Buying your first accordion is a tough decision. There are all kinds of brands, models, colors, sizes, and special features to choose from. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the choices if you don’t have a good advisor asking you the right questions. Buying an accordion should be considered an investment, as well as, a commitment to learning how to play the instrument. A good advisor will ask questions about your skill level, type of music you want to play, music reading ability and more.
Before you buy, do your research. Just because you find a cheaper accordion online, doesn’t necessarily mean its a good deal. I highly recommend that you visit an accordion shop in your area to discover what might be a good fit for your needs. Here are my top 10 things to consider before buying your first accordion.
There are several types. Piano (illustrated above), Diatonic, Chromatic, and Concertina.
Each has their own unique sounds and features, the piano is more popular with jazz, rock, country and a variety of other music. The chromatic is similar but unique to certain cultures–just depends on your style, and the concertina is somewhat limited–but might be easier, because music can be played with numbers. It’s all about the skill and imagination.
When starting out, I recommend a lighter accordion. The instrument should be as comfortable to play and practice. In time, you’ll be advancing to a larger instrument and the weight won’t be an issue.
Stay as low as possible since you’ll eventually be trading this accordion for the one you really want. Your advancement will help you justify spending more money later. Yes, some people do buy the perfect accordion first, but this occurs when they have the knowledge to make a buying decision or they rely heavily on their trusted advisor.
4. Accordion Age
This is very important! I typically do not buy/trade accordions built before 1958 (some exceptions may apply depending on the instrument), because of the condition and problems that might arise. If no guidance is available, be sure to look for accordions with a white keyboard (no yellowing). This will put the accordion in the 1960’s or newer.
This is crucial for children. I have witnessed first-hand, that if the child starts playing before the age of five, that child will in most cases, develop perfect pitch 100% of the time. I’ve had several students start at this age that has achieved perfect pitch. This theory has also been confirmed with other music instructors, so make sure the accordion is tuned properly.
Color, design and all other attributes are really based on personal preference.
Bear in mind that there will always be a little air in the chamber, but the accordion should not leak excessively.
Accordions have one, two, three or four reeds. Keep in mind, the number of reeds determines the weight and increased value of the accordion. I suggest a two reed accordion to start.
Think twice about buying an accordion with a strong mildew smell. Once the instrument acquires the odor, believe me, it can take many years of tender loving care and major expense to restore if at all.
Lastly, play the instrument and get a feel for it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it, and you’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit for you.
Remember, if playing the instrument before you buy is not an option, be sure to consult with a reputable advisor or retailer. Mahler Music Center is a recognized retailer and I’ve been in business for 30 years. I, Ken Mahler, owner/operator, am a recognized instructor, repair technician, and an appraiser in the industry.