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Bandoneon vs. Accordion: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Janet White || Updated on May 21, 2024
Bandoneon is a type of concertina primarily used in tango music, whereas the accordion is a versatile instrument used in various musical genres worldwide.

Key Differences

Bandoneon, often associated with Argentine tango, has a unique rectangular shape and buttons on both sides. The accordion, on the other hand, features a piano or button keyboard on one side and buttons on the other, making it more adaptable to different musical styles.
The bandoneon’s sound is more melancholic and reedy, suitable for the emotional depth of tango music. The accordion produces a richer, fuller sound that fits well in folk, classical, and pop music.
In terms of playability, the bandoneon is considered more challenging due to its lack of a standardized layout and the need for precise finger movements. The accordion, conversely, offers a more intuitive layout, especially the piano accordion, which can be easier for beginners to learn.
The bandoneon is primarily handcrafted and less common, making it a rarer and often more expensive instrument. The accordion is mass-produced in various styles and sizes, making it more accessible and affordable.
The bandoneon has fewer reeds and buttons, which limits its range compared to the accordion. The accordion’s extensive range and versatility make it suitable for solo performances and orchestras alike.
Bandoneon players typically specialize in tango music due to the instrument’s cultural roots. Accordion players enjoy a broader repertoire, including jazz, zydeco, and classical music, highlighting the instrument's adaptability.

Comparison Chart


Varies (piano or button keyboard layout)


Melancholic, reedy
Rich, full


More challenging, non-standard layout
Intuitive, standardized layout


Handcrafted, rare
Mass-produced, widely available

Musical Range

Limited, fewer reeds and buttons
Extensive, versatile

Bandoneon and Accordion Definitions


An instrument used primarily in Argentine tango.
He mastered the bandoneon to perform in a tango ensemble.


A versatile musical instrument with a keyboard or buttons.
She played a lively tune on her accordion at the festival.


A challenging instrument to play due to its layout.
Learning the bandoneon requires dedication and skill.


Mass-produced, making it widely available and affordable.
You can find accordions in most music stores.


Often handcrafted and more expensive than other instruments.
Each bandoneon is unique, adding to its value.


Known for its rich, full sound that suits many styles.
The accordion added a rich harmony to the ensemble.


A type of concertina with a rectangular shape.
The bandoneon's distinctive sound defines tango music.


A portable wind instrument with a small keyboard and free metal reeds that sound when air is forced past them by pleated bellows operated by the player.


Features buttons on both sides, unlike the piano accordion.
The bandoneon's buttons are not in a standard layout.


Having folds or bends like the bellows of an accordion
Accordion pleats.
Accordion blinds.


A musical instrument similar to a large concertina, especially popular in Latin America.


A box-shaped musical instrument with means of keys and buttons, whose tones are generated by play of the wind from a squeezed bellows upon free metallic reeds.


(musical instruments) A small Latin American accordion played with buttons which is frequently used in tango ensembles.


(GUI) A vertical list of items that can be individually expanded and collapsed to reveal their contents.


(figurative) A set of items (concepts, links, or otherwise) that can be packed and unpacked cognitively, or their representation as a set of virtual object. en


To fold up, in the manner of an accordion


A small, portable, keyed wind instrument, whose tones are generated by play of the wind upon free metallic reeds.


A portable box-shaped free-reed instrument; the reeds are made to vibrate by air from the bellows controlled by the player


Arranged in parallel folds;
Plicate leaves


Commonly used in various music genres worldwide.
The accordion is essential in French folk music.


Easier to learn due to its standardized layout.
The piano accordion's keyboard layout is intuitive.


Are bandoneons mass-produced like accordions?

No, bandoneons are typically handcrafted and less common than mass-produced accordions.

Which instrument is harder to learn, bandoneon or accordion?

The bandoneon is generally harder to learn due to its non-standard layout and challenging finger movements.

Which instrument has a wider musical range, bandoneon or accordion?

The accordion has a wider musical range and versatility.

How does the sound of a bandoneon differ from an accordion?

The bandoneon has a more melancholic and reedy sound, whereas the accordion produces a richer, fuller sound.

Do bandoneons have a piano keyboard like some accordions?

No, bandoneons have buttons on both sides, unlike the piano accordion.

What types of music is the accordion used in?

The accordion is used in folk, classical, jazz, and pop music.

What is the primary use of a bandoneon?

The bandoneon is primarily used in Argentine tango music.

Can the accordion be used in tango music?

While possible, the accordion is less traditional in tango music compared to the bandoneon.

Which instrument is more commonly used worldwide?

The accordion is more commonly used worldwide across various musical genres.

How is the bandoneon played?

The bandoneon is played by pressing buttons and expanding or compressing the bellows.

Is the bandoneon still being produced today?

Yes, but in smaller quantities compared to accordions.

Is the layout of the bandoneon's buttons standardized?

No, the bandoneon lacks a standardized button layout.

Is the accordion suitable for solo performances?

Yes, the accordion is suitable for solo performances due to its extensive range and versatility.

Which instrument is more associated with a specific cultural music genre?

The bandoneon is closely associated with Argentine tango music.

Which instrument is typically more expensive?

The bandoneon is often more expensive due to its handcrafted nature.

Can beginners easily start with a bandoneon?

The bandoneon is considered more challenging for beginners due to its complex layout.

Can the accordion produce different musical effects?

Yes, the accordion can produce various musical effects, making it versatile for different genres.

Can the bandoneon be used in orchestras?

While possible, the bandoneon is less commonly used in orchestras compared to the accordion.

Does the accordion come in different styles?

Yes, the accordion comes in various styles, including piano and button types.

What is the historical origin of the bandoneon?

The bandoneon originated in Germany and became popular in Argentina.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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