Chromatic Accordions – B & C System

I am getting a lot of inquiries about chromatic accordions. There are a lot of piano keyboard accordionists that are wanting to add the chromatic to their accordion skills and many diatonic accordion players – switching.

Technically – the Piano Accordion is referred to as a Chromatic Accordion – and the Chromatic Accordion is referred to a Button Box (for C System) and a Bayan for the B System!

ALL the arrangements on the accordion blog – can be played on the chromatic accordion. I have deliberately NOT LABELED fingering – so that the chromatic player will not get confused. If I have labeled fingering – please assume it is for the piano keyboard. I will make a note on the top of the arrangement – if it is fingered for chromatic and which system.

I can sincerely tell you that I am on the fence as to which system to recommend. I teach BOTH systems. AND – I DO NOT TEACH WORLD COMPETITION ACCORDION PLAYERS. With that said – here is where I start my recommendations. IF you have NEVER played the accordion before and you are a beginner AND if you are a diatonic player – I will recommend the B SYSTEM. If you are a piano keyboard player – I will recommend the C system SOMETIMES. Let me clarify!

Accessibility is usually the main reason most Western Hemisphere accordionists select the C System. The C System is easier to find. The rest of the WORLD – Russia – China – Eastern Europe plays the B System. One final note – if you plan to play the left hand chromatically (converter) – the fingering is the same for both hands on the B System.

CASE FOR the C System – C is anchored on the outside row. the major chords fall under your fingers a little easier – on the 3 row (1 row apart)- and when you get to the helper rows (row 4 & 5) – you have two options for the C Major chord and the straight line scale notes run left to right (easier on 4-5 rows). Vertically – the buttons are Identical to the B System! Roland Chromatic Accordions come standard set up as C System – BUT you can change to B System (simple change in settings) – you have to re-arrange the buttons (they just screw on and off)

CASE FOR the B System – C is anchored on the 3rd row (in the middle on B system) the major chords fall – putting the middle notes UNDER your hand on the 3 row – but when you get to the helper rows – they are the same position as the C System (just 1 row further) – and the straight line scale notes run right to left (easier on 4-5 rows). Vertically – the buttons are Identical to the C System!

SO – the main difference – the rows are in reverse positions. THAT IS ALL!

I sincerely have handed either system to an accomplished piano accordion player and within 5 minutes – they have figured out the notes! Especially if the accordion has black & white buttons (white is white notes – black is black notes!) AND on both systems – the C and F buttons have a waffle marking – so you won’t get lost!

SOOO – I will stay on the FENCE!!! But when pushed – I will recommend B System for converting diatonic players and the C System for converting Piano Accordion Players!

Compare the Button Charts:

Michael Bridge’s Recommendation: I think that C system may be a slightly easier conversion, because your thumb is used in a similar way to piano accordion, and the hand position also remains pretty constant. However, both are completely possible and I think an important factor is the music you want to play. For example, most french musette music is conceived for C system, whereas Russian classical works are written with B system in mind. However, I think there are more similarities than differences.