The accordion became popular in the early 1900s when polka dancing was all the rage. One of the most famous accordion players of all time was Myron Floren who was invited to play on the Lawrence Welk Show as a one-time guest musician, but ended up playing on the show weekly for the next 30 years.
If you want to join the 75,000 Americans and countless others around the world who love to play the accordion, follow the buying suggestions in this guide. We believe that the Weltmeister Saphir is the best commercially-available accordion.
One of my earliest memories is gathering around the television with my family watching Myron Floren play his lovely accordion. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa after taking some music classes. I am the parent of five children with three of them choosing to play diverse instruments as adults.
The accordion fascinates me, so I have spent countless hours learning everything I can about them. Always the teacher, I want to share my knowledge with you.
- Weltmeister Saphir 41/120/IV115 Black Accordion
- Roland FR-1X Premium V-Accordion Lite with 26 Piano Keys and Speakers, Black
- D'Luca Grand Junior Piano Accordion 22 Keys 8 Bass with Gig Bag, Red (D228-RD)
- Alacran Accordion AL3112 Red with Case GCF
The Search for the Best Accordion
There are many different types of accordions, so it is important to know what to look for so that you can buy the best instrument for you.
Piano accordions are the most popular style because players love their more robust sound. The stradella system, the most popular system, features 120 bass buttons on the left side and piano keys on the right.
These instruments are considered the easiest to play because there is a one-to-one correspondence between the keys and the notes. Piano accordions have a maximum of 45 keys on the right-hand side.
Some of these accordions have very narrow keys making fingering tricky. Each key is attached to its own pad, so these instruments are usually quieter in terms of instrument noise to play.
Many players find these accordions more comfortable to play. Those players who rely on sheet music usually find piano instruments easier to play. These instruments are particularly loved by jazz musicians.
These accordions feature three to five rows of treble buttons in half-step increments. These instruments offer a wider variety of options for the right hand. Chromatic accordions have a maximum of 64 keys on the right-hand side.
Chords have the same fingering, so new players often find these accordions easier to learn. Those players who can spot intervals and patterns in music usually find chromatic accordions easier to play.
It is easier to transpose music on these accordions which may be an important factor if you plan on accompanying a singer. Musette music, most Russian music and classical music is normally played on this style of accordion.
In some countries, these accordions are called melodeon accordions. These accordions contain one or more rows of buttons on the right side that play a diatonic scale.
Pushing a single button on the other side causes the accordion to play a corresponding chord which is usually a major triad although it can be a minor triad. These instruments are particularly popular with players who love playing folk music.
Also called bassetti accordions, these instruments are usually used to play the most difficult pieces. Special buttons on the left-hand side of the instrument allow players to play melodies on both sides of the instrument.
This gives the player access to three octaves of notes. These systems can be added to piano or chromatic accordions at a later time.
These accordions feature a multiplexer on each key helping to amplify the instrument’s sound. Additionally, players can create different sounds on electronic accordions including organs and synthesizers.
Players who love synthesizers may want to consider a musical interface digital interface (MIDI) accordion as these instruments use buttons to control various synthesizers.
This allows players to create various sounds including bass, chords, treble, solo and acoustic accordion sounds from a single instrument. These instruments allow players to control the accordion’s volume easily.
Number of Buttons
Accordions have different numbers of buttons. The smallest number is usually 12, but these instruments do not give players enough flexibility.
The most common number of buttons is 48 buttons because these instruments offer flexibility along with being small enough to be easily carried. Most players who play 48 button accordions focus on the playing C, G and F chords.
The next larger size is a 72 button accordion. Although these instruments are harder for beginners to master, they offer the greatest flexibility. Most players never need to go beyond a 72 button accordion.
Ninety-six buttons accordions are the first buttons to offer four treble reed sets. Players who choosing this option should consider instruments containing a tone chamber, also called a cassotto, increases the response time and helping the accordion produce a more mellow sound.
Ninety-six button accordions are normally played by players wanting to play classical or Italian music. Accordions can have as many as 185 buttons.
Different accordions have different amounts of reeds. These reeds can be arranged differently.
The number of reeds is expressed as a fraction where the top number represents the number of treble reeds that can be played at the same time with the bottom number expressing the number of bass reeds that can be played at the same time.
Increasing the number of reeds increases the different sounds that players can play. Additionally, increasing the number of reeds adds to the weight of the instrument.
Different accordions contain different quality of reeds. The lowest quality reeds are called commercial and are made almost entirely by machine. Hand-finished reeds which is the next step up have the reed’s tongue applied by hand.
Tipo A Mano reeds are made of a higher quality steel and use quite a bit of hand work. The best quality reeds are hand made reeds made of duraluminium. They are highly polished and carefully inserted into the instrument using a layer of wax.
The accordion’s grille is used to add decorations to the instrument usually in the form of rhinestones. Most grilles are vented to allow the sound to pass through more easily, although some are solid to mute the instrument’s sound.
After hours of testing and research, here’s the final competition.
Our Top Recommendations
There are some outstanding accordions available regardless of your age or skill level.
Players will be able to play a variety of music on the Weltmeister Saphir accordion. This powerful accordion features a beautiful traditional black accordion style. It weighs 21 pounds making it easy to carry throughout a gig.
This accordion features 120 bass keys that are conveniently arranged in six rows of 20 keys each. This number of keys gives the player optimum flexibility in the type of music that they want to play.
This Weltmeister accordion has 41 treble keys which is also the largest number found on accordions which again adds to the flexibility that players enjoy.
This instrument has four banks of treble reeds and four banks of reeds on the bass side for a total of 140 reeds that are each carefully mounted on a wooden block before they are expertly tuned. This instrument features 11 treble registers allowing the player to easily create different voices to accompany different styles of music.
The Weltmeister has a beautiful mellow sound because the reeds are arranged in the cassotto style where the experts carefully mount reeds on the side of a special air cavity running the entire length of the accordion.
In this system, when each piano key is played two different actuating levers are depressed controlling two pallets. This system gives the player a much richer sound. Players can play many songs in a row because this instrument has outstanding air utilization as the bellows do not have to move as much air.
This also allows players to easily play music with a fast tempo. Weltmeister accordions are handmade in Germany in the same factory where they have been constructed for over 155 years.
Older Weltmeister accordions have retained their resale value quite well: click here to search for a used Weltmeister Saphir.
Players looking for an accordion that easily plays Conjunto and Tex-Mex music will want to consider the Hohner Corona II Extreme Accordions. These instruments are played by Jorge Hernandez and Chicas de Canela.
Players can easily master this instrument having 34 keys arranged in three rows. These instruments also allow the player the option of using five bass voices.
Playing this instrument is made even easier because of the perloid buttons featuring dynamic action. The patented noiseless fingerboard helps to cut down on extraneous instrument noise.
The highly respected Hohner company has been making accordions for over 100 years in their facility in Germany. Players can find a number of different color options in this diatonic accordion including blue, black, white, red, green and gold.
They can also find this instrument in various keys to suit their playing needs.
Players who are looking for a MIDI accordion need to consider the Roland FR-1x instrument. In particular, jazz musicians love this accordion as it offers jazz organ sounds in both slow and fast tempo along with 15 other sounds and others that can be downloaded online.
Making it easy to create an entire orchestra sound, this instrument even has drum and other percussion sounds. This accordion offers 26 treble keys that are pressure sensitive allowing the player to easily control the volume.
It also offers 72 pressure-sensitive brass buttons. Making this instrument even easier to play, the bellows are set on a pressure-sensitive regulator wheel. Players can choose between the standard and free brass mode depending on their song preference.
A USB memory port makes saving music played on this instrument extremely easy and efficient. This is a great choice for the strolling player because it is so lightweight.
Players can share their music with others through the built-in speakers or use earbuds allowing only themselves to hear the music.
If you are a parent of a child that thinks they would love to play the accordion, then the D’Luca Junior piano accordion may be a great place to start. This instrument weighs just 5.5 pounds making it light enough for almost everyone to easily hold.
Also, helping the smaller player it measures 10.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches tall. This instrument offers 17 billows allowing budding musicians to create a great sound.
The D’Luca accordion is easy to play because it offers 22 piano keys and eight brass buttons. Yet, it does a phenomenal job of creating over 225 unique sounds. This instrument is available on Amazon in a variety of colors.
Players who are looking for a budget-friendly accordion will want to consider the Alacran AL3112 instrument. While some players find that this instrument runs out of air a little faster than more expensive models, other players of Norteno, Tex-Mex and Conjunto style music love this Italian-style accordion.
This instrument features airtight cloth bellows that will last for a very long time and will not tear easily. The instrument has 31 large buttons arranged in three rows that perform noiselessly.
Helping players carry this instrument are a pair of fully-adjustable straps. This stylish instrument features a diamond on its bellows. It is available in black gloss or red pearl.
Players choosing this instrument on Amazon can choose between a G/C/F key and a F/B flat/E flat model.
Budget-minded shoppers should consider the Rossetti Piano accordion. This beautiful pearlescent-colored instrument is a lovely blue color with red and gold highlights.
Adding to the quality of this 34 piano key accordion are reeds manufactured in Germany where accordion players have found high-quality instruments for many years.
Making this instrument an ideal buy, it has 72 bass buttons. This instrument also features five switches allowing players to enhance their playing with bassoon, clarinet and tremolo sounds.
Premium padded leather straps that hook onto each side of the accordion make this instrument easy to carry.