As already mentioned, it makes a big difference who you entrust your instrument to. Look for references, see how long the workshop has been working and, above all, see how it works!
As with any other instrument that you love or want to love, the experience of the restorer is important. And also the material that he has available.
A distinction must be made between a repair and a restoration. A restoration of course does not exclude repairs or various repairs. However, a restoration means that the historical character, especially the historical flair of the case, should be preserved.
At the moment some "restorers" are springing up from the ground. Of course - the harmonium is back in fashion! But that doesn't mean that everyone's instrument is in good hands with everyone.
There are "restorers" who simply renew everything that can be renewed. Even the tongues are polished, what a waste of time. Whether it also changes the sound is open ...
The bellows are covered with paper of a different color, bad leather is used, the shellac polish is treated incorrectly, modern screws are used, replacement tongues from another manufacturer are used ... the list is long of what you can see.
A harmonium should be completely cleaned from the inside if it has not already been done. A really necessary thing because even the smallest crumb can keep a tongue from swinging. Especially if an instrument has not been played for a long time, you have bought it and transported it.
Likewise, all fabrics and bellows leather should be tight. Then all the felt around the keyboard and register mechanism should be checked and, if necessary, replaced worth what has been worn or often eaten by moths or mice.
The entire wind system should be checked for cracks, as a loss of wind not only means that you have to pedal harder, the harmonium often does not sound with its full sound and an expression game is impossible.
Here I could list many more steps that are necessary for a good repair or restoration. But you don't have to reveal everything.
If you look at the "ouevre / fotos" button below, you will find a brief overview of my previous restorations. Unfortunately, a few instruments were missing from the early days, when everything was not photographed. As you will see, some well-known houses, nationally and internationally, also rely on my services.
And - do not be afraid! Depending on the scope of the work, a repair or restoration does not have to be expensive!
If possible, I try to do the work on site for one or more days. This saves the costs and effort of transport. Don't trust anyone to tell you that the harmonium has to be in the workshop for several months. This often means that you are told about a huge amount of work, but ultimately the harmonium is standing around in the workshop most of the time.
My workshop has several locations in Europe. I have set up these over the years to prevent the constant transport of materials and also to be on site faster. Since I work as a harmonist and organist (www.matthiasmüller.org) here and there, especially in summer, I can quickly fall back on my materials.
I know very well that some of these sentences in this text will attack or snub some "restorers" - did I hit the wrong place?
I have been with the church for over 40 years and have seen bad restorations countless times. Communities or the clients who got the money out of their pockets. Especially when it comes to donations, I think it's a shame! I have seen restorations where the leather became brittle after only 5 years. I have often seen a historical harmonium become a "high-gloss object". I have seen organ builders pull thousands of euros out of the pockets of poor local museums for work that could have been done for 500 600 euros. (And the mechanics still have flaws ...)
But these truths must also be told at some point.
All in all, I would like to say that you can confidently entrust me with your instrument. Before and after photos of any work are made, which you will of course also receive, and at the end of my work I am happy to offer a concert or house concert. So you can be sure that your instrument is really ready to play. And I would be happy to add a few suitable sheet music for your instrument from my archive.
I offer the repair / restoration to small parishes, retirees and monasteries, who like to play their beloved harmonium often and often, are financially not so well positioned. These include, for example (should the location of the harmonium be interesting for me) preparing a harmonium for room and board as well as travel expenses. And of course at the end with a public concert (with a collection for the musician) in order to get at least some fee. We like to get to know new people and new places and try to offer this whenever possible.