It’s mind-blowing to know that we’re living in a time when you’re able to learn pretty much any instrument that you want. But with so many instruments to choose from these days, it might be a bit hard to decide what’s best for you. While most of the people are focused on guitars or pianos, it seems that accordion tends to get overlooked. Now, this instrument is way more versatile than one might think.
While many consider it to be an instrument strictly for folk music of many different European regions, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Accordion finds use in various genres like classical, jazz, and even pop and rock music.
What’s more, we have American genres like cajun and zydeco where the accordion is an essential element. With all this being said, we’re going to look more into the matter and bring you what we consider to be the best accordions for the money.
- 1 Top 5 Best Accordion Brands
- 2 Top 6 Best Accordions for the Money
- 3 Best Sound: Tulskaya Garmon Tula Etud 205 M2
- 4 Things to Consider When Buying Accordions
- 5 How to Play Accordion
- 6 Famous Accordion Players
- 7 Conclusion
Top 5 Best Accordion Brands
But before we begin, we’d like to get more acquainted with some great accordion manufacturers out there. After all, this is one of the best ways for anyone to slowly get into the world of this wonderful instrument.
When we’re talking about accordions in general, there’s no way to avoid mentioning Hohner. Coming from Germany, the company’s full name is Hohner Musikinstrumente GmbH & Co. KG. It was founded way back in the 1850s by Matthias Hohner. Of course, they’re focused on many different instruments, including mandolins, acoustic and classical guitars, basses, but they’ve been especially proud of their accordions.
Looking at their line of accordions these days, the company has a lot of different stuff to offer. Players of various genres have been using their instruments. Anything from classical music, and even up to blues and pop. Aside from great diatonic and chromatic accordions, they also manufacture other related gear and accessories for the instrument. It’s one of the go-to brands for players of any level.
Now, it’s kind of weird to see the famous Japanese electronic instrument manufacturer on this list. However, they’ve been making some great accordions over the years. However, you need to bear in mind that these are electronic accordions. While some may be discouraged to look more into these types of instruments, Roland’s line of accordions provides some very realistic tones. These are professional-tier products that can also be used as MIDI controllers when paired with computers or other devices. If you’re looking for something more modern and innovative, you’d definitely want to check out Roland.
Website: Roland global
Anything with the name Excalibur can’t be bad. And that definitely shows with Excalibur accordions. They manufacture all the different types of accordions, including both chromatic and diatonic ones. When it comes to chromatic accordions, they make both button-based and piano ones.
At the same time, they cover a wide array of different styles, giving great instruments for everyone’s musical tastes. They’re usually not that cheap, but they’re definitely worth the money. What’s more, Excalibur also manufactures some great electronic accordions, which is another fine addition to their arsenal.
Just like many other accordion-builders, Weltmeister and their work can be traced back to the mid-19th century. Back then, the instrument was still developing and was not exactly the way we know it today. Over the decades, things changed a lot, and after World War 2, we saw many of the manufacturers of the Saxon Vogtland region merging into one big state-owned accordion company in East Germany.
One thing led to another, and we eventually got smaller manufacturers in more recent years. In 2017, Weltmeister separated from this larger group and began using their hard-earned knowledge and skill to make their own accordions.
They focus specifically on accordions, which is a great advantage for such a small company. In their array of products, we can find almost any type of accordions, even diatonic ones. Players of all styles are very fond of Weltmeister.
Website: Weltmeister Accordions
Lastly, we’d also like to mention D’Luca accordions. The company makes all different kinds of instruments, including guitars, basses, different percussive instruments, and even wind instruments. As far as accordions go, they often focus on smaller instruments and especially diatonic ones. To add to all this, D’Luca also makes great accordion accessories that every accordion player needs.
Top 6 Best Accordions for the Money
Now that we have this part covered, let’s look into the top 6 accordions for the money. Of course, singling out only five instrument models and giving them a spotlight wasn’t easy. We did our best to deliver something for everyone’s taste in a list of accordions that covers many different musical styles as well. So here’s what we came up with.
Best Sound: Tulskaya Garmon Tula Etud 205 M2
Russian accordion manufacturers have some great stuff to offer as well. Here we have a Tula Etud accordion by Tulskaya Garmon, 205 M2. This is a standard chromatic one with the button formation. The first thing we can notice about it is its great tone, something that really stands out even in this instrument’s price range. But this is not a surprise, as this one was built in Tula, which is one of the most famous accordion epicenters in the entire world.
The treble side has only three rows of buttons, with 55 buttons in total. Some may consider this not to be enough, although it all comes down to personal preferences. On the bass side, we have 100 buttons that provide great performance for any level of playing.
Overall, this is a fairly rare accordion, but it’s not impossible to stumble upon one on occasion. As we already explained, the tonal characteristics are its biggest strength. However, this is one might fine tool for every accordion player. It’s recommended for intermediate and professional players. However, it can also come in handy for beginners as well.
While it’s not of essential matter, we would like to point out that the accordion also comes with quality-made and very durable straps. The instrument combines great elegant design, ergonomic qualities, as well as its wonderful sound. What more do you need?
Best Budget Accordion: Hohner 1305
Now we’re going over to something for those piano accordion lovers. As already explained in this guide’s previous section, Hohner is one of the most prominent accordion manufacturers in the entire world. So it’s hard not to mention them on this list. While we’re at it, they’re also known for making good stuff in pretty much all price ranges. And here, we have a great budget option, Hohner’s 1305.
Its full name is 1305-RED Student Hohnica, which explains this instrument’s intended use. It’s a great accordion for beginner students. However, it definitely outperforms its price tag. With an instrument like this one, you’ll be able to perform way into intermediate and even advanced levels for some smaller performances.
Going over to its features, it’s pretty clear that Hohner did a lot of work to perfect this accordion model over the years. It has improved mechanisms which provide a better response from its keys. We also have a resonant construction, making this instrument fairly loud. In addition, we’d also mention tremolo tuned reeds as another great feature.
There’s a total of 72 buttons, 34 piano keys, as well as 5 buttons for the shaping of tone properties. It’s also worth mentioning that the range is from G to E, low to high.
Best for the Money: Hohner Bravo III 72
But with Hohner being such a great manufacturer, it was impossible not to mention at least another one of their great accordions on this top 5 list. Once again, we have a piano accordion on our hands. The model in question is their Bravo III, which goes more into the mid to high-level price territory.
This instrument has 34 piano keys, as well as 72 buttons. There are 5 switches, just like on the previous model that we mentioned. These provide you with 5 treble registers, 2 bass registers, and 3 different voices. Its keyboard length is about 16 inches, which gives enough room for comfortable performance on the right-hand side.
The instrument is slightly below 8 kilos, or about 17 pounds, which makes this instrument slightly lighter than average. There’s also a bigger version, the Bravo III 96, that features 96 bass keys and 37 piano keys. What’s surprising is that this bigger version is also relatively light compared to its size and performance.
The instrument also comes in a few different colors, which is another great addition here. A bit of a letdown comes with average straps, but that’s not much of an issue knowing how well this instrument performs.
Best Overall: Tulskaya Garmon Bayan Tula 209
We already talked about how great these accordions from Tula are, especially Tulskaya Garmon stuff. So we can’t help but mention another great product on this list. Although it’s a pricy one, Bayan Tula 209 is one of the best accordions, surpassing its price level by far. What’s more, many performers who are operating on a budget are looking for something more affordable, especially when it comes to button accordions. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good button accordion with so many features at this price level. But this one will do the trick.
Now, this is a great deal for all the serious players who prefer buttons over regular piano key layouts. And the best part is that Tula 209 has 5 rows of buttons on the treble side, with a total of impressive 92 buttons. On the bass side, we have another great setting, with 100 buttons.
To put it simply, this is one of the most reliable accordion makers in the business. Tula 209 is just one of the best examples of how great they are. It’s an absolute beast of an instrument and definitely worth checking out, no matter the kind of music you’re playing.
Best Electronic Accordion: Roland V-Accordion FR-1x
But, of course, we can’t avoid putting at least one of those great electronic accordions by Roland. There are a few great choices in there, but the one that caught our eye from their V-Accordion series of products is FR-1x.
As Roland explains, these accordions have “revolutionized” the world of music. While the statement might seem a bit too confident, it’s not that far from the truth when we look at FR-1x. The instrument is designed as a smaller and lightweight version of their other electronic accordions. It has 26 keys, along with 72 bass buttons.
Now, some may be discouraged to get such an instrument, especially when it comes to accordions since it might lack some expressive qualities. But you don’t need to worry about that with FR-1x since all the keys and buttons are velocity-sensitive. What’s more, this accordion also has an advanced pressure sensor that detects even the slightest movements of bellows opening and closing.
Now going to its sound engine, the accordion has a maximum polyphony of 128 voices. There are different settings on this instrument. We have 16 accordion presets, each of them including 14 treble registers, 7 bass registers, 7 free bass, 7 orchestra bass, and others.
This is a very potent and diverse instrument that can also be used as a MIDI controller. Some might feel that such accordions can do as well as the acoustic ones, but with the right setup, they outperform many instruments in this price range.
Best for Beginners: Hohner 3100GB
It seems that we can’t get enough of Hohner and their great accordions. But they’re just so widespread and there’s an abundance of great models to choose from. Now we bring something a little different, 3100GB. What makes it stand out on this list is the fact that it’s a diatonic accordion. This means that you cannot play all the notes in every key, but rather just the ones in the given key that the accordion comes with. While this seems limiting, diatonic accordions find their use. On the other hand, they’re a good choice for beginners.
Along with a few other features, this makes Hohner 3100GB a great choice. This accordion can play in the keys for C major, G major, and F major, along with their parallel minor keys. It features 3 rows of buttons on the treble side, with a total of 31 buttons. It also comes with only 12 bass buttons in 2 rows, as well as 2 sets of treble reeds.
Overall, it’s fairly cheap and relatively light, making it a great choice even for younger players. Of course, the build quality and tone are up to Hohner standards. There’s a hard chance anyone would be disappointed by the instrument’s qualities. At the same time, its simplicity and accessibility are what make it a great choice for those who are just starting out on accordions.
Things to Consider When Buying Accordions
When buying accordions, there are a few important things one should consider. After all, the instrument is actually way more complex than a beginner might think. When you look at it, there isn’t any other instrument out there that would be able to compare to accordion’s peculiar nature. But let’s see, what are the mos important features to look into when buying accordions.
Chromatic vs Diatonic
One of the most important divisions in the world of accordions comes down to chromatic versus diatonic instruments. In some way, we could argue that these are even completely different instruments, but that’s a whole different discussion.
It takes no more than one look to realize that accordions are bulky instruments, at least in most cases. This comes with its problems, most notably the instrument’s weight. This is one of the main things to consider, especially with beginner players. Whether you’re standing up or sitting down, you’re supposed to hold it on your chest, with straps sitting on your shoulders. In most cases, it goes anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds. But for beginners and younger players, this might be too much. The best idea is to go with something lighter, even below 10 pounds.
Although bulky, accordion is a very delicate instrument. Improper care and storage can even lead to serious longterm damages. At the same time, it’s important to look into materials and how well accordions are assembled if you want a reliable instrument. Any of the accordions we mentioned above are a good example of quality instruments.
Acoustic vs Electronic
Although they’re not that common, electronic accordions are still an interesting concept that some players might prefer. Yes, it is in some way “controversial,” especially if we’re talking about classical and traditional music. Nonetheless, these accordions have been perfected and can often replicate many different tones.
But even though they’re versatile, nothing can still beat the greatness of conventional acoustic accordion. Their loud volume and specific sound come to mind as the most important traits of these accordions.
In the end, it’s an important distinction and you should think this through and make up your mind before making your first purchase.
As you may already notice, accordions are kind of expensive. At least when compared to other instruments. This is not a surprise as a lot of work goes into designing and building these fine instruments. In addition, there are a lot of moving components, something that you don’t find with guitars or violins, for example.
So all the price standards are significantly higher with accordions. Cheap and simple accordions can be as high as $500, while some professional ones can go even way past the $2000 mark. So if you’re a beginner looking for your first accordion, you need to be ready to spend at least $400 or $500. Yes, it’s an expensive instrument, but that’s the price behind its unique sound.
How to Play Accordion
It’s no wonder that the accordion is considered to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn. While almost any other instrument out there requires coordination between left and right hand, things get a bit tricky with finding the perfect “flow” of the bellows with the opening and closing movements. It’s hard to explain everything briefly as it involves very complex and coordinated movements. Here’s a great instructional video for beginners.
Famous Accordion Players
(1905 – 1986)
Some may know Charles Magnante for his famous quartet. He’s considered to be one of the musicians who brought the accordion to other genres outside of traditional folk music. Charles dabbled in boogie-woogie, jazz, and even classical.
(1885 – 1951)
Frosini was one of the first “stars” on this fine instrument. Born in the 1880s, his first recordings date from 1907 and were captured on phonograph cylinders. He’s one of the most important players in history.
(1919 – 2005)
Known for his work on “The Lawrence Welk Show,” Myron Floren had quite a long career. In the 1970s, he became known as a bandleader and brought the accordion to a whole new level.
(1903 – 1992)
Born in a German community in South Dakota, Lawrence Welk was kind of a “rock ‘n’ roll star” before rock ‘n’ roll was even a thing. To put it simply, he was a virtuoso on the instrument and has pushed it into some previously unheard territories.
(1888 – 1954)
Italian musician Pietro Deiro is easily one of the most famous accordion players who ever lived. During his fruitful career, he also started Pietro Deiro Publications that collected numerous important works for the instrument.
As you may already know, accordion is not an easy instrument to learn. Nonetheless, it’s far more versatile than many might think, as it finds application in a lot of different styles of music. If you’re looking for ways to learn how to play the accordion, you should bear in mind that they’re a bit more expensive than other choices.
At the same time, they also require a lot of practice and maintenance. But this should not be a problem if you’re fond of accordions and the wonderful sounds that they produce.