When you hear the vibrating, humming strains of an accordion, you know exactly which instrument you're listening to, no matter where in the world you are.
Although the concertina and bandoneon are similar, accordion instruments all feature a relatively identical setup, with a box-shaped design and a bellows or squeezebox in between. The pace at which the player moves the bellows controls the sound, with buttons or a keyboard on the sides for creating pitches.
How Does an Accordion Work?
To make a sound, the player compresses or widens the bellows, and the loudness and timbre come from this movement. At the same time, pressing the buttons or keys generates individual notes, but unlike with a piano, the player can't use these features to control the dynamics.
On both sides of the bellows are wooden boxes, which house the reed chambers and vents or grills needed to transmit the sound and control airflow.
Keys or buttons exist on each side of the wooden boxes. The right-hand side is usually reserved for the melody, while the harmony or accompanying bassline is played on the left. Using the keys or buttons causes air to flow across and vibrate the reeds, which then create the notes as the player moves the bellows.
Within this arrangement, an accordion instrument may be bisonoric, in which the pitches change when the bellows move. A unisonic accordion, meanwhile, generates the same pitch in both directions. Diatonic button accordions offer bisonoric capabilities, while piano and chromatic button accordions are nearly always unisonic.
Types of Accordions
Although all accordions operate in a similar fashion, multiple types are available across the globe:
- Diatonic accordions: This small accordion instrument assigns two notes to every button. Pushing or pulling the bellows allows you to access both pitches. You'll typically hear diatonic accordions in rock, pop and folk music styles.
- Chromatic accordions: More common in Europe than in North America, the chromatic accordion is a larger-sized instrument featuring a unisonic buttonboard or piano keys.
Find an Accordion
Whatever your musical influences, find both button and piano accordions from Hohner, including new and used Anacleto, Panther, Compadre and Corona models for sale. We offer multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month, no-interest options at times, plus trial lessons and an extended warranty.