- April 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm #2100
I just registered after several days of lurking. I’m an Irish flute player living and working (at a non-musical profession!) in Nashville, TN, USA. I double on piano accordion and have always resented the bulk and weight of the thing relative to the flute. I’m interested in the melodica as a light portable alternative to the PA. I own a Suzuki Pro-37, which like others on this forum I find has a tone that doesn’t quite work for me. Over the weekend, I spent some time looking for vintage melodicas and came up with a Borel Clavietta for US$165, which will doubtless require some work. I also found the discontinued Hohner HM-36 on Hobgoblin’s UK website. I pulled the trigger and didn’t even flinch at the hefty shipping, but got an email this morning saying they had only one left as a shop display item in their Bristol store and that it was “flawed”. I decided to just cancel the order rather than to try to have them describe the flaw over email. They did mention it’s reduced in price. If anyone’s near enough to Bristol,it might be worth the trip to see if it’s really damaged or just dirty.
BillApril 16, 2014 at 5:07 am #2102
Hello Bill, welcome to the forum. Not looking for another Hohner but good to know. The Clavietta has a great sound but you will definately want to pick up a second one for parts. I am curious about your comment about the sound of your Suzukie Pro37? What is it that you don’t like. I own many Melodicas but do not own that one. I do own both Hammond melodions which are made by Suzuki of which I like both. One main reason I own many melodicas is that depending on the tune or melody (not genres) one can sound beautiful and one can sound terrible. I play jazz and often when I learn a new tune I may go through all my melodicas until I find the right one that works with that specific tune. I think I may purchase a Pro37 just to see what everyone hates about it LOL. In regards to the Hohner, the piano is a good melodica especially if its new old stock. If the flaws are cosmetic no big deal.
Once again welcome to the forum.
Melodica-MeApril 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm #2103
is it Irish traditional you want to play on the melodica? I find the Clavietta less suitable for trad, unless its a slow air, or song. It’s easier to get a ‘bounce’ for reels and jigs with the other melodicas (Hammond, Suzuki, Yamaha etc) which have reed plates similar to mouth organs, rather than the separate reeds of the Clavietta.
Would be interested to see what you think of the Clavietta. They don’t all need work by the way, sometimes they’re in tune and completely airtight. Luck of the draw!April 16, 2014 at 11:53 pm #2104
Thanks for the replies!
Describing tone colors and why some are appealing and some not so much can be a challenge. To my ear the Pro-37 just sounds too far removed from the typical tones of accordions, concertinas, and harmonicas as they’re used in Irish trad to risk taking to a session. Any odd instrument is likely to raise eyebrows, but if it doesn’t sound too weird and if someone can actually play the tunes convincingly, they’ll be okay. I’ve read that piano accordionist Karen Tweed won an All-Ireland title in the “miscellaneous” category on the melodion, but I’ve no idea what kind–I’d be shocked if it was a Pro-37!
Besides the review here, one of the things that got me interested in the clavietta specifically was this recording of Troy playing the old jig Rakes of Kildare http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Melodica_rakesofkildare.ogg . To my ear, that’s very sweet, traditional playing with a great lilt and tastefully understated ornamentation. I’d guess there are plenty of Irish harmonica players who would be very happy with a performance like that. I’ll be interested to see how it goes with the clavietta. Troy, when you say the bounce is harder on the clavietta, are you referring to breath pulse or finger response? You get a great rhythmic pulse on the Rakes!
BillApril 17, 2014 at 11:10 am #2105
Great that you’ve found that old recording of ‘Rakes of Kildare’! I’m glad yo u like it – I haven’t heard that for a few years 🙂 I recorded that just after I’d discovered the Clavietta, and before I’d really experimented with other models.
The Clavietta has a beautiful tone, but in my experience, lacks the volume and tonal weight to play in sessions, which is a real shame. If someone could make a louder version, it may well come close to the dream melodica…
Talking of dream melodicas, I emailed Karen, and she says she played a Hohner melodica from around 1975. She doesn’t have it anymore, as she lent it to a pupil some years ago, but stresses they don’t make them like they used to. Can you guess what model it might be Oscar?
The bounce I was referring to is in the breath. It’s hard to describe, but the cheaper reed plates (lots of reeds on one plate, harmonica-style) have a sort of elasticity, which make it easier to get into the Irish rhythm, e.g., accenting beats 2 and 4 on a reel. You can do that on a Clavietta or a Vibrandoneon, but you have to work much much harder.April 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm #2106
Thanks Troy! I actually emailed Karen last night with some of the same questions! She pasted her answer to you in her response. It will be great if she gets a couple of her old tracks online!
I had tunes the other night with a fiddler friend and played the Rakes for him. He immediately noted the nice breath pulse. It’s funny I hadn’t consciously wroked on that effect, since I use something similar playing PA and flute. I’m more a flute that an accordion player, though I’ve been taking video lessons with Mirella Murray and see some improvement. Would love to see/hear any recordings of your approach to ITM on melodica! Too bad about the volume issue with the clavietta,
BWApril 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm #2117
Troy, Bill, Hohner had several melodicas on the market in 1975. Bewteen 1970 and 1980 they had several great melodicas selling including the professional 36 and the piano 36 which many Jazz musician were using. For the smaller melodica the Piano 26 and 27 was a nice upgrade from the starter soprano and alto student models and were were very popular. If you had the extra money at the time you could opt for the Cassotto which was considered the top of the line for the smaller melodicas. I would actually to find one for myself. I recently found a Hohner Solist that is probably in my opinion the best of the best from Hohner. A single reed melodica. I agree with Troy, for a fast responce I like my Hammond Hyper made by Suzuki. I do not own a Yamaha, though it has been on my (I need to get this one) list. Troy has mastered the art of the Irish reel on the Yamaha so there is no better person to point you in the right direction for right melodica for traditional music.
For a long time I have been trying to get some kind of history of the Hohner melodica line but only find the same information repeated and no actual time line.
Melodica-meApril 22, 2014 at 1:04 am #2122
Thanks for the great info, Melodica-Me. I’ve also been hoping to find a Hohner melodica-model list and chronology like this one for their accordions: http://ebookbrowsee.net/med-00006364-1264085468-hohner-akkordeon-modelle-06-2006-pdf-d59308261 . So far no luck. I did get one of the HM-32s NOS from Hohner USA. Great tone, but seems to take way more air than the Yamaha P-32D. How many keys in the Cassotto?
BWApril 23, 2014 at 4:48 am #2123
Hello Bill, there are two, the Cassotto 26 and the Cassotto 27. Both keyboards are different the 26 has a keyboard B to C the 27 comes F to G, since I do not have one I could not tell you which would be right for you so you should probably buy them both lol, well that’s my way of thinking. I do know that the cossotto is built driffrent in the air chamber from the piano 26 and piano 27. I have seen them go for under a $100 but you need to wait for a clean one.
Melodica-meApril 30, 2014 at 3:19 am #2135
Hello Bill, there is a Hohner Cassotto 26 on ebay, take a look at the pictures where you can see how the air chambers are compare to the normal Hohner piano. I read somewhere that the way the chambers were divided is how it gives the superior sound over the Hohner piano, see how thick the body is in relation to the piano version as well.
Melodica-MeApril 30, 2014 at 3:28 am #2136
Hello Bill, also on ebay there is a Hohner Piano 26 as well, check it out and see how they compare.
Melodica-MeApril 30, 2014 at 3:32 am #2137
Bill, forgot to tell you, they both say Hohner Piano 26 but the first one is a Cassotto and the second one is not. At the time the Cassotto was released it was considered the upgrade for the Piano line for Hohner.
Melodica-MeMay 2, 2014 at 11:42 am #2149LowboyParticipant
About three weeks ago, I purchased a Hohner Cassotto 26 and a Hohner Cassotto 27 from Ebay to round out my collection. I had to tweak the water valve on one, but both were in pristine condition. I paid about $15 for the soprano and about $60 for the alto. The owner of the alto gave me a $40 dollars off when I explained that water valve leaked. So I got two great melodicas for about $35. My wife is going to kill me if I buy one more.
The sound is very smooth, no high harmonics, and very hollow. It is difficult to describe, but I like it. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to would be the timbre of a flute playing in the lowest register. The sound will not fit every song, but as Melodica-Me suggests, it will probably be perfect for some songs where a regular sounding melodica will not fit.
I am not an expert in Irish traditional music, but what little I have heard of this traditional music would suggest to me this is not the sound you want for it.
I sense these cassottos where often used for education. Both the cassottos I purchased had names written on the cases and on the back of the instruments. Both were hardly used.
By the way, the volume of these cassottos seem a bit softer than most melodicas, but that could be because the high harmonics are not there. It seems like a weaker sound; not a sound that is going to play the role of horns or a harmonica. I think the cassotto would be great for ballads and softer gentler music. Maybe some Americana music. Could be good for some jazz pieces and formal numbers. Similar to the Hohner Piano 26/27/32, they require a bit more air to make them run.
Melodica-Me, I think you need one of these at some point.
LowboyMay 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm #2152LowboyParticipant
I will make an unadulterated recording this weekend of several of my Hohner melodicas, including the cassotto.
I am slowly formulating a timbre scale in my mind that looks like this:
1. Super bright, brass-like, harmonically rich = Suzuki Pro 37v2
2. Full, rich, somewhat bright sound = Yamaha P 25/32/37D series
3. Full, rich, slightly darker sound = Hohner Piano 36
4. Darker, softer, smoother sound = Hohner Piano 26/27/32 series
5. Very smooth, hollow sound, least amount of harmonics = Hohner Cassotto 26/27 series
The difference between 2 and 3 is pretty subtle.
LowboyMay 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm #2155
Hey Lowboy, really looking forward to your new recording. Can’t wait to see what the cassette sounds like in comparison to some of the others…
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