There are many types of accordions. The piano accordion is the one that is the focus of my web site. This is an instrument that has buttons for the bass notes and chords to be played with the left hand and keys like pianos and keyboards to be played in the right hand. The accordion bass buttons I work with most are known as the Stradella bass system. I can teach other systems also but my preference is the one I just mentioned.
Accordions come in different colors and some small enough for children the age of five or even younger. Weights and sizes differ due to the many different preferences, needs, sizes of the player and the type of music they wish to play. Generally the lighter the overall weight, the better quality of accordion and the internal parts that have been used for heavier accordions of the same size.
Some of the various sizes of piano accordions are labeled by the number of basses the accordion has got. The smaller 12 bass will have (6 Root Notes and 6 Major chords) and 24 bass will have (8 root notes, 8 major and 8 minor chords), to the bigger ones with 32, 40, 48, 60, 72, 80, 96, 120, 140 and a 160 bass accordion. Accordions have a general range from 12 bass 20 key up to 160 bass 45 key. The weight of the accordions range in the area of 11 lbs for the 26 key 48 bass to around 20 to 25 lbs. for the 41 key 120 bass models. There are smaller and larger designs also. Reed specifications can be 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 treble reeds or 4, 5, 6, or 8 bass reeds. The larger accordions have more folds which will allow the bellows to stretch out more, but the player’s arm length could determine this also. The bellows make it possible to play a total range of expression and notes. The notes can also sustained longer than most other instruments.
The prices range from about $250.00 for a 25 key 12 bass accordion to $800.00 to $8000.00 for the 41 key 120 bass models.
The accordion is an instrument played while it is supported by shoulder straps to keep it in position. The bass notes and chords are played with the left hand pushing buttons down while the right hand plays the keys that resemble the those of pianos and keyboards. When you press keys or buttons, they open a valve to allow air to go through the reeds. The supply of air needed to vibrate the reeds comes from expanding and depressing the bellows. This pushes air through these reeds causing them to vibrate. The various reeds produce different pitches based on the speed at which they vibrate. This speed is determined by the length and thickness of the reed. The longer and thicker the reeds are, the lower the pitch. A reed does not vibrate faster when greater air pressure is applied from more forceful and faster movements of the bellows. The reeds just will move further in and out, creating a greater volume in sound.
The maintenance on an accordion will depend on how the accordion is played, and how much. Some reeds will go out of tune through over playing and incorrect use. It is recommended that an accordion be cleaned and serviced approximately every two to three years. Never leave an accordion in a warm place like the attic or a car on warm days. Reeds are glued to wooden blocks called "reed bars" with a special mixture of wax and rosin. Warm temperatures can effect this bonding agent and cause the reeds to loosen. It is never good for any type of musical instrument to be left in warm or freezing conditions. Each type of instrument have their own problems with extreme temperatures. Excessive damp or dry conditions are also a problem for all instruments. If an accordion has been in ideal conditions the wax in the bonding of the reeds can last up to twenty years. After twenty years the wax becomes brittle and starts to crack. There are a lot of other problems that accordions develop that become expensive to fix if they have not been cared for properly. I do not recommend buying used accordions from the average person.
These instruments are very popular in Austria, China, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Russia and other ethnic cultures. All types of music can be played on them. The accordion can be used as a solo instrument or played in bands, ensembles and orchestra's. Accordions can be heard playing waltzes, polkas, tangos, sambas, jigs, reels, Cajun, two-steps and ethnic music from countries all over the world.