Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Welcome to our big accordion test 2022. Here we present all the accordions we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best accordion for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an accordion.




Summary

  • The accordion is a technically very complex hand-pulled instrument with reeds for producing sound. It exists in different variations whose playing styles are not easily transferable to each other.
  • When buying an accordion, it is very important to make clear which style of music is to be played on the instrument and which instrument is needed for it.
  • The number of keys and/or buttons is an essential feature of the accordion. High quality workmanship is also important.

The Best Accordion in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an accordion

Who is an accordion suitable for?

An accordion is actually suitable for everyone. It is a versatile and demanding instrument. Its special attraction is that you can play the melody, basses and chords at the same time.

The picture shows a Steirische Harmonika. On the right side of the picture you can see the funnels for the helicon basses, which give this type of accordion its characteristic appearance and sound. (Image source: pixabay.com / Rumberger_sound_products)

Children can learn to play the accordion from the age of about 6. They should either choose a small, light instrument with few keys or a children’s accordion specially made for children. A well-equipped piano accordion weighs around 11-13.5 kg. For this reason, even as an adult, you should choose a lighter instrument if you are very petite or have physical limitations such as back problems.

Where is the accordion used?

When people think of the accordion, they usually think of traditional Bavarian or Austrian folk music. However, it is an extremely versatile instrument that is used in many common musical genres:

  • Pop
  • Rock
  • Jazz

The accordion also plays an important role in many regional music styles, be it folk music, dance music or country-specific pop music and hip-hop:

  • Cajun
  • Tango
  • Irish Folk
  • Música Popular Brasileira
  • Vallenato (Colombia)
  • Musette (French dance music around 1900)
  • Chansons
  • Eastern European folk music

Accordingly, there is a whole range of accordion variants or similar instruments that are only used in certain musical styles, e.g. the bayan, a chromatic button accordion from Russian folk music.

What does an accordion cost?

Due to its complex mechanics, the accordion is a relatively expensive instrument. Accordions for children, be they custom-made or small, light instruments with 42 basses, start at 400 €. However, you can easily spend up to 1,500 € for a beginner’s instrument. Even cheaper accordions are usually intended for small children who cannot yet play seriously.
Accordion Price range
Children 400 € – 1.500 €
Keyboard accordions 1.300 € – 13.000 €
Chromatic button accordions 1.800 € – 11.000 €
Styrian harmonicas 1.600 € – 9.000 €

You can get full-fledged keyboard accordions with 72 or more basses new from about 1.300 €, but you can also spend up to 13.000 € for them. Chromatic button accordions cost between € 1,800 and € 11,000, and Styrian harmonicas (diatonic button accordions) between € 1,600 and € 9,000. As a beginner, you are well equipped with an instrument in the lower price range.

What are diatonic and chromatic accordions?

Chromatic accordions play a scale in 12 semitones and are therefore not limited to certain keys. Keyboard accordions (also: piano accordions), which have a piano keyboard on the side played with the right hand, are always chromatic. Button accordions come in both varieties.

Diatonic accordions are based on seven-step scales of half and full steps. Common diatonic accordions have 4 rows of keys and can therefore play 4 keys. Common keys are G-C-F-B and F-B-Es-As.

A typical representative of the diatonic accordion is the Styrian harmonica, which occupies an important place in folk music. Diatonic accordions are also widespread in the popular music of Latin America.

What alternatives are there to the accordion?

Possible alternatives to the accordion are the concertina, the harmonica, the keyboard and the harmonium. The concertina is a small hand-pulled instrument. Like the accordion, a bellows is pressed together to make the reeds vibrate. However, you can only produce chords by pressing several buttons simultaneously, not with one button as on the accordion. The concertina is usually alternating (a different tone is heard when it is pulled apart and pressed together) and diatonic. It is easier to handle than an accordion, but has only limited applications. The harmonica also uses reeds to produce sound, but it is blown with the mouth. It is small, light, easy to transport and inexpensive.

There are diatonic and chromatic harmonicas in a wide variety of tone colours and ranges. Harmonicas can be found in jazz, folk or blues. Even small children can gain their first musical experience with suitable models. A keyboard is actually played like a piano. However, there are numerous possibilities to change the timbre, to integrate chords and background rhythms into the game and much more, so that you can also play complex pieces with this instrument. Of course, the keyboard impresses with its universal applicability in almost all modern music genres.

Instrument Advantages Disadvantages Special features
Concertina Handy Not very common Accordion instrument
Harmonica Handy, inexpensive, versatile Often not considered a full-fledged instrument Wind instrument
Keyboard Can be used anywhere, many effects possible More complicated to transport Electronic sound generation
Harmonium Plays like piano Not very common Similar to organ

At first glance, the harmonium looks like a piano and is played like one. However, the sound is again produced by means of tongues. The air flow for the bellows is produced by treading on two pedals, the so-called treadles. A harmonium has stops which can be pulled out to produce different types of sound, but also octave couplings (the simultaneous automatic playing of notes in a different octave). In this function, it is similar to an organ.

Decision: What types of accordions are there and which is the right one for you?

What distinguishes a piano accordion and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

You can recognise a piano accordion or keyboard accordion by the piano keyboard on the side played with the right hand, the so-called treble, the melody side. The basses are played with the left hand, using buttons. The keyboard accordion is the most widespread instrument in this country. Because of its keyboard, which is modelled on the piano, it is considered easier to learn, although more difficult to finger than a button accordion.

Advantages
  • Easier to learn
  • Also suitable for children and beginners
  • Beginner models available
  • Makes learning notes easier
Disadvantages
  • More difficult to finger
  • Larger and heavier
  • Smaller range
  • Not typical for certain musical styles

The structure of the piano keyboard is at the heart of the European understanding of music. Even if you have little previous musical knowledge, you are probably familiar with it. Our staff is also based on it. That’s why the piano accordion is recommended for children with no previous musical experience, to make learning music easier. Because of its widespread use and its suitability for beginners and children, you are more likely to find children’s instruments and inexpensive beginner’s accordions for the keyboard accordion.

What are the characteristics of a chromatic button accordion and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Button accordions existed before the keyboard accordions. They also have buttons on the treble side. Chromatic button accordions have different fingering systems named after a note from the outermost row. The most common are the Bb and the C and G systems, whereby the B system is reserved for playing more technically demanding pieces, while the C system is generally used for simpler, melodic pieces. In the C and G systems, the semitone sequence runs from the outermost row to the inside, in the B system from the inside to the outside.

Advantages
  • Faster, more fluid playing possible
  • Larger range
  • More compact design
Disadvantages
  • Harder to learn
  • More difficult to access music knowledge
  • Less common

Button accordions allow very fast, fluid playing because the buttons are closer together than the keys and the notes are multiple. This avoids long distances. This is why the button accordion is more associated with professional playing.

Some styles of music, such as French musette music with its fast and soft sequences of notes, are mainly played on button accordions.

The range is larger than that of the keyboard accordion with less weight and smaller dimensions. However, the fingering is completely different from that of familiar instruments. Access to the staff and music theory is also more difficult, as the fingering does not reflect this.

What distinguishes a Styrian harmonica and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A Styrian harmonica or ziach is a diatonic button accordion from alpine folk music. You will find it mainly in folk music in Austria, South Tyrol, Bavaria, Czech Republic, Slovenia and other countries. Although it has alternating tones, like most diatonic accordions, it also has equal-tone buttons. This also makes it possible to play semitones.

Equal-tone harmonicas produce the same tone when the same key is pulled apart and pressed together, but alternating-tone instruments produce two different tones.

Typical for the Styrian harmonica are helicon basses, which are an octave lower than the common accordion basses and give the instrument its special sound. The fingering system in the treble usually consists of 3 or 4 rows. Each row is a scale. The most common systems are G-C-F-B (the standard system, so to speak) and B-Es-As-Des (brighter sound and more suitable for playing with wind instruments). Theoretically, all possible tunings are conceivable. There is a special fingering for the Styrian harmonica.

Advantages
  • Compact design
  • Easy to learn
  • Popular instrument in folk music
Disadvantages
  • No regular musical notation
  • Not much use outside folk music

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate accordions

In the following we will show you which criteria you can use to make a choice between the many possible accordions. You can use the following criteria to compare accordions with each other:

Size and weight

The more keys and buttons an accordion has, the larger the range, but the larger and heavier the instrument. The following table shows the weight of typical piano accordions in relation to the number of treble keys:

number of treble keys number of basses weight
26 40 or 48 5 kg – 6 kg
34 72 6.5 kg – 9 kg
37 96 8.5 kg – 11.5 kg
41 120 11 kg – 13.5 kg

Below are some typical values for the Styrian harmonica:

number of treble buttons number of basses weight
31 11 4 kg
33 12 5 kg – 6 kg
46 15 or 16 6.5 kg – 7.5 kg
48 16 7 kg – 8.5 kg

A typical constellation for chromatic button accordions would be, for example, 46 sounding treble buttons (79 in total), 120 bass buttons and a weight of about 12 kg. Especially for children, small and petite persons or in case of physical limitations, but also if you will be travelling a lot with your instrument, weight and size are decisive factors.

Number of keys or buttons and rows

The more keys and buttons, the greater the range and the more possibilities the instrument offers. Accordions have different numbers of keys and buttons on the treble and bass sides. There are no fixed ratios, but certain typical patterns have become established (see tables in the previous section). Basically, you have to find the right middle ground for beginners. An instrument that is too complex will overwhelm a beginner. But if it is too simple and of insufficient quality, playing fun and a sense of achievement cannot develop at all. In addition, it is often not clear at the beginning whether you really want to play in the long term. Children often need a bigger instrument after 2-3 years.

The picture on the right shows the 120 bass buttons of the accordion. For a beginner, the number of buttons and keys can be overwhelming at first.

For advanced players, on the other hand, the demand for quality and possibilities of the instrument increases. In addition, the suitability for a certain musical style and possibly the transportability are important.

A keyboard accordion with 40 or 48 treble keys is usually recommended as an entry-level instrument for children. Adults are better off with 72 keys, but depending on their mood and financial possibilities, they can have more.

On Styrian harmonicas, the range of the treble is given in rows, since each row on this instrument allows one key to be played. Most common are 3- and 4-row harmonicas. 3 rows are sufficient for a beginner, 4 rows are standard.

Choirs and registers

Choirs refer to the number of reeds that can be added to each note in the treble. A 3-course instrument can therefore produce up to 3 different notes with one and the same key, and even simultaneously if desired. These normally sound in different octaves. If choirs are present in the same pitch, this serves to create a special sound effect by having one or two choirs slightly out of tune. The more choirs an instrument has, the more possible combinations it offers. Usually there are up to 2 to 5 choirs, 3 or 4 choirs are standard equipment. As with an organ, certain preset combinations can be called up as stops by pressing a button.

The reeds

The reeds are the sound-producing element in the accordion. They are made of metal. Their freely vibrating end is set into vibration by the air current. Therefore, their quality is of course decisive for the sound of the instrument. The reeds are attached to reed plates. Both together are called voices. Tuners are offered in 4 quality classes. The following designations (in ascending quality) are mostly used:

  • Machina
  • Dural Export
  • Tipo a mano
  • A mano

Of course, there are also manufacturers who use other designations for their own production. As the Italian names suggest, the more handwork goes into the voices, the better they are.

Material

The body is ideally made of wood. For weight reasons, plywood has prevailed over solid wood. Plexiglas has a high sound quality, but is extremely heavy. Plastic has a negative effect on the sound. The surface is traditionally coated with celluloid. But multi-layer lacquers are also often used. Keyboards glued to wood with metal guides are optimal. Plastic keyboards wear out more quickly. The bellows are usually made of sturdy leather board. The surrounding fabrics and leather parts are mainly for decoration. The bass mechanism is ideally made of metal. Plastic mechanics wear out faster.

Facts worth knowing about the accordion

How is the accordion constructed?

The three main parts of an accordion are the treble, the bass and the bellows. The melody is played on the treble section. There you will find either keys or buttons and, if available, the stops On the bass part you play the accompaniment. It has the bass buttons and, in the case of chromatic accordions, the bass registers. You will also find the guide strap and the air button. In the middle is the bellows. You have to squeeze it and pull it apart to create an air stream. This then causes the reeds to vibrate and produce the sound. As you can see, the accordion is quite complex to play. The two hands do different things, and you also have to operate the bellows.

What accessories do I need for an accordion?

The accessories for the accordion are quite manageable. First of all, you need a bag or a case so that you can transport your accordion without accidents. You can get them in specialist shops for about 35 € – 115 €.

Accessories Costs
Bag/case 35 € – 115 €
Carrying strap 50 € – 100 €
Hand strap Approx. 20 €
Hip carrying system Approx. 400 €
Bellows protector Approx. 25 €

You may also need carrying straps (approx. 50 € – 100 €) and bass hand straps (approx. 20 €). Cross straps also cost about 20 €. For a complete hip support system you have to invest about 400 €, but it’s worth it if you have back problems. You can protect the bellows of your instrument from damage with a bellows protector for about 25 €.

How do I care for and maintain my accordion?

You should wipe the keys, the registers and the armrest after each playing session. You should dry-clean the accordion’s bellows folds and the entire surface of the instrument once a month. Once a year you should give the instrument a complete cleaning: Grease the leather straps and clean the plastic straps. You should also clean the keys and buttons with a brush or similar to remove dust particles. You can also take this opportunity to open the cases and covers to remove foreign objects trapped behind them. You should also vacuum the transport case occasionally.

How did the accordion come into being?

The oldest known instrument with tongues is the Chinese sheng. It is about 3,000 years old, consists of bamboo tubes with metal tongues stuck in a wind chamber, and is blown with the mouth. The sheng was introduced to Europe in 1777 and is said to have been the catalyst for the development of the accordion. At the beginning of the 19th century, wind instruments with piercing reeds, such as the harmonica, and the first bellows slide instruments first emerged.

The so-called hand-aeoline featured a button keyboard for the first time and was probably the first clearly recognisable precursor of the accordion. In 1829, Cyrill Demian patented an instrument for the first time under the name “Accordion”. It was small and handy, had a bellows, a button keyboard and two accompanying chords. He developed this instrument further over the course of the next few years, expanding the possibilities in the bass in particular. From about 1850, the accordion began to be manufactured on an industrial scale. The instrument was continuously developed further. Electronic extensions are also used, especially in modern musical styles.

Image source: Pixabay.com / Free-Photos

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