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Continental Accordion?

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John in Brisbane 26 Mar 98 - 07:25 PM
Alex 27 Mar 98 - 12:36 AM
Earl 27 Mar 98 - 09:30 AM 28 Mar 98 - 02:19 AM
chet w 28 Mar 98 - 07:17 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 13 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler (Well-known pedant) 21 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM
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Subject: Continental Accordions?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 26 Mar 98 - 07:25 PM

I have been lucky enough over the years to play Celtic music with some fine box players. I know what a standard button accordion is (like a Hohner Erica), and I know what a 120 bass piano accordion is, and some of the vagaries about different concertinas.

But what do you call those beasts that have about 5 or 7 rows of black and white buttons on the right hand and 120 bass on the left. I know that notes on the right hand are duplicated several times over on different buttons, and that you can transpose keys very readily on the right hand with a slight change of hand position. Is this called a Continental Accordion? I have only ever seen Celtic music played on it, and not for some time. I have been haunting second hand shops around Australia for years and never seen one - are they that rare? I have looked at Celtic instrument sites, but if the info is there I must have missed it.

And as a slight change of subject an old musical acquaintance used to occasionally play an Echolette (my spelling) piano accordion which sounded very romantically French. Is this a Tango Accordion? Any help as to how they are tuned, and how you can distiguish one? Are there piano accordions that allow you to switch between tango(?) and conventional sounds? I don't believe that his did though.

Any help would be appreciated.

Regards John

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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
From: Alex
Date: 27 Mar 98 - 12:36 AM

I found a Continental Chromatic accordion in an auction and got it for $125. Unfortuneately, I have been unable to master the thing. It looks something like a piano accordion with the standard 120 bass left hand buttons but the right side has what looks like a piano keyboard with the black and white keys but extending out from the end of the white keys are two more rows of stubby white keys. They play chromatically outer white stub, inner white stub, regular white key, black key all being semitones apart and the net semitone up from the black key is the next outer stubby white key up. I am told that the perfect arangement is to have three stubby keys with the regular piano arrangement which makes every musical key have the same fingering. It also shares the piano accordian's same note push or pull. The five-row "BUTTON-KEY" accordion you described is diatonic (different note push/pull) and the arrangement of the left-hand buttons are so that most keys have the same fingering. Jimmy Shand played one of these (and I think so did Dermot O'Brian). Because of the combination of the five rows and the push/pull, you have an octave and a bit within the reach of a relaxed hand (Not the spanned hand you need to get an octave on a piano keyboard), which makes the button key one of the fastest instruments ever invented and highly suited to Scottish and Irish dance music. (Although Phil Cunningham is no slouch on the piano accordion)

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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
From: Earl
Date: 27 Mar 98 - 09:30 AM

I have an Italian button accordian I bought at a flea market. It has three rows of diatonic buttons on the right. The top two have a little more that two octaves of a chromatic scale starting with C. The bottom has a G scale. The left buttons are the same both in and out and consist of a row of major chords, a row of minor chords, a row of seventh chords, and two rows that seem to be major chords with extra bass notes. It's fairly easy to pick out melodies with the right hand but the potential of the left hand is a little overwhelming.

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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
Date: 28 Mar 98 - 02:19 AM

There is some information (and pictures) of the various types of acordians at

(That should all be on one line.)

The purpose of the site seems to be to sell them, but the pictures are of good quality, and there are brief descriptions.

Another site that has a table with the taxonomy of free reed instruments is

This site also has some links to others.


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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
From: chet w
Date: 28 Mar 98 - 07:17 PM

If you haven't found what you wanted already, here's a clue. At least some of the multi-rowed button accordions used in central and northern Europe are called heligons. There is a Czech company called Delicia that makes some very nice ones. I believe that Lark in the Morning sells them. I have heard some beautiful Czech and Finnish music played on these instruments.

Good luck, Chet W.

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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
Date: 21 Jan 13 - 03:24 PM

i have a piano key accordian that is very colorful, mostly bright yellow and green with some red. on the front it has "Continental". it has 120 bass, under the base hand strap it has a large "G" carved at the top and one at the bottom. it has made in Italy on back of accordian and also on the straps.

the accordian was my fathers. when he died i inherited it.

anyone know its worth? who is the maker of it "G"?

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Subject: RE: Continental Accordion?
From: GUEST,Ebor_Fiddler (Well-known pedant)
Date: 21 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM

You'd be better off trying one of the specialist Piano Accordion sites like (if I remember rightly) Experts live there.
Good Luck.

Chris B.

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