I'm learning to play chromatic button accordion (C system) and my main reference is the Galliano method book (Complete Accordion Method).

This book contains reference material for how to play scales. However, it uses the first three rows only, and sometimes I find the fingering awkward. For example, the ascending C major scale goes from F in the third row with the fourth finger to G in the second row with the second finger - essentially you have to move your whole hand and it's not smooth.

I found that playing G with my thumb followed by A in the fourth row with my third finger is smoother and faster, so I've switched to that.

Do other people play major scales like this? Is there a lot of variation among CBA players? I originally learned music on piano where how to play scales is standardized.

  • Although scales are 'standardised', on piano or accordion, not everyone uses the same fingering. Rather like pieces, fingering is more of an individual choice, there may not be one and only finger pattern, due to our differing anatomy and preferences. If you find a good one for you, it makes sense to stick to it. And at the end of the day, scales are basically practice material, playing r.h. melodies far more relevant.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 8:38
  • Is the Galliano book intended for players who have 3-row instruments? Obviously they don't have the option of moving up to the 4th row.
    – Theodore
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 16:17
  • @Theodore Yes, that's likely why the Galliano book is written the way it is, but I'm wondering what other musicians do. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:58
  • Here's a more complete discussion on Reddit: reddit.com/r/Accordion/comments/13ddifl/… Commented May 12, 2023 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


"Traditional" methods very much rely on 3-row fingerings since that is all you could depend on except on concert instruments. That very much holds for Russian methods. French instruments even in the folk/musette traditions can usually depend on 4 rows, modern instruments generally are 5-row instruments in either system, and the Serbian dugmetara will usually be a 6-row B-system instrument.

Modern schools tend to rely on the availability of 5 rows (however, you have to keep in mind that converter basses generally only provide 4 rows of melody mostly inaccessible by thumb for the left hand). One has to keep in mind that one of the touted advantages of CBA systems, effortless arbitrary transpositions, only works if the untransposed rendition gets along with 3 rows.

For more natural chord fingerings, one additional row is helpful. Trills and other ornamentations benefit from alternative fingerings, partly because it becomes possible to uncramp a hand posture by using non-adjacent rows.

Modern methods tend to stress the usefulness of multiple parallel patterns you can employ for the same passage. The problem with that kind of flexibility is, of course, that it makes it less likely that your "automatisms" will work the same each time, so "I could play this sightreading first time round" gives less of a guarantee that things will work out equally well next time.

  • Thanks, this is good background info. But there's not much about practicing scales in particular. What are some examples of "modern methods?" Do you know of any specific methods of fingering that use four or more rows for scales? Where could I find examples? Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:54

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