Differences in key size (width and length) between melodica brands, models?

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #14394
    James Beattie


    I’m embarking on my first melodica purchase, and being a pianist for nearly 60 years, I’m keen to find an instrument that gives me a fairly easy transition from piano. Has anyone done any comparisons of key size across the various brands and models, and between the different keyboard sizes (32 versus 37 keys, etc.)? If so, do the individual keys have standard widths and lengths, or do they vary from one brand/model to another? I’ll most likely be buying online, so I won’t have a chance to take my tape measure into a store to check this out myself!

    I’m mainly interested in the most common entry-level (but still professional) models from Suzuki, Yamaha, Hohner, and any other brands you think I should be considering.

    Also, if anyone has opinions on which particular models have “smoother” keyboard actions, lighter or heavier touch, greater responsiveness, etc., that would also be most welcome.

    I couldn’t bring up anything on this topic by searching the forum, but if there are already some good posts on these topics, please point me in the right direction.



    Hi, James,

    I haven’t been involved with melodicas for very long, but in my experience the key sizes between the current Hohner Airboard, Enforcer, and Performer, Suzuku Melodion 37, Hammond Pro and Pro HP 44, Yamaha 37 ERB, and older Hohner Piano 36 are all comparable. I have one Hohner Piano 26 that has much smaller keys. I think the current models are about 70% to 80% of piano size.

    If there’s a rule for this that I don’t know, maybe somebody else will chime in with the details.

    I’ve fiddle-farted with pianos for around fifty years now, but I’ve recently taken up organs. (Their keys are not exactly piano-sized, either, but closer than melodicas.) By the way, I have a couple of modern Roland compact synths (DS-61, VR-09B, and FA-06) that don’t have full size keys, either.

    James Beattie

    Thanks Lamar. I’ll see if anyone else replies with more details, and will also try and contact a couple of the manufacturers although I won’t be holding my breath for them to reply!

    Alan Brinton

    Hi James,

    I have been playing a wide variety of different models for years, as I’ve been a melodica collector.

    First, while different folks have different preferences, I would strongly recommend Yamaha or Suzuki (metal tray models) over any current Hohners. Around 2011, Hohner made a corporate decision to emphasize mass appeal over quality in its melodicas and to move production to China. The emphasis has been on snazzy cosmetics. My preference here is also based on having disassembled and tuned a bunch of melodicas, vintage as well as recent models.

    Second, I’m just eyeballing right now, though I have sometimes measured keys, but there is little noticeable difference in length and width between the most common current Suzukis and Yamahas: Yamaha Pianica P37D (now E but that’s a different discussion, and I’ll only say that I think the P37D is the safest bet), P32D, Suzuki M-37C and M-32C. Any one of those four would be a good choice.

    Finally, many melodica players say that it’s better to think of the melodica as a wind instrument than as a keyboard instrument, and better to hold it in your left hand with which you can move it around than to play it on a flat surface blowing through the tube. I agree with those opinions. Key size is, it seems to me, much less of an issue if you follow that train of thought. There are advantages to having smaller keys that can be more easily appreciated if that’s how you approach the melodica. Of course there are situations in which laying it flat and using the tube makes sense, for example if you’re playing a regular keyboard at the same time or intermittently.

    As I say, not all experienced melodica players will agree with what I’m saying. I’m just speaking from my own experience. I personally enjoy playing smaller models such as the Yamaha P25F (whose keys are about the same as the bigger models) and also playing older models with tiny keys such as the earliest piano key style Hohners.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Back to top button