When is it not a good idea to buy a used Melodica

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    I would like to open a new topic.”When is it not a good idea to buy a used melodica” my check list.
    I have been challenge by this question many times and yes I have made some bad decisions in my time. Recently one of our members here on Melodicaworld sent me an email to notify me of a rare melodica on eBay, since he know I am always interested in the hard to find melodicas. I had mentioned to him that in fact I had seen it and had actually made an offer but had retracted my offer. Fortunately I was able to make a few calls to the person who would have repaired the melodica, (this one happened to be an electronic melodica), so I was actually very nervous about my offer. The tech informed me that the repair was going to cost me about double of what I had offer. Since we had an idea of what was wrong based on the information the seller gave us so we were able to figure out what it would possibly take to make it work. I wanted this melodica for my collection but without it working it just did not make sense to buy it. The melodica had other issues that I would have to deal. With to actually use it after I had it repaired (more cost) This was not the first time I had been in this situation, (not good for a guy that wants what he wants) if you know what I mean.
    What do you look for and what is a deal breaker for you when buying used.
    This is my mental list when I buy a used melodica.
    1) Is it complete
    2) what is the condition from 1-10
    3) Are all the notes sounding
    4) Does it come with the original case and mouth pieces
    5) Will I be able to get the parts?
    6) Will I play it or will it be a collectable?
    7) Will it add to my collections value or will it be just another melodica in the closet.
    8) Will I use it for parts
    9) should I buy it now with hopes of finding a another to complete this one.
    10) Am I paying way to much or is it a deal.

    Make no mistakes if you want it and let it go you will be saying “Damn, I knew I should have bought it”. But be sure that you may be saying “Why the hell did I buy this” just as well.

    Monsters of Melodica.

    Alan Brinton

    Good list of criteria. If it’s a recent model, chances are pretty good that if it looks good in the photos it will be in reasonably good shape and playable. Photos can be misleading, however. The vendor I think MM is referring to takes very flattering photos of his stock. If it’s a vintage model (1980s or earlier), there’s always some risk involved, and my experience with older models is about a 50% success rate. Some vintage models are much better than others, and it might be good to work up a list of the best vintage melodicas to buy in terms of playability and durability. It’s generally a good idea to ask questions of the seller: Do all the notes play? if you blow into it with no keys or release valve depressed, is it relatively air tight? Whether it is odoriferous is not so much an issue, since it’s not hard to deskunk a melodica. In photos, look very carefully for cracks and discoloration.

    There are certain items that I’m willing to buy because of their rarity and historical significance, whether they’re playable or not. That’s because I’m interested in the history of the instrument. But rare and exotic melodicas are often not very playable. And if you’re looking for an alternative to a popular melodica of the past, such as an Italian or Czechoslovakian counterpart to, say, the original metal Hohner Piano 26, hoping that it might be better, the fact is that these models typically are not as good as the models of which they are imitations, and are less likely to be in good playable condition.

    Certain highly desirable vintage models such as the Claviettas and the Hohner Professional 36 typically need work.

    I have not been able to find a melodica museum or harmonica museum that includes a serious melodica wing. Those of us who collect probably should be thinking about identifying a future museum repository for some of the significant items in our inventories. I have some ideas about this for possible further discussion.

    Adam Tombs

    Interesting topic. I was filled with apprehension posting melodicas for sale on this forum for sale so I did my level best to inform buyers of exactly what the buyers were getting themselves into.
    Oscar lists excellent points above. I think the most salient one for me is the question of value for money. it’s an easy trap for a beginner in the world of melodica to cheat themsleves by not being aware of what things are worth. Perhaps a ‘sticky’ thread or additional forum component that lists approximate value for each model could be a help? I know for myself, I don’t feel like paying more than $50 Australian including postage (which isn’t much) on average for a second hand ‘classic retro’ unit in good working order….

    For playing, there is a lot to be said for buying new and spending more money on a new upper end melodica IMHO.


    If the instrument is one I intend to play versus collect, I ask the seller if all the notes work and does it leak when she blows into it fairly hard without any notes depressed. If it is a third part seller, I ask if the melodica smells like an attic.

    If the brasswork on the case is corroded, I know the melodica has not been stored correctly and will not buy it. (Chances are the brass reed plates are distorted too.) If the case looks like it has been cleaned vigorously and there are still signs of stains, mold, or excessive dirt, I will not buy it. If the screws are marred, I will not buy it.

    All of the above goes out the window if in fact the melodica is one I consider to be rare.

    If the photo of the instrument was taken on an embroidered kitchen table, being sold by a woman, and meets the above criteria, I buy it. When I get it, it will smell like perfume and I know it was played for a few months and then stored in a camisole drawer for 50 years.



    I meant to say, “Chances are the brass reed plates are corroded (not distorted) too.”


    Alan Brinton

    Point of clarification: Most of the comments posted so far apply to buying an older item, usually referred to as “vintage.” There is not much risk in buying a current model that has been used so long as it looks okay in the photos. I’d say that this isn’t a bad way to buy if total cost including shipping is about 60% or less of the cost of buying new.

    The question of value is more complicated with vintage melodicas, since it varies considerably with models and it depends so much on the condition they’re in. Also, rareness (determined by how many were sold) is a factor that is commonly not reflected in the seller’s price. For example, it’s easy to find a 1970s Suzuki Study 25 (A-25), but its contemporary 1970s Suzuki A-26 is much rarer — both very good Melodions). Consequently, the A-26 should (in my opinion) sell for at least twice as much. But this is not reflected in sellers’ prices. (These comments do not apply to certain exceptional vintage melodicas such as the Clavietta or Hohner Professional.)

    Playability of vintage melodicas is an issue for further discussion. Not all vintage models that are in comparable condition are equally playable (or “gig worthy,” as Melodica-Me has put it), They probably were not equally playable when they were new. And some have sound or other features that distinguish them from current (2015) models.

    I can say from experience and from my own mistakes that it’s wise to read up (here) about vintage melodicas and to follow melodica auctions for a while on eBay (at least) before jumping in.

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