Beginner button accordion

Beginner button accordion

Hi there I am quite new to the site my own name is James I’m from Kerry.

From a young age I always had a love of traditional music especially the button accordion.
But I never had the confidence to go out and learn to play to be honest.
Older in years now I am drawn to learn to play it.
I’m 31 is that too old?

I was hoping I could get some advice if you did not mind.
What would be the best type of beginner b/c button accordion to start to learn to play?
Do all b/c button accordions have the same key layout?
What does swing tune mean and what is the best mean of tuning for traditional Irish music or is there a need to worry about that when starting out?
Is there any good button accordion teachers in Kerry?

I like styles of playing such as Danny o Mahoney and Damien Mullane.

Thanks in advance for reading.

Happy new year also

Re: Beginner button accordion

Not too old at all. Are you sure Danny o Mahoney and Damien Mullane are playing B/C boxes? B/C is very common, but almost as common is the C#/D layout.

Re: Beginner button accordion

Welcome to "the session.org", James. "I’m 31 is that too old?" I feckin’ hope not - I’ve just bought one and I’m over 60 ! There are some fairly knowledgable players on this website who will certainly be able to give you better advice than me, but I would suggest you do a "Discussions" "search" for threads on "b/c accordions" and have a read through those. There’s a lot of good information in there, and don’t be shy about asking advice here, we were all beginners once, - and here I am again. :)

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Re: Beginner button accordion

Never too old to pick up a musical instrument James. It will keep your brain young. No tips from me sorry, I’m a fiddler, but stand by.

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Re: Beginner button accordion

> I’m 31 is that too old?

Nope. But remember it takes a newborn baby a dozen years or so before it can hold an intelligent conversation, and learning music is no different. Now you’re probably smarter than a baby so a bit of a head start there, but it will take a while

> What would be the best type of beginner b/c button accordion to start to learn to play?

Loads out there. Probably best bang for the buck is to buy a second hand one from a specialist dealer. Don’t buy the cheapest one you can find, invest a bit of money in it or you’ll spend the money twice over.

Do all b/c button accordions have the same key layout?

More or less. There are sometimes some minor differences, but they don’t matter much.

What does swing tune mean and what is the best mean of tuning for traditional Irish music or is there a need to worry about that when starting out?

Accordions play several identical notes for each key you press. If you make them very slightly out of tune, it makes the accordion louder. The amount of out of tuneness is called swing. Everyone has their own opinions on it. It doesn’t matter much, it’s more important the box is tuned. On balance a beginner probably wants less swing but it’s not a big deal.

There are some excellent videos on Youtube explaining various details about B/C tuning and also C#/D which I’d recommend to get a handle on what the difference is.

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Re: Beginner button accordion

I started playing B/C box when I was 52.

Re: Beginner button accordion

I would get in contact with John Brosnan (just outside Killarney) about buying a box, he repairs, tunes and sell boxes.

I wouldn’t immediately go for a B/C over C#/D, get listening to some of your fellow Kerry/Cork player (Begley’s, paduie O’connor, Con Fada, Bryan O’Leary, Jackie Daly being obvious C#/D ones) Danny O’Mahony plays (B/C) but masters it, so not a fair comparison of style, Damian Mullane is B/C, here is a list of every box player you could think of and their type of box http://irishbox.blogspot.com/ (not all box type are correct) check them out on youtube.

most B/C accordions have the same layout on the righthand side (except for the odd low note or a high d) the base side is different, there are probably three different options on the base side.

swing tune is in between wet and dry and probably your best option, but you need to hear the difference (dry sounds closer to a concertina, wet sounds like three different concertinas tuned slightly differently.

31 years old, is too old if you think it’s too old, but way too young to be asking that question, we humans are masters of putting obstacles in front of ourselves, anyway if you have been listening to music since you were young, you probably have 31.75 years of a head start on other beginners.

Re: Beginner button accordion

Welcome to "the session.org", James. "I’m 31 is that too old?" I certainly hope not - I just started in October of last year and I’m 67. I’m earning on a Serenillini 233 B/C box. I’m teaching myself (probably a bad practice) but I am scheduled for a lesson later this month. I think that makes me the fifth box player in the state of Arizona. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of excellent box players but I seem to be stuck on listening to Loretta Egan Murphy and Patty Furlong. I’ve only learned one set of Patty Furlong’s to date and a smattering of other tunes but I think it’s grand fun. I didn’t discover Trad until I was 61 but I think it’s great that you have a 36 year head start on me!

Re: Beginner button accordion

Hi James

Probably your local Comhltas branch would advise you on a tutor. Brendan Begley does do accordion workshops in west Kerry each spring, he might point you in the right direction

Prior to getting lessons you could teach yourself the basic scales (D, A, G etc) on your box.

I know it’s a matter of taste but don’t rule out the C#/D it’s a very popular style in sliabh Luachra and west Kerry, plus I’ve met a few B/C players who said the tunes in the key of A can be difficult on their system, IMHO the key of A is the easiest on the C#/D box (that said I find the key of C very difficult on it)

As for your age I started C#/D box at the same age as you 6 years ago and I’m still enjoying it. One of the best box players I’ve heard didn’t pick up the box until he was over 40 years of age

Hope this helps

Re: Beginner button accordion

James, never too old to learn. For a good quality beginner box try; https://allaboutaccordions.com/garvey-aaa-beginner/
Sean is located in Dublin and I think his beginner boxes are very good at around 550 Euros. By the way, I have no financial interest in this.
Good luck with your journey.
Cheers.

Re: Beginner button accordion

You may have already come across it, but thesession regular Stiamh has a few videos demonstrating differences between C#/D and B/C:
https://youtu.be/PgZQcfMiyAg (pt 1)

https://youtu.be/ku0Nsm33FXM (pt 2)

https://youtu.be/enAPM5Okr0U (Cameronian Reel played in both fingerings)

I picked C#/D when I took up the box recently (in my later 30s), after realizing it was the system played by most of my favorite recorded players.

Re: Beginner button accordion

James, your best bet might be to find a teacher locally that you get along well with and who is able to give you instruction regularly (or whenever you need it), and adopt whatever system he or she plays. You are certainly not too old - but you do need to be prepared to invest serious amounts of time in the endeavour if you want to make serious progress. Half an hour’s practice twice a week will not turn you into a box player. Good luck!

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Re: Beginner button accordion

Aye to all that: I was late 50s before I started, though had played several very dissimilar instruments before that.
You don’t say if you play anything else, James? If you do, you may find, as I did, that although your new instrument is perhaps totally unlike anything you’ve played before, even a little previous musical knowledge will help. And as Stiamh says, personal tuition is worth every penny if you an get it in your area.

Re: Beginner button accordion

Your from Kerry!!!!!, throw a stone in any direction and you will almost hit a button accordion player. I am almost twice your age from Kerry and took it up four years ago. Unfortunately I live in northern Canada so no accordion players here.. Like you I was always very interested in the button accordion but intimidated because so many great players surround you.In Kerry there are tons of teachers.e.g. Killarney music school— that just to get you started!!. John Brosnan great resource re buying button accordions. I bough a B/C accordion myself last year when I was home. Connor Moriarty posted in face book a while back giving accordion lessons. So many sessions around , visit them and ask questions of any player. Good luck—and go for it

Re: Beginner button accordion

Jeez I was not expecting all that feedback and information.
To everyone who replied and for all the advice, tips references, information and inspiration thank you very much
I have so much to go off and I think you have all made the journey a bit easier with your answers.
It is always a bit daunting leaving a message like that as a total novice but i am taken back by your help.
I think I will talk to John Brosnan about a 2nd hand accordion as his name seems to pop up quite a bit down here in Kerry.

As for which type i will go for remains a mystery for now I will just make sure to find a good teacher which from your answers should be easy to find here.

Again thank you for all your help.

I look forward to letting you know how I get on.

:-)