Reply To: Buying Criteria

Alan Brinton

I completely agree with you that subjective preference is not the issue here and that “harmonica-like”, “accordion like” are the appropriate and useful descriptors. Although our preferences are subjective, a Suzuki Study-32 really does sound more like a harmonica than a Hammond 44 does.

Breath Response: I want to get back to this topic, Kevin. It occurs to me that your dissatisfactions about this and mine may actually just be complaints about the laws of physics. This thought changes my feelings about the Suzuki Bass B-24 (which I suspect, Melodica-Me, is very much like the Hammond B-24H). It is, after all, a bass instrument, and the sound waves that it emits are longer than the higher notes that are played on an alto or soprano melodica. The reeds are longer, their vibration requires more wind, and they vibrate more slowly. It may be possible to design a bass melodica so as to require less wind and consequently as easier to play. (I’m not a physicist or an engineer, so I don’t know.) But that could involve serious tonal compromises and result in a sound that is not so rich as what the B-24 produces. What I’ve been trying to do is to play the B-24 as if it were an alto instrument. It’s possible that my dissatisfaction with the soprano Mylodica also has something to do with my trying to play it as if it were an alto. Think of a trumpet player trying to play as usual but on a tuba. Gene Pokorny plays Bach partitas on his tuba, and I love his playing. But he’s doing something really hard. Think of Yo Yo Ma trying to play Paganini caprices on his cello. Maybe he can do this, but imagine him trying to do it on a bass fiddle and complaining that his instrument is not a very responsive bass fiddle.

Now, I complained in another thread about my new Suzuki M-32C responding slowly and being a bit hard to play on the bottom notes. It’s possible that this is because it is a superior instrument relative to my other alto melodicas. In other words, the deficiency may be (probably is) in me as a player rather than in the instrument.

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