I've just started playing accordion 2 months ago, made good progress on a bayan (B-system). I am a professional pianist, and the reason I chose a button accordion is for the challenge, but also because I believe the keyboard layout will allow me to do things beyond what I could ever do with a piano keyboard (especially when it comes to improvised music).

Got myself a Roland MIDI accordion, which can be configured to play with the B or C griff.

I guess the main goal of playing the accordion is to play musette, but I am also into russian music, tango, paso doble.

So my big question is: should I

  1. stick to B-system
  2. switch to C as soon as possible
  3. try to learn both and switch depending on the kind of music style.

All infos on the internet explain that it's very 'personal', and also that it depends on the type of music I am going to play. However, I don't understand what the pros and cons are of each system, except that I read that the C system looks more like a piano keyboard, and the B has the advantage of letting the thumb be more active. Someone also told me that the C system is used in musette because it's more adequate for very fast pieces. But all that seems insufficient info to decide what's best.

I also thought of asking my teacher, but I expect him to be biased because he is a bayan player and may not even be able to teach me the C-system?


2 Answers 2


Well, the differences are not all that much qualitatively. You can get by on three rows a bit better with B system. Fingerings are a bit more similar to piano with C system. In particular: if you ever take to piano accordion (as an extra instrument or not), the left hand system for single-note bass playing (namely on a converter instrument) is identical with that of C system.

That's sort of important. On a Bayan, the sixth row is slightly different even in chord mode (shifted by one).

Musette is written for C system. And the (used) acoustic instruments looking and playing best for musette are also C system.

However, if there are no really pressing reasons, you take the system for which you have a teacher readily available. That's by far the most important consideration.


While both C and B systems are supported by most manufacturers, my personal recommendation would be the C system, particularly because there are more qualified instructors in North America and the British Isles. If you are more interested in Russian and Eastern European music, then go for the B system. An excellent resource for C system to obtain is "Das Knopfakkordeon C-Griff" by Elsbeth Moser. Unfortunately it is currently available only in German, but someone with a musical background can muck through it and get a good conceptual understanding through her excellent diagrams. In particular, her primary goal for the student to visualize music for performance on the instrument through pattern recognition.

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