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Brand new accordionist want to be

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Hello all: I am a long time fan of the accordion, but I have never played one. I learned how to play guitar when I was young and I still play. Now as a 52 year old homeschooling mom, I would love to learn to play the accordion.

I have decided I want to learn to play button accordion. What would you recommend for my first accordion. I have been considering a 3 row diatonic button accordion, however, I am truly open to suggestions.

Thank you,

Denny
 

Tom

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Welcome Denny! It really depends on your goals, and maybe even more specifically what kind of music you want to play. The 3 row diatonic button accordion (also called melodeon, concertina, organetto, depending where you live) is a fine instrument, suitable for playing in a limited number of keys, and often preferred by traditional (folk) music players. The diatonic accordion will give you a different sound per button, depending whether you are opening or closing the bellows. The chromatic button accordion will give the same note in either direction, and allows playing in more keys, and with more ornamentaion. It also generally has more basses available and is often more expensive.

(It's unclear whether you have decided on the diatonic as opposed to the chromatic, please forgive me if you have already made this decision.)

As far as choice of instrument, the most important thing is to find one in really good shape that sounds good to you.

There are many brands and configurations available, and a good used one is often better than a not so good new one at the same price. It helps to shop with someone knowledgeable and trusted.

So, hope that helps, tell us what you fancy playing, and we can provide more info.....
 

Chrisrayner

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What’s your favourite musical style? If there are accordions playing in that style then try to learn the predominant type of of instrument played. Diatonics are great, lightweight, easy to play, and not too expensive. They are, however, limited, and if you want to try jazz or classical music you’ll struggle.
 

dunlustin

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To see how you get on, you could do worse than a Panther:


Get one tuned GCF, add cheapish straps and don't ever use that thumbstrap.
I played a Corona II for many years. You can start to play up and down a row and later play across the rows.
This gets you used to looking for options when playing - a great bonus if you're ever tempted to learn Continental Chromatic - but there's a lot of music to be had if you never go there.
 
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Welcome Denny! It really depends on your goals, and maybe even more specifically what kind of music you want to play. The 3 row diatonic button accordion (also called melodeon, concertina, organetto, depending where you live) is a fine instrument, suitable for playing in a limited number of keys, and often preferred by traditional (folk) music players. The diatonic accordion will give you a different sound per button, depending whether you are opening or closing the bellows. The chromatic button accordion will give the same note in either direction, and allows playing in more keys, and with more ornamentaion. It also generally has more basses available and is often more expensive.

(It's unclear whether you have decided on the diatonic as opposed to the chromatic, please forgive me if you have already made this decision.)

As far as choice of instrument, the most important thing is to find one in really good shape that sounds good to you.

There are many brands and configurations available, and a good used one is often better than a not so good new one at the same price. It helps to shop with someone knowledgeable and trusted.

So, hope that helps, tell us what you fancy playing, and we can provide more info.....
Thanks for your reply! The music I am hoping to play would be Polkas, French cafe-like songs, Tangos, Waltzes, and Christmas music. Since I am brand new, I know I have a long way before I would "outgrow" a 3 row GCF diatonic button accordion, but I don't want to be disappointed when I am first learning to play. Would it be overkill to start with a chromatic button accordion. I know that would cover every key, but would it lessen my chances of learning the instrument as a beginner?
 
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Where to buy an accordion? I live in Phoenix, Arizona USA. Is anyone on this forum aware of where to buy an accordion in Arizona? Or is there a reputable place to buy from online?
 
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If I am interested in playing Polkas, French cafe-like songs, Tangos, Waltzes, and Christmas music, and I decide to go with a diatonic button, which key should I get... GCF, FBbEb, etc?

sooooo many decisions....ugh.
 
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Recorded using a Hohner 2-row GC 8 bass diatonic:


Nearly 40 years on and still in love with the 'diato'


Serge Desaunay found he had to learn CBA as it was so hard to get work playing ' just a diatonic.'
Which CBA is Serge playing here? If I get a CBA I would love to have something smaller like this.
 

dunlustin

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Pretty sure it's a diatonic - pressing adjacent keys to get a major chord is only possible on a diatonic. Also LH layout.
The inner row which he uses from time to time could have a number of different layouts.
Smaller CBAs are reasonably available -


Good hunting!
 
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Pretty sure it's a diatonic - pressing adjacent keys to get a major chord is only possible on a diatonic. Also LH layout.
The inner row which he uses from time to time could have a number of different layouts.
Smaller CBAs are reasonably available -


Good hunting!
Ouch... I looked at the link you provided and $5000 is definitely out of my range.
:(
 

Chrisrayner

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If I am interested in playing Polkas, French cafe-like songs, Tangos, Waltzes, and Christmas music, and I decide to go with a diatonic button, which key should I get... GCF, FBbEb, etc?

sooooo many decisions....ugh.

There is nothing which you can play on a diatonic accordion which is unplayable on a chromatic one. On the other hand there are many French songs which modulate between keys; often between, for example, A-major and A-minor, which would be beyond a diatonic box. if you wish to carry on the diatonic route then I suggest you try a two row GC as a starter. The Milleret and Pignol books might well suit you.
 

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Hi again, Denny,

To play the full range you mention, French, tango, polka, Christmas, a chromatic would definitely give you the most options.

But, as has been noted, there is more than enough music to be played on a diatonic. It really comes down to personal choice, and it's impossible for us sitting here to know which is best for YOU....

I agree that the Hohner Panther in GCD is a good way to get into it, at a relatively painless $499 from Liberty Bellows, online. You will get a new instrument that is going to work, that you can abandon, or move up to a chromatic or better diatonic if you really get into it.

I don't know of any stores in your area, but if you can find one, you could try out various options.....
 

ArtMustel

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Hello all: I am a long time fan of the accordion, but I have never played one. I learned how to play guitar when I was young and I still play. Now as a 52 year old homeschooling mom, I would love to learn to play the accordion.

I have decided I want to learn to play button accordion. What would you recommend for my first accordion. I have been considering a 3 row diatonic button accordion, however, I am truly open to suggestions.

Thank you,

Denny
Welcome to the forum and to the accordion world!
Denny, because the kind of music you wish to play I would not recommend a diatonic accordion at tis point, not even a cba or chromatic. Chromatics are great indeed but for many reasons I would advise you to purchase a piano accordion, minimum a 72 basses one. Where to get it from is another thing, try to avoid ebay at this point; look for instruments that you can actually try before purchasing them, probably Craiglist, facebook marketplace or local classifieds, and (if possible) take someone more knowledgeable with you to judge its condition. Good luck!
 

Ventura

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hi

first of all, in your area you must be very careful when buying a used accordion
of any type... they look like NEW in the desert, but they are often dried up terribly inside
and that means cracked wax, curled and dried valves and gaskets

second, buying from across the country is not a good idea as shipping stuff
across the Mississippi is guaranteed to be bounced hard before it gets to you

now, you DO have lots of options in the region... because of the popularity of Norteno
there are lots of places you can find new Gabbanelli, Hohner, Ayala, and then many many
knock off Chinese look alikes between you and the border.

look in the pawn Shops too, as many actually have New instruments as well as used

However, since you seem to have EUro and Pop general musical desires, a more
all purpose approach would be to make contact with Accordion clubs and
after Covid attend some meetings and events and make friends and find out where
the good local dealers and repair shops are...
and if you can make it to El PAso, visit the Music Box... they always had a few
accordions in stock or can certainly give you tips on where to find them
and a visit to Juarez will also reveal accordions !

there are several dealers in Central and Eastern Texas as well, and there
is (was before Covid) a big yearly Accordion event over that way...
watch the monthly news from
as they advertize all that stuff

there is another big convention up in Las Vegas once a year

now if you happen to visit California once in awhile, San Francisco
still has quite a few options for stores, clubs, and things going on
related to accordion, and they all come out for Burning Man too

try not to lock yourself into a physical type of accordion
too soon... even just rent them until you get a real clue
about what is going to suit the music you hope to play someday

i mean, i cannot even imagine playing Under Paris Skies
or Sur les Ponts de Paris or any of the complex wonderful
Meusette Classics on a Diatonic ! maybe Sur les Ponts des Avignon,
but that is simple and switches back and forth

good luck !
 

Ventura

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and Tom, that is amazing to hear a panther still sells for only $500

when they first appeared in the Market, wholesale price was $299
from Jobbers like Musicorp and Coast Wholesale (Qty 1) and i imagine
closer to $269 to direct Hohner Dealers who were meeting their Quotas

that was a couple decades ago
 

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Many great replies here, I just want to add a note about this question:
"Would it be overkill to start with a chromatic button accordion. I know that would cover every key, but would it lessen my chances of learning the instrument as a beginner?"
I'm reading between the lines a bit, but it sounds like there's another question here: "is a diatonic easier?"

A resounding no to that. I'd argue that diatonic instruments are more difficult. If you want a certain note, you not only have to know where it's located, but whether to push or pull the bellows. When you're playing a two or three-row diatonic, arranging or interpreting tunes has a puzzle-like quality - which is great fun, but not NOT easy. There are often multiple ways to play a single note on the right hand: one on the push, and one on the pull.. and those options dictate which chords you can produce with your left hand. And then, there are some notes that can only be played in one location/direction, so they sometimes render it impossible to play the bass/chord you want. So learning melodies often means learning the chords first, then applying the melody, remembering to change rows and directions where necessary, and learning to fake the passages where you can't quite match chord and note. Definitely not the easy path.

A 4- or 5-row chromatic button accordion also presents multiple options for each note. Many piano accordionists make the switch to these systems for the compactness and elegance of the layout. They make transposing tunes a breeze and they require much less hand gymnastics to leap between octaves. The layout is relational: a certain interval is the same reach from any given note. For example, two buttons in a row will always produce a minor third. The tradeoff for all this elegance, logic, and compactness is that the layout is more complex; it doesn't just run in order from low to high. It can be an intimidating beehive of notes when starting out.

With your musical tastes in mind, I think a piano accordion is really the easiest, not necessarily in the long run, but certainly for a beginner. It has a built-in diatonic scale (the white keys) and most teaching methods progress to other keys through the gradual addition of accidentals. The notes progress in order up the keyboard, and while the arrangement of accidentals is a little irregular, you can start to very quickly get a feel for the amount of space in an interval. This frees your mind up a bit to learn the other rudiments, like playing posture, left hand accompaniment, and bellows control. They're also easy to find on local listings. I started on these and moved to chromatics, then diatonics for certain genres. I have no regrets, except perhaps having spent a little longer on the piano accordion than was necessary. I still use the piano accordion for some things - each system has its strengths.

If you should become hooked on accordion playing, I think you may end up with more than one type of instrument. : )

I'm not sure if this touches on the reasoning behind ArtMustel's recommendation for the piano accordion. I absolutely agree with what they said, though. Keep an eye on local listings, try first, make sure it feels and sounds good, don't feel pressure to jump at the first one in your budget. And I'm relatively new here, but this seems like a great forum ask for feedback on specific instruments before making a purchase.
 

TomBR

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I'd (respectfully) disagree with Gonk. Diatonics can be easier to learn than chromatics (piano or button keyboard) IF you approach the instrument in the appropriate way. With a diatonic, start on one row, and start picking out tunes you already know by ear, then add just two bass buttons. Let your playing grow within the limitations/characteristics of the instrument, but mainly by ear.

If you want to start by playing from written music then diatonic will be harder - go for piano or chromatic button.


I would guess more adults have successfully taken up playing music to the point where they regularly enjoy playing with other people and playing in public by starting on a diatonic "squeezebox" than any other instrument family. (OK, I'm talking instrumental music, not a few guitar chords to accompany singing.)
 

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