Encountering the Button Accordion – Colin Blair

Most people I meet in the shop are not looking for accordions. Believe it or not, the guitar just seems to be more alluring these days. Most accordions are now resting in the cool and dark of your basement (or buried in the woods somewhere) forgotten, or just plain not spoken of. Well friends, it’s time to haul them out and tune ’em up!!!! I’ll bet you never thought there would be such a resurgence in the interest of accordions… well….. there hasn’t. But I am here to tell you that the squeezebox is still cool.

I never thought I would become an accordion player, it just never seemed like my “thing”. Until one fateful day, when I picked that thing up and began to honk out some horrendous noise, something happened. A little piece of a tune popped out of that box and I was amazed. I tried for days to replicate the melody only to squawk and squeak myself deeper into the mystery of the accordion. So after a few weeks of convincing my wife that I really did like the thing, I bought one. I choose the button accordion because it tends to lend itself nicely to the fiddle tunes I play already. I hope that by trying to demystify the accordion just a little that you to may find a new respect for this instrument.

The button accordion is different from the piano accordion in a couple of ways. First, each button has two different notes assigned to it. The piano accordion has only one tone per key. The button box produces a different note for the push and pull of the bellows on the same button. So it works like a harmonica basically. The button accordion also has less bass keys, so finding simple accompaniment isn’t as confusing.

It is pretty important to spend some good time just working on simple scales, so that you get used to the constant direction shifting of the bellows. The biggest difference is of course the weight. A full size piano accordion is pretty big and heavy. A button accordion could be a pleasant change for someone who already plays the piano type.

The accordion can add a lot of color to Irish music or jazz, gypsy or old-time fiddle tunes. So if you have an interest in playing the accordion, or are just looking for something different, come in and try one out. We have a great selection of new and used piano accordions as well as the button type and concertinas. I really was surprised by the accordion, and I think that anyone who gives it some time will feel the same. They really do turn out to be a lot more than a bad joke.

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