Accordions and concertinas come in an amazing array of styles and colours.

In this short article we will try to give you some ideas on what and what not to buy when looking at accordions and concertinas.

The major consideration is that you must feel comfortable whilst playing it. If you are of small build then it must not be too weighty for you. As a general rule, lighter instruments typically cost more, but it might be a price worth paying if it means that you'll play your new accordion more.

A convertor free-bass piano-accordion and a Russian bayan

A convertor free-bass piano-accordion on the top and a Russian bayan below it

Ensure that the instrument is not simply too big for you to play correctly, both standing up and seated. You need to be able to pull the bellows in and out easily and smoothly. It is essential that your accordion is in perfect tune. As you play it you'll find your hearing becoming keener on
recognising when something is not quite right. The need for the instrument to be completely in tune is even more important once you start to play with other musicians.

Are you looking for a full bass accordion or a smaller,less weighty (and less complicated) instrument which can be as small as to have only one or two rows of basses and a single octave on the right-hand manual compared to the standard 120-bass accordion or the large and heavy 160-bass free-bass converter models. The weight of the 120 bass or bigger accordions is compensated by the fact that you get a richer, more complex sound from the instrument. Many of the very best hand made accordions are made in Italy and Germany. Inside the accordion are the reeds that generate the instrument tones. These are organized in different sounding ranks, which can be further combined into registers producing differing timbres.

All but the smaller accordions are equipped with switches that control which combination of reed ranks will be brought into operation, organized from high to low registers. Each register stop produces a separate sound timbre.

Ensure that the accordion's straps are strong, padded and not worn. They need to be easy to adjust to exactly the right length that suits your style and body. You must try to feel completely comfortable holding the instrument, it needs to fit you perfectly.

A good case is essential, accordions are extremely complex instruments and protecting them whilst they are in transit is a much easier task if you have a solid case. A word of warning - do not ever leave your accordion in a hot place such as inside a car. The wax that the reeds are fitted into might melt, leaving your lovely reeds in a forlorn pile inside the instrument. This is repairable, but it's a costly and time consuming exercise.

Piano accordions are beautiful looking musical instruments. The very best ones and the very old ones are almost works of art. It seems as if a good accordionist makes his or her instrument come to life. It's almost breathing, as the music flows out of it. So, when you're in the market for an accordion, you need to really BOND with it. It's going to be a part of you for a very long time, so if you can feel like you're actually breathing with it, it may just be the one for you.

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