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Button accordion choices

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GUEST,Ollie 29 Feb 04 - 10:06 PM
pavane 01 Mar 04 - 07:49 AM
s&r 01 Mar 04 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,Ollie 01 Mar 04 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,HiHo_Silver 01 Mar 04 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Jon 01 Mar 04 - 06:50 PM
Miken 01 Mar 04 - 08:04 PM
pavane 02 Mar 04 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Ollie 02 Mar 04 - 06:47 AM
greg stephens 02 Mar 04 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,Jon 02 Mar 04 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,sorefingers 02 Mar 04 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,Ollie 02 Mar 04 - 12:55 PM
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Subject: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Ollie
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 10:06 PM

I am ready to get a new C/D Button Accordion. I want to get a really good one....that doesn't mean I can afford a really expensive one!
Castagnare and Salterelle have the wood box look that I want.
I am based in Ontario, Canada.
I would appreciate any tips from other box players,

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: pavane
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 07:49 AM

Are you sure you mean C/D, not C/C#?

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: s&r
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 09:17 AM

or B/C, or G/D. I'm sure C/D would be a custom instrument.


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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Ollie
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 01:51 PM

Yeah, sorry..I meant C/G. Think I'll have to go down to the US for a weekend and do some shopping.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,HiHo_Silver
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 06:43 PM

check out Gabbanelli Accordions at
Hohner is still the choice of the Newfoundland set and the maritimes.
I use a Hohner corso three row. consider a three row before you buy.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 06:50 PM

I've not come accross a C/D but C#/D is used a fair bit. Damien Barber is a good example of an excellent player of this type.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: Miken
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 08:04 PM

About a year and a half ago,I gave myself permission to look for a button box here in the Seattle area. While a look around brought up a few Hohner and Weltmeister instruments, there were no high end i.e. Castagnari or Salterelle boxes to compare them to.. Then ran across a busker playing a Cairdin two row at the NW Folklife Festival and liked the sound a lot! Ended up ordering a Cairdin B/C 23/8 from the manufacturer in Limerick, Ireland but had to wait 9 months to get it. That said, I like it alot, I special ordered walnut instead of the standard maple and am not sorry I's beautiful. Also requested the logo be left off the bellows so it would be solid black when closed, but the red interior of the folds would show through when the bellow were opened. The sound is sweet, and I'm well satisfied. The price of that model approaches Castagnari and Salterelle, however there are less expensive models. Good luck with your search!

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: pavane
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 06:33 AM

C/G also seems an unusual choice (or would it be G/C). Usually C is paired with F.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Ollie
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 06:47 AM

I suppose the outside row comes first so yes it would be G/C. My old squeezebox is G/C and is ready for retirement. Thanks to all for your suggestions!

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 06:54 AM

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 07:42 AM

Sorry for a long copy and paste but I can't give an easy link to the article. Here is what The Music Room (a reputable UK company have to say).

There is a lot of confusion around as to when we should call one instrument a melodeon or another a button accordion, or indeed whether we should spell the word accordeon instead. For those of you who are new to the instrument, the purpose of this brief introduction is lay down what we hope will be the foundation of your squeezebox vocabulary and understanding. To those of you who are not so new, we can be safe in the knowledge that we speak the same language.

As a rule of thumb, in Ireland, an instrument with one row of treble buttons and two bass is usually called a melodeon, while all other button instruments (with the exception of the concertina and bandoneon) are known as button accordions.
In England both 1 row and two row instruments would be classified as melodeons. The two row variety is further divided according to keys into diatonic (D/G, G/C, C/F and A/D) and chromatic (B/C and C#/D being the most popular).

Accordions with buttons are then further divided into those instruments which
(a) play different notes on the push and the pull of the bellows, usually with 8 but sometimes 4, 12, 14 or 16 bass buttons, and are known as button accordions, and
(b) have buttons that play a different note in to out on the right hand and the same notes in to out on the left hand or bass end. These are known as button accordeons (note the spelling) and are often refered to as British chromatics, magnificent in the hands of maestros such as Jimmy Shand and John Kirkpatrick.

A third instrument within the same branch of this squeezable family is the continental chromatic button accordeon, recognised by having anywhere from three to five rows of treble buttons and two to six rows of bass buttons. These play the same note on any given button regardless of the direction of the bellows.


Over and over again we meet people who get button key instruments from shops where there is neither the range nor the expertise necessary to help them choose the instrument best suited to their needs. Realising that they have been sold the wrong instrument, they bring their problem to us.
There's no need to become convinced that it is your 'own fault'; that you are not musical, when all that was needed was some proper advice and guidance to begin with. Here are just a few of our suggestions to help you answer the questions above.


Usually a 2-row diatonic instrument is best to start on. Don't make the mistake of thinking a 1-row instrument is easier to play. They are specialist instruments, which in the right hands sound wonderful, but are not advised as a starting instrument, their limitations far outweighing their advantages, especially when it comes to joining in with other musicians at sessions etc. In England, D/G is the most popular tuning, whilst G/C and to a lesser extent C/F are the preferred keys in the rest of Europe. And don't think that a D/G is limited to those keys. It is possible to play to a greater or lesser extent in D, G, A, E minor, B minor and C, although the really good players can find more.

Very cheap instruments are available as starting instruments, but most people can see just how quickly these are put together and opt instead for either the basic Czech-manufactured Delicia, the Weltmeister Laurel or better still the more popular Hohner Pokerwork. The Pokerwork is still the prefered choice of many musicians, notably John Kirkpatrick who firmly recommends this as the best instrument for English music.

The Starter Pack

A D/G Hohner Pokerwork melodeon, together with either Dave Mallinson's 'Absolute Beginners' book and tape, or one or both of John Kirkpatricks series of videos 'How to play the English melodeon' are all you need to get you off and started. Add a padded melodeon shoulder carrying bag (Mally Bag) or, if you prefer, a rucksack, and you have the full works from the beginning.

If your budget will stretch that little further, and you are sure you are going to take to playing the melodeon, consider the Dino Baffetti Carnival II, representing Italian craftsmanship at value-for-money prices.

Phone the shop for our current best starter pack prices.

With proper dedicated practice, progression can be quite quick, and you will be surprised just how soon you could be sitting in one of the many informal pub sessions that are to be found at most English Folk Festivals, or perhaps joining in with the local morris side.


As a point of interest, it is a commonly held belief that it is easier to play Irish music on a diatonic than it is English style on a chromatic. It is perfectly possible to play Irish Traditional Music to a very high standard on the D/G diatonic melodeon; in fact until the 1940's and early 1950's the D/G and 1-rows were highly favoured. If you want to sound like one of the older traditionalists, a diatonic is the one to choose.

It wasn't until players like Paddy O'Brien came along that the modern Irish accordion style developed. They realised that switching to the B/C system had several advantages. Firstly, the fact that the C row comprises of all natural notes and the B row is all sharps and flats. By using a combination of notes from each row and playing across the rows, more keys were available and a smoother bellows action acheived. Secondly, the grace notes, triplets, runs and fills etc which are characteristic of modern Irish music are more readily available and fall to hand easier than on a diatonic. Another difference is in the bass work. This differs from the English bouncy rythmic style, which depends on changing bellows direction to play notes in the same direction of the bellows as their accompanying chords. Irish music on the other hand has very little bass accompanyment, placing more importance on the melody notes and ornamentations, rather than making sure these notes fall in a particular directions to make the basses fit.

The Irish style is still evolving, and other keys are finding favour, especially C#/D, with exponents such as Jackie Daly popularising this tuning. Basically, the aim is to be able to play in the main fiddle keys of D, G and A and relative minors. Using the C#/D allows you to play more or less up and down one row for most of the time, generating a more rhythmic effect.

To start playing Irish music, we would recomend a Hohner Double Ray, if you can possibly stretch to it. Make sure the basses have been altered to suit Irish music at the time of purchase. These well-proportioned instruments are easy to maintain and tend to hold their value well. A reasonable alternative would be the Delicia B/C, but a good second hand Hohner may prove better value for money in the long term. The hottest-selling Irish style box in this country at the present time is the Saltarelle Irish Bouëbe. Available from stock in B/C and C#/D. More expensive than the Hohner, but a very useful mid-priced instrument featuring a flat, enclosed finger board with a very fast action.

Irish traditional style starter packs are available. Why not contact us to discuss your requirements and best price deals?


You can learn Cajun music on any diatonic box, but really a one row 4-stop is needed in the most popular Cajun key of C. The same instrument will also allow you to play in G in much the same way as a blues harmonica player would use the second position to get G from a C instrument. A great deal of myth and folklore surrounds this type of instrument, ranging from the type of woods used in the construction to the direction the reeds are laid in. A genuine Louisiana box would in fact have 2 of its 4 reeds laid flat on the soundboard and 2 upright on a block. A standard Hohner 1-row 4-stop will get you off and running, but better still, Hohner manufacture the Cajun box, which is all black, and with improved bellows. Tuned slightly drier, this is the best sounding entry level instrument we have come across. This, together with the video by Dirk Powell "Learn to play Cajun Accordion - Starting Out" is all you really need to make a success of things.


G/C and C/F are the most popular tunings for European music, and incidentally these are also among the best keys to use when singing. Hohner supply the Pokerwork in G/C and C/F, but the more authentic instrument is the Le Bouëbe by the French company Saltarelle. The UK does not have a wealth of tuition material, but Musique pour la Danse Bretonne is useful.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 08:49 AM

Very informative John!

Out here the B/C is called the Irishbox the others care called Squeezeboxes.

I had to post the correction since the Music Store attempts to credit Mr Shand with iventing the Celtic Chromatic style - he didn't - and ignores the well documented history of the earlier Irish styles played on the Globe, etc.

See the Irish Accordion list on Yahoo.

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Subject: RE: Button accordion choices
From: GUEST,Ollie
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 12:55 PM

Great article, Jon. Thanks.
I play chords during singing and add instrumental breaks and also play insrumentals. A closed keyboard is great for chords...are there any benefits to a stepped keyboard?

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