You've probably seen an instrument that would fit the description of a squeeze box well, but you may be surprised at how many different kinds of instruments really fall under this colloquial term. In order to qualify as a squeezebox, the instruments need to be hand-held, driven by bellows, and a free-reed aerophone. The handheld part is pretty self-explanatory, but bellows and free-reed aerophones aren't known by most.
To be driven by bellows is to be driven by a device that is crafted to create a strong blast of air. While these instruments are now more commonly driven by bellows, this is just a supplement for the air from a person's mouth. Free-reed aerophones are instruments that get their sound from air passing a vibrating reed. Reeds are simply thin strips of material made of steel, brass, or cane.
The more well-known types of squeeze box instruments belong in the family of accordions. These types of instruments use steel or brass as the material for the reeds that vibrate to create the sound. There are many different variations of these instruments, and I'll describe the most common that people across the world like to play.
While some people assume that accordions only have piano keys, there are many that allow accordions to play with buttons instead. The patent for this instrument was made in the mid-1800s, so it's relatively new! There are two types of button accordions: diatonic and chromatic. Diatonic button accordions are more common, and each row of buttons is in order of a major scale. For chromatic button accordions, they are arranged chromatically.
A piano accordion has a portable right-hand keyboard similar to a piano or an organ and was also invented in the mid-1800s. It's currently the official instrument of San Francisco and also has a bass variation that plays an octave lower than the original instrument.
These types of accordions are very similar to piano accordions, but they produce a sound that mimics the sound of an accordion on digital playback. It's almost like this type doesn't really fit the category since it doesn't use a reed! The digital side of things allows some of these models to do a lot of cool sound effects that a traditional instrument couldn't pull off, especially when it comes to amplifying.
Very similar to the piano accordion, the country of Georgia has a variation of this instrument called the Georgian Garmoni or the Georgian accordion that can be diatonic or chromatic that plays traditional music. Surprise, surprise, this version was also likely to be made in the mid-1800s!
These types of squeeze box instruments are similar to accordions, but they have buttons or keys on both sides instead of just one side. Concertinas are free-reed instruments as well, and they were first invented in the early 1800s. Funny enough, they were developed independently in Germany and in England around the same time.
This type of concertina is a fully chromatic instrument with cool buttons in a rectangle shape on either side. it's actually the earliest version of any concertina as it was invented in 1829. It's unique in the way that it requires both hands to play out one full scale that's divided evenly.
German concertinas are usually larger than their English counterparts, usually more square, and use a different long-plate style of reeds. One popular version is called the Chemnitzer Concertina, with many buttons on either side and comes with straps to allow ease of access for the player's hands. Another German invention is the Bandoneon, which spread in popularity to Argentina and also includes straps.
This variation is a hybrid between English and German concertinas. They often have the same 20-buttons that German concertinas have, with concertina reeds instead of long-plate reeds, independent pivots for each button, and hexagon-shaped ends.
Duet concertinas are not as common as the other versions that I've mentioned above. Unlike the Anglo concertina, these instruments play the same note on the push and pull of the bellows that create the air. Unlike the English version, the lower notes are on the left, and the higher notes are on the right.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.