- April 4, 2016 at 2:34 am #7008
Hi everyone, first post on here!
I’ve been a musician for a very long time, (classically trained on french horn). I’ve just gotten into playing melodica, and I must say it’s a really nice instrument! My experience may be the opposite of many players in that I have a lot of experience with wind instruments but not much keyboard experience.
The instrument I have is a suzuki M37C, which I picked because I really like its tone quality. It seems like a great instrument but there is one problem:
The notes in the lower register (about the lowest 7 or 8) take a lot of air to make them sound and are very slow to engage even so. The upper register ones are a bit like that as well. I initially thought it was an inherent issue with the melodica in general (in my experience the main difficulty in learning to master any wind instrument is getting consistent response across its range), but I read on here that this kind of problem can be fixed by adjusting the reed gaps.
To test this without messing up the M37C I got an El Cheapo melodica to practice messing with the gaps. I found that decreasing the gaps across the board on that one made all the notes speak absolutely effortlessly, and at this time I prefer the El Cheapo to the M37C because it hasn’t gotten the treatment yet, but I plan to decrease its gaps as well.
I’ve heard some vague things about there being some weirdness with taking apart the suzuki M37C. Can someone who’s done it explain how to do it without messing anything up?
One strange thing is that on the instrument where I changed the gaps, I made them much smaller than most resources I’ve found say you should: the reeds are barely peeking above the slot. Contrary to what I’ve read, this doesn’t make the notes choke at all.
One problem I ran into is a couple of reeds got a little bit twisted, so one side is higher than the other. Does anyone know how to fix that too?April 4, 2016 at 2:58 am #7011AndreParticipant
Don’t know how to open a m37c!
But I can tell you that you can push the reeds down, carefully, until there is virtually no space between the reed and the gap! Normally only if the reed is already under the gap, there will be no sound! But sometimes one reed can be really down and the response will be great and another reed will need to have more space in order for it to play well. At least in my experience, wich is not great. I’m sure that here more members will help you out ?!April 4, 2016 at 10:33 pm #7016
I have disassembled many Suzuki models, all the current metal tray and lots of vintage models. There’s nothing especially complicated about taking apart or reassembling the M-37C. Once the outer screws are removed, gently work the end pieces off and then lightly pry the front edge of the tray toward you and carefully rotate up from the tray in the front. Some of these models don’t require that, as you can slide the melodica out. Use a good quality screwdriver that’s the right size for the tiny outer screw heads. Be especially careful about one thing, however. The outer screws screw into little brass inserts inside. These can fall out and be easily lost. So I advise working over a towel and keeping an eye on them. If you move the opened melodica away from your workspace and turn it upside down, at least one will probably fall out. Be sure they’re in place when re-assembling.
The cover of the reed chamber has larger screws and and is easily removed.
Suzuki reeds are typically less likely to choke than those of a Yamaha. They have slightly wider gaps to begin with. They’re also made of heavier and springier metal than those of a cheap melodica. Players who blow vigorously are more likely than some of us to have reeds choke. Reeds on a cheap melodica are much more likely to twist than those on a metal tray Suzuki, but it’s important to apply even pressure (up or downward) and not use a narrow pointed instrument in applying that pressure.
I think I posted photos and disassembly info on the M-37C earlier, but here are some again. You’ll notice that the M-37C has a black rubber patch to the right on the bottom, on the lid of the reed chamber. Some of us refer to this as a bladder. It absorbs some of the air at the low notes, expanding and contracting. This is why you experience some delay at the bottom end, which enables those notes to resonate more fully, but which also requires more wind and makes them seem less responsive. The older 36 key models didn’t have this, and the current M-32C (which I prefer) doesn’t have it. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is to some extent a matter of opinion and personal preference. Also, though, there’s a range of notes on an full size alto melodica that’s easiest to play and get good sound with — most of the notes, that is. As you get toward the bottom, more air is required, and as you get to the top, the sound tends to thin out and more skill is required. I’ve never played any other wind instrument, but isn’t this also a challenge with some of them? It may be less noticeable on a cheap melodica.April 6, 2016 at 9:32 am #7019
You might find that slightly reducing the gaps of all or many of the reeds on your M-37C has encouraging immediate results but that you will come to regret it over time. Choking problems are likely to arise as you become more experienced and more comfortable with the instrument and are bending notes. When a reed chokes and/or occasionally “sticks”, the solution is almost always to widen the gap slightly. What seems to be working nicely at the workbench doesn’t always carry over into the heat of battle. Suzuki’s high end Melodions are well designed and carefully crafted. The M-37C has a long history, going back to Suzuki’s 1960-70s 36 key models. Historically speaking, Suzuki has been distinguished by its experimentation and innovation and the refinement of the details of its Melodions. In other words, they know what they’re doing. The tuning and gapping of a new metal tray Suzuki is generally fairly good and uniform. There’s always room for some fine tuning and occasional gap adjustment, but slightly closing all the gaps may not work out so well over the long haul. We had a discussion about this some time ago that you can probably find by searching the Forums. I tried it on one melodica, a Yamaha I think it was, and ended up going through the more laborious process of undoing what I had done.
AlanApril 8, 2016 at 4:24 am #7037
Thanks for the explanation of prying the main body out of the metal case. That would have taken me a while to figure out on my own. Another thing I didn’t expect was the segments of the reed plate being taped together.
As for how I’m liking the gaps, I’m liking them a lot more decreased. I only really significantly decreased the ones in the lower register in addition to a couple of isolated notes elsewhere. I think it’s much better now. A couple of them had choking problems initially but I increased the gaps on those again and they’re fine. As for the tuning, it’s mostly good. There are a couple of notes that are a bit off, but I’ll deal with that later.April 27, 2016 at 4:23 am #7144
Here’s an update: after playing a little more, I noticed that the intonation is actually pretty bad. Some notes are flat or sharp by as much as 12 cents (!) I’m not sure whether changing the gaps changed the tuning, but I don’t think that’s the main source of the problem since most of the motes are pretty off (and in wildly inconsistent directions) and I only dramatically changed the gaps on some notes.
So I’m now in the process of tuning it, using the scraping method. I practiced again on the El Cheapo, which I was able to get pretty well in tune, and now I’ve progressed to the M37C. Most of the reeds need tuning changes. I’m going to a tolerance of +- 3 cents, which is what I did on the El Cheapo and that seems to make melodies sound right and chords not crunchy.
In general, I’m really glad I started playing the melodica as an instrument and I’m learning a lot with my practice sessions (mostly on the instrument I already tuned for now). I definitely think it’s not at all deserving of its reputation as a child’s instrument and I think it should get more serious considerationApril 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm #7146
Thanks for the update, Shion. The melodica does grow on one, eh?April 30, 2016 at 7:06 am #7147
tuning is done, but for the life of me I can’t get the high C to work right. It plays significantly quieter than the other notes near it and depending on the gap either is really airy and breathy or chokes. Not really sure what to do about it.April 30, 2016 at 2:35 pm #7150
The reed might be slightly bent or twisted. If you examine the whole length of it, do you notice any difference in comparison with the other reeds? In particular, is there a difference in how it lines up with the reed plate near its base? It could be that the entire reed is not vibrating freely. You might try gently pushing the reed from the side to move it ever so slightly to the left or right. It could be catching on one side. I have done this using the side of a straight razor blade. It’s a tricky business, however. I’m sure you’ve already checked for any protrusion from the reed from scraping or debris around it.
Also, do you notice any difference in the key action for that note? Either in how the key presses and springs back or how the pad lever lifts to let air through? And is there any difference in the pad itself in comparison to the others? It’s surface or how it lines up?April 30, 2016 at 2:38 pm #7151
One more thing: are the spaces even between the keys, the B and the C, the C and the C#?April 30, 2016 at 5:37 pm #7152
key action seems the same. What do you mean by spaces between the keys?
if you mean the alignment of the plastic key pusher, then yes it’s a little off [img]http://i.imgur.com/idA4Q96.jpg[/img]April 30, 2016 at 5:47 pm #7154
guess that’s not how the tags work on this board
April 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm #7155
It doesn’t look like the key spacing is far enough off to create a problem. However, often it’s easy to adjust and even out the spaces just by inserting a razor blade or other thin blade between keys and jiggering the keys one way or the other. The B could be worked a bit to the right, and there’s room to fiddle with the C key to see if that makes a difference. There has to be some reason for the problem you’re having. Something with the reed seems most likely, especially if you’ve worked on that key, gapping/tuning, but the entire mechanism of that key is possibly relevant, including the spring tension, which could affect how far the key travels up and down. But that would be noticeable in the key action, and it seems unlikely on a new melodica. Sorry if I’m not being much help here!May 1, 2016 at 2:00 am #7156
Fixed it by sliding a piece of paper under the reed and pressing it hard to make sure it was flat. It probably was bent or twisted somehow.
Now everything is the way I want it 🙂
made a quick random recording testing it out: still pretty new to this so it’s kind of simple. Just a short Hirajoshi scale improvisationMay 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm #7269
Congratulations, Shion. You found the solution! Sounds good, nice improvisation.
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