According to the Cambridge dictionary, an accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument. It consists of folded/creased central part with a keyboard.
A typical accordion consists of two wooden boxes with bellows in the middle. It also has reeds/steel strips on the right-hand (treble) side. On the left-hand side are buttons in a row. The left hand side arrangement is different in different accordions. The vibration of reeds produces sound. The bass chord or note depends on the direction of movement of bellows. (The note sound changes as the direction of movement changes). Some free-reed, electronic chromatic button accordions are also available.
Accordions vary from each other in different aspects. They have different shapes and designs. The arrangement, type, and rows of buttons, number of chords, type of keyboard, and material are also different.
Out of many types of accordion, the difference between button accordion and keyboard has always been a topic of discussion. The differences can be discussed in the following aspects.
Identifying features of Button accordion vs keyboard models
Reeds, buttons, and bellows are present in both types of accordions. The main difference lies in the right-hand manual. The button accordion has rows of buttons on the treble (right-hand) side that are chromatically arranged.
While piano-style keys are present on the treble ( right-hand) side of the piano accordion.
Historically, accordions can be related to Hohner. Hohner was a thrilling band that played Irish, traditional and Celtic music.
Button accordion history
The pioneer of the button accordion is Cyril Demian. He invented this accordion in 1829 in Berlin. In the beginning, it had only five buttons/10 chords.
Piano accordion history
Bouton of Paris designed a piano accordion in 1852. Due to its popularity, this accordion gave a tough competition to its button counterpart.
Easier to play
The ease of learning and playing depends on the interest and comfort of people. Button accordion is tough to learn and is easier to play. In this accordion, buttons are wide apart and uniformly arranged on the keyboard. This layout reduces or eliminates the risk of mistakes.
The piano accordion is the first choice of most learners as it is easier to learn and play. But the buttons are closer together, and a player can mistakenly press the wrong key. Thus, while playing music with the accordion of this layout, the pianist must be very accurate and precise.
Each key produces two notes in a button accordion. There is one key per note in a piano accordion. An accordionist plays the button associated with a certain note. Button accordions also have some non-functional buttons. These extra buttons are for cosmetic purposes only. Yet, each and every key on a piano keyboard is functional.
The size of an accordion depends on the number of keys. Button accordion has a compact size. The small-sized manual on this accordion makes it handy and easier to carry. This feature also makes it easier to play.
The piano accordion, on the other hand, has large and protruding keys. These factors make it heavier as compared to the button accordion.
Number of notes
A piano has a maximum of forty-five notes. There can be a maximum range of sixty-four notes on
the right-hand side of the button accordion.
The button accordion has more range as compared to the other one. Generally, it has 5 rows of buttons. It is uncomfortable for small players to extend all notes in the piano accordion due to its large size. But young players find it challenging to reach farther on the keyboard.
The more frequent use of the thumb, however, reduces this discomfort. Because button accordions are compact, playing all keys is easier for players.
In a conflicting talk of button accordion vs. piano, fingering style has a remarkable significance. There are more fingering options in a button accordion than the piano accordion. Buttons in this accordion are small and closely arranged. But it requires twisting of the wrist and fingers. Two different chords can be played by using the same fingering pattern.
Keys in a piano accordion are wide apart that allows better reach. Parallel keys in this accordion allow relaxed wrist and fingers position. While approaching farther keys, the music player has to stretch a little bit. To play a certain chord accordionist employs the same technique as used by a pianist.
The bass system holds crucial importance while floating in the discussion of differences between these accordions. Button accordion has Stradella system and French 3-3 bass system. You can get a free bass system in this type of accordion too. This accordion has 12, 48, 72, 96, or 120 basses. The button accordion has up to 3+ octaves.
A Piano accordion is also available with a stradella or free bass system. Convertor bass system accordion is also available. It has approximately 120 bass buttons. A piano accordion has around 4+ octaves.
Since button accordions have duplicate rows, it allows the player to use the same fingering pattern. Buttons are closer and easy to find in this accordion. Thus, a player can easily transpose from a lower note to a higher one.
Transposing is difficult in piano accordion because buttons are far apart. It is not convenient to play transitions from low notes to high notes. Trans position becomes demanding when the singer cannot perform on a specific range.
While discussing the characteristics of the button accordion and piano, legato has a remarkable role. Just like a piano, large keys of piano accordion impart large surface area. It enables the player to hold on to one note for a few seconds. It allows for a smooth rhythm to the music.
Buttons in the button accordion are small and difficult to find. It compels the player to let go of different notes while finding them. Legato becomes easier in these accordions when an accordion player learns to use duplicate rows.
Barring is the ability to play multiple notes simultaneously with one finger. Barring is easier to learn in button accordions due to their close-packed position. An accordionist can hold on to more than one key at the same time. This is possible due to the small-sized keys in these accordions.
It would be difficult in piano accordion due to its large-sized keys. A player cannot press multiple keys with the same finger at once.
Talking about button accordion vs. piano, applicability is a considerable factor. Some specific types of the accordion can play specific music. An accordionist can play any genre of music on both accordions.
Jazz music is mostly played on a piano accordion. Classical music lovers also play a Piano accordion. And Russian pattern of music is generally played on chromatic accordions. Diatonic accordion finds its application in folk music. Single row diatonic accordions are widely used in Celtic and Irish music. (Chromatic and diatonic accordions are the two different types of button accordions)
In rock music, a musician can easily slide his finger from black to white. This technique would
be tricky on a button accordion.
The availability of teachers and instruments matters a lot
when discussing a button accordion vs. a piano. Different cultures have
different musical preferences. It depends on the area that whether you can find
an instrument of your choice or not.
Similarly, it would be
difficult to find a teacher who will
teach you the chosen type.
Students, who are already familiar with the pattern of piano inputs, will
prefer piano accordion. It would be easier for them to learn the keys. Keys are
easy to pick and play, even in the first trial.
students play piano but prefer button accordion. Manual is difficult to
remember. Hence, moving from piano to
button accordion could take six to nine months.
While going into a discussion about button accordion vs.
piano sound comes into one’s mind as a first thing. If you are fond of playing
jazz, you should go for a piano accordion. Musicians who want to play classical melodies choose the piano accordion. This type of accordion is best known for American folk and polka music. Diatonic button accordion is played in folk music, Irish and Celtic music.
Balkan and Cajun music lovers opt for a chromatic accordion. The chromatic button accordion is also famous for ethnic dances and Russian folk. The chromatic accordions are also used in concerts.
Type of action
Type of action is a factor of remarkable attention when
talking about a button accordion vs. a piano. Button accordion is a single
action instrument. It implies only push-pull
action. The dominant chord is played on pulling the button and the tonic chord is played on pushing it.
The piano accordion is a double-action
instrument. It applies press and draws
The piano accordion is popular in Australia, Brazil, Belgium,
Chile, France, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Scandinavia & the USA.
Button accordion is
famous in Argentina, Eastern Europe, Austria, Canada, Dominican Republic,
England, Ireland, France, The Bahamas, & Northern Mexico.
While arguing on button accordion vs. piano, versatility
jumps into your mind. The piano accordion
tends to be more versatile than the other one. It is because the right-side
mechanics of the piano accordion can easily translate to other musical
accordion needs four buttons or eight
reeds to sound a diatonic scale. And, the piano accordion uses eight piano
keys or sixteen reeds for this
Chromatic button accordion vs. piano
People consider the shape, color, size, style, hardware, sound, etc. while looking for an accordion. When one argues about these accordions, he keeps the pros and cons in mind.
Both types of accordions have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice depends upon your taste. If you are a fan of jazz music, you should go for the piano accordion. A classical music lover will prefer a chromatic button accordion. Also for Irish, traditional, and folk music, the diatonic accordion is the instrument of choice. Balkan music lovers will want to play the chromatic accordion.
Beginners may find it tricky to play the button accordion. Once you get familiar with the manual, it will be an easy task. When you memorize the inputs you will enjoy playing the music. A person who already plays the piano is familiar with its keys. The black and white piano keys will be easy to learn for a pianist.
Arrangement of notes includes B system and C system in a chromatic button accordion. Where C is in the first row of the C system and the third row of the B system. New learners may have difficulty in learning this B system and C system keys.
Button accordion and piano differences always exist. Newcomers should choose a piano accordion over a button accordion. Its keys are fewer in number and easy to learn. Yet some people choose it based on ease of playing. In that case, they should go for the button accordion.
Because the keys of the button accordion are close enough, it is easy to play after you learn. In the case of the piano accordion, the musician should be precise in picking notes as the keys are far apart.
When you are concerned with weight and size, you should choose a button accordion. The reason is its small and compact size. You can carry it around anywhere comfortably. It is the instrument of choice for women and children.
The acoustic mechanism of both instruments comes to mind while discussing a button accordion vs. a piano. A piano accordion can play simplest to the most complex tones. Due to this feature, this accordion is superior to the other one.
While diving into the debate of button vs. piano accordion, some other factors are also under consideration. Guitar players pick out piano accordions. Generally, a person with a history of brass system instruments prefers playing this accordion over the button accordion.
It demands enthusiasm and interest to master any of these instruments. Both have positives and negatives. It depends on the comfort, skill, and feel of the instrument. Rather than learning both, enthusiasts choose to learn only one instrument.
As if you think prior experience is necessary to choose piano accordion in addition to other factors. Then, here button accordion is the gadget of choice for you. For newbies, it would be tough to learn the button accordion. The reason is it is hard to find a teacher that could teach you to play this accordion. There are predominantly more piano accordion teachers.
In terms of cost, the button accordion is cheap as compared to the piano accordion. But for those who love to play a piano accordion, their investment will pay them off. Once you buy a button accordion, it would be difficult to sell it due to low demand.
My introduction to accordion music was by way of Zydeco and Tex-Mex music. Once I got my hands on my very own squeezebox, I was hooked. Let me tell you, playing the accordion is every bit as fun as listening to it. Thanks for joining me in my exploration of the awesome world of accordions and all its amazing versions!