It's one of those awkward moments that happens to everyone. You see someone playing an instrument and go to complement them.
"I didn't know you could play the accordion!"
"It's a violin, you thtoopud!"
Awkward. Very awkward. After a recent incident involving a spatula and a very irate accordion purist, we decided that a public service announcement was in order. What follows is a concise but complete 2-step guide to determining which instrument you're looking at. We like to call it the FCN Accordion/Violin Method, or simply the FAV Method.
Step 1) Avoid making a total fool of yourself.
There are many different kinds of instruments, including bassoons. If the instrument in question is neither a violin nor an accordion, you should avoid using this method. Here are a few red flags:
A big flaring end. This is for sound to come out of when you blow into it. Any instrument with such a device is definitely not a violin or an accordion, and may possibly be a bagpipe.
2) Look closely.
This is a violin. Note the bow, strings (without frets), bridge, unique box shape, and tuners.
This is an accordion. Note the keys, levers, handles, contracting accordion bag, and general frenchiness.
And that's all there is to it! Remember that the key to the FAV Method is practice. Don't beat yourself up if you get it wrong a few times. Keep practicing. It's okay to print out these pictures and take them with you for quick reference. Observe a few violins/accordions close up and personal. Note what they have in common and what sets them apart. With time you'll get it and you'll be able to join the ranks of the FAV Masters.