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    Accordions come in two general varieties: button or piano keyboard.

    Both types of instruments use the same mechanism to create a sound. The bellows - informally called the squeezebox - sits between two wooden boxes that house reed chambers and vents. Widening or compressing the bellows allows the accordion to produce a sound, while the keys or buttons create a pitch, which the vibrating reeds then generate. The sound then comes out of the grills or vents on the boxes, which further assist with controlling the airflow.

    Beyond this general arrangement, accordions are either bisonoric, in which bellows movement changes the pitch, or unisonic, allowing for a single pitch in both directions. Button accordions encompass both bisonoric and unisonic models.

    Types of Button Accordions

    Button accordions were invented first and include the following types:

    Diatonic Accordions

    A diatonic button accordion is usually bisonoric and is commonly found in folk music. The most popular type of button accordion, this model only generates the seven notes of a diatonic scale. This attribute makes the button accordion slightly easier to play than a piano model, although it takes some getting used to.

    As a basic characteristic, the pitch changes based on the direction the player moves the bellows. As well, while the right-side box features all the buttons for the diatonic scale, the left side includes bass buttons to round out the chord. However, button box arrangements vary:

    • One-row: This type of diatonic accordion has a 10-button row on the right and two buttons on the left.
    • Organetto: This type is characterized by 10 to 24 buttons on the right and two to 12 buttons on the left.
    • Two-row: This diatonic accordion has two sets of buttons on the right, with a variation of a half step or a fourth between them. Variations up to five rows use a similar configuration and set of intervals.
    • Helicon: This diatonic accordion features longer, wider bass reeds to generate pitches in a lower register.

    Chromatic Accordions

    The chromatic accordion is essentially a rearranged three-row diatonic, resulting in keys that are all a half-step apart, like the chromatic scale on a piano. This setup covers all accidentals and keeps the pitch consistent no matter the direction of the bellows, making it a unisonic button accordion.

    Currently, no set design for chromatic button accordions exists. However, models typically have 20 buttons on the right and 12 bass buttons on the left.

    Find Button Accordions at Alamo Music Center

    Alamo Music Center offers a wide selection of button accordions, including the Anacleto Collection from Hohner. Shop new and used models, as well as button accordions 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.