It is almost impossible to say when the Tango was born but Roberto Selles states in his book “El Origen del Tango” that Santiago Ramos composed a Tango called “Toma Mate Che” in 1857 which was the beginning of the Tango Criollo style. The earliest tango compositions were simple and usually played with three instruments, a guitar, a flute or violin, and a bass. In this same book, Selles references a musician that played an accordion in 1883 for a song named, “Tango No. 1.”
So, when did the Bandoneón appear? The Bandoneón was created in Germany around 1835 by Heinrich Band. There are 2 versions as to its first use and why Mr. Band created it: either he wanted to build an instrument that was portable and could bring more cheer to country dances, so it became a folk instrument or especially as an accompanying instrument for religious music. It was probably both.
In 1864 Alfred Arnold began producing Bandoneóns in his factory. These “AA” instruments are still of the highest quality. The Bandoneón arrived in Argentina, together with thousands of immigrants, probably as early as 1870. Between 1910 and 1930, Argentina was the largest importer of this instrument, with 25,000 shipping in 1930. Other factories in Germany began producing Bandoneóns and several other brands appeared such as the “Premier,” the “Hohner.” The “3B” made by Mainer & Herold, and the “Germania.” There was an attempt at manufacturing the Bandoneón in Argentina by Luis Mariani & his son around 1942, but this and other attempts failed. The instruments continued to be imported from Germany but declining popularity and the disruption of German manufacturing in World War II led to an end of Bandoneón mass-production.