What is a free bass accordion?
Free bass accordions have a left hand keyboard which can play a range of single notes rather than the more usual bass note and fixed chord setup of standard bass. This system “frees” the accordionist from the restrictions of having only twelve bass notes and a relatively small variety of chord types and makes a whole new range of chords available to the player. The only difference is that the individual notes of each chord have to be played with a separate finger (much like on a piano) so the composer and /or player have complete freedom over the notes of the chords and their voicing.
What can I do with a free bass accordion?
Add variety to left hand accompianments
It isn’t all about the Oompah
If you find Oom Pah isn’t quite the right fit for a particular melody or you can’t play the chord you’d like to by using the standard bass keyboard alone then Free bass may offer some extra flexibility.
Now you can play all the chords…
With a free bass accordion you can choose whatever chord you think is appropriate whether it has 2, 3 or more notes. Augmented, sus chord and 5th chords (power chords) are all possible on a free bass accordion unlike the traditional standard bass accordion. Not quite chords, but you can also just use single notes instead of chords to accompany a melody.
…wherever you want them
You are also free to play these chords in whatever octave or register you would like so if you want a rumbly low chord or a high pitched chord sitting above the melody, these are all possible with free bass.
broken chords and arpeggios
Whatever the style of music, you may sometimes wish to play an accompaniament with the left hand that uses notes from the chords played individually (broken or arpeggiated chords) rather than all at the same time (block chords). Free bass accordion gives you the possibility of doing exactly that. You can choose your own arpeggio patterns and ryhthms adding yet another string to your accordion accopmaniament bow.
In many countries the free bass accordion is also known as “melody bass” accordion. The larger range of available notes makes it possible to play melodies in the left hand just as easily as you would normally play them in the right hand. It also allows the possibility of playing two melodies together (one in each hand) or enables you to add a counter melody above or below an existing melody in either hand.
Music composed specifically for the free bass accordion
There are many pieces composed and arranged specifically for the free bass accordion in many different styles. There is music written for all standards, music for beginers right through to music written with high level competitions or classical accordion recitals in mind. We have a large selection of music written for free bass accordion which you can find here.
Because a free bass accordion keyboard has more than one octave of notes this makes it very well suited to playing classical music written for other keyboard instruments (e.g. harpsichord, organ, piano). This means you can play piano or organ music using the same notes as the score without a need to “arrange” the piece first. It is also very useful if you would like to play jazz on the accordion.
Different types of free bass accordions
converter bass accordions
Free bass is most often found on converter bass accordions. These accordions usually have a long “converter” switch (or bar) on the bellows side of the bass buttons. The converter switch “converts” the chord buttons of the standard bass so that they play the single notes of the free bass instead. Apart from this converter switch, most converter bass accordions are indistinguishable from their standard bass versions. The two pictures below show a free bass converter accordion on the left and a standard bass accordion on the right, both looking very similar.
Free bass converter accordions come in many sizes and our range from Ballone Burini has many sizes from 72 bass through to 120 bass. There tends to be more choice of models with chromatic button accordions than there is with piano accordions. Our smaller instruments start with 37 notes in the right hand (piano and button) and go up to 64 for a full size bayan or button accordion and 41 or even 45 on the larger piano accordions.
small free bass only accordions
Some manufacturers produce small free bass only instruments. These are an excellent choice if you are unsure how well you might take to it or you want to try it out first before investing in a higher priced converter instrument. They are available with piano or chromatic button keyboards on the right hand side and usually have between 25 and 36 free bass buttons in the left hand.
What different systems are there?
Free bass accordions usually have the same options available for the right hand keyboard as their standard bass couterparts. The most common are piano keyboard and chromatic button keyboard with either B or C system layout. The free bass system comes in three common systems, C system, B system (Russian), B system (Norwegian). It is usual to pair C system in the left with C system in the right and the same with B system but piano accordions are often made with any system in the left hand.
Please feel free to browse our selection of free bass accordions which are all available to buy or order through our online shop
Whatever style of music you like to play, a free bass accordion can add an extra musical dimension to your playing and gives the left hand many interesting additional possibilities. If you would like any further information about free bass accordions or are you are interested in buying one then please contact us and we will endeavor to help.