High-quality SMALL accordion?

LoritmoLoritmo Pacific NW✭✭✭
edited April 2008 in Accordion Posts: 69
Hi, Everybody,

I’m hoping the accordionists out there can help with my search: I took up the accordion a year ago and have started to mess around with gypsy jazz. I am currently playing a 1961 Excelsior accordion (two reeds, 41 keys, 120 bass; 15 3/8-inch keyboard, key to key, not including frame), but would like to move up to three reeds.

I’m having trouble finding a high-quality SMALL accordion with the same number of keys/bases and same keyboard size as the Excelsior, which weighs about 13 pounds, but with three reeds. I'd love to go even lighter than 13 pounds if anything exists.

1) Does anybody know of any small good-quality accordion brands with three reeds?

2) Should I just have a two-reed accordion that fits the bill tuned to musette tuning?

3) I've read the Djangobooks forum topic about the chromatic button accordion (CBA) and I'm tempted to go that route, but I'd lose my year of learning to play the piano accordion. If I go for a CBA, do they come in small, but capable high-quality sizes? Any suggestions?

Thanks for your advice.


  • brandoneonbrandoneon Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France✭✭✭
    Posts: 171
    Welcome to the forum!

    Sorry to say, but I think a 3 reed instrument with 41 keys and 120 bass that is also high quality is unrealistic. Adding an extra set of reeds adds to the weight of the instrument, and you're already at 13 pounds with a 2 reed box. It also seems that at 15 3/8 ", you're at the lower size limit for a 41 key accordion and I don't know if many companies would invest in creating high quality instruments at that size.

    I see that you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can try contacting Petosa Accordions ( - they're in Seattle and are extremely knowledgeable. And aside from selling their own instruments, they have used ones for sale too.

    Playing an accordion with 2 reeds tuned musette seems a little limited to me - you would basically be just allowing yourself to play musette waltzes. If you're interested in gypsy jazz, most people use a bassoon reed (by itself). The piccolo reed doesn't seem to be of much use. You can still go larger in size (and heavier too) and still be comfortable (if you really want that extra bassoon reed), without going up to a 28 pound, 19.5 inch accordion. If a slightly larger and bulkier instrument feels cumbersome, some of that feeling may be alleviated by properly adjusting the straps.

    CBA accordions can be lighter. I have on with 3 reeds, a 50 note treble range, and 96 bass buttons and it weighs about 20 pounds - not bad considering my piano accordion is more like 28 pounds! The problem with these accordions is obtaining them in North America - I know nothing of the quality of the ones I see on ebay and some other websites here, but they look pretty poorly made to me. (But I have seen decent ones in a shop in Montreal before.) I found mine in France, where I was also fortunate enough to get some pointers and to pick up some books written specifically for CBA (it's the prevalent type in France). It hasn't been too hard for me to learn the CBA, but I'm still getting used to soloing - that's the hard part.

    If you're truly interested in gypsy jazz and accordion, you should consider attending Django In June this year. There are usually a few accordionists that show up, and this year it looks like there will be 2 instructors: a main one for the piano accordion, and a CBA player who will give some workshops on musette (I think). It may be a good opportunity to have some of your questions answered and to see which instrument would better suit your needs.

    Good luck!
  • LoritmoLoritmo Pacific NW✭✭✭
    Posts: 69
    Thanks, Brandon, for the reply -- I was hoping I'd hear from you because I've seen your knowledgable posts elsewhere. (I had send you a PM, but may not have done it right -- may never have gotten to you.)

    I have been to Petosa, but it was about six months ago before I had really narrowed down what I'm looking for. I'm afraid you're right, though -- I don't think I'm going to find what I'm looking for.

    I did find an 11-pound CBA made in Russia on E-Bay, but it has a B-griff keyboard and from what little I've found, seems like I'd probably want a C-griff. Do you have an opinion on that?

    Thanks for the hint about the straps. My accordion teacher is not much bigger than I am and she plays a huge DaVinci professional accordion as if it weighed nothing and has suggested I should try a bigger accordion.

    I think I'll look at the options, change them somewhat to accommodate more choices (i.e., heavier), and then try Petosa again.

    I did think about Django in June, but I need to know more basics than I do before committing to something like that. My husband plays violin and he and I and another friend who plays guitar have talked about going to Django in June next year. We are going to Djangofest Northwest in September 08 for all five days. Can't wait!

    Thanks again for your advice.
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