Reply To: Suzuki A-34(School 34)
Here, by way of comparison, are the Yamaha Pianica 34, which predates the School 34 by a few years (mid to late 1960s) and an auction photo of the 1961 Super 34, followed by photos of my A-34C and School 34.
The Yamaha has full size keys but the same (more typical) key range as the Super 34. You will notice that the original A-34 (School 34) is stylistically distinguished by the “horn” (as pianonymous aptly refers to it). This is also a feature of some other 1960s-70s Suzuki Melodions. Although the horn appears to be mainly ornamental, it provides a nice grip when the School 34 is cradled at the bottom in the left hand.
Another distinctive of the School 34 is it’s release valve, activated by the small black button on the bottom. This is less convenient than the excellent rocker style mechanism of later high end Suzukis, but in action the button mechanism of the School 34 is surprisingly effective and vents a strong stream of air.
As for sound differences, the School 34 and the A-34C have a very similar, distinctive and mellow sound in comparison with other 32-37 key metal tray Suzuki Melodions. The sound of my School 34 is a bit more muted than that of the A-34C, as the sound of the A-34C is a bit more muted than that of the other 32+ key models. This may be the result of aging, but I like it a lot. It’s hard for me to choose between the School 34 sound and the A-34C sound. Both are very pleasing to my ear.
Given its ancestry and it’s distinctive sound, the A-34C has a special place among current metal tray Suzuki Melodions. The School 34 is eminently playable. Suzukis of its vintage are typically air tight and mechanically sound. Consequently, the School 34 is, in my opinion, a viable option for serious melodica players. For fans of the A-34C, it makes a nice companion piece, though it’s hard to make a case for it as an alternative to the A-34C.