How to Read Accordion Bass Notes

Knowing how to read accordion bass notes and play them the right way might seem hard. If you want to know how to play the accordion well, you will first need to learn how the bass notes work. This article will help you learn how to play and read the accordion bass keys.

Piano accordions are very well known. You will learn much about the Piano accordion and its bass rows in the article. The accordion bass is mostly played with the left side, making the left-hand notes most popular.

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What are Bass Notes?

This is the lowest note played in any kind of music and when using musical instruments to make sounds. The note is denoted with a bass clef on a lyric sheet.

It is different from the root note, such that the bass is the base of every musical note, while the root is where a not is derived from.

What are Accordion Bass Notes?

The accordion bass is a row of buttons on the left side of the instrument. If you move the boar board up, each row will be one-fifth. Therefore, the “G” is above the C bass, the “F chord” is below the C bass, and the “D” is above the central “G.” The C bass is easily identified because of the shape. The bass runs on the left side of the accordion.

Most large accordion bases have 96 buttons and not more than 120.

How to Read Accordion Bass Clef on the Staff

There are simple steps you have to take to be able to read this beautiful musical instrument’s bass clef. Unlike most of the instruments out there, the accordion is quite special. Having both keyboards and a stringy thing in the middle. On the left hand, there are also the bass buttons which the accordionist needs to press while playing it. Without further delay, let’s see how the notes can be read.

You can read the accordion bass in two ways.

  1. As if they are treble notes, but then you put two notes.
  2. As if they are in a position that makes it a step higher.

As Treble notes

This method is commonly used by most accordionists out there. Take this as a sample on the treble clef. The first line is an E. You will have to see it as a G on the bass; an A on the treble is a C on the bass clef. And it can go on and on like that.

A Step Higher Position

In this way, if the first staff shows notes, read them as if they were in the second staff, and read them as if they were treble symbols. It is similar to noting staff gaps. For instance, if a note appears in the second gap, it corresponds to the note written in the third gap in the treble symbol staff.

Bass Buttons

An accordion is a tool with awkwardly so many bass keys that it may feel overwhelming to someone who wants to learn how this musical instrument is being played. The good thing is that as a newbie, you will only need about six to start and then over time. You should be able to scale up. A standard accordion has about 120 buttons. Some can have up to 72 buttons or Stradella bass. Usually, for the 72 buttons type, there are two rows and four-chord rows.

The 120 type has single bass notes and chords.

There are three kinds of bass notes, namely

  • Bass note
  • Counter bass
  • Bass chord

Bass Notes

The bass notes are always on the second row of the accordion. On the staff, whenever you get a teacher to teach you how to play the accordion, you will notice that the bass notes are always in a lower position than the Chord notes.

The bass notes make simple sounds come out while pressing the piano with the right hand. It’s best to reach for the C bass on this row so you can move your hand freely around the bass button. The C bass is very important on the bass side.

Chord Note

There are four types of chord notes, and they are all on different chord rows. These notes are the major chords, minor chords, seventh chords, and last ones are diminished chords. The chord does not appear on most of the rows on the accordion bass notes.

The chord notes are symbolized by one letter on the accordion bass rows. For example, an M means a major chord, m means a minor chord, and it goes on like that on the buttons.


The bass chords combination comprises a root note and bass chord. For example, the minor 7th of the D note combines D bass and F chord. The bass chord row is more than the Counter bass row and bass row together on the standard accordion.

Contrabass Row

The contrabass row has its own set of buttons. They appear on the first row of the bass accordion bass. The counter bass notes are found in the lowest staff position in music writing.

All together, accordionists enjoy this instrument because all those notes can be symbolized with one note on the music staff.

The small dashes know the counter bass notation they have; the dash helps accordionists reading the musical sheet know how to tell the difference between bass and counter bass notes.

The counter bass row is extremely important on the accordion just like the note bass. Accordionists use it to skip certain notes on the bass row, for example, an E major. It makes it a lot easier to reach certain buttons on the left side of the accordion.

Note that in sheet music, the bass is known as the lowest note, while the chord is always the highest note.

How Do I Press all the Buttons, Including the Major Chord Buttons?

This might be a little tricky, but there’s always a way you can cover most or all of the buttons on the bass line. Without further delay, let us see how this can be done. Unlike other instruments, the accordion bass notes cannot be seen by the accordionist. This is why there is a trick to reaching the notes played.

Start by using your middle finger to play the major chords, and you can use your fourth finger to play the basic bass notes. The minor chord, 7th, and diminished chords can be taken care of with the second finger. The accordion is designed with different kinds of buttons, and they have different notes. A clear image of the buttons in your head will help you reach each bass note to produce your sound.

More About the Buttons on the Accordion Bass Rows

Standard Bass or Stradella Bass

This is well known amongst accordionists. The layout of the bass button is in 6 rows. This accordion allows for a nice flow of bass tone, including bass solos. This is only possible when there’s one octave, a higher octave, or a lower octave.

When there’s just a single bass note, the accordion music sounds like that of a guitar. The stradella bass system is the US’s most commonly used piano accordion. The stradella bass is known to be complicated. This is because of the number of bass buttons available, which number up to 120

What is the Stradella Bass System?

Originally, this system was manufactured to play old country music, folk music, and classical music. The system has a synergy or rhythm that it follows. These rhythms are three, and they are 4/4, 2/4, which is also sometimes referred to as the 4/4, and then there’s 3/4. The different rhythms represent the different kinds of music they can play.

Piano Notation of the Stradella Bass

The piano pressing style of the standard bass is unique. The common fingers used are from the second fingers to the fifth. While pressing g the piano, the first finger is not used. The thumb (first finger) not being used is like a laid down rule when fingering the piano. While playing the same pattern may be repeated, the only thing that may be changed is the starting position while playing the stradella bass.

Bass Fingering of the Stradella Bass

This time, 4 to 3 fingers are used by the accordionist. They make use of it to produce the kind of sound that they want to be produced.

Free Bass

This type of accordion allows ease of use by the player. It has black and white-colored buttons. This system is almost like the standard bass rows, only that it has added four rows to the bass side. This free bass accordion is used for majorly classical music, which usually has major chords including the seventh chord and quarter note.

The free bass is much easier to learn than the stradella bass. This is because most of the important buttons can easily be reached with the use of the hand. The free bass accordion has different buttons for octaves distinguishing it from the stradella bass.


Free bass accordions can play pretty much any kind of music, and the free bass is mostly used by beginners who want to learn how to play the equipment.

Convertor Bass

This bass is unique in many ways, one of which the player can switch freely between the free bass side of the accordion and the stradella bass system. This means that it can also be used to play classical music.

The convertor bass is said to be the best kind of accordion because it gives its users enough freedom to switch between using the free bass and stradella bass. This bass is also known as the hybrid bass because it contains two basses in one accordion. The accordion has a special big switch that helps switch from free bass to stradella bass.

How to be a Master in Playing Bass Rows

Draw a Map or Diagram of the Buttons

If you want to be a master in playing bass buttons on the accordion bass, you will need to draw a map. This map of the bass buttons will help you know how you can manipulate your way of playing this musical instrument.

Take Your Practice Step-by-Step

This is another way you can become a master in playing the bass buttons. You can go from the basics to the counter bass row and then to the bass chords. As long as you are a learner, move steadily. Try not to pressure yourself while learning the accordion.

Know the Distance Between the Bass Buttons

You should know the distance between the brass buttons. Knowing where you are starting from and when you want to end. Knowing the notes on the bass line from which you are starting. This will help you know when to move from the noted bass to the counter bass. Knowing when you are on a g major chord or c chord and the distance between each button is very important.

Know the Function of the Brass Buttons on the Accordion

Though there already is a piano on the accordion and a bellow, why does it need bass buttons?

The brass buttons are used to streamline how the accordion sounds. It is used to lay stress on a separate music sheet, especially when there’s a bass clef.

On the button, the c chord can be replaced with the g major chord. This is why it is good to know what your chord rows are for. The bass buttons play other functions, which shall be looked at below.

  • Accompany

The bass buttons can be used to accompany a treble melody.

  • Takeover melody

The bass button is important because it helps control a song’s melody while playing. Without the bass notes, most sounds produced by the accordion will not be understandable.

  • For outlining

The buttons have direct notes like the C, E, and G. These buttons can help your music sound nice while playing the instrument. The bass button determines how long a tone will be or how short it should be.

Learn Not to do Too Much

It is possible that when you try to do too much while learning how to play the bass notes, you may come back to the same buttons. Going back and forth. While playing the accordion bass, sometimes, it is okay if you do not fill up all the spaces while playing. It is good if you try not to hold the bass buttons for long. Keeping them short helps make your sound come out better.

Make Use of Faster Notes

As an accordionist, you should learn to play fast notes while using your bass line buttons. Using bass slow bass notes may become very predictable. Such skill can help you make lesser mistakes and make your tunes not sound much alike while playing.

Using faster notes also helps make you make short bass while playing. Slow notes may make your bass or toning sound off. The use of quarter notes is good if you want to play fast.

Have a Playing Pattern

Different patterns can be used to play the accordion. These patterns will help you streamline your style of playing and how you handle the bass line of the instrument. Having your pattern of play will help you master your form of playing the accordion easily.

Accordionists use seven common patterns to get familiar with the bass notes. Having a pattern makes legato playing easy for the player.

Waltz Pattern

This pattern is very simple to learn. The pattern only needs three beats to work. These beats are the bass, followed by a chord sequence. For you to understand this, let’s put it this way.

The two rows that come first are deep bass, and the next four are chords.

The four rows of chords consist of the minor, diminished, major, and 7th chords. To use this pattern, you need to put your 4th finger on the C bass and your middle finger next to the index. When you start playing, it will feel like your 3rd finger is behind the 4th.

When playing this pattern, make sure you make the bass sound as short as possible and the chords shorter than the bass note. Making a short bass and short bass chord will allow your melody to be smooth while playing.

The Polka Pattern

This is another pattern you should try out as an accordionist. This pattern allows players to use three fingers in a 4-middle-2-middle finger pattern. The polka pattern is easy, and it is one of the easiest patterns.

While using this way, ensure you do not make the melody long as this can disrupt your flow. Keep it short and simple. Often, when newbies try this pattern, they end up making each tone to be long while they play.

Rhumba Pattern

This pattern is mostly used with the African kinds of music, is very flexible, and is known to work for more than just African songs. The pattern is also known to make use of the polka pattern. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, this is a useful pattern.

Tarantella Pattern

This pattern was founded in Italy. It’s also quite easy to learn from the polka pattern. The difference between the Tarantella and Polka pattern is that the former has a 6/8 rhythm. This is very different from the polka pattern.


There are two kinds of tangos that are in existence. They are quite distinct in their rhythms. The first kind of tango is the traditional one, while the other is the new one. Let us take it one after the other.

  • Traditional Tango

The traditional Tango pattern works this way – one bass, three bass chords, and then two plain basses. The traditional tango is used for classical music.

  • New Tango

This has a modern tango rhythm. The new tango is used to follow Italian dance steps.

The March Pattern

This pattern is simple for anyone to follow. The method does not require many rigorous means. If you are familiar with the polka method, then you can try this one. The only this is that the March pattern is much slower than the polka pattern.

It has strong beats.

Playing the Accordion with Alternating Bass

If you are a right-hand user or prefer to press the bass button with the right hand, you would most likely hold it in the alternating bass position. This means that your left hand would be on the piano, or the chromatic buttons (depends on what kind of accordion you are using), and your right hand would be on the bass line, pressing the buttons.

Playing the accordion bass is quite difficult since you cannot see it. Alternative fingering is just like the left-hand fingering, but because of the way you are holding the accordion, it may seem different. The alternative fingering accordionists can also help themselves by providing a map of the buttons of the bass line.

To achieve this pattern, you will want to have sticky fingers on the buttons. This is so that you do not get lost or make a mistake while playing the instrument.

When using this method, you can easily find the c g buttons when you flatten your fingers. When making use of minor chords, you can use the fourth finger, the second, middle, and then the second finger again. The c g buttons are next to each other.

How to Read Accordion Bass Sheet Music

The first thing you need to get yourself acquitted with is the c chord. This is a very important note in the sheet music of accordion notation. The C chord is usually used to start most of the songs and also end them. There’s the c major and c minor.

Reading sheet music for accordion bass is almost like you knowing the treble as seen earlier in this blog.

How to Know the Piano Notation

Just as the bass notation is important, it is also necessary for you as an accordionist to know the piano notation. The good thing is that the piano if you are familiar with any keyboard instrument, you will be able to know how the piano accordion works.


What are the Types of Bass Chords?

Many people find it difficult to find and know the bass chord for this instrument. They are four types of bass chords. They are – minor, major bass chords, seventh chords, and diminished chords.

Which is the Best Way to Hold an Accordion?

When it comes to fingering your bass buttons, the right hand should be on the piano and the left hand on the buttons. This is the best way to hold the accordion because while pressing the keyboard, you have a lot of space while playing the instrument. This assures that your songs are played legato.

Where Can I Find the Middle C on the Accordion?

On smaller accordions, the middle C is usually found on the top bass row. On the standard accordion, it can be found on the second row of the instrument.

Can I Replace the C Chord with Something I can Easily Reach?

The e bass or g major chord is a key you can replace the C natural chord with.

Are There Other Types of the Accordion?

The most common kinds of accordions are the 120 bass accordion and the 92. But in fact, other kinds of accordions are used by accordionists. The other types of this instrument are the 45-button and 72-button accordions. Though the latter two are not so popular, they are impressive enough.

What is the Best Kind of Accordion to Use?

It is the 120 bass button and 92. The reason is that these two have the most notes shown on them. The instrumentalists can have the best kind of experience while using these kinds of accordions.

Is There any Benefit in Using the 45 or 72-button Bass Accordions?

The benefit will be that it is not as complicated as it would be when using those with more buttons. But the downside will be that you will not be able to get enough freedom with the chords. This is why it is mostly recommended to get those with more buttons than these two.

How do I know I’m not on the Same Chord?

It is easy to know. Even though you can’t see the buttons when you’re playing the instrument, the tone of the music or sound being produced from the accordion will change. The bass chord progression is that simple to know.

What’s the Least Number of Brass Buttons on the Accordion?

There’s the accordion with 12 buttons. Though this accordion is easy to play, and can even be one of the best starts for new accordionists, this one does not give that dynamic experience and ability to create different melodies while playing the accordion.

What is the major scale on the accordion bass?

It is important and is a basic skill to know the scales on the instrument you are playing because the scale plays a big role in the melody being sounded by the instrument. The accordion bass has the c major scale, G major, and F chord.

The C major is the easiest chord to reach, and then from there, you can move your way around to the next chord on the accordion. The C column-major is identified on the side of the accordion. If you want to take a different turn to your sound, to something interesting, you can try the c c g c or c G G7 buttons.

What is the next note after the single notes?

The chords are next to the single bass notes. The bass chords are in 4 columns. They contain the major chords and minor, diminished row chords, and the minor 7th chords.

What is the Function of the Little Finger on the Bass Chords

Since the thumb is not used in fingering the bass chords, the little finger takes the role of fingering the chords. The minor 7th is in range of the little finger. The minor 7th can be played by adding three notes with the single bass notes.

What are the Three Notes that can be Easily Fingered on the 120-bass Button?

The C, G, and E bass are curved in a particular way. Making them easily identified and fingered.

Can the free bass play classical music?

Yes, the free bass is known to be used in playing classical music.

Is the e bass on the 12 bass accordion?

The e bass is a well-known button on the accordion. The 12-buttoned accordion has the e bass.


Accordion notation can seem hard to many people that want to learn this musical instrument. Just one accordion has many buttons – from the piano to the brass buttons, and then the string in the middle, that one needs to master before.

The truth about learning this instrument is to take the bass line one after the other without haste. If you have a teacher taking you, always ask questions, but it is good to have your style of playing the instrument.

You may also start learning the instrument with accordions that have fewer buttons. Then as time goes on, you may scale up your skills by using those with a higher number of buttons. Accordion bass buttons are used to soften the tunes of the equipment while playing.


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