The Language of Button Boxes

This was originally published in February 2011, in a slightly different form. Reading the front pages of today's "fake news" rags, I can still see that our world's understanding of accordion lingo could fairly be described as a dearth. I hope this piece serves as a still-potent paliative

(for the inimitable, and inexplicably quiet, Tom B.)
A friend made a comment a few weeks ago indicating that those who are not Of the Bellows may have difficulty grasping the lingo of the box. "Yeah, yeah," I thought, "thus is the fate of squeeze-muggles." Then I read a sentence in another friend's accordion blog, and it shocked me into sympathy. Describing a sort of uber-box, Andy, at Melodeon Minutes wrote, "It was a Gaillard, 4-voice -- yes, 4-voice -- in D/G, tuned LM-MM+, with two switches behind the keyboard."

All I need is a black, Dino Baffetti two voice, MM+,
three-row, F/Bb/Eb, americano-tuned accordion,
two friends, and the truth
"Good Lord," I thought, envious, "That's quite a thing!" Then I imagined the uninitiated perusing that line (maybe the boys at Homeland Security) wondering, "What kind of thing?"

Then, in my own paean to the Hohner Corso, I found that I'd described the red, pearloid wonder as, "A wet tuned French-sounding box." Holy Cow! Is that even legal in New England?

So, what does it mean? With apologies to Andy, I've decided to use his exemplar sentence to explain some of the naming conventions of accordions.

So there you go. Suddenly it all makes sense, hey? Additional resources for this can be found at, and Steve Dumpleton's excellent Voices and Tunings FAQ.

Further questions, comments, or corrections are welcome.

*This is sarcasm.  I love vulgar.

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