At about 40 seconds into this video:

, Karene stops using the bass buttons and starts playing the treble side only when opening the bellows. Furthermore, in order to do so, she manages to close the bellows very quickly at her chosen moments without making any sound. So my question is: How? She is not using the air release button. That's clear, because you can see her thumb, which is nowhere near the air release button, and the air release is in the usual place on the back (which can be seen in other videos where she plays the same accordion).

It looks like she might be mashing a bunch of bass buttons all at once when she's closing the bellows. But I have tried that on my own accordion, and while it does let the bellows close a little more quickly, of course, it still makes an awful sound -- and a very loud sound, if I try to close the bellows as quickly as she is closing hers.

ADDENDUM: After posting this question, I became of aware of the Accordionists.info forum, and I managed to find a thread from last November that discussed this "play only on the draw" technique. There was a back and forth discussion about it among 3 or 4 people, but no one had an answer as to how it was accomplished.

Just a Side Note: Karene is only 13 years old in this video!

1 Answer 1


If your bass is fully registered and you press what amounts to all buttons (namely getting a majority of the 12 bass notes and a majority of the 12 chord notes), it can suck up quite a lot of air. But looking at the video it just seems to me like she is not pressing any button at all but rather just "overvoting" the springs keeping the air pallets closed. When air is squeezed through at consistent high pressure (pressure will significantly be reduced in the minimal gap where the pallet leather sealing is wedged open, but not at the reed itself), the reeds will tend to be choked off.

Personally I am lucky that the original soloist my accordion was built for had a diatonic accordion background and insisted on an easily accessible air button with significant throughput. So an inconspicuous "ornamentary" ridge that sometimes is used as a converter switch on Russian accordions is a really large and effective air button (it also has a way larger pallet for admitting air than usual) on my instrument. And yes, you do get used to it.

The sound quality and pliability, for better or worse, just is slightly different on push and draw.

One side effect is that most Argentinian tango is typically played on the draw on the bandonion, with the air button used for letting the air out between phrases rather than arranging pieces in a manner where alternating bellows direction is used for balancing air use.

  • Wouldn't what you describe run the risk damaging seals or gaskets or something? Or do accordions tend to be more robust than that? Thank you. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 18:58

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