Reply To: Tone, Range, Color

Alan Brinton

Hi, Paul. You are taking a very thoughtful approach to getting your first melodica. My guess is that you won’t be satisfied with just one melodica! Or maybe even with just one key range. The fewer the keys, all other things being equal, the easier it is to play a melodica, due to the size and weight but also due to the amount of air it takes.

The first video presents the sound of the M-37C very accurately. But this is a highly skilled player playing a tender piece of music so that the bit of edginess I’ve mentioned doesn’t come out. The M-37C is an excellent melodica, however, and although I prefer the M-32C, I’d choose the M-37C over it if I preferred 37 key melodicas.

I have been examining and playing a lot of vintage Suzuki Melodions and Yamaha Pianicas. Their reeds haven’t changed noticeably since the 1980s (at least). Yamahas generally hold their tuning better and suffer less discoloration of their reeds, so that I would give the nod for reed quality to Yamaha. Except that it is easier to manipulate the intonation on the Suzukis. I think it’s because Suzuki reeds are less stable – an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you look at it.

In my opinion, the Yamahas have much more of a clarinet sound.

By the way, if you search for “refinish” in the forums here, you’ll find photos and description of the refinishing job I did on a Yamaha P-32D, changing it from blue to black. This is my favorite melodica. I Play it all the time, and the new finish has held up very well. It was easy but has to be done carefully. We have had a bit of discussion about how the look of the instrument can affect what the listener (and even the player) hears.

In the development of melodicas, Suzuki has historically been more adventurous, more experimental, more diverse than Yamaha. Yamaha has been more conservative, doing less but doing it very well and sticking with what works. But both the model lines you’re considering have been around for a long time.

Duenas appears to be playing a 1960s Hohner Professional 36. These are rare and very expensive and don’t seem like a good choice for first melodica. Melodica-Me is the guy here who really knows the Professional and plays and works on them.

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