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How to play a 48 bass accordion

Updated June 15, 2017

Many consider the 48 bass accordion the simpler accordion to play compared with its 120 bass counterpart. Essentially, it is just a much more simplified version of the common 120s. You still have the full chromatic scale available, but the bass section has been reduced to major and minor. All of the seventh (four-note chords) and diminished chords (tonally close chords) have been removed which makes the instrument much lighter and less complicated.

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  1. Use your right hand to play the keys or the buttons and your left hand to play the 48 bass notes. The position of the accordion on your body is not of paramount importance, and you can experiment with it until you find the position that feels most comfortable. When sitting down, most people rest the right side of the instrument on their lap and use the left hand to pump the bellow.

  2. Practice pumping the bellow, which is responsible for producing sound. First, unlatch the accordion so the bellow can move freely. Place your left thumb on the bellow release button (a button that prevents wind from moving through the reeds of the instrument). While still pressing the button, let gravity pull the opposing sides to the ground in a smooth fashion, and then push them back together.

  3. Listen to hear if any sound is being produced. When using the bellow release button, no sound should be produced. If you do hear sound, you'll need to adjust the position of your thumb over the bellow release button. Practice this a lot, especially when you are just beginning.

  4. Learn a few basic chords once you can properly pump the bellow. The easiest chords to learn as a beginner are C, F and G. Practice producing these chords first by playing the chord on the bass side and then matching the notes on the treble side. There are many fingering charts available if you would like to learn the correct fingerings or alternate note patterns.

  5. Practice combing the chords together to form chord sequences. Once you can make all the sounds in a consistent and controlled manner, begin to alternate between the various chords. The key is to switch chords quickly as one compression is ending and the other is just about to start. With just three chords, you can begin producing real music on your 48 bass accordion.

  6. Tip

    Memorise each chord before moving on to another. Learning new chords too quickly can cause problems later.


    Allow your accordion time to warm up to room temperature before playing it, especially during the winter months. Do not attempt to repair your accordion if it breaks. Accordions are very complicated instruments and require professional care.

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Things You'll Need

  • 48 Bass Accordion
  • Fingering Chart

About the Author

Contributing Writer


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