Yamaha 32 (vintage) Part III: Pianica P-32B

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    AvatarAlan Brinton

    The P-32B is the Edsel of Yamaha Pianicas, an evolutionary dead end in the otherwise orderly progression from the original Pianica 32 to the modern day P-32D. I was excited to get my hands on one but was immediately unenthusiastic about its un-Yamaha sound and its leakiness. Since I disassembled, cleaned, and screwed it back together, it is so leaky (for no visible reason) that it barely plays. The reeds are mounted on the inside of the reed air chamber, as with the P-32, and the reeds and plates look the same, except that they were seriously discolored, with some corrosion. The P-32B was made from 1973-1978. Every other Yamaha Pianica I have seen from the 1970s has “Made in Japan” or “Japan” on the Pianica itself or on the case. The P-32B does not, and it is so unlike any other Yamaha Pianica that there is reason to wonder if the manufacture and even the design of this particular model was farmed out to another country. For some time, Yamaha Pianicas were designed and manufactured by the Tokai Gakki Company, and it is possible that Yamaha was experimenting with another manufacturer. Eventually, Yamaha shifted production from Japan to Indonesia, where present day Yamaha Pianicas are made, but without design changes or compromises in quality. Here are photos I took today of the P-32B:

    Comparison of P-32B reeds (top) with modern P-32D reeds (bottom)

    P-32B reed plates before and after cleaning. I used a toothbrush with baking soda and rubbing alcohol, and then resorted to toothpaste.

    The workmanship is not up to par with other Yamaha Pianicas, which can perhaps be seen in this photo, for example in how the end of the mouthpiece receptacle is fused in the middle.

    The blue disk separates from the disk beneath it when the spit button is depressed.

    Protruding from the casing at the bottom are the ends of the key springs, which are not otherwise visible or accessible without further disassembly (how this would be done was unclear to me, maybe with a chisel and mallet).

    Is it possible that this is not really a Yamaha at all, but a counterfeit? For two reasons I don’t think so. One is that it was sold on a Japanese auction site, most of whose customers are familiar with Yamaha Pianicas because of their use in childhood education in Japan; the other is that Yamaha did sell a Model P-32B (whose dates I indicated above). On the other hand, the composition of the reeds must not be the same, even though they seem to be otherwise made to the same specifications. I haven’t seen any other Yamaha reeds in this kind of condition.

    AvatarAlan Brinton

    For anyone who wants one, I’d be willing to part with this rare penguinesque beauty for a bargain price.


    Thank you Alan!
    Two thoughts that I had while reading:
    1. I read more than once in the group about a hard-to-find leakage. As the melodica should be water resistive (I even remember one dishwashed his), why not trying to spot a leakage inside a bowl of water, just like you would do looking for a puncture?

    2. If I wouldn’t posted my video, would the word “penguinesque” find itself spontaneously in this forum? 😉

    AvatarAlan Brinton

    1. I’ll try that, Ofir. I’m pretty sure the problem arises in one of two places or both: the fused part of the mouthpiece receptacle and/or some breaks in the main seal (seal?). But I think it’s probably not worth fixing unless I can find a willing P-32 donor with matching reeds for a reed transplant.

    2. Probably not. We take our inspiration from where we can find it.

    AvatarAlan Brinton


    Another penguin has been discovered, in the UK, a P-34. Sadly, it has already been sold.

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