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Cajun accordion tunings explained

tuning of a cajun accordion

A Cajun accordion has a distinct sound that is easily distinguished from other melodeons. While the powerful Cajun playing style is a big component of that sound, it is not the only one.

The other bits come from the fact that these accordions are tuned to tunings that closely resemble just intonation. As a direct consequence, playing a chord that involves the third (e.g. E in the key of C) sounds much different when played on a Cajun box. While a standard tuned box with equal temperaments will produce an almost dissonant sound when playing the third and the fifth, i.e. E and G, a Cajun box will sound pure and mellow for the same notes. The difference is clearly audible.

Since we just happened to have two almost identical Hohner 114 melodeons in the workshop, we took the opportunity and recorded them side by side. This gives you the chance to hear the difference most clearly.

Are you are interested in a Cajun accordion or do you want your accordion to sound like Cajun? Drop us a note if you want a custom made Cajun accordion or if we shall tune your box. We often have suitable instruments in stock.


  • Matt Boisen

    I recently bought a Hohner Arriette cheap as my first Cajun accordion. It is in key of C, but while all the other buttons correspond to a chart of C tuning, the “pull” note on the top button is an A instead of a G. Is this normal? Can it be tuned to G? Thanks.

    • OleCarstensen

      Hi Matt, yes, that is not unusual. If it bothers you, then it can indeed be tuned to a G. You can best contact us via the contact form to discuss further ;-) Cheers, Ole

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