Reply To: Tuning Standard

Alan Brinton

My tuning kit is primitive: a $9 set of 10 curved needle files like the one from; a 3/8″ strip cut from the end of a business card, folded at 5/8″; and a plastic toothpick. I picked out some of the pointed files that looked best for the process, and I do some filing at the curve of the file and some scraping with the edge. I also have a couple of sets of precision screwdrivers from Delcast and Goldtool. Stripping the screw head is pretty easy to do, but I don’t think finding replacement screws would be a problem. Stripping threads in the plastic is more of a worry. The better quality Suzukis have metal nut inserts, so the only worry there is having them fall out and be lost. Although I’ve been experimenting off and on with tuning for about two years and am comfortable with the physical process, I’d be reluctant to tune anyone else’s melodica unless they just wanted a few really flat or sharp keys improved. I don’t know if I have a good enough ear for serious tuning.

Getting inconsistent readings is a serious problem, more so with some melodicas than with others. It seems like on one and the same melodica, I get very stable readings on one day and inconsistent ones on another. (The weather?) I have lots of time and lots of melodicas, so I’ve been able to experiment. This may be partly psychological, but I’ve been finding that if I blow really hard a couple of times on a note (flattening it) just before tuning, I’m able to get more stable readings. It also seems to help to alternate the note with a higher and a lower note as a way of stabilizing the reading.

The article is very interesting, even though my understanding is not very complete. It’s quite clear from the article that there’s a whole lot more to tuning than I’ll ever understand. I just noticed that AP Tuner actually has the option of choosing a stretch table, though only for a few types of pianos and guitars. Do you suppose it would be possible to develop a stretch table for the melodica? And/or a tuner? Have you seen Dirk’s tuner software for accordions and other free reed instruments? It’s very expensive.

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