Yamaha 32 (vintage) Part II: Pianica P-32

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  • #4572
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    New thread here for the P-32, which appears to be the last metal tray 32 key Yamaha Pianica.

    The series of 32 key models begins with the 1961 Pianica 32. This model almost certainly dates from the mid-to-late 1960s and seems to have been replaced by the P-32B in 1973. It has a grittier (less agreeable) sound than earlier and later Yamaha Pianicas. I wondered if this is due to a difference in the reeds and took it apart today to compare reed plates with the modern day P-32D and see whether a reed transplant might be possible, and if so how that would impact the sound. Although the reeds look the same, this turned out not to be possible.



    The metal trays of early Suzukis and early Yamahas are very similar. In this case, the melodica core slides part way out and then snaps up after the removal of three large screws on the bottom. Each end of the Pianica has a pair of endpieces.





    #4573
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Notice that the reeds of this Pianica are affixed to the air chamber cover, rather than facing it from below. Consequently, the reed plates of the P-32 and the P-32D are roughly mirror images of each other, with the same spacing between reeds. The P-32D shown here is missing its low end reed plate.

    More images:


    Here, the P-32 on top, P-32D on bottom.




    The tiny strap also helps date this model as 1960s.

    #4574
    Daren BanarsëDaren Banarsë
    Keymaster

    Great work Alan. Makes for great Friday night entertainment! Those springs look really interesting. Are they for adjusting the tension on individual keys? I can’t quite see the whole mechanism.

    Is the instrument as airtight as the modern ones?

    The reeds are buried further inside the instrument in this older model. Do you think this has much of an affect on the sound?

    #4576
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    Happy Friday, Daren! Shouldn’t you be in some pub? I spent many an evening at the Museum Tavern, and elsewhere around there.

    Each tiny spring sits on the shaft of an adjustable bolt. I checked the play and tension of all the keys before putting it back together. They were so well in sync, though, that I wasn’t tempted to make adjustments. Yes, this one is just as airtight as the P-32D or P-37D. It weighs 710 grams, as compared with the P-32D’s 655 or so, and it is of very solid construction.

    Did you notice (most obvious in the 5th photo) that the cover on the bottom of which the reed plates are mounted has a ridge of solid plastic that narrows from the marked end on the right to the unmarked end on the left? So the solid plastic sound board (if that’s a proper designation) ridge follows the open ends of the reeds. I don’t know what affects that or the placement of the reeds has on the sound. However, I do know that this Yamaha Pianica has a different sound than both earlier and later models. Lowboy has also played this model and wasn’t enthusiastic about it. He has raise the question of the extent to which the edgier sound of some older models in comparison with newer counterparts is a function of aging, as opposed to differences in reeds or design. I was hoping to do a reed transplant to try to address this question. But I believe the reeds are the same, and the reeds on this one look brand new, like the ones on the P-32D shown in the comparison photos. The older made-in-Japan P-32D I posted about recently sounds exactly like a new P-32D. So it looks like the sound difference with this one is a matter of design.

    #4579
    Daren BanarsëDaren Banarsë
    Keymaster

    I normally drink at the Harrison, which isn’t far from the Museum Tavern!

    That ridge of solid plastic seems to have the function of gradually shortening each individual reed chamber to match the lengths of the reed tongues. This would be consistent with the current models, where the chambers have a similar shape, but carved out of a block.

    Maybe the type of plastic is influencing the sound? The current models are made from a hard polystyrene. Or maybe the ‘one block’ design serves as a more efficient resonating chamber?

    I like the idea of adjustable springs, though interesting that the current keyboards have no option to adjust, but are still perfectly balanced

    #4583
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I’ve been at the Harrison, if it’s the place I’m thinking of, but that was in the 1980s.

    I suppose someone might want to make all the keys more or less springy.

    #4598
    AvatarAlan Brinton
    Participant

    I had forgotten that the reed plates of the original Pianica 32 are also mounted on the inside of the air chamber cover.

    I just made a bid on a Yamaha P-32B (1973-78), hoping I can pin down the change in where the reed plates are mounted. I have not seen a 32B before. Here’s what it looks like (this must be when, during the evolutionary development of the P-32, the first model walked up from the sea on to dry land): or (:

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