I got into dancing through being an accordionist, although I now consider
myserf a dancer who can play (far too occasionally :) rather than vice
I play piano accordion but my fathers family all play boxes of some variety
so I felt qualified to contribute here.
Piano accordion - we all know about these wonderful instruments
diatonic, melodeon, three-row button-key:
This is played using only four fingers of the right hand, the thumb being
held behind the keyboard. I get the impression that this makes those reels
with long fast runs (typical MacPhail or Nixon compositions) quite
difficult. The three-row does seem idealy suited to playing pipe marches and
tunes of that type. Listen to an old Jimmy Shand recording.
Continental chromatic, five-row button-key:
My uncle plays one of these and the main advantages seem to be that with the
same note appearing multiple times on the keyboard, those awkward stretches
The key arrangement means that to change key one simply moves up or down the
keyboard and plays the same key pattern. This makes the chromatic a good
second box instrument. Unfortunately, when I played second (piano) accordion
with my uncle's band we invariably ended up playing in e-flat or some such
awkward key because 'it sounds better' and made no difference to him.
These do seem to be popular in europe, especially scandinavia. The only well
known player I can think of is Calum MacLean (& Jimmy Shand jr. ?)