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Squeezebox vs. Concertina — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 6, 2024
A squeezebox is a general term for a free-reed musical instrument like the accordion or concertina, characterized by bellows. The concertina is a specific type of squeezebox with buttons on both ends and is known for its hexagonal shape.
Squeezebox vs. Concertina — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Squeezebox and Concertina


Key Differences

The squeezebox encompasses a range of bellows-driven instruments, including the accordion and concertina, each with unique mechanisms and sounds. The concertina, with its distinctive button arrangement and smaller size, offers a different musical experience, focusing on melody and chordal accompaniment in various music genres. While the squeezebox refers to any instrument within this family, the concertina's specific design and play style cater to particular musical traditions and player preferences.
In comparing the general term "squeezebox" to the specific "concertina," it's essential to recognize the broad diversity within the family of free-reed instruments. The concertina stands out for its compact form and precise control over melody and harmony, making it a favorite in folk music and other genres.
Understanding the difference between the squeezebox, as a broad category, and the concertina, as a specific instrument within this category, helps in appreciating the rich variety of sounds and musical styles these instruments can produce. The concertina's unique attributes, such as its portability and distinct sound, contribute significantly to its identity within the wider family of squeezeboxes.

Comparison Chart


A broad category of free-reed musical instruments that are played by compressing or expanding bellows.
A specific type of squeezebox known for its compact size and button-operated system.


Includes various instruments like accordions, concertinas, and bandoneons.
Varieties include English, Anglo, and Duet concertinas.


Can vary widely depending on the type.
Typically hexagonal or octagonal.

Key System

Varies (e.g., piano-style keys or buttons).
Button keys, often with a bisonoric system (different notes on push and pull).


Used across a wide range of music genres.
Favored in folk music, sea shanties, and classical pieces.

Compare with Definitions


Versatile in its use across various music genres and cultures.
From polka to zydeco, the squeezebox is a staple in many musical traditions.


Exists in several types, including the English, Anglo, and Duet concertinas, each with unique playing styles.
The Duet concertina is designed for playing melody and accompaniment simultaneously.


Can vary greatly in size, shape, and key arrangement.
Whether it's a large accordion or a small concertina, the squeezebox family is diverse.


A type of squeezebox with a compact design and button-operated system.
The concertina, with its distinct sound, is often heard in English folk music.


Emphasizes melody and accompaniment, suitable for both solo and ensemble play.
She used the squeezebox to add both rhythm and harmony to the band's performance.


Popular in maritime music, such as sea shanties, due to its portability and expressive sound.
Sailors would often bring a concertina on voyages to entertain themselves.


A generic term for bellows-driven musical instruments including accordions and concertinas.
He played the squeezebox with such passion that the entire room sang along.


Offers precise control over melody and harmony, making it ideal for complex musical pieces.
The concertina's responsive buttons allow for intricate musical expressions.


Characterized by the need to physically compress or expand to produce sound.
The squeezebox's unique sound comes from its bellows and free-reed system.


Known for its hexagonal or octagonal shape and bisonoric button system.
The Anglo concertina's buttons produce different notes when pushed and pulled.


The term squeezebox (also squeeze box, squeeze-box) is a colloquial expression referring to any musical instrument of the general class of hand-held bellows-driven free reed aerophones such as the accordion and the concertina. The term is so applied because such instruments are generally in the shape of a rectangular prism or box, and the bellows is operated by squeezing in and drawing out.


A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which are on the front.


An accordion.


A small instrument with bellows like an accordion but with buttons in place of keys.


Synonym of accordion}} or {{en.


(musical instruments) A musical instrument, like the various accordions, that is a member of the free-reed family of musical instruments, typically having buttons on both ends.


Alternative form of squeeze box.


Something resembling a concertina, such as a folded book, a bus door or a set of picture frames that are folded together.


Coiled barbed wire for use as an obstacle.


A type of booklet label, consisting of up to 32 pages of booklet as an insert.


To become compressed into a shape reminiscent of a concertina
The car concertinaed into the wall.


To be drawn closer and farther apart repeatedly, or up and down, as if situated on a working concertina's folds


A small musical instrument on the principle of the accordion. It is a small elastic box, or bellows, having free reeds on the inside, and keys and handles on the outside of each of the two hexagonal heads.


Coiled barbed wire used as an obstacle


Free-reed instrument played like an accordion by pushing its ends together to force air through the reeds


Collapse like a concertina

Common Curiosities

What is a squeezebox?

A squeezebox is a generic term for any musical instrument that produces sound through the use of bellows and free reeds, including accordions and concertinas.

Can a concertina play chords like an accordion?

Yes, some concertina types, like the Duet concertina, are designed to play melodies and chords simultaneously, though the method differs from an accordion.

Is the concertina harder to learn than other squeezeboxes?

The difficulty depends on the individual's musical background and the specific type of concertina or squeezebox, as each has its own learning curve.

Can all squeezeboxes play the same types of music?

While there's a broad overlap, certain squeezeboxes like the concertina or accordion are better suited to specific genres due to their sound and playing style.

How do concertinas produce different notes?

Concertinas use a bisonoric button system where pushing and pulling the bellows while pressing a button produces different notes.

What distinguishes a concertina from other squeezeboxes?

The concertina is distinguished by its compact size, hexagonal shape, and button-operated system, making it unique within the squeezebox family.

What makes a squeezebox different from a keyboard instrument?

Unlike keyboard instruments that typically produce sound through hammers or electronic means, squeezeboxes use bellows and free reeds to create music.

What role does the bellows play in a squeezebox?

The bellows are essential for producing sound, as they force air through reeds, allowing for the expression of dynamics and articulation.

What is the historical origin of the concertina?

The concertina was invented in the early 19th century in England and Germany, with various types developing for different musical preferences.

Can concertinas be used in modern music?

Absolutely, concertinas are versatile and can be incorporated into modern music genres, adding unique sounds and textures.

Why is the concertina popular in folk music?

Its portable size, expressive sound, and ability to produce both melody and harmony make the concertina favored in folk traditions around the world.

Are there different types of concertinas?

Yes, there are several types of concertinas, including the English, Anglo, and Duet, each offering different features and suited to various musical styles.

How do you choose between a concertina and another type of squeezebox?

Choice depends on personal preference, the desired sound, the music genre, and the playability of the instrument.

Is the concertina considered a traditional instrument?

Yes, in many cultures, the concertina is considered a traditional instrument, especially in folk music settings.

What's the best way to learn to play the concertina?

Learning to play the concertina often involves a combination of formal lessons, practice, and listening to a wide range of concertina music

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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