Suzuki MA-32 Super II
June 12, 2015 at 10:19 pm #5466
This Melodion was introduced in 1986. It seems now to have been out of production for some time, though I haven’t been able to determine since when. It is distinguished by being a high end Suzuki that is all plastic rather than sitting in the usual metal tray. It is heavy, very solidly constructed, and has it reeds mounted on the bottom of its detachable cover (similar to the design of some early Yamahas). It is nothing like the generic Asian melodicas appearing these days under so many brand names.
The MA-32 Super II was made in Japan. Mine (used from Yahoo Japan Auction) came without a case, and I notice that new cases for it are still being sold. This is a melodica that is deserving of more (i.e., some) attention.July 26, 2015 at 8:48 pm #5703
I am increasingly impressed by the sound and quality of construction of the MA-32 “Super II,” especially since I tuned it this morning.
This Melodion was seriously out of tune when I received it, both absolutely and relatively. I decided that I would tune it down to A=440, though I was apprehensive about the the fact that each tuning check requires removal of the cartridge, then removal of the cartridge cover on which the reeds are mounted, followed by replacement of the cover and then of the cartridge. The process turned out to be facilitated, however, by the fact that the bolts securing the cartridge are large and easy to remove and replace, while the same is true for the two screws that secure the cartridge cover. It was also facilitated by the fact that these parts are well make and fit together well. For me, tuning typically requires 5-7 tuning checks to get within +/- 3 cents on all reeds. This tuning process went smoothly and took about two hours. It is represented by the following chart, though not in full detail, as insignificant changes in readings are collapsed. Although it looks as though I opened it only three times, in actuality it was five or six. “Red zone” in-tune readings are indicated in red, and those readings are rechecked during the subsequent opening. (I hasten to add, though, that no matter how carefully you tune a melodica, a new set of readings after you’re all done will produce one or more that are outside the red zone! Consequently, in the interest of one’s mental health, I think it’s a bad idea to continue to recheck after reaching a full set of +/- 3 readings.)July 27, 2015 at 12:40 am #5706
As of a couple of days ago, I am the proud owner of a Suzuki M-32C, shipped direct to me from Japan. The intonation is better than I thought, the A-440 key is exact at A-441, most of the other keys are within 10 cents (better than most clarinets or saxophones). I notice, however, in going from ppp–>fff that the pitch goes from flat–> sharp as much as 20 cents…worse for low notes and less for high.
Is this typical? Do you just tune them at nominal volume for some median?
I play woodwinds and keyboards (for decades) so Melodion is a natural for me…also have and play an accordion.July 27, 2015 at 1:40 am #5707
I don’t know about clarinets and saxophones, but 10 cents off seems like a lot, especially with the kind of variations you you mentioned, for a melodica. I wouldn’t expect that with a new M-32C. How are you measuring, and how consistent are your readings? Are you using an electronic tuner, a tuning app or online tuner? I go through the process of getting initial readings several times, blowing at a moderate level comparable to what’s typical in my playing, after warming up the melodica. If I’m having trouble getting consistent readings, I blow each note hard several times before getting a reading — I’m doing this by ear. With experience it gets easier to get consistent readings. Also, I think it’s better not to try tuning until after getting a feel for the instrument and what kinds of sounds you’re getting in playing it normally, also getting a subjective impression about the extent to which it sounds in or out of tune.
For some reason, it’s harder for me to get consistent readings on a Suzuki than on a Yamaha. Actually, I think I know the reason, which is that the Suzuki’s reeds are less stable, which isn’t necessarily a negative.July 27, 2015 at 5:20 am #5709
For this test I was just using ClearTune on my iPhone 6, but it has always agreed with my trusty Boss tuner, which has been calibrated against an HP frequency counter (a few years ago). It is spot on for my Nord Electro (Swedish keyboard) all up and down).
I will check more carefully; i’d been playing for a couple of days, after checking the A above middle C and nothing else (this is the best ‘in tune’ note. It does seem very sensitive to small changes in air pressure which could be a reason why it’s difficult to be consistent. Just for a lark, I might try putting regulated air pressure into the hose and see…something below 5 psi for sure.
I’m loving it, though, and might go ahead and buy a Yamaha to compare before I focus on one or the other. These are pretty inexpensive compared to my other axes.
Thanx for your informed response…greatly appreciated.
jeffJuly 27, 2015 at 9:56 am #5711
It sounds like you know more about tuning than I do, jeff. But here is a March, 2014 tuning chart for my Suzuki M-32C for comparison:
Notice that the most extreme initial readings (with the exception of E4) are toward the ends of the keyboard. This is typical, for whatever reason, and is even more conspicuous with an older out-of-tune melodica. Well, the F3 end is nearest to the mouth (and the C6 furthest away). I tend to get different readings at F3 depending on whether I’m using the mouthpiece or not.
The factory tuning of my other current metal-tray Suzukis (A-34C and M-37C) has been comparable in quality — not too bad in comparison with other melodicas.
The M-32C is a great Melodion, one of my favorite melodicas, alongside the Yamaha P-32D. In my experience, it’s easier to get consistent readings on the Yamahas but not as easy to bend notes.
I think there would be a lot of interest here in your experimentation with a regulated air hose, jeff.November 4, 2015 at 3:04 pm #6205
I’m thinking now that the MA-32, introduced in 1986, was the predecessor to the Suzuki MX series Melodions, starting with the MX-32, introduced in 1998. This is based on a comparison of photographs, as I don’t have an MX. The MX models do not have the removable reed cartridge. I think I’ll order an MX-27 for closer comparison. Beezer speaks highly of the MX-27. Suzuki MX models have also been marketed under the Kawai label (as was the excellent Suzuki A-25C).February 23, 2018 at 7:14 pm #9765
Revisiting the unique Suzuki MA-32 “Super II” today. I have played this off and on since July, 2015. For quite some time, the tuning has seemed off. Lately it has become unplayable. This morning I tested it. As I expected, the tuning has drifted way North, almost every reed is sharp, on average about 10 cents sharp, some keys 20 cents sharp. The unique sound of this model seems to be, also as I suspected, related to the instability of its reeds, which also makes it harder to tune. But I’m enough of a fan to have just ordered a blue one (MA-32C) and to recommit to more frequent tuning.February 28, 2019 at 2:27 am #10663André Sant’AnnaParticipant
I’m really interested in getting a MA-32 model after I read your comment, in another post, that the MA-32 sounds similar to Clavietta’s. I found the MA-32 at Buyee with a very cheap price. Would you mind to record a sound sample of it? I searched YouTube and did not find anything.March 1, 2019 at 12:51 am #10664
I have not done a tuning check since my original tuning of this device, but I play it regularly in bluegrass jam sessions and occasional performances with guitars, fiddles, ukuleles, etc that have tuners clipped on board and it still sounds pretty good…nobody has complained. I also play clarinet, flute, soprano sax in this menagerie and they often complain about the soprano.
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