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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (14) – it’s finished!

    3D Printing a Melodica (14) – it’s finished!

    It’s ready! What started out last summer as an idea for a project, has finally come to life. Thanks for all the encouragement over the months, it’s all been really helpful in keeping me motivated. I’m really happy with this little instrument – it’s just what I hoped it would be. Here’s some photos I took today And a little demonstration video!

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (13) – finishing touches

    3D Printing a Melodica (13) – finishing touches

    Just two things to complete on the melodica before I can say it’s finished. There’s the mouthpiece, and at the other end of the instrument, the moisture-release valve. What mouthpiece? There’s many styles of mouthpieces for the melodica, so what shape did I choose? I’ve never been a fan of long mouthpieces, as I like to be as close to the reeds as I can. I decided to go for something short simple and symmetrical,…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (12) – making melodica keys

    3D Printing a Melodica (12) – making melodica keys

    Once I knew that this melodica was airtight, and working well, I can finally get to my favourite bit – making it look nice! Ivory ‘white’ keys I started with building the little piano style keys. I already had some ivory pieces salvaged from an old piano. It was time to cut them to size. Of course, I needed a new machine just for this purpose, and found a lovely miniature table saw (Proxxon KS…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (11) – second attempt

    3D Printing a Melodica (11) – second attempt

    A new material? After my last attempt warped under the pressure of the springs, I ordered all the parts again, with a few design modifications, in a new material. This time the material of choice was nylon, otherwise known as “Strong and Flexible” at Shapeways. Although very strong, and capable of good accuracy, this was a material I’d rejected previously because if its porosity. But maybe I could seal the essential areas which needed to…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (10) – first assembly

    3D Printing a Melodica (10) – first assembly

    The new keys have arrived, but before putting all the parts together, I decided to try painting the main body. The main body (‘skeleton’) is made from Polyjet material which has had extra UV treatment to make it even harder. Although Stratasys, the company who make Polyjet machines, say that no ‘finishing’ or sanding is required before painting, my model had many rough edges that needed preparation with fine sand paper. I made a visit…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (9) – Attaching parts

    3D Printing a Melodica (9) – Attaching parts

    28 October 2014 Attaching two 3D printed parts I decided to try attaching the chamber cover to the main body. I had already ordered some small brass inserts to fit into the holes on the main body. These were to provide something for the screws to screw into – like an anchored nut. I couldn’t quite get them in all the way, but this shouldn’t be a problem, as they’ll protrude into pre-existing holes in…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (8) – Soft sticky prints

    3D Printing a Melodica (8) – Soft sticky prints

    21 October 2014 The parts have arrived… I eventually decided to send my 3D files over to a printing company based in the west midlands of England, 3D Alchemy. I learnt from the previous test pieces that printing in plastic (ABS) would not provide the surface quality I needed, so I opted to pay twice the price and have it printed in resin on an Eden 500V printer, using Polyjet technology (resin cured with ultraviolet…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (7) – Printer hell

    3D Printing a Melodica (7) – Printer hell

    18 August 2014 My new 3D printer After my last post, I visited the 3D printing shop, where they were putting on a demonstration for beginners. I showed them a photo of what I was intending to make, and it all looked very straight forward. I went ahead and ordered the FlashForge Creator Pro. Once I got it home, I eagerly set it up (a couple of hours work, as there weren’t any detailed instructions),…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (6) – Buying  a printer

    3D Printing a Melodica (6) – Buying a printer

    18 July 2014 My own 3D printer? I’ve been doing some research into 3D printers. I’ve decided to buy one instead of using the services of a professional 3D printer, as the costs for one print out is similar to the cost of a lower end printer. It seems there’s two types of 3D printing available to me. Stereolithography One is a technology that’s been around since the eighties, called stereolithography (SL or SLA). It…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (5) – The range

    3D Printing a Melodica (5) – The range

    15 July 2014 Nearly ready for printing! I’ve now nearly finished the 3D drawing of the melodica. I’m leaving it without a case, for a more exposed look. Instead I’ve incorporated a finger rest and thumb rest to grip the instrument. I’ve made the white keys slightly smaller so there’ll be room to add the ivory tops, and the black keys are just a flat base to which I can glue the wooden parts. There’ll…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (4) – Wood details

    3D Printing a Melodica (4) – Wood details

    8 July 2014 Ebony and Ivory I’ve found that through extended practice, the plastic keys on the Yamaha P32D (and the Clavietta) start developing small pits. When this happens, I normally buy a new melodica, which means I also get the benefit of a whole new set of reeds. I’d like this melodica to be much more hard wearing, more in line with a quality instrument. I’ve had some very old ivory key tops from…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (2) – The beginnings

    3D Printing a Melodica (2) – The beginnings

    4 July 2014 Reverse engineering When it comes to computer assisted 3D design, I have a lot to learn, so I invited 3D design whizz, Simon Evans to the studio for the day, to show me how it all works. The idea is to study the instrument closely, measuring every last detail, with a view to recreating it digitally – a process called reverse engineering. We started by completely dismantling the Yamaha P32D. This is…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (1) – Why the melodica?

    3D Printing a Melodica (1) – Why the melodica?

    3 July 2014 Why the melodica? I started practising the melodica seriously a few years ago, when I needed an instrument to play Irish music with, which I could easily take to play at the informal pub sessions. I already played the piano, so the piano accordion was the obvious first choice. But I gave it a go, and there’s something about the bulky size and weight, and that huge sound, which put me off.…

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  • Photo of 3D Printing a Melodica (3) – On the computer

    3D Printing a Melodica (3) – On the computer

    7 July 2014 Measuring up While the keys have been quite simple to measure up, it hasn’t been so easy trying to measure the chambers within the ‘skeleton’ section. This piece has been injection moulded with 32 air passages in place, and the only way to get into the space was by sawing it in half to reveal the cross section: From this new viewpoint we were able to recreate the air chamber in the…

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  • Photo of 3D Printed Melodica

    3D Printed Melodica

    This melodica may look like a traditionally made musical instrument, but it was actually 3D printed in plastic, and sprayed silver to look like metal. The keys were coated with wood and ivory from a scrap piano to give it a curious vintage look. “The melodica has always had great potential as a serious musical instrument, it’s just that they’re made for kids”, says maker, Daren Banarsë. “I started playing on one of these toy…

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  • Photo of The Melodica in Pop Music

    The Melodica in Pop Music

    The melodica’s been around for decades, and ever since its inception in the late 50s, there’s been a steady demand for it’s quirky sound. Here’s a chronological look at the melodica in popular music from 1964 to today. Sounds like some of these players might have benefitted from the Melodica World’s article on tuning a melodica! 1964 John Lennon – Strawberry Fields Forever The first example shouldn’t strictly be in this list, but it was…

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  • Photo of DON’T BUY A MELODICA until you watch this [2020]

    DON’T BUY A MELODICA until you watch this [2020]

    Let’s start off by looking at exactly what a melodica is. Its a small wind instrument, with a piano style keyboard. You hold it with your left hand, and play with the right, or you can put it on a table and play with both hands. You blow through one end of it, while pressing the keys to make a sound. It’s an easy instrument to pick up, and with practice, in my opinion, can…

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  • Photo of Buying a melodica in 2020

    Buying a melodica in 2020

    So many melodicas, so little time! How do you go about buying a melodica? And which is the best melodica for you? There’s three things you need to consider – how many notes you need, the type of sound you like, and how it looks! Here’s the lowdown on the 8 highest rated melodicas on this site. These are all quality instruments, suitable for playing in a band, or for recording. If you’re looking for…

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  • Photo of What’s a melodica?

    What’s a melodica?

      What’s a melodica? It’s a handheld instrument with a mouthpiece and piano-style keyboard. The player blows through the mouthpiece, and presses one or more keys on the keyboard to make a sound. It is like a cross between a harmonica (mouth organ) and a piano accordion. Like these instruments, it belongs to the ‘free reed’ family.   How does it work? When the player blows, the air travels through the mouthpiece and into an…

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  • Photo of 10 Ways to be a Pro Melodica Player

    10 Ways to be a Pro Melodica Player

      So, you’ve been playing for a while now, and you’re comfortable with the basics. Here’s some tips for taking your playing up to the next level   No. 1 Use the mouthpiece rather than the hose. Keeping the mouth as close as possible to the instrument allows for more control and expression   No. 2 Relaxation is the foundation of good technique. Too much tension will result in a harsh tone and awkward playing…

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  • Photo of How to Tune a Melodica

    How to Tune a Melodica

    How to tune a melodica This is a basic tutorial on tuning a melodica. Melodicas are from the free reed family of instruments, which include the harmonica (mouth organ), accordion and concertina. Just like their other family members, melodicas need regular tuning if they are being played a lot. Tuning a melodica is not complicated, but it can be fiddly, and takes some practice. It is also time consuming and requires patience. When learning, it…

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