The accordion and the bandoneon are two different instruments that happen to look extremely similar. The similarities in the instruments don’t stop at looks, since they are also both played similarly. Perhaps the biggest difference at first glance is the sizes of each instrument. The bandoneon is a smaller instrument than the accordion, so that’s one clue to let you know which is which. Aside from the size of each, the biggest difference between the two is actually sound. Although the instruments look like they would sound the same based off of their appearance, the sounds they produce are actually quite different!
An accordion is known for having what are called, “changing registers” which are essentially just different numbers of switches that the instrument holds. This means that when it is played, it creates many sounds as a result of the changing registers. A Bandoneon doesn’t have any register switches, but instead changes sound by the amount of air pressure and the choice of specific keyboard when played. This actually allows the player of the bandoneon a little more control regarding how the instrument will sound, and can allow for techniques like vibrato to come into play. These two instruments look alike, but when close attention is paid, it becomes clear how unique each of them really are!
Written By: Rebecca Malloof