Buying an Accordion
Of the various types of accordions played in Zydeco music today this site will focus on the single row diatonic accordion as seen to the left. Depending on your budget for a single row accordion you're probably going to spend around $300 to over $1000 for an accordion and much more for a triple row accordion. While you may focus on learning Zydeco songs the accordion is referred to as a Cajun accordion when looking to buy the accordion. more
If you need to go cheap I would strongly suggest buying a used accordion first but stay away from the really old accordions. Accordions are extremely durable as I have had both of mine for over 10 years and I have not been "easy" on them. If your buying off the internet and can't test it out ask the seller to send you a little video clip of the accordion being played which will also give you a little better idea of the condition.
Used Accordion Buying Checklist:
1. Do all the notes work? (pull out and in on the bellows for all the buttons)
2. Are the bellows tight? (pull out and in on bellows with out playing any notes, does air leak significantly?)
3. Test the base buttons on the left side
4. If buying it from another location ask if they would send you a video clip of the tests above...
There are many different keys of accordions you can purchase. While this does vary, Zydeco music is often played on an accordion tuned in the key of B flat while Cajun music is often on an accordion in the key of C but this can vary and is often selected by the vocal range of the artist.
I first purchased a less expensive Iolite single row Cajun accordion from Ebay for a couple hundred dollars and then had the springs changed under the buttons which made them not as stiff. There are many makers such as Martin or Savoy of better quality accordions or you can go direct through the manufacturer such as Gabbanelli, After a couple of years with my cheap accordion I purchased a higher quality used Gabbanelli accordion from the Zydeco artist Leroy Thomas and while it was $800 I did save several hundred dollars compared to buying a new accordion.
Accordions for Cajun and Zydeco music are typically tuned differently so when you buy the accordion check if it is tuned "wet" for Zydeco otherwise you can change the tuning later if you prefer "wet" tuning over dry.
While some will suggest to not buy a cheap model I do think it's better to get it and start practicing rather than waiting. There are many keys you can choose from but for Zydeco B-flat is very common in comparison to accordions in the key of C for Cajun tunes. You can always sell your cheap accordion as well if you do decide to upgrade at some point.
This site mainly focuses on the single row Cajun style accordions used to play Zydeco music but most of the pro's bring and play both the single row, triple row and some also bring and play the piano accordions.