Gary Mackender

Accordion, Piano, Organ

7 Reviews (6 Verified)
Gary Mackender on SoundBetter

An accordion can color your songs in ways you might not have imagined. The acoustic properties of the instrument cannot be replicated by midi so give it a try! I also play organ and piano. (I only have digital piano in my studio)

I lean toward Zydeco and Tex-Mex, along with Eastern-European flavors. I also can complement a ballad with counter melodies or create melodies for intros, the release, and outros. I play a Planet Squeezebox accordion and my go-to mic these days is the Audio-Technica AT4060. Piano is a Nord and organ is a Korg CX3 with a Motion Sound Leslie.

I tend to record 3 passes, and If you have a chart for a specific melody or chord inversions, I’ll record from that and also send along 2 other possible variations. All will be sent as WAV files. Most clients want right hand work but can provide both if requested. 100% guarantee.

I lead my own band, the Carnivaleros, in Tucson, Arizona, USA, and have released 6 CDs since 2003. A 7th CD is in the can, to be released later in 2020. I play the accordion on all cuts and in most cases, the drums, piano, and organ. In the last 15 years I have added my sound to over 30 recording projects, including Ryanhood, Kelley Hunt, Stefan George, and Teddy Morgan (Kevin Costner’s guitarist).

“WOW WOW WOW. oh and WOW! I can’t decide which track I like best. Every one of them is excellent. This is just how I love it… quick, easy and right on the money.” – Jacqueléne Palmer-Ambrose, August, 2019

Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.


AllMusic verified credits for The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros
  • The Carnivaleros

7 Reviews - 1 Repeat Client

Endorse Gary Mackender
  1. Review by Garrett L.

    Gary is great to work with. Both accordion and organ parts he has tracked for me are amazing. Really adds feeling to the music. Highly recommended!

  2. Review by Garrett L.

    Gary did an amazing job. He is an excellent musician! Gets great sounds! Great communication, timely, and a real pro. Thanks!

  3. Review by Scott M.

    Gary did a great job! Easy to work with, quick responses and very attentive to refining the piece.

  4. Review by Brice D.

    Amazing musician, very professional, precise and with lot of emotion!!!!


  5. Review by Kameron M.

    Gary is very quick and professional. He's a great player, and delivered an excellent accordion part for my tango-inspired tune. Fully recommended.

  6. Review by Rory P.

    Our song sounds SO MUCH BETTER with Gary's accordion playing on it. He's the magic that helped glue it all together. Fast, professional, exceptional.

  7. Review by Jamie Woolford

    Gary was quick and very accommodating! He did a great job and I highly reccomend anyone hiring him!

Interview with Gary Mackender

  1. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  2. A: Listen.

  3. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  4. A: I tend to get called in to add the color an accordion can give to a song that's missing that certain something. I love to create counter melodies to what I'm hearing in the composer's song.

  5. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  6. A: T-Bone Burnett can do no wrong...I also dig what Stephen Ulrich is doing with his band, Big Lazy. Pretty crazy about David Lynch's soundtracks, too.

  7. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  8. A: A very basic open space, 20' x 30', dedicated to the making of music and visual art. I usually sit at my console recording accordion tracks. My drums are set up right by the console so easy to slip over and make noise on the kit.

  9. Q: What's your typical work process?

  10. A: I'll listen to a new song given to me several times to try to latch onto what the composer's intentions are. I'll mess around with several ideas before I think about pressing record.

  11. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  12. A: Hopefully a voice that adds to the song's intentions and does not intrude in any way.

  13. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  14. A: Listening.

  15. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  16. A: Singer-songwriter, Folk, Americana

  17. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  18. A: I would love to play accordion with Richard Thompson or John Hiatt, two of my favorite songwriters.

  19. Q: How would you describe your style?

  20. A: Zydeco-esque with a pinch of Tex-Mex played on the streets of Bucharest.

  21. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  22. A: I played my first bar gig on the drums in 8th grade in 1968. I toured extensively with a group called the Mollys (drums) in the 90s all across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Highlight of those years might be playing Lincoln Center Out of Doors series in NYC twice.

  23. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  24. A: Accordion, Banjo, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Melodica

  25. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  26. A: No advice for the customer other than I'll give my best to the song.

  27. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  28. A: I'm working on my 7th CD as the songs are written. Just a matter of time molding arrangements just so.

Terms Of Service

Accordion: Three versions sent to you, use one or all. Turnaround time varies from same day to six days.

GenresSounds Like
  • Los Lobos
  • Brave Combo
  • Sir Doug & The Texas Tornados
Gear Highlights
  • Planet Squeezebox Accordion
  • AT4060
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More Samples