How to use an Accordion bass chart

To get optimal sound out of your accordion, you have to know how to use its bass buttons at the right time and with the right emphasis. It all begins with understanding the different types of bass buttons and how to read an accordion bass chart properly.

Types of Bass button

There are different types of accordion bass, they can be either 120 bass buttons, 96, 72, 48, 40, 12, or 8. The bass button is on the bass side. The bass buttons arranged on the accordion are in rows and columns containing different notes. The note names are the basic bass, counterbass, and chords. All the notes on this instrument help the accordionist produce different sounds.

Let us look at the types of bass buttons and the note available on them.

The 120 bass button stradella chart

This piano accordion bass is the standard bass note for most accordions. The note of this one is very common among accordionists. Many accordionists prefer to use this stradella bass because it has enough notes that will be needed to compose a sound. This button stradella bass has no hidden categories, as all the notes are shown.

How to play the 120 bass button stradella bass

If you are a beginner and you want to get to know how to play the 120-buttoned one, you need to know how to read the sheet music, a mental structure of the bass layout, how to place your fingers, and how to move your fingers around the buttons.

Starting with the piano fingering, (if you are making use of the right-hand accordion); your right arm should be on the piano key. You can start by placing your second finger (index finger) on the keyboard, then your middle finger, ring finger, and little finger will follow. The thumb is not used when playing the right side.

Fingering the bass notes can be done easily by finding the major bass note like the C major. Finding the C bass is not so difficult because it has a particular shape. You can also use the E bass or the A flat in place of the C major. The two keys are also shaped in a certain way for the accordionist to know when his or her finger touches them. The C major serves as a starting ground.

To start with, your fingering style should be in this order – the middle finger should be on the major chords, the basic basses can be controlled by the ring finger, and your index finger can play the minor chords, minor 7th chord, and the diminished chords. This allows for a perfect flow of the bass notes while playing the accordion. On the 120 accordion bass, the row closest to the bellow is the counterbass row, then the second row is fundamental bass notes, and the last four columns are the chords.

Getting a good mental map of how the bass layout is will help you as an accordionist play better. Always remember that the chord buttons are the last four columns, perhaps this can help.

Take the example of the diagram below

96 bass note piano accordion chart

The 96 buttons accordion bass has single bass notes in 2 columns. The rest of the buttons are chords (4 columns). This accordion bass does not have a different fingering style from the 120-button bass. The only difference is the size and weight of the accordion. The four columns still have the minor chords, minor 7th chord, major chords, and the diminished chords. This accordion and the 120 buttoned accordion bass are most commonly used by accordionists. They both can be used to make classical music. You may use the same fingers for pressing the bass note.

Take the example of the diagram below

72 bass accordions chart

This one has fewer buttons than the two mentioned above. The weight is lighter than theirs and the size is smaller. Most beginners prefer to use this kind of accordion because they offer fewer buttons to be covered by them. The layout of the buttons on this accordion is almost like the 96 and 120 accordion bass notes. The first two columns are known as the root note. The one close to the below is the counter bass row, and the second row is the basic bass note. It also has 4 columns for the chord notes, that is (the minor chord, major chord, minor 7th chord, and diminished.) All the chords are in twelve keys. The C bass here is just as important as it is in the other accordions.

Take the example of the diagram below

48 bass accordion

There are two types regarding the layout of this accordion. These are the 12 by 4 layout and the 8 by 6 layout. We will take them one after the other for better understanding and so we will not mix up the two accordions.

12 by 4 bass notes

The 12 by 4 is a good one for beginners because of the few buttons it has on it. It has two columns known as the root note. The root note consists of the basic bass and counter bass. The counter bass row is above the basic bass row. Unlike the other 3 accordions above, this one has some missing chords as the chord has just two columns. The accordionist cannot play the minor 7th chord and the diminished note. Since there is the presence of the basic bass row, the C bass or C major is still available on this accordion.

Take the example of the diagram below

8 by 4 bass notes

The 8 by 4 is a good one for beginners because of the few buttons it has on it. It has two columns known as the root note. The root note consists of the basic bass and counterbass. The counterbass row is above the basic bass column. In opposition to the 12 by 4 accordion, this one has a complete 4 column for the chords although it has some keys that are missing on the bass side. The missing keys are the F sharp/Gb, the B button, Ab/G sharp, and Db/C sharp.

Take the example of the diagram below

40 bass accordions

The 40 bass accordion has lesser buttons than the 48-buttoned one. It is also good for new learners because of the smaller amount of buttons on it. The button structure goes like this – there is still the presence of the counterbass row and basic bass, making it has two rows of root notes. It has three columns of chords with the absence of a diminished chord. The bass rows do not have a complete set of minor 7th buttons.

The unique thing about is one is even though it does not have the diminished chord, it can still be played by omitting the counter bass and basic bass button while fingering the minor 7th.

Take the example of the diagram below

12 bass button

This is one of the simplest accordions that exists. Many new accordionists prefer to use it because of the very few bass buttons it has on it. Though it has just 12 buttons, it can still produce a beautiful melody while playing it.

It has 12 buttons on the bass side which any accordionist can reach or play with ease. The column close to the bellow is for the single bass notes, while the other column is for the chords. Since the buttons are not so many, it is easy to get familiar with them. The 12 bass buttons can play 3 minor 7th.

If you are a beginner and you want to start by practicing on a small scale, this accordion is a great start for you.

Take the example of the diagram below

8 bass buttons

With just two columns, this accordion is by far one of the easiest to learn. It is the perfect learning tool for beginners. Fingering this accordion is very flexible because the fingers can easily reach all buttons. One can easily get familiar with the notes on the bass rows.

It consists of only the bass button excluding the counter basses, and the only chord present on this one is the major chord. This particular accordion is missing eight keys.

Take the example of the diagram below

What is the most important major chord?

All major chords play a role on the accordion, but the most important will be the C bass. In all the types of accordions available, the c bass is always present. It cannot be ignored. Even though in bigger accordions like the 120 and 97 accordions, the c bass can be played using either the g major chord or e bass. In smaller accordions, where most keys are not available, the C major is always present on them.


Which accordion is best to use?

This depends on the use and your professionalism. If you’re going to get the accordion for a child to learn, you might go for those with a smaller number of buttons. If it is for a professional purpose, then the 120 and 97 accordions are the best because they produce more melody and can play different genres of song.

How do I read the bass notes on a sheet music?

If you are familiar with reading the treble notes, then you should be good with reading the bass notes. One thing you need to know is that the bass note is usually the lowest note on the score. If you want to identify a chord on the music score, they are underlined.

What is the circle of fifths mean?

This means the fingering movement of the bass notes. The circle of fifths starts with the c bass, and then the g bass or the f bass. It is a pattern in which you can easily monitor your movement on the bass rows. It is very useful for those accordions with many buttons on them. Other instruments that produce sound with win use this. The pattern can be in c g e, c g d, and c g c

How do I handle one accordion?

This musical equipment is mostly played with the bass side with the left hand, while the piano side is handled with the right hand. The way it is designed, the left hand is used to control the melody and tune of the music being played with the equipment.

Can basses be played with the right hand?

There are standard bass that are made to be fingered with the right hand. The piano accordion here is played with the left hand.

How do I find the C major?

The fundamental row has the C major on it, this means it is on the second row of the bass. Without the button, most sounds will not be produced properly on the accordion. The C button gives your music a particular flow while playing the equipment. After the c column is the chord column

Why are the bass buttons so important?

The basses serve as a tuner and as a rhythm flow. The treble does the job but the bass adds that extra spice to your music. The bass button plays a very important role in this musical equipment. The bass button is made up of the single bass rows, and then the chord rows.

What are the types of bass buttons?

There are three types of bass buttons but this is common only with accordions that have a high number of buttons on them. That is accordions like 120, 97, and 75 have three types of buttons on them. These buttons are the fundamental bass and counter bass (known as the single notes), and chords.

  • The fundamental basses

These buttons are found in the second space or row. They are used to make simple melodies while pressing the piano side. The fundamental bass side is easily denoted because of the C bass button on its column. This column can be called the c column

  • The counter basses

These buttons are easily reached because they are on the first column. The counter bass has most of the sharp notes.

  • Chord basses

This one is always on the last four columns on the lift side. The chord button is made up of different chords that will help the accordionist play wonderful tunes with the equipment. The type of chords available on the four columns includes the major chords, minor chord, minor 7th chord, and diminished chord.

Note that both the first two rows have the same reeds. The only difference is their column position.

What are stradella bass, free bass, and convertor bass?

The stradella bass is also known as the standard bass. The bass has the normal 120 buttons and it is not easy to handle for beginners. The stradella bass has its system of playing known as the stradella bass system. The stradella bass system is played in what is called 4/4. The stradella system is not available for either higher or lower octave buttons.

Free bass is a lot easier than the stradella. This is because most fingers can reach the buttons easily. The free bass makes use of the single bass notes on the stradella system.

The convertor can switch between the two, that is stradella and free bass.

What is alternating bass?

The alternating bass is found closest to the bellow.

What are bass scales?

The bass scales are simply the notes. There a major scales or major scale, minor scale or minor scales. To play the thumb is hardly used when playing the scales.

Why is the thumb not used to play scales?

The basses are in such a way that the thumb will hardly get the chance to touch the buttons. It is more convenient to use the 5 fingers while playing.

What are the black keys used for?

They are used as basses note. They are used to fine-tune the treble notes while playing.

What are the last four columns called?

The chord buttons are what contain the last four columns. The chord buttons are complete on the 120-button bass. In other basses, the chord may be incomplete or not available at all.


The accordion chart is useful because it helps us know how the note is structured on the accordion. With a careful eye on the chart, accordionists can easily know how to play the equipment. The chart is a well-labeled diagram of notes. You can take note of the chart on any online page you come across too.

If you are a beginner and you think you can play the 120-button accordion, it is good to practice the fingering style of the circle of fifth. It can prove to be helpful for you as a beginner. Starting with accordions that have small buttons is also a good start for you. We hope that this page has answered all your questions.

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