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Brand new accordionist want to be

ArtMustel

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The OP wrote:

"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."

Then she added later:

"The music I am hoping to play would be Polkas, French cafe-like songs, Tangos, Waltzes, and Christmas music."

In my opinion a piano accordion would be a better choice for her at this point. But then she also wrote that she wants to learn to play a button accordion, hence my suggestion wouldn't work for her.
 

Gonk

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Very true TomBR, like harmonicas, they're a deadly gateway freereed. But OP wants to head in the direction of French musette style, among others, and as Ventura said, that's a hard road on a bisonoric/diatonic instrument.

I'd say part of the irresistible charm of diatonics is the amount of 'say' they have. You can't bend them to your will completely - you have to learn what they like, and as you do, you find yourself in a long tradition of people who have come that way before and written many beautiful tunes that work well with the strengths of that instrument - going back to things like pipes and whistles. (I'm probably preaching to the choir, by the look of your hat.) So if you want to ride where that particular mule is going, it's a great mule! : )

[oops, crossposted with ArtMustel. Same idea]
 
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dunlustin

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The offerings below are not to start an argument - more of an appetiser..
( No Musette here but a lot was played before the CBA came along and continued on diatonics well after.)


"The Busby Polka" played by Peter Wyper a Scottish Accordion Solo probably released in 1915.


Birthday Gift For Flaco Jimenez ( Look Ma, no bass reeds)


(Edit: to remove sites not working)
 
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Gonk

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Dunlustin, these are great examples of diatonics playing in their idiom, each player choosing their tune and accompaniment with respect to their individual instrument's tonality.

If I wanted to play each of the examples you just posted, with left hand accompaniment, with a single instrument, it would have to be chromatic.
 

dunlustin

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Me too.
Reminder: the OP would like advice on making a choice.
Info: The Wypers played diatonic because that was all they had.
Jimmy Shand played diatonic (Yes, yes BCC#) because he didn't need to change
Emil Vacher played diatonic ('mixte') - see Jimmy Shand.
Many a French musician played for Bal Musette using a diatonic - preferably a big Hohner Club - because that was what they had learnt on/all they could afford.
There is no right answer here - just options/preferences.
By the way the Jimenez offering has no LH almost surely because the accordion has no LH reeds.

I still stand by the Panther as a good place to start - half the price of a Corona II and I see you can even get the tuning dried out.
 

Gonk

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Dunlustin, answering the OP is my goal, too -- I think my prior post (the long one) explains my reasoning best. My primary point is that diatonics aren't easier to play, just different - and perhaps harder in their own right. Statements like this one:
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?
suggest that they are picturing a hierarchy of accordion systems, both in their abilities and the difficulty they present to beginners. Something like: Play GCF at first because it is easier, outgrow it, move on to a chromatic button system. This is a perfectly natural misunderstanding since GCF accordions have fewer buttons and that is often an indication of a "beginner" system (like a 12 bass PA). So my goal is to clarify: no, diatonics are their own thing, and they're not easier.

Of course everything you say is quite true too, but doesn't respond to the same point I'm responding to. I don't think we're in conflict, I think we're just answering very different questions.
 
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Many great replies here, I just want to add a note about this question:

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.
Wow, I am really grateful for all the feedback and information provided. Thank you!
 

JeffJetton

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The music I am hoping to play would be Polkas, French cafe-like songs, Tangos, Waltzes, and Christmas music.

Another vote here for getting a "piano" accordion. Used ones are relatively plentiful here in the US, and they're versatile enough to play all the sorts of things you're hoping to play. Plus it will develop your keyboarding skills (at least in the right hand!), which will help you with other instruments (piano, organ, synths, etc.)

The diatonic buttons accordions are closely linked to certain idiomatic styles. It can be challenging trying to wrestle them into playing music outside of that. To use a metaphor, the various sorts of diatonic buttons accordions are like banjos and lutes and mandolins, whereas piano accordions (and CBAs) are like guitars. They're all stringed instruments that you pluck, but if you want to be able to play a lot of different styles of music (folk, jazz, classical, country, rock), the guitar is probably the best choice. It's not that you can't play classical on a banjo or jazz on a mandolin--it's just going to be a bit trickier.

You might want to send a forum message to @Keymn -- he's in your area, I believe, and might have some good advice on where to pick up a decent used accordion around there.
 
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I have decided to start out with a diatonic GCF 12 button bass, 3 row treble. Do you have any suggestions for lessons online, teach yourself books, etc. I don’t have any button accordion teachers near me so I’m starting on my own.
 

dunlustin

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In the US there was a diatonic site called ‘accordion reyes forum’ – I don’t know what else there is.
In the UK there is ‘Melodeon.net’. Mostly D/G boxes – this can be confusing – as is most tutor material. Play-along is almost impossible but the relative layout of the notes works on your ‘box.’
I suggest you begin learning as if the inside row does not exist = a G/C box and add to it later.
There is a huge amount of G/C music online among European players.
Otherwise start with the outer row and pretend it’s a mouthorgan in G.
Notes here:
gcf31corona.gif (1123×794) (melodeon.net)

Using the above and only if you are inquisitive:
Start middle row button © and look for a scale just pushing or
Start on outside row button 2 (A) and look for the Aminor scale just pulling.

You might also accompany yourself playing in C. As with the guitar you have a ‘3 chord trick’ pushing any notes C chord = I on row 2, IV chord F inside, V chord G outside. Don't ask what happens when you have closed the bellows.

You probably won’t do all these things on day one! Good luck.
 

Tom

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I think the main thing is to get your layout here. From there it's whether you want to go with reading music, or figuring it out on your own by following the layout and experimenting to find sounds you like. I recommend figuring out the tunes by yourself if you can. Start with something really simple.

Good luck, you areabout to start a fun, frustrating, wonderful journey! Congrats!!!!

 

dunlustin

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I've just looked on Youtube :Liberty Bellows lessons, intro to 3 row, Zydeco,- a huge choice under diatonic accordion .
Happy hunting.
 

craigd

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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 definitely knows of what he speaks, I read his posts with great pleasure and seriousness, but now I think I have the opportunity to enlighten him a bit. Here is Mairtin O'Connor on a two row diatonic playing Indifference. He plays as an equal to the French greats on the excellent Paris Musette series of recordings. What do you think of his playing here Ventura?

 
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