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melodicas, melodica shopping, and buying a particular melodica.

June 18, 2014

A melodica is a small keyboard instrument that is powered by wind. What I mean by that is it is a miniature piano, usually made of plastic. Its sound is generated by breath. There’s a mouthpiece attached, and a long tube can be attached to the mouthpiece so that the instrument can be played on one’s lap or a table.

Like this:

It’s also played this way:

Or even like this:

(Gosh, I love youtube!)

I became interested in melodicas just a few days ago, when I went into my local library branch, and was very surprised to encounter a 4-piece jazz band, and a rather good one too. They are called Frim Fram, sometimes called The Frim Fram Band, or the Frim Fram 4.

Here is a video of the band (sans melodica, but still, great):

The pianist in the group did a brilliant solo on a melodica, and I thought.. yes! I want one of those! But I want one that will sound sort of like a concertina, so I can play Celtic melodies on it.

The past two nights, I dove into the world of melodicas. I found one video on youtube that compares 13 different models:

(Beautiful Celtic tune! I want to learn that one on both the melodica and tinwhistle. I’ve already got several tinwhistles I can play).

I watched some other videos, read reviews on amazon and other forums, and contacted a salesperson at an online music merchant called melodicas.com. I asked that person for a recommendation.

I could tell that some of the melodicas in the video I just posted were quite likely to cost over a thousand dollars, and some were likely to be much cheaper. Of the ones I assumed would be cheap, I liked the sound of the Angel Melodyhorn best.

In my letter to melodicas.com, I asked if I could be recommended a melodica that was under one hundred dollars, and one that sounded more like a concertina than a harmonica. The sales person wrote back quickly, and suggested a model called an L37, which, from melodicas.com costs $99 plus $12.00 as the cheapest shipping rate. The listing included a small picture of the instrument.

After doing further research, I learned that what melodicas.com calls the L37 is really the Angel Melodyhorn AM-37K3. Hmm..

After hours more of research and checking out various melodicas on several sites, I found an ebay listing for a melodica that did not include the brand of the instrument. I checked that listing anyway. I was able to see a closeup on the instrument because most ebay listings of most products have pictures that have a zoom feature built in. Using the zoom feature (just putting the cursor over the picture) I was able to clearly see the brand and model of this particular melodica. It was an Angel Melodyhorn AM-37K3, what melodicas.com lists as an L37. It looked identical to the L37 too.

The starting bid for the instrument on ebay was only $20, including free shipping. I placed a bid of $37.99, and that is how much I paid for the instrument and shipping.

I have read two brief but positive online reviews of this instrument, but cannot comment on the quality of it, since I’ve not yet played it. Nor can I as yet give a a favorable or unfavorable rating of the seller.. at least not based on personal experience.

But I can say that if you want to buy this particular model of melodica, it’s likely best not to buy it from melodicas.com. You can get an identical model from an ebay seller which specializes in musical instruments and gear, called dannsk. They list the instrument as “melodica melodyhorn mouth organ keyboard wind piano.” Dannsk has a feedback number of 1449, and a rating of 100%. That’s a good sign. They periodically sell these melodicas, and always start the bid at $20. After reading detailed feedback information, I found out that some buyers have been fortunate enough to be the only bidders, and only paid $20 for the instrument and shipping. Still, I’m pleased with my purchase price.

I have found a few other Angel Melodyhorns on ebay. They appear to be higher-end models, and are selling for over $100 dollars US. The sellers of these are from the UK. These melody horns look nicer than the one I just purchased. The one I bought..  instrument itself looks alright, a decent green color, but the case it comes in is a hideous and nauseating shade of green that clashes quite a bit with the green of the instrument. But that’s alright, as long as it is of reasonable quality, not defective, and something I will enjoy playing.

I, through careful and tenacious research, found what I am hoping will be a quality melodica for a beginner, and I spent a lot less than I would have had I purchased the instrument from melodicas.com.

Yes, it really does pay to do one’s homework.

When I receive the instrument, and have tried it out for awhile, I will write about it, and let you know what I think.

Oh yes..I should mention the note range on the particular model I purchased. It has a 4 octave range. The lowest note is the first F that is below middle C. The highest note is an F four octaves above the first note.

Edit 8/11/15.

I soon lost interest in playing the melodica. It’s because I’m not a pianist, and didn’t feel like learning piano chords and scales. I enjoy harmonicas now. Easier to play, and much more portable. If you are interested in harmonicas, please read my harmonica buyer’s guide, here on this blog. That post features many videos, and lots of helpful information.

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