When traveling on holiday to countries in southern Europe such as Italy, you often experience musicians playing on the accordion. There is nothing more beautiful than sitting and enjoying your meal with live, background music played on the accordion. Over time, the accordion has become an incredibly popular instrument, probably due to its great versatility. Its versatility, as well as its unique sound, lends itself to virtually all genres.Accordions on Amazon
Accordions typically occur in traditional, folk, jazz and classical music. The instrument has been very popular in many countries since its origin. In Denmark, the accordion is not so well-known; a shame, as it is a very useful instrument that offers many opportunities for musical expression.
Top 5 Best Accordions
To make the choice of accordion easier, I have found some of the best instruments on the market. Common to them all is top notch quality and a low, affordable price. Best of luck with your purchase!
Overall Winner: Best Accordion Right Now
Best Accordion for Beginners
Best Accordion for Intermediate & Advanced Players
Best Accordion for Kids
Best Folk Accordion
Best Chromatic Accordion
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The history of the accordion
The accordion that we are familiar with today is a relatively new instrument. It was invented in 1829 in Austria. However, the mechanics of an accordion are much, much older, with the ideas behind the instrument being invented long ago. These date back as far as the year 3000 BC.
The first accordions were used in German-speaking areas, but quickly gained popularity in larger parts of Europe. At that time, the accordion was a very common instrument. However, there was still a problem with the accordion; an accordion at that time had only one keyboard, and so only melodies could be played. This prompted the Englishman Charles Wheatstone to further develop the instrument. He developed it to include manuals (buttons) on the left side. These manuals could be pressed to produce chord.
So the “new” instrument added something completely different – groundbreaking, even. It was now also possible for the player to do two things at once, accompanying their melodies with harmony.
Furthermore, the accordion had good, internal acoustics and it could clearly be heard. This meant that the accordion now suddenly became incredibly versatile and it didn’t go long before musicians began to take up these new instrument. The accordion has now established itself in Europe, with a large number of musicians choosing to play it. It has undoubtedly become one of our most popular instruments across national borders.back to menu ↑
What is an accordion?
An accordion consists of many parts but is typically divided into 3: the treble side, the bellows and the bass side. This division is actually quite logical. Manuals are attached to both the treble side and the bass side. These valves open in much the same way.
The treble side: The treble side is the piece of the accordion where the musician’s right hand is typically located. It is typically used to play melody. The musician presses a button or a key (which often look exactly like piano keys), thereby sounding a note. This is done by means of a valve rod. This valve rod is located under the button or key. The valve stem head then closes for these valves. It is constructed as a wooden block with leather on the side, which closes close to the valves, and thereby closes the airflow.
The bellows: The bellows are the piece of the accordion that moves back and forth as the musician moves the instrument. It is here that air is pumped, creating the sound that comes out of the accordion. The bellows are made of reinforced and folded cardboard. The outside of the bellows is reinforced and coated with leather with metal arches in each corner. This is to stabilize the bellows even better. The length of the bellows differs from accordion to accordion. Some may be as long as a meter long (these are called chromatic accordions). The fixing of the bellows is achieved by sockets on each side. These are, logically enough, called the treble socket and the bass socket. When the instrument is not in use, clamp the bellows with a bellows lock located at the top of the bellows. This means that the bellows do not swing back and forth and possibly get damaged when the musician does not play the instrument. In addition, there is also an air button which allows the musician to move the bellows without consuming air. This button can be found on the bass side and is typically the top bass button. However, it may also be the case that it is located at the end of the bass side.
The bass side: The bass side is the piece of the accordion where the musician’s left hand is typically located and this side is almost always used to play the accompaniment. The bass side is usually different depending on the type of accordion being played. With a standard accordion, the system does not function as it does on the treble side. That is because the valves are required to not close completely, as this would result in only one single note being produced. For example, on the treble side, if you press two tones down and it produces only two tones. On a standard accordion, it is different on the bass side, since you want to play chords by pressing a button down. The valve rods are not directly connected to the valves, thereby causing more tones when one button is pressed. The bass tone and the third note (the third tone on a scale), however, function as on the treble side. The reason for this is because they determine which root tone the chord has (is it A, C, F or G, for example), And whether it is major or minor chord. The musician is thus forced to “tell” the accordion, to be sure that the type of the chord is the same as the rest of the band. On the other hand, the bass side functions completely as it does on the treble side. Often, however, on an accordion, you can switch between standard bass (chords) or melody bass (like the treble side) by pressing a mechanism between the buttons and the valves.
Tone Chambers: The aforementioned valves ensure that air can flow to the accordion tone chambers. The tongs are made of wood; you often see that they are made of poplar, as it is light and robust. Depending on whether you pull the bellows in or out, different valves are set. Therefore, there are always 2 tone voices per choir (for choirs, look further down).
Reeds: The metal tongues are where the pure, actual notes on an accordion are formed. There are two metal tongues in each tone per chorus. These metal tongues are located on the valves, which are the link between the bellows and the air outside. As the air flows in, they begin to swing, thereby forming a tone. The tone varies depending on how many times they fluctuate per second (Hz). For example, if it turns 440 times a second you have the chamber tone. The chamber tone is the tone A, which musicians use to tune to. For this reason, it is not possible to tune an accordion yourself. These metal tongues must be filed down and/or tightened in order to adjust the tuning. This an art in itself that requires professional assistance – I would not recommend trying to adjust this yourself.
Choir: A choir is what could also be called a voice set on the accordion. An accordion can have between 2 and 5 choirs. The treble side can have a maximum of 5 chorus, and the bass side can have a maximum of 4 choruses. The most normal treble choirs are 4, 8 or 16 feet. 8 feet is the normal option, which corresponds to other instruments. 4 feet is an octave above normal (8 feet), and 16 feet is an octave below normal. In addition, there are a total of 3 types of 8 foot choruses. These have different sound colors and sound very different from accordion to accordion. You may have noticed that these lengths seem very long – much longer than any part of the instrument! This is because they are quite a traditional terms and relate to the length of the pipes, and relating pitches, of the church organ.
Register: Registers are different ways you can change between the choirs. An example could be a register like heaths 8, 16. This will mean that you will play choruses 8 and 16 at the same time and thereby create a different sound. Their location is right inside the buttons or the keys (depending on the type of accordion) on the right. Sometimes your accordian may also have what is called a master register.back to menu ↑
Different types of accordions
You can roughly distinguish between two types of accordion. Let’s take a closer look at them:
The diatonic accordion: The the most widely used accordion in the world. The different buttons have different tones depending on whether you pull the bellows in or out. These can usually play a very limited number of keys.
The chromatic accordion: is the most widely used accordion in Denmark and in Eastern Europe. Here, each button has a tone, whether you pull the bellows in or out. This allows you to create all 12 tones on the chromatic scale and you are not bound to a particular diatonic (7-tone) scale. As a result, here you also do not have the problem of the tone changing, when you switch between pulling the bellows in and out.
Accordion with converter: This accordion is the international designation for a chromatic accordion, which also has a melody bass. It has both standard bass and melody bass. This means that the musician himself has to press several buttons to make a chord unless he changes the system (converter) to the standard bass. This system makes it possible for a musian to also play bass notes like you can on the piano.back to menu ↑
Accordion buying guide
Accordions come in many variants, qualities and at different prices. However, you must be extremely careful when looking to buy one. When buying a cheap accordion there is always the risk of paying for an instrument that is not in the best working order or build quality. Here, the build and the durability are particular considerations to make. Accordions are extremely fragile and if they’ve not been taken care of, you can quickly get into a situation where repair of the damage to the instrument will be just as expensive as the price of buying the accordion.
Part of the bellows, as I said earlier, is made of cardboard and, if it is not closed securely after use, then it can easily be damaged. The mechanics of an accordion can also easily be damaged by moisture. This does not mean, however, that it is a bad idea to buy used. Most often, you can save a lot of money by looking at used instruments, compared to buying new ones. Here, accordions are no exception.
The first thing you need to do is think over and decide what type of accordion you want to play on. Is it for your child? If you already have a teacher arranged for them, be sure to choose the type of accordion he/she is teaching. It’s probably best to then go out to a shop and try them out. Whether you can play accordions or not, it is important, that you go out and try them for several reasons. First of all, you must check if everything is as it should be. Has the owner looked after the instrument well, and do they still have the manual/documentation for the instrument? It’s good advice to ask the seller why they are parting with the instrument, if they are a private seller. Next, it is important that you are satisfied with the instrument. It is you who will spend many hours in the company of this accordion. Therefore, consider not only the price. Think about it all. Are you satisfied with the sound? Does it sound good in all reeds and choirs? What about the decoration? Do you also like how it looks?
When you buy your first instrument it is important to first decide on the size of your budget. You are fortunate, here, with accordions because, despite the fact that there are a number of old, broken instruments about, there are also many, excellent second hand instruments being sold for very little money. Of course, there are also plenty of avenues for purchasing a new instrument, if you prefer. As always, it is highly recommended to take a friend or a professional who can play the instrument. They will always be able to tell if there is something about the instrument that you need to pay particular attention to. For example, this could be a defect that you haven’t discovered yourself, or even something that makes the instrument you’ve found unique.
It is not always necessary to test your accordion out before you buy it as there are many reviews available online, such as our recommendations above.
Go out and purchase your first accordion! What do you have to lose?