdéon presented at the Montmagny Accordion Museum!

Musée de l'Accordéon de MontmagnyJune 28th, 2012, opening of the new exposition about Quebec accordion makers at the Montmagny Accordion Museum. A space was reserved to present the Eco-rdeon. This new permanent exposition shows the history of diatonic accordion making in Quebec province (Canada).

Interview on the television show, Des Kiwis et des Hommes with Radio-Canada, October 26th 2010.

Article published in the magazine L'itinéraire, September 2010.
Article paru dans L'Itinéraire

Article published in Ahimsa, Fall 2010.

Video of a public event with the presence of the Eco-rdeon:


Another short video to see the Eco-rdeon in action:



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Thanks to Marie-Pierre Savard for the pictures!