I have this piano accordion, a small accordion, 3 registers, 80 basses. However, I'm not able to get any technical help from anyone experienced or to go to musical school, so I'm trying to learn it by myself. I don't have any school musical background, however I know about chords, notes, those basic stuff.

I'm doing absolutely fine regarding the piano part of the accordion. I learned to play songs by ear, which I'm very happy about, because I can pick up pretty much most of the songs easily.

The problem is this bass section; it's so complicated. I just can't work with this Stradella stuff. I've tried playing it (fast tapping rhythm change) but I just can't do it. Also, I don't even know how could I fit that type of playing into some rock songs or stuff like that. Any advice on how to play this thing would be helpful. It seems to me that basses can't be played like the left hand of the piano; it's just too loud, and in my case I can't play one bass note over a few right hand piano notes because it's too loud and the right hand part is hard to hear.

I want to learn to play this so that I can play songs for my friends and for myself. It doesn't have to sound extra spectacular, but still I want it to sound decent. As I said, right hand part is doing great but I just can't play the bass part.

  • 1
    Not a real answer but one important thing you'll want to do is learn some music that was written specifically for the kind of accordion you have. Trying to jump right into playing rock songs or anything not meant for accordion without understanding who the accordion is normally used is just going to drive you nuts. Maybe a good compromise is to try to get some sheet music for Weird Al Yankovic accordion music, which is basically rock/polka stuff. But you do have to learn to drive it before you can drive off road. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:37

4 Answers 4


Stradella bass usually is played in "oom-pah" style (Scott Joplin actually maps pretty well to that, so do a few other music styles, often dances). The balance between bass and treble depends on registration and the music style the accordion is intended for (and the talent of the people designing the accordion to create a musically sensible whole). For "accordion-typic" styles, the usual playing style is sort-of staccato, except that you aim for a somewhat "plucked bass" sound character on the bass buttons (sort-of a controlled released of the bass buttons) and sort of a soft staccato on the chord buttons (bit shorter than the bass).

Of course, the left hand articulation must not infect the right hand or the whole becomes a folk dance parody. Bigger accordions tend to have lower basses: that gives less overlap of frequencies with the treble side and thus makes the situation less problematic.

As to "right hand part is doing great": I have my doubts. Accordion lives and dies with bellow work and articulation: articulation is part of what helps the treble assert itself over the bass since a smooth leggiero causes each note to have a slightly accented onset from the pressure buildup of the bellows movement inertia from well-controlled tension giving the accordion "organic breathing". Of course this requires using the left hand in a manner where the bellows pressure is not transmitted through the buttons but rather palm and back of the hand.

There is a reason a "folk instrument" like this is actually being taught in (some) conservatories, and some of its finer points are actually reasonably low-hanging fruit even for amateurs but just tend to occur to self-taught players rather late if at all.


Look up the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stradella_bass_system discussion of the Stradella bass system. It's really easy. The second row is the keynote (tonic) of the chord of interest. All accordions have that C note marked with something that is easy to feel, usually a cup. The note below (if any) is the "counter bass" note, a major third from the bass (E over the C bass). The third row is the major chord (C-E-G) which is obviously useful; the fourth row is the corresponding minor chord (C-Eb-G). It's easy to play an alternating bass (C-CM, G-CM, etc.) because the columns are in order by the cycle of fifths, to the top of the accordion is up a fifth (adding one sharp or neutralizing one flat) and downward is down a fourth (naturalizing one sharp or adding one flat.) The next row (assuming the according is big enough) is the dominant seventh row; it has three notes of the corresponding dominant seventh (related to the bass note, not the key signature) with the fifth dropped (C-E-Bb) and the last row is the diminished seventh chord (again dropping the fifth so that one chord isn't louder than another, except in some French accordions).

The most common chords for key are in nearby rows; in C, the F-C-G rows are next to each other (in A the D-A-E rows are also aligned). Transposition of harmony is just shifting up or down the proper amount. It takes a few months of practice (but so does any instrument). In a piano accordion, the right hand plays the melody (and any interesting counter melody or harmony) and the left hand plays chords and bass lines. The counter bass row makes it easy to play bass runs in major or minor keys.

I don't play one, but I think the button accordion arrangement is much more efficient for the right hand; my really expensive piano accordion has about three octaves for the RH, but a good button accordion would have 5 octaves (as good as a Baroque organ). This takes a bit more time learn common figures but isn't too hard with practice.


although this is a old post I will still answer.

I've been playing accordion for 8-9 months so have a little experiance. so as for the bass I personally if I dont want to use a simple oom pah, polka etc. then I can either think about how fast I want to play the song and then do the bass around that or I can watch someone else do a cover of the song etc.

as for the volume the volume is all controlled by the bellows and so if you play more softly the quieter it all gets however as you put it, this affects both keyboard and bass but honestly I wouldn't worry too much about the volume, personally I prefer to have a bit of bass to fill the gaps.


Maybe I'm necroposting, but...

There is simple way to arranging rock songs to Stradella system: typical rock band consists of drummer, bass guitar(let's call 'em left hand guys), solo guitar, vocal(they are "right hand") sometimes with drop of a synth/other melodic instruments(joining the right hand team) and rhythm guitarist(joining left hand team). So you need to figure out melody by joining right hand team score(button accordions are easy on it -- you can even play 2 tracks in 3 octaves) and you form your accompaniment from notes of bass guy, upgrading them to chords by holding down assumed chord while playing a measure of melody (you will instantly hear if this chord is in harmony with melody or not), then you make the rhythm of percussion your accompaniment rhythm -- basses/complimentary basses are kicks, chords are for other hits of percussion. After lot of repetitions you will be one-man band playing a rock song.

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