Yamaha P37D and generic melodicas


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    After seeing this video, starting specifically at 5:19

    The guy there claim for equality of design between the Yamaha P37D (a ~100$ melodica) and generic noname melodica he bought some time ago; when playing, they also sound fairly similar (with only slight differences)

    I searched Ebay to see if I can find similar generic melodicas, and I actually did:
    By looking at the hi-res pictures, it seems fairly identical to the Yamaha P37D, but costs roughly 30$ (with free international shipping).
    Has anyone tried the identically designed generic ones and can compare?

    Alan Brinton

    There is only one “identically designed” (in a manner of speaking) alternative to the P-37d that I know of, and I have posted detailed comparisons of it and the P-32d, which you can find by searching here for “faux Yamaha.” That one is very cheaply constructed, has inferior reeds, and doesn’t sound anything like the real Yamaha. There are also some other pianicas advertised as Yamahas on eBay. They are not and do not sound the same. The only current true Yamahas bear the designation P-37, P-32, or P-25. There are many similar looking melodicas under various names, most cheap, some expensive. Hearing a few arpeggios played gives a general idea of the type of sound but not of all the different nuances of sound a skilled player (and even to some extent a beginner) can get from one melodica but not from another. For someone who wants the sound and feel of a Yamaha, there is no substitute. And they are well worth what they cost.


    Thank you, what I was hoping to hear.
    I generally got the impression that there are only few designs which many ‘brands’ share, whereas the only exception are Hohner and Suzuki (you won’t find a generic look alike).
    At the above Ebay link, it doesn’t show the inside of the instrument, neither claiming to be identical to the Yamaha. But considering this video and the identical outside design, one must consider false-branding.

    If you say that the sound and construction is inferior to the Yamaha (I must say that it doesn’t sound like that in the video), then this is the best info that I have.

    Alan Brinton

    Hohner, Suzuki, and Yamaha were all making melodicas by 1961, Ofir, and the basic design of today’s Yamaha pianicas was in place by the early 1980s. There were a few other smaller manufacturers. Until recently, the true Yamahas were made in Japan, though they are now made in Indonesia. Today, melodicas are mass produced in China and sold under various names, some under false pretenses. Most of them are okay but not comparable to a Yamaha or to the $100 Suzukis. To some extent, this is a matter of opinion and personal preference, but quality of materials and construction are evident when you take a melodica apart and examine it.


    Thank you for this info.
    Do you know of a noticeable difference between the Yamahas from Japan and Indonesia?

    Alan Brinton

    I have a P-25C that was made in Japan, in the 1980s I am guessing. It is very close to the current P-25F model in appearance and sound. I think Yamaha has been careful about maintaining the specifications for their pianicas. Suzuki has also maintained the quality of their high end melodions, the ones with metal trays. But now they also offer less expensive models that are cheaply constructed in China. I don’t mean to disparage the inexpensive melodicas, though. I’m just saying that they are not comparable to a $100 Yamaha or Suzuki. And some of those cheap melodicas are sold at expensive prices, sometimes with false or misleading advertising. For example, some that are advertised as “hand crafted” in the USA.

    Alan Brinton

    I meant to say earlier that it was the P-37D to which I had compared the false Yamaha.


    I am the guy in the video(3 melodicas comparison).
    what I didn’t make clear in the video is that the generic no-name melodica I play also cost $100 American!
    That was many maybe 15 years ago.
    The Yamaha P series 32 and 37 as far as I know weren’t available or not widely available in the US at that time. At least I wasn’t familiar with them?
    My thinking is the generic may have been a forerunner of Yamaha’s design perhaps a buyout or hiring away of a designer?
    The one you purchased may or may not be from the same manufacturer as the one I play in the video.
    My generic and my Yamaha are very, very similar especially the case, tube, mouthpiece. For the record in person the Yamaha is somehow slightly superior (the slight differences you mention are more apparent in person) I think there could be some difference in the quality of the reeds or the material they are made from.
    I understand your frustration trying to find a quality instrument that in many cases you aren’t able to play before purchasing.
    I went through the same aggravation and my video was a result of wanting to help others come to a choice.

    Alan Brinton

    The P-37D was available starting in 1988, Kevin, and the P-32D in 1984 (I know this from a replacement parts list), though I’m not sure about availability in America, but some Yamaha Pianicas were available here earlier. Does your generic say “Pianica” on it? and did it identify its place of origin: Japan, Indonesia, or China? There are several companies that have the right to use the “pianica” label, including the original manufacturer, Tokai Gakki, which currently has a couple of models on the market. They and some others with the rights to use the name have the duckbill kind of mouthpiece like the Yamahas. The cost may not be indicative of much, since some vendors have passed off cheap Chinese melodicas as “handmade” and whatnot or given the impression that they are Yamahas or are made in America.


    Hi Alan,
    It doesn’t say pianica or place of manufacture or even a set of numbers.
    Strangely generic?
    I used the Wayback Machine website to find a shot of the page I ordered it from at or near that time:


    This seems to be from 2003.

    It’s the model they have listed as: GL-37
    If you can view the page you will note Yamaha and Suzuki aren’t listed by name and at that time I had never seen them in stores or on other websites?

    I wasn’t trying to indicate that the price was a badge of quality, but rather note that it was equal in price to the Yamaha.
    I believe at the time that looks and sounds professional was a draw for me after some discussion with the late Mr. Hegman.

    When I received my P37D years later I was struck by it’s similarity.

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