As seen in:
HOHNER
Panther 3-Row Diatonic
Schylling
Kids Accordion
First Act
Discovery Junior
D'Luca
Kids Piano Accordion, 17 Keys
Trinity College
Diatonic 20-Button Anglo Concertina
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Good

A three-row accordion with a top-notch sound. Plays in G/C/F and their relative minors.

A tiny, budget-priced instrument with decent sound quality. Great for those who want to experiment with the accordion.

A low-priced button accordion with a good sound.

More note and chord choices than any other budget-priced accordion. Works for adults, too.

A decently priced concertina with a beautiful sound.

Bad

Costs more than any other instrument on our list but is affordable when compared to similar products.

Bellows pleats are made of stiff, reinforced paper. Difficult for smaller hands to manipulate. Only plays in the key of C.

Only two chord buttons (as compared to the D'Luca's eight chord buttons.)

Volume may be slightly inconsistent from note to note. This "flaw" could have to do with a user's piano technique.

Bellows are stiff at first.

Bottom Line

A stellar accordion from a reputable manufacturer. The best on the market.

A fabulously priced teaching toy that allows beginners to explore accordion in the key of C.

A decent beginner's instrument/toy from a well-known manufacturer.

A great piano accordion with an impressive range of notes/chords. You won't find a better budget-priced accordion.

A beautiful instrument that suits several styles of music very well, including Celtic and Cajun music.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
68
Models Considered
36
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
161
Consumers Consulted

Best Accordions

High-quality accordions are available in just about every price range. You could spend up to $16,000 on an accordion if you were so inclined. In this review, we stick to top-rated accordions that are within financial reach of most people.

Products we Considered

HOHNER
Panther 3-Row Diatonic
Schylling
Kids Accordion
First Act
Discovery Junior
D'Luca
Kids Piano Accordion, 17 Keys
Trinity College
Diatonic 20-Button Anglo Concertina

Considerations

Intended Users

Before you buy an accordion, make sure you know what age group the manufacturer has built it for. Our review includes several instruments that are marketed for kids. We've included them because, even though they are smaller, adults on a budget can get a good musical experience out of them, too. Similarly, our review includes several instruments that you should not buy for kids. These instruments are meant strictly for adults and teenagers - mostly because of their larger size.

Musicality

When you buy an instrument - particularly one with a budget price - you want to make sure you'll get a good sound out of it and that it won't be too hard to play. In this section, we tell you which key signatures each instrument can play (an important consideration when you're buying an accordion) and what you can expect in terms of tone quality and ease of use.

Durability

In this section, we tell you about issues owners have had with an instrument's durability and quality. None of our contenders are shoddy products, but sometimes it helps to hear about other user experiences when selecting an instrument.

Price

The accordions on our shortlist span a wide price range. In this section, we give our final analysis of what each product gives you for your money.

Considerations

Intended Users

Schylling Kids Accordion

The Schylling Kids Accordion is marketed for kids between the ages of 5-8, but adults can get great pleasure out of this instrument as well. (If you're an adult who is considering buying this instrument, bear in mind that it will fit in the palms of your hands!) Some children under the age of 5 can use the Schylling successfully, but the stiff bellow pleats require a certain strength and coordination that many preschoolers don't have yet. Some of the owners we spoke to were adults who were interested in playing the accordion but wanted to get a feel for the instrument before spending hundreds of dollars. Other customers we talked to were parents who purchased this as a toy for a youngster. In almost all cases, people who buy the Schylling say they are satisfied with this product in terms of both quality and price.

First Act Discovery FA107 Junior Accordion

The First Act Discovery FA107 is marketed as a junior accordion, but like the other child-sized accordions on our shortlist, adults enjoy playing it, too. One of the reasons for this is the fact that, at least for beginners, the accordion is a fairly challenging instrument. Both children and adults can certainly learn to play, but both age groups will experience a challenging learning curve as they do! This model includes both a left-hand support strap and a right-hand thumb rest, making it a versatile choice for right and left-handed players. Because there are only 7 keys and 14 possible pitches, your song choices with the First Act will be limited. The upside of this, however, is the fact that it's almost impossible to make the First Act Junior Accordion sound bad. One semi-professional musician we spoke to bought the First Act for his studio so that when his non-musical friends come over, they can all jam together and still sound good.

D'Luca G104-BL Kids Piano Accordion

Like the Schylling and First Act accordions on our shortlist, the D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion is marketed for children. However, it's a great starter instrument for anyone who is interested in accordion but doesn't want to invest a bundle straight away - including adults. This model has eight bass chord buttons - more than any other kids' accordion on our shortlist - and 17 keys on its treble keyboard, including black keys. Because black keys are included, the player is able to play songs in keys beyond the key of C - a definite advantage over the Schylling and even the First Act, which offers chord buttons for the keys of C and G only. If you want to learn the basics of playing a piano accordion - like keyboard fingering, how much to squeeze/pull, and playing simple notes and chords - the D'Luca is an excellent choice.

Trinity College AP-20 Anglo Concertina

While the Schylling, First Act, and D'Luca accordions are marketed directly at children, the Trinity College AP-20 Anglo Concertina is an adult's instrument. In fact, the hand straps are so large that even a 17-year old owner had trouble fitting them onto his hands. (His parents added more holes to the straps so that they would fit.) This concertina renders a beautiful sound, but like most instruments with bellows, there's a break-in period in which the user must practice a lot in order to wear them in. A good analogy to this would be a stiff new pair of shoes that you have to wear for a while before they feel completely comfortable. The Trinity College AP-20 is perfect for adults, and if you've got a mature teenager who wants to learn the concertina, this instrument would also be an appropriate choice. If you've got smaller children who want to learn the instrument, however, you're likely to find more success with one of the three child-targeted accordions on our shortlist.

Hohner Panther G/C/F 3-Row Diatonic Accordion

The Hohner Panther 3-Row Diatonic Accordion is intended for adults and mature adolescents who can comfortably operate a nine-pound instrument for a lengthy period of time. It's keyed to play songs in G, C, F, and their relative minors. As such, it's a great accordion for beginners. (Hohner also makes an accordion tuned to F, B flat, and E flat. Some of the customers we spoke to own this version as well.) The action of the Hohner is softer than that of some less-expensive instruments on our shortlist. Of course, you should expect a bit of initial stiffness from any instrument with bellows, but those that cost a little more - like the Hohner Panther - are generally a bit easier to operate, even when they are brand new. We don't recommend this instrument for young children, and neither does the manufacturer. However, older kids and adults fare very well with it.

Although it is marketed as a child's instrument, the D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion is a great starter instrument for anyone who is interested in accordion but doesn't want to invest a bundle straight away - including adults.
Considerations

Musicality

Potential buyers should keep in mind that the Schylling Kids Accordion is technically a toy and very small. Considering its low price and the fact that it is a toy, however, many owners are highly satisfied with the sound it makes. Indeed, you can expect the Schylling to sound very similar to an authentic accordion - a great benefit to those who are intrigued by the instrument. An important note: because the Schylling Kids Accordion only has eight keys (the C scale), owners can only play songs in that key. If you wanted to play a song in the key of B flat, for example, you couldn't do it on the Schylling. However, if the intended user is a beginner, plenty of C-scale songs can be found on the Internet or in music stores, including kids' songs, folk songs, hymns, and carols.

As a diatonic, 14-note accordion with two bass keys, owners of the First Act Discovery Junior Accordion typically use their right hand to play melody and their left hand to push the chord bass buttons. The fact that you can accompany your melody with chords promises a satisfying elementary music experience, even if the chords are limited to C and G! If you're left-handed, you can simply flip the instrument upside down if you prefer. In spite of its limited diatonic range, the First Act is an expressive instrument that can reach nearly two octaves. Most owners find they are satisfied with the musical sounds this accordion makes. However, one owner told us that the left hand reeds are out of tune. Playing an accordion with mismatched keys certainly would be irritating. Thankfully, our research turned up only one isolated incident of this problem.

The D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion is not as large as a full-fledged accordion, but the manufacturer calls it a "real instrument" instead of a toy. Perhaps this is because the D'Luca offers more options for music-making than the Schylling and First Act accordions on our shortlist. Players use an actual keyboard to create melodies; there are 17 keys in all, both black and white. Eight bass chord buttons are available, allowing the player to perform in a number of different tonalities. One rare flaw we uncovered during our research is that the D'Luca's volume can be inconsistent from note to note. However, because only one person complained about this, we have to wonder if their fingering technique was to blame. Another owner said, "Make no mistake. This is a toy." That may be true, but this toy offers a nice sound and more musicality than most kids' accordions in the budget-price range.

Trinity College AP-20 Anglo Concertina

You may be wondering what the difference is between an accordion and a concertina. Both instruments belong to the same family. Both have bellows which the player must operate and buttons that the player must push. The main difference between a concertina and an accordion is that the concertina does not have chord buttons. Musicians create harmony on a concertina by pushing more than one button at a time - much like you would on a regular piano. Some people appreciate this freedom to create their own chords, rather than relying on the preset chords of an accordion. This particular concertina, the Trinity College AP-20, has a beautiful sound that is quite similar to that of a traditional accordion; we recommend that you listen to some online audio clips of both a concertina and an accordion before choosing between the two. After the Trinity College AP-20's bellows are worn in, the action is easy. However, as with any instrument, potential buyers should realize that the bellows need to be broken in with regular practice.

The Hohner Panther Accordion is a full-fledged, three-row accordion with a total of 31 treble buttons and 12 bass/chord buttons. Inside the instrument are two sets of treble reeds. The accordion can be played in the major keys of G, C, and F, as well as their relative minors: e minor, a minor, and d minor. The action is softer than some other accordions (meaning that the bellows, even when brand new, aren't as stiff as the bellows on some other instruments). Owners appreciate the “wet” and “juicy" tremolo this accordion renders. All of these positive points add up to an accordion that yields a beautiful, musically satisfying sound. Hohner is a well-respected manufacturer of musical instruments - harmonicas in particular. If you like the musicality of this instrument, you may be inspired to purchase the F/B flat/E flat version as well.

The Hohner Panther produces a "wet" and "juicy" tremolo sound that musicians love.
Missy
Expert Consultant
Missy
Music Teacher, Musician

Missy holds degrees in music education and psychology. She is a certified K-12 music teacher with 18 years of experience in Michigan public schools. She teaches private piano and voice lessons and has performed leading roles in numerous theater productions, including My Fair Lady and The Pirates of Penzance. In her spare time, Missy performs with an eclectic mid-Michigan band called The Honeybadgers.

Considerations

Durability

Schylling Kids Accordion

When you spend such a small amount of money on a musical instrument, it's natural to have concerns about its durability. Several customers told us that they worry that the Schylling's bellows - made of stiff, reinforced paper - would accidentally get punctured. However, our extensive research encountered no incidents of this. Other customers told us they had problems with the strap coming off the Schylling after a bit of use. The strap can be replaced rather easily if this happens to you; one owner bought a strip of leather and attached it to the instrument as a strap replacement. If you buy a Schylling Kids Accordion, you must handle it as carefully as you would a real instrument. One owner said he accidentally left his Schylling in a hot car for several hours, and the pieces inside came unglued due to the heat. Overall, however, if you don't mind fixing or replacing the strap, this is a fairly durable toy - and you cannot beat the price!

First Act Discovery FA107 Junior Accordion

The overwhelming majority of First Act Discovery FA107 owners will tell you it's a sturdy, durable toy that lasts quite a while. Of all the customers we surveyed, the longest anyone had owned the instrument was two years; at that time, this particular accordion was still going strong. Some people complain that the bellows creak and make "crunchy" noises. This could be a reflection of the less-than-premium materials used to make the low-cost First Act. For the price, however, it's a junior accordion that delivers just what a lot of people require: an inexpensive, exploratory instrument that can perform a moderate range of easy repertoire.

D'Luca G104-BL Kids Piano Accordion

The D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion is a budget-priced instrument. As such, buyers may encounter some durability issues. One man reported that a button fell off the first time he played the accordion. He was able to glue it back on with no problems. Other owners have found occasional paint marks on the instrument, leading us to believe that this accordion is manufactured in a place where painted items are also made. In terms of overall quality, our research did reveal some issues with sticky keys and uneven bass buttons. When you compare the low cost of the D'Luca to the astoundingly high cost of some accordions on the market today (price ranges up to $16,000!), these quibbles are minor, and most owners who mentioned product flaws told us that they were still glad to own the D'Luca. For the price, it's a great deal, especially considering the fact that this product includes eight bass chord buttons and a real piano keyboard with working black keys.

Trinity College AP-20 Anglo Concertina

Trinity College is a lesser-known maker of folk and Celtic instruments, but the quality of this manufacturer's instruments is above-average as evidenced by consistently high ratings from owners. If you buy the Trinity College Anglo Concertina and find the bellows to be too stiff, bear in mind that it's up to you to break them in. Some owners expressed frustration at the stiffness and returned the instrument before they had time to break in the bellows. This incident did not reflect poor quality or durability; rather, it reflected the fact that the buyer did not understand that an initial break-in period is required. One owner did complain of sticky buttons and a "thip thip" noise that emanated from some of the reeds. According to this person, "If it didn't have these problems, it would be a great buy for the money."

Hohner Panther G/C/F 3-Row Diatonic Accordion

While the Hohner Panther is certainly not cheap, it's on the lower end of the pricing spectrum when it comes to full-fledged accordions. For the money, you get a lot in terms of both durability and quality. In fact, we encountered very few complaints about the solidity and reliability of this instrument in our research. The Hohner Panther comes with both hand and shoulder straps. Some people find the hand straps to be too large, but this is a mild problem that can be fixed by simply drilling a few more holes into the strap material. The shoulder straps are a wonderful addition to the Hohner Panther package, but they can be tricky to install. (No installation instructions are included.) In addition, the shoulder straps might not be big enough for some XL-sized players. If this happens to you, you might have to purchase a larger pair at a local music store where you can actually try them on first. We only encountered one owner who experienced a mechanical problem with his Hohner Panther. This particular owner kept breaking his springs when he played. When he contacted the manufacturer, they told him that improper playing technique usually causes this to happen. However, because the accordion was still under its six-month manufacturer warranty, Hohner replaced it.

For the price, the D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion is an unbeatable deal, especially considering the fact that it includes eight bass chord buttons and a real piano keyboard with working black keys.
Considerations

Price

Schylling Kids Accordion

While one or two customers describe the Schylling Kids Accordion as a throwaway toy, the consensus is that it's an exceptional value for the money, provided you want this type of thing – an exploratory toy. Both adults and kids could use this $24 accordion, but adults who need an instrument for a professional gig would most certainly want to use something more substantial. This accordion's biggest limitation, next to its small size, is the scope of notes that it covers. You can only play songs in the key of C on this instrument. That's fine if you're looking to play simple folk tunes, hymns, and carols, but if you want an instrument that can handle more complex music, you ought to look elsewhere.

First Act Discovery FA107 Junior Accordion

If you're looking for an accordion that sounds good no matter who is playing it, the First Act FA107 - at a cost of just $43 - is an excellent choice. As a diatonic instrument, both of this instrument's chord buttons blend well with the melodic notes. A seasoned accordion player bought this junior accordion and kept it on hand for friends and visitors to play. She told us that she was very happy with her "little axe" because, for a low price, she could have a lot of fun playing music with her non-musical friends. If you don't mind a smaller instrument and the fact that the First Act Junior Accordion is somewhat limited in its scope of notes and chords, this could be the perfect buy for you.

D'Luca G104-BL Kids Piano Accordion

The D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion costs $49, placing it in close competition with the First Act Junior Accordion on our list. When you compare these two instruments, however, there's not much of a contest. The D'Luca features eight bass chord buttons; the First act offers only two. The D'Luca includes a real chromatic keyboard which allows musicians to play a variety of songs, not just those in the key of C. If you like the price of the D'Luca and you're debating between it and the First Act, we endorse this one first - although both have received fantastic ratings from customers.

Trinity College AP-20 Anglo Concertina

At a price of $179, the Trinity College Anglo Concertina costs more than any of the three kids' instruments on our shortlist, but we think it's still a great value. Why? The concertina is a beautiful instrument with a folk-like sound that is just the thing for people who want to play certain styles of music, including Celtic, Irish, and Cajun tunes. You could spend up to $600 on a concertina, but the Trinity College concertina gets a beautiful sound for far less money. While the bellows are stiff, you can expect any brand new instrument in the accordion family to have stiff bellows at first. The trick is to play the concertina enough to relax the bellows. Indeed, with every practice session, the Trinity College concertina will become easier to play. If you're debating between a traditional accordion and a concertina, we suggest you listen to the subtle audio differences online. It's not hard to access samples of each instrument, and hearing the two will help you decide which one you prefer.

Hohner Panther G/C/F 3-Row Diatonic Accordion

At a cost of $499, the Hohner Panther 3-Row Accordion is by far the most expensive instrument on our shortlist. It is also the instrument of the highest quality and authenticity. As a highly rated, top-selling instrument, the Hohner Panther gives owners the full accordion experience. Its G/C/F configuration makes it an ideal choice for beginners, but it's not just for beginners. If you're looking for an affordable accordion with a professional sound, this is the one to get. (And if your repertoire requires keys beyond G, C, F, and their relative minors, you might appreciate a second Hohner accordion that can play in F, B flat, and E flat.) Adults will enjoy this instrument, as will mature adolescents. It's not the best instrument for smaller children simply because it is too large.

If you're looking for an affordable, full-fledged accordion with a professional sound, the Hohner Panther is the one to get.

Best of the Best

A high-quality, full-fledged accordion is not a cheap instrument. The Hohner Panther costs $499, and it's actually one of the lower-priced accordions you'll find on the market. For a number of compelling reasons, it is also one of the industry's top sellers. That's why we have deemed the Hohner Panther 3-Row Diatonic Accordion to be the Best of the Best.

If you want an authentic accordion with the best possible sound and you don't mind paying the price, the Hohner is the one to get. It's ideal for beginners because it accommodates songs in the keys of G, C, and F, as well as their relative minors. Many popular accordion musical styles, including Mexican and Tex Mex, make use of these keys and their chord progressions. Beginners fare well with this accordion because it can play a large repertoire of basic songs. Seasoned accordion players also enjoy making music in the keys offered by the Hohner Panther.

Every instrument with bellows is stiff when it is brand new, but the Hohner Panther is actually a little less stiff than some cheaper models. This soft action makes it easier and more fun to play. Beginners in particular can benefit from an accordion with soft action, but as stated earlier, we do not recommend the Hohner Panther for young children. At nine pounds, it's simply too big for a child. If you're searching for an accordion for your elementary schooler, this is not the model for you. However, if you're searching for an accordion for a teenager or adult - and you don't mind paying several hundred dollars for it - the Hohner Panther is the best way to go.

You will receive hand straps and shoulder straps with this product. The only complaint we heard from owners about straps is the fact that the accordion does not come with instructions for strap installation. Because the Hohner Panther is such a popular instrument, however, it's easy to find help with strap installation from others online. If the intended user is an XL or XXL person, the straps might not be big enough. Don't let this be a deal-breaker if that's the case for you; larger straps can easily be purchased from an outside source. One owner told us he had trouble with his accordion's springs breaking, but it is unclear as to whether this was truly a product flaw or a matter of the owner playing incorrectly. In any case, the manufacturer replaced the accordion because it was still under its six-month warranty at the time of the breakage.

We can't say enough good things about this accordion. Its key and chord offerings, brilliant "wet" tremolo sound, and stellar reputation with owners cannot be denied. The Hohner Panther 3-Row Accordion is the best of the best, and if you have the means to buy one, we recommend that you do.
Best of the Best
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The Hohner Panther accommodates repertoire in the keys of G, C, and F, as well as their relative minors.

Best Bang for your Buck

We've chosen the D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion as our "Best Bang for Your Buck" product for several reasons. First of all, even though this instrument is marketed as a kids' accordion, it is suitable for adults who want to learn to play. The D'Luca offers 8 bass chord buttons and a chromatic keyboard with 17 notes, making it the budget-priced accordion on our shortlist with the widest note range. You are not limited to one or two diatonic keys when you play songs on the D'Luca. You can play songs that have sharps, flats, and key signatures that modulate in the middle of the piece.

This instrument is the only one on our shortlist that features a piano keyboard. (The other four feature buttons instead of piano keys.) Although piano accordions aren't inherently better than button accordions, anyone who has played piano can tie in their prior music knowledge when learning to play this instrument. The accordion is not easy for everyone to learn, as the right and left hands must work independently. Learning a new task is always easier if you can relate it to past experiences, and in the case of the D'Luca, piano players enjoy that advantage.

Some debate exists between owners as to whether this product is an instrument or a toy. It's not as large as the Hohner, but then again, the D'Luca's price is just a fraction of what the Hohner costs. We encountered very few dissatisfied customers during our research. One of the few flaws we heard customers complain about is the fact that the volume of the D'Luca can be inconsistent from note to note. We have to wonder, however, if this is really a product flaw or just a matter of the owner not depressing each key with the same amount pressure. We also heard a few comments about random paint marks on the instruments, and one owner told us that a button fell off the first time he played it. (He easily glued it back on.) Regardless of these flaws, the people that reported them still felt that the D'Luca was worth its $49 price.


The D'Luca Kids Piano Accordion will give you a good sound and a great learning experience. It more closely resembles the musicality and function of a full-fledged accordion than any other budget-priced accordion on our shortlist. If you're looking for a quality beginner's accordion on a tight budget, you simply cannot go wrong with this instrument.
Best Bang for your Buck
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The D'Luca offers the widest note range of all the budget-priced accordions on our shortlist.
The team that worked on this review
  • Amy
    Amy
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Senior Engineer