by Ernesto De Avila
Many of you might be familiar with the musical instrument that has been around since the early 19th century, the accordion, but not all of you know the impact it has had on countries around the world. The accordion has managed to become popular in Europe and even countries of South and Central America; it is an instrument that has been used for many genres of music including Spanish, Polkas, and folk music. Even though the accordion originated in Europe many manufactures have popped up in other parts of the world like the Americas, yet some of the best quality accordions are still produced in Germany and Italy today. These companies are recognized in the accordion world for the masterpieces they produce. The accordion Gabbanelli which comes from Italy and the Hohner which is made in Germany have outsold all other companies by far, but does that really mean they are still the best accordions out there? Maybe the newly found Boppolas or the Brilington brand has passed them up. Well really there is no right answer to which accordion brand is best since it’s the accordion player’s preference but I will be going over specific brands and their models just to compare and contrast.
The accordion has gained the greatest popularity in Mexico and the United States recently since folk music, like norteno and Tex Mex, has become more popular and the new trend. In Texas it is not uncommon to see a Tex Mex festival with live music and the main instrument is the accordion. As a result a lot of accordion players have been popping out of these places and more accordions are being sold. These new musicians seem to be helping progress music into something that it wasn’t before. Not only is it becoming more complicated but it has more behind it. With new songs coming out that have more progressive chords, genres like corridos, which are stories of heroes from Mexico, have become so much more emotional and as a result more interesting to people of our culture. Thanks to the new accordions being manufactured the players have something reliable, efficient, and beautiful to play and rely on in order for them to tell such stories through their music.
The Hohner accordion, being one of the oldest accordion companies since accordions were invented in Germany, are some of the most used by both professional and amateur accordionists. They offer many models including the Panther, Compadre, Corona 2, and the Corona 3 Xtreme. All these models can be used by professionals but as price increases the quality and beauty of the accordion increases, obviously. These brands have been making Hohner a success in the market and I can’t blame accordionists for liking them so much as they have such a high upbeat sound to them, and being so much smaller than other accordion brands they tend to tire you less when you are playing for long periods of time. Not just that but Hohner’s have a simpler design than other accordions, they don’t have rhinestones like all other accordions and they are just as is, in the color of your choice of course. Hohners tend to have a good air capacity but then again most of the high quality accordions match up to it in this area so it is hard to differentiate accordions from this. The Hohner accordion seems to be used more for sierreno which is usually a group with no drums just bass and guitar, the reason is because Hohner’s have a sharp sound and when you include drums with them they tend to be affected and you need a thicker sound like that of a Gabbanelli accordion.
The next biggest accordion brand, the Gabbanelli, is one of the most high quality accordions out there. They even managed to make an accordion for Hohner which looks exactly like the Gabbenlli’s standard accordion. The reason why? Well because a lot of people prefer the Gabbanelli’s design since it has more to look at since the grills are more unique and the rhinestones make them shine when light reflects from it. Gabbanellis just really make you stand out if you are playing in a group, so if they like the sound of the Hohner but the Gabbanellis look then the Hohner Anacleto is perfect for them. Gabbanelli are the most commonly used by professional groups and it is because of their delicate sound that sounds as smooth as the most beautiful voice. Not just that but Gabbanellis come in more than one tone sometimes! That way you don’t have to be switching accordions to play a different tone. The only real drawback of the Gabbanelli is its size and price. The Gabbanelli can start anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 dollars! That is more than a used car! Size wise the gabbanelli is a bit too big and can be tiresome to keep playing for hours on end.
Another brand that should be mentioned is that of Brilington. The only reason I consider this accordion one of the top accordions is because it is used by one of the best accordionists in norteno music and possibly even the world, Juan Villareal. This brand also has a good reputation with accordionists in the Reyes Acordeons forums, and if you’re an accordionist you know that Reyes Acordeones is a website where players from around the world can discuss anything to do with accordions, it is like an accordion sanctuary. People in this forum range from beginners to professionals and that is what makes it so special that everyone lends each other a helping hand about their knowledge on this beautiful instrument. I personally played a Brilington for the first time recently and it felt good, and played nice but the buttons weren’t a hundred percent since it was used.
There is also another brand called the Boppola that recently has been coming up in popularity, the thing is they are a little rarer. Boppolas have a very similar look to Gabbanelli’s and they sound just as nice, and from my research I’ve heard that it was made in order to represent all the modern brands but in one accordion. Boppola’s tend to cost just as much as Gabbanellis and I hear they are made in Mexico. In my opinion Boppolas are the best looking accordions since they look like Gabbanellis except they don’t have all those girly looking rhinestones, which reminds me of those phone covers girls always seem to have.
As I said before there really isn’t a “best accordion brand” but it is obvious what accordions have the best qualities. None of those made in China can compare to the accordions that are specially created by the makers in Italy or Germany as there detail is precise and they are handmade. Your preference is going to be determined by what you are comfortable with, what your style is, and mostly by what genre of music you play so in the end it all leads to that; and even though I was reviewing based on a norteno/sierreno style preference I believe my review applies to all music that deals with accordion since it is quality I was evaluating. Personally I believe these top accordion brands are good in their own unique ways, it is just up to the player to bring out the best of them.