I'm an amateur accordion player who is having difficulties with the bass side. There's no problem when I'm using close keys such as jumping from C to A. But when I need to jump to a further key such as from A to Bb, I usually press a wrong key.

Is there a common (or natural) left hand position preferred by accordionists? I mean, is there a way that accordionists position their left hand on the accordion? Do they know it just by looking at the chords in the song?

I've watched several accordionists on Youtube and couldn't figure out any specific style.

If the answer is no, what do you recommend me to improve my left hand? Do you recommend any source of exercise set?

  • This is a very generic point, but one thing that really helps me with my violin technique is to ask my teacher. You may be able to find an accordion teacher who would do a one-off lesson. Who knows, you may end up coming back for more. – dumbledad Mar 1 '13 at 18:51
  • Thank you for your comment. I actually have a teacher. He told me that I could put my hand as I like. But I wondered if there is any common technique for that. – petrichor Mar 2 '13 at 22:36
  • You could pick up converter/MIII accordion. That way one gets a lot of practice in finger changes, intervals and so on. The normal standard bass play rarely requires that kind of stuff. The somewhat less resource-intensive version is practicing the bass line play on standard bass. Try finding music that uses the standard bass for a lot more than Oom-pah accompaniment. If you can play scales and later melodies by ear on the standard basses, you'll be a lot better acquainted with distances and finger changes and so on. – User8773 Mar 22 '14 at 19:23

I think your answer might depend on what style (and key, and so on) of music you are playing, as well as what size (style? I don't know the word) of accordion you are using.

I use the standard 120-button size accordion, and as a general rule (for my songs so far) I place my middle finger on C to start. I think I shift my middle finger to the key of the song I'm playing in.

If a song requires chords that are not easily accessible from a "root" position of middle finger on the base of the key, you may want to find a nicer position or learn to shift. Exercises that helped me learn to shift were simply practicing arpeggios and scales, starting slowly while reading the chord chart, and moving towards memorization and faster speeds. You could also try playing the bass line of difficult songs alone. I'm sure your instructor has more ideas for left-hand improvement etudes.

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The accepted answer states proposes the middle finger on the key bass to start. It is listed under "as a general rule (for my songs so far)". I tend to suspect that the parenthetical remark points to little actual experience underlying the urge to provide a helpful answer to another beginner.

That's actually a rather strange starting position: the typical Oom-pah accompaniment using (lower case chord, upper case bass note) C-c-G-c (4/4) or C-c-c-G-c-c (3/4) can be fingered 4-3-2-3 and 4-3-3-2-3-3 respectively (assuming that thumb-index-middle-ring-pinky are numbered 1-2-3-4-5). While minor key Oom-pah C-cm-cm-G-cm-cm can be played well using the 4-2-3-2 pattern, it is more usual to revert to 4-3-4-3 here: minor keys tend to involve a lot of switching between major, minor, and seventh chords, and playing the basic minor pattern starting with 4-2 rather than the major-typical 4-3 requires planning ahead for comparatively little gain. One could make do by playing everything 4-2-3-2, but that makes for crowded fingers in the major chord scenario.

Apropos seventh chords: you don't want to be playing the bass note with the middle finger (second row) when the actual chord to be played with the index finger is in the fifth or even sixth row.

Don't take my word for it: just look at a number of videos from convincing players: while they are rather flexible in what kind of fingers they use while playing runs etc, the basic action starter is almost always the ring finger.

Note that this is for playing the customary 2+4 (2 bass rows, 4 chord rows) layout. If you are playing 3+3 (some French button accordions, and quite fewer Italian ones) with a focus on bass runs, the starting position might conceivably be different. And don't get me started on the Belgian bass system...

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The 4-3 tech is now used more common than the old 3-2 tech, means the ring finger is used on the bass & counter bass bottons-ie 4th finger.

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I switch back and forth between 3-2 and 4-3 depending on what chord I need to play next...CM7 vs Cm7 vs Cm6 for example

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  • 1
    Could you expand this to explain what 3-2 and 4-3 are, and give more detail about your examples? – Karen Apr 9 '16 at 1:58

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