Yamaha (Gakki) 25 (vintage)

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    Alan Brinton

    Pianica 25

    The earliest Yamaha Pianica models (Let’s call them “First Generation”) were manufactured for Yamaha by Tokai Gakki and marketed both as Yamaha and as Tokai Gakki Pianicas. I have acquired two Tokai Gakki “Artist Ltd” 25 key models. They appear to be virtually identical, except that the metal tray of one has a smooth finish, while the metal tray of the other has a rough finish. The Artist Limited editions were distributed and sold in the U.S., but they were manufactured in Japan and are, I’m sure, representative of the first generation pianicas introduced in 1961-62 in Japan. I am sending one of these to Lowboy to experiment with. They have some unusual features, including harder faced key pads and reed chamber gasket, a permeable screen covering the inside of the “vent” holes, unusually solid construction, and a unique sliding spit valve depressed from the mouth-hole end of the instrument (shared with first generation 32 key models). Both of these Pianica 25s came in good playing condition. Although they could use a little tuning, I am holding off on tuning for the present. This model is trickier to disassemble and reassemble than most, so tuning should not be attempted by anyone who is not have experienced in working on melodicas.

    If you follow eBay sales of vintage melodicas, you may have seen these two there at the same time a couple of months ago (from different sellers). They were ridiculously inexpensive, and nobody else bid on them.

    Alan Brinton

    Of the two Artist Limited Pianica 25 Pianicas, this is the one with the smooth tray and the one I have taken apart. A few photos of the one with the rough tray (and yellow case) will be included.

    Rough tray model on the bottom

    Alan Brinton


    The reeds are in nearly mint condition except for some discoloring at the bass end.

    Main body of this pianica is usually sturdy. Reed hole pads are a fairly hard, non-absorbent plastic-like material, similar to the reed chamber gasket material. I cleaned a few of the pads with rubbing alcohol.

    Reed holes. There are two separate pieces here, so you can see the reed holes and the pads.

    Alan Brinton

    The unusual construction here is hard to describe. The metal reed plate is affixed very tightly to what is the cover of the air chamber. This plate-cover is heavy and solid. It almost feels like the old kind of long laptop battery.

    Here you can see the permeable mesh affixed on the inside of the vent holes. If you put your mouth over a section of holes, you can blow through it with only mild resistance.

    When you first this pianica up to play, the keys are sticky, and it’s necessary to slide over them all to loosen them up, after which they play freely. This is true of both of these instruments.

    Daren Banarsë

    Great info and pics Alan, thanks for the posts!

    Is there any chance of some pics of the spring arrangement? Also, do you think the harder key pads have any effect on air-tightness? I wonder if the pads and gasket have hardened over time…

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