Forum Replies Created

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
  • Author
  • #7093

    Hello Tatu,
    Your chromatic button harmonica looks very beautiful, and I also like the small size and light weight.

    What do you think of the harmonica reeds made by Harmonikas Louny Titlbach? There are 2 photos of the single reed plates here:

    It’s difficult to tell from these photos, but these harmonica reed plates seem to be slightly thinner than the Italian made accordina reed plates by Binci.
    Is there a forum member who knows the exact weight of a single Harmonikas harmonica reed plate ? (and in comparison to a single Binci accordina reed plate)

    Did you also test your prototypes with a Borel style attached mouthpiece to it? The mouth/lips can get firm grip on the Borel and Dreux accordina mouthpieces.
    Is there a big sound difference with yours not the extra mouthpiece? Did you experiment with this?


    Anyone who knows about the production of the vibrandoneon reeds?
    This website says they are made with mouth harmonica reeds ? Is this true or are the reeds accordina style ?

    “In principle it works like a melodica, but it is made of high quality walnut wood and has mouth organ reeds. ”


    You can check the YT video again. I have seen the seller put his emailadress online for orders.
    Apparantly this Thai music teacher has now 20 of this melodicas for sale.

    Although this layout (6+6 whole tone scale) is a very old idea, dating from the 17th century, it was only used for pianos (the chromatic layout piano, chromo-piano, Janko, etc) and some accordions (Reuther and Beyreuther).

    This is the first time I know it has been used on melodicas, and it is a small revolution in the melodica world.

    I am also interested in buying this kind of 6+6 whole tone layout melodica, but I would prefer only two colours, white for the first row, and black for the second row.
    The grey colour makes it looking a bit too complicated.

    By the way, one can of course also create the 3 row system : 4+4+4, making it a plastic (French) accordina.


    By all metal I mean the whole corpus of the instrument in metal(s), like the French clavietta or accordinas.

    The melodica-type music instruments of the 19th century were wood or metal instruments.
    The 20th century melodicas are plastic. Don’t the melodica players want metal ones ?
    Plastic is lightweight, but the sound isn’t great. A plastic melodica sounds harsh/sharp. And most melodica reed plates are low quality, with air losses.

    Top quality melodicas could help upgrading the status of the melodica in the music instruments family.
    The vibrandoneons, seraphones, and the likes are fine top quality instruments, just a bit heavy.


    hello Quetscher,

    Being a C-system CBA player, I play a French Borel accordina, an instrument comparable to a chromatic button Eolina or cba Vibrandoneon. My accordina has 44 buttons, and is only 1 kilogram. Length of this accordina is 30 cm, about 6 cm high.

    (I have heard talks about experiments in France for the near future with a 500 grams accordina (perhaps with 26-32 buttons or so), but we’ll have to wait and see in 2016 or later, if they will be put for sale)

    The 2 videos about the symphonium is all I could find on the internet about the symphonium. There are quite a number of photos, but detailed information is very scarce. The concertina museum website is the best place to look for information.

    The 2 players demonstrating the symphonium don’t appear to be professional musicians, rather scientists I presume. So we don’t have a good example of what is possible with the symphonium.

    I believe a good player could play simple single line melodies quite fast on the symphonium.
    One of the playing techniques for the symphonium could be:
    – use of 4 fingers in total: the left index and left middle finger, and on the right side the right index and middle finger. This way the player has 4 fingers at disposal to rapidly play fast melodies on this alternating keyboard. (You can compare to some English concertina players, it’s the same layout)
    – the other 6 fingers can be used to support and keep in a stable position the symphonium. You use eg 4 remaining fingers to hold the 4 little feet of the symphonium

    The players in the videos only do a sound test for a few seconds, they don’t really play the symphonium. A good player could easily play simple and fast tunes, with all the chromatics included (if using 4 or even 6 fingers, including ring fingers)

    I know about the Hohner harmonetta from my books and info on the internet. The harmonetta wasn’t really a success. I remember the Germans describing it as a “too big waffle in the mouth” or looking like having a “big calculating machine in your mouth”.
    The harmonetta is rather plump and oversized in comparison to the tiny compact symphonium.

    I have a few guesses why the symphonium was quickly forgotten.
    If you look at the materials and engravings of the old symphoniums, it must have costed a lot of money. A lot of working hours to make the refined action mechanism. Most people simply wouldn’t have been able to afford this.
    And C. Wheatstone right from the start thought about a bellows and created the English concertina, allowing the use of arm force and much greater air pressure.

    These days, in times of economic crises, Industrial makers will hesitate to produce something like the symphonium. But nowadays we are in a situation for Industrial companies to create cheaper “symphoniums”, and with improved reed quality and resonance qualities.

    If there would be one available in a shop, I’d run as fast as I could to get one.


    The Eolina looks beautiful, but it is so heavy for a mouth blown free reed music instrument. 2,9 kilogram is heavy for a mouth blown music instrument.
    On the same website, there is a “SILVERTONE ITALY” melodica with 25 keys, weight: 550 grams

    That’s about 5,3 times lighter.

    And what about one of the champions of economic free reed aerophones (and concertinas), Charles Wheatstone.
    His symphoniums were minimal in size/dimensions, but had from 12 reeds, over 24, 30, 36, yes even up to 44 reeds.
    with minimal weight

    Check out this video:
    the fragment with the little symphonium (with 24 reeds !) starts at 2’45’’ tot 3’40’’:

    Charles Wheatstone concertina, sound vibrations, telegraph

    (the symphonium in this video has no back plate, and no bottom plate (a minimum amount of parts; on the other hand: a rather complex button action mechanism); other designs including back and bottom plates are explained in his 1829 patent)

    Another 30 seconds video with a 12 reeds:

    Why don’t they make these beauties in Castelfidardo ?
    In a simplified form, one could imagine putting 2 mouth harmonicas with aluminium Combs together. A comb with 12 holes.
    So one would only make the casing, and a simplified button action, or even a slide mechanism per button.

    I think these symphoniums must be around 200 grams up to 400 grams (?) (I didn’t find exact information on the weight on the internet)
    C. Wheatstone was a champ in efficiency and economy. The weight and size of a Wheatstone symphonium is a fraction of an Eolina or a melodica.

    Info and pics:

    The patent can be downloaded in pdf here:
    “Improvements in the Construction of Wind Musical Instruments (1829)”

    I wonder: Do the Ballone Burini people know of the Wheatstone symphonium…?


    The photo of this wooden version was on facebook, posted in 2011. I’ve heard this project has been going on from 2010 to 2015. The wooden version may look beautiful, but the later version with metal sides and bottom is better water/moisture resistant. The Original French accordinas also had metal sides and Bottoms. Only the inside reedblock is wood.

    By the way, found a first video of the latest of this Finnish prototype. It starts at 1’10 :

    Tatu Salmela ja moottorisahahurmaajat

    Short fragment, but it’s a start. Who can find another video with full review of this instrument?


    Here is a photo of this Finnish button melodica prototype:

    Looks beautiful and very compact.
    The mouthpiece opening is on the side, an extra mouthpiece could be attached if wanted.
    First prototypes were all wood, but moisture… and a later prototype is in progress.

    Fascinating world of DIY music instrument makers…
    Mini accordinas for backpackers ?


    All this sounds great, the advantage of the reed plates being all the same size. Opens perspectives for standardisation of reed block sizes.
    Harmonikas Louny also make concertina reeds and reed plates (I suppose also with spark erosion technology?) with top quality (?). See DIX concertina reeds on their web page.
    This could be sweet music into the ears of amateur concertina makers.
    I just miss a pdf list with all their product prices in Euro in one nice overview.

    By the way, they also make other customized parts: bellows (number of falts can be chosen, sizes, edge reinforcements, …), reed Combs, … . Even non music precision parts in metals.
    Suppose all of this with modern technology.
    I have read some small scale accordion makers in Switserland and Germany are also using CNC and maybe spark erosion technology for precision work at customer’s demand.

    All this could be a help for amateurs that can try to make their own invented free reed music instruments, when some parts are too difficult to make for an individuel DIY at home.

    Let’s hope more CNC, 3D printing, etc workshops will be created, and also in the center or Western parts of Europe.

    In Russia I hear they also experiment with trying to reduce thickness of the reedplates in accordions to save weight in mini accordions, but I have no technical information on this subject.

    What I would like to see is mass produced metal parts for accordinas. Like for mouth harps, modal system parts that can be replaced in mouth harmonicas. Would like to see the same modular systems for melodicas and accordinas.
    I hear of prototypes made in Finland of a 32 button accordina like instrument of 400 grams total weight (compared to my A Borel 44 buttons accordina of 1 kilogram)… very promising. Can’t wait to see this in a video. Has a Borel like metal “wind chamber” and metal sides. Reeds probably lying flat in horizontal position, just 21 cm long…


    Googling, I can see some theoretical similarities with a 2001 German Seydel patent for a chromatic button melodica / wind instrument.
    The patent can be viewed at the office patent:

    Figure 1 in this patent shows the reeds are in a horizontal position, same way most melodica reed plates and reeds are.


    It’s the only video I could find with this instrument.
    If we could find the patent, we could have a look at the drawings and have more information on the position of the reeds / reed plates: reeds in horizontal position or in vertical position (= French accordina).
    My guess would be the reeds are lying flat in horizontal position, but only guessing.

    The bayanita-43 name could be referring to a year of patent application, 1943 (?), being the same year André Borel made his chromatic harmonicon patent application in the USA.
    Because the number of buttons seem to be 45, and not 43.

    I’ve read online a specimen was sold at an auction beginning 2015. There it was called a Hohner Varieta 45.
    But the Hohner company has no traces of a Hohner Varieta 45.
    Another guess is this instrument is made in the Ukraine (mass produced ?) or a Russian made. It looks to be a cheap mass production music instrument. But maybe it was not a success and only a limited number was made?

    Maybe some more videos and info will pop up online.


    someone playing a (1960s-1970s?) so called “Bayanita 43” (Баянита 43)

    B-system layout, 43 buttons (?)
    sounds different than a French accordina, maybe melodica style reedplates, and some plastics were used (?)
    No information yet on the exact weight of this Bayanita compared to a French accordina

    if someone has further information on the dimensions, construction, weight, any info is welcome


    Thank’s for this post, I’m going to have a look at this, and try to modify my piano melodica into a 3 row chromatic button layout.
    The Janko / J. Caramuel y Lobkowitz layout (dating from circa 1650s , cfr. Patrizio Barbieri articles on Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz and the history of the 6+6 whole tone layout), offers some advantages.
    But a division of the 12 semitones of the octave in 3 equally uniform layout (C-system or B-system) (4+4+4, instead of 6+6), this layout compacter and offers more flexible ways of fingering difficult passages.
    A Janko layout is closer to fingering patterns of traditional piano keyboard layout.

    The plastic piano melodicas are lightweight. Converted in a Janko or 3 row CBA layout, they would have a weight half of the accordina.


    I would have to take out my printed paper versions of the Clavietta and Accordina patents by Borel, to compare the figures. In one of the designs of the accordina (there were some adaptations to the patent), Borel explains in the accordina patent (it is in one of the figures, as numbers 13 (= wind chamber) and 14 (= baffle) ) he made a partition or division in the wind chamber with a sort of baffle (an extra plate inside the wind chamber). His purpose was to keep as much moisture as possible away form the valves and reeds. Most of the water stays in the 1ste compartment of the wind chamber, and is blown out using the air release button. The says very few “spittle” is reaching the valves or reeds, the opposite as a mouth harmonica or melodica where all the moisture and condensation is aimed more directly on the reeds and valves. He tried to avoid this.
    I have to say in my accordina, this succeeded very well, and there is no negative effect on reed response. Even with the faintest air pressure, I have good reed response in my accordina.

    I never had a Clavietta, and it is possible the Clavietta never had this “partition” in the wind chamber, or maybe some models did have it.


    I think the reason why the symphonium in the video doesn’t sound good, is that the mouthpiece is oval or round, and the diameter is too big.
    If I were to make one, I would use the Hohner Student 32 melodica plastic black mouthpiece: this has a round opening at the end, but it begins with a very thin flat opening.

    When you want to exhale really hard and you want to produce a loud note, people tend to close their lips together. So the O-form of the lips changes to a more closed form. That way you can exhale with force.

    Try to exhale really hard and at the same time keeping your lips in an O-form (oval or round shape), it’s impossible.
    I think the Wheatstone Symphonium could work better with a “melodica mouthpiece”.
    But because I don’t have a symphonium at home, I can’t test it…

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
Back to top button