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Designed with 12 bass buttons and double strap brackets. Delivers clear sound. Lightweight and easy to handle. Includes straps, cleaning cloth, and Hohner Diatonic Method Book.
Only plays keys G/C/F.
Has 10 keys, including 1 chord key, 1 bass key, and 1 air valve. Designed with smooth edges and non-toxic materials. Produces high-quality sound. Available in different colors.
Some noted product is smaller than desired.
Has 10 keys including bass key, chord key, and air valve. Made with non-toxic materials. Environmentally-friendly. Easy to use and easy to carry. Comes with a learning guide.
Securing straps may be hard to clip in.
Has 31 treble keys, 12 bass/chord keys, and 2 sets of treble reeds. Compact and lightweight. Comes with a hard case and Austin Bazaar polishing cloth.
The product is more pricey than others.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Accordions are versatile instruments that have a place in a range of musical genres, from folk to jazz to rock. They might be fairly uncommon instruments to learn, but they're interesting and fulfilling to play, especially if you're a fan of bands that tend to feature accordions.
If you're a first-time accordion buyer, you might be wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. As with any musical instrument, you'll come across a range of terminology that's likely to leave you baffled.
Piano accordions are a newer invention than button accordions but have overtaken the traditional kind in popularity. Instead of having buttons, they're played using piano-style keyboards.
Pros: Easy to learn if you're already proficient at piano or keyboard, tend to be more affordable than button accordions; since they're so popular you may have a wider selection to choose from.
Cons: Tend to be quite bulky, and they have fewer treble notes than button accordions.
Price: Around $150 to $1,000 — although smaller-scale kids' models can be found for around $50.
Concertinas are smaller, hexagonal accordions. Anglo concertinas are diatonic, and English concertinas are chromatic.
Pros: Small and lightweight compared to other types of accordion, with both diatonic and chromatic options available.
Cons: Fewer notes than other accordion varieties. You typically can't play chords with a single button.
Price: $150 to $500.
Diatonic accordions are a variety of button accordion which use a diatonic scale. Each button produces a different pitch, depending on whether the bellows are being pushed in or pulled out.
Pros: Generally easier to learn compared to chromatic models, since there are fewer notes. They’re also more compact than most other types of accordions.
Cons: Less versatile than chromatic accordions, the diatonic scale mostly contains natural notes and leaves out flats and sharps.
Price: $300 to $3,000.
Chromatic accordions are button accordions, like diatonic models, but they use a chromatic scale. All the keys are a semitone apart, so all notes are covered, including flats and sharps.
Pros: Wider range of notes compared to other accordions, yet still relatively compact (though this depends on the number of buttons). It’s easier to play complex pieces since the buttons are close together.
Cons: May take longer to learn than a piano accordion due to unfamiliar keyboard, and they’re fairly expensive.
Price: $500 for a basic model, up to $10,000 for an extremely high-end instrument.
Typically, the left hand of an accordion plays bass notes and the right hand plays treble. On the bass side, many accordions use the stradella system, which allows you to play full chords by pressing a single button.
Free bass accordions, however, have single bass notes, so you can create chords yourself by pressing a number of notes at the same time. The benefit of the free bass system is that you can play any inversion of any chord, rather than just standard chords. The downside is that it's harder to play.
The more keys or buttons you have on an accordion, the wider amount of notes you can play, and the more versatile your accordion is.
An accordion can have anywhere between 22 and 45 treble keys, and 8 and 185 bass keys. The most common amount of keys for a "full" accordion is 41 treble keys and 120 bass keys, but most players will do just fine with fewer than that.
For learning, you should look for a 26/48 model — that is, an accordion with 26 treble keys and 48 bass keys.
Some accordions are fairly ornate, whereas others have a more plain design. Everyone has different things that they're looking for in an accordion, so the design might be quite important to some buyers and not much of a concern to others.
Basic accordions usually aren't heavily adorned, but they may have some metal detailing or a design on the bellows, plus you can find them in a range of colors.
High-end accordions are often handcrafted and have intricate inlays and metalwork.
A tone chamber is built-in to some accordions to mellow the sound of the reeds, giving a smoother, richer tone.
Accordions that feature tone chambers tend to cost more than those without, so most first-time buyers would go for a standard, non-chambered accordion.
Consider the size and weight of your chosen accordion. You might want a model with the full 120 bass notes, but if it's going to be too big and heavy for you to handle, you'd be better off with a smaller model.
Most players find that sitting down is the most comfortable playing position, but you can also play standing up if you have a good strap.
If you're a new player, look for a good instructional DVD, or take lessons in person. It's much easier to learn correct finger placement when you can see it, rather than reading it in a book.
The term "voices" refers to the number of sets of reeds in an accordion. Most have at least two voices but can have up to five.
Some accordions have built-in microphones, which are useful if you intend to perform. That said, you can amplify an accordion using an external mic, so it's not essential.
Wet tuning is sometimes known as "musette" tuning.
Q. What's the difference between wet and dry tuning on an accordion?
A. Wet tuning is when you have two reeds that are tuned slightly off pitch from one another, to create a minor "wobble" or vibrato sound. This type of tuning is popular in folk and certain world music. Dry tuning is when you have two reeds that are tuned the same, giving you a cleaner sound. Jazz and classical music generally sound better played with dry tuning.
Q. Can kids play a full-size accordion?
A. Most children won't have the strength or reach to play a full-size accordion. But the good news is, you can find a wide range of smaller accordions designed with younger players in mind. If you're on a budget, you might even consider a kid’s model for an adult player, just to get a taste for the instrument before saving for a better one.
Q. How should I store my accordion when not in use?
A. An accordion is a fairly costly item, especially if you opt for a high-end model, so you should learn how to properly store yours to avoid damage. Store your accordion upright on the bass side to avoid warping of the reeds. Always keep it in a dry place and at a medium temperature — too warm (for instance next to a radiator or in direct sunlight) and it could warp or the wax on the reeds could melt, too cold and it could crack.