Bass Melodica in Small Band Setting?

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Binyomin 5 months ago.

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  • #8914

    mudbone
    Participant

    For those who have experience with playing/listening to bass melodica I would like to hear your thoughts on whether a skilled bass melodica player could credibly hold down the upright bass part in a small jazz or bluegrass group setting (duo/trio/quartet/quintet). I am considering purchasing a bass melodica but am unsure if it will be up to this task (or if I will be for that matter!). I am also wary of some of the mixed reviews I have seen on bass melodicas (e.g. they require more air, delay in sounding, have issues with durability of air bladder) so if there are thoughts on bass melodicas quality/usage in general I would be interested to hear those as well. For reference I currently own (and am pleased with) a Suzuki M32C.

    Thanks,

    Mudbone

    #8915

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    I

    #8916

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=frtAyHROC84 is a good representation of the bass melodica. I hear fairly good support for the piece. It has about as many rapid notes as you would use in blue grass or jazz. Do you already have a group in mind?

    #8917

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Mudbone, good question, I love the base Melodica and use it on all our recordings for the Monsters of Melodica. There are some things you need to consider, first the base Melodica has a limited range so you will definitely not cover the all the notes you would hope for and the lower you go the more air is released and there is a limitation on how long you can hold a note. I own the Hammond BB, the Suzuki and the Hohner Basso. Tone wise the Hammond is superior, but is slower than the Suzuki and the Hohner Basso. My favorite Is the Basso because it is fast and the air pushes the notes quite well and longer. The Basso is no longer made so the hunt will take a bit of time. I have (4) Basso melodicas and all work perfect. When doubled in recording they can sound like a trombone section. Bass/brass effect. The Hammond is a warmer and smoother tone just slower. Can you do a walking bass line? Yes but you will have to take a lot of breaths and choking the reed can happen quiet easily. So a breath every four notes on a regular tempo would max you out if you want to have consistent volume. I have a tutorial on here on how to replace a bladder, quite easy and materials are cheap. If you are looking to replace your upright I can tell you it is not going to happen, but in it’s on right you can create some good base lines that may work for you. Check out our Monsters of Melodica video “Snow Samba” and see if you can distinguish the bass melodicas. we have four Bass melodicas playing and it sounds like a trombone section. We call that section “The wall of Basso” we also used them on our version of Chick Coreas “Spain”. One last note, even though the pick up on the Hammond works fine I tend to get a better sound when using a microphone for recording (EV RE-20 or Shure SM7) work great.
    I hope this helps a little
    Melodica-Me

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Melodica-Me.
    #8919

    mudbone
    Participant

    Wow, really gives a different complexion to Rhapsody in Blue! Yes, bass melodica really sounds good there. Of course in a set piece like this the performer can choreograph the breathing ahead of time and anticipate delays to notes sounding to synchronize with other performers. I wonder how a bass melodica performer would hold up in a more improvised and perpetual motion type-setting like a jazz combo where they always need to keep the bassline going. I worry it could get exhausting. Not sure I’m ready to pull the trigger on purchasing just yet since the bass melodicas are somewhat pricey. I’m a little more inclined to get a Suzuki M37C or Yamaha P37D first since I don’t think I’ll be disappointed with either of those.

    #8920

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    That”s the M37c taking the lead in the rapsohdy video. I am very happy with mine. I like the extra resonance of the metal case. You won’t regret acquiring either. Both are extremely well made.

    #8921

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    Listened to the “Snow Samba” video and was very impressed. Not only by the bass, but wasn”t there a wonderful picolo effect from a soprano melodica?

    #8922

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNiFYcvJ5A Here’s a unique look at a bass melodica performance. Since he’s singing I’m not quite sure but think there may be an air supply in the coat?

    #8923

    Paul Durham
    Participant

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zcYThCQzA2w evidently the air supply is in the backpack?

    #8943

    mudbone
    Participant

    Sorry I’ve been slow to check out these melodica links suggested by Melodica-Me and Paul. Really enjoyed “Snow Samba”. Like Paul the soprano melodica work in Snow Samba really caught my ear (haven’t heard much soprano melodica playing to this point). However I had trouble picking out the bass melodica passages from other midrange melodicas in the arrangement. I will have to listen to it again. The bass melodica never actually carries the bassline in this arrangement, correct?

    That air pump contraption that the two melodica performer uses is quite inventive. Only limitation seems to be that the performer can’t easily modify the dynamics if the air pressure is constant. I suppose this suits his purpose to back his vocals but for basslines this might get monotonous (maybe rhythmic subtleties could compensate?).

    Any thoughts on whether playing walking basslines would be passable if one were to use a circular breathing technique to try to keep the quarter notes going?

    #8944

    mudbone
    Participant

    Ok I hear the “wall of bass melodicas” acting like a tenor-range trombone section pretty clearly this time around. First time through I mostly was listening to basslines and lead lines and didn’t hear bass melodicas. Soprano is nice, would like to hear more of it in future.

    #8945

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello mudbone, we do not use the bass melodicas in a single bass line type application, the sound just doesn’t do it for us. We prefer to get the sound as tight as possible and use it in more of a Melodic way. Not that we don’t like Bass we just don’t think that the bass Melodica sounds tight enough to carry the base line alone for the music we are playing. In the Tokyo Melodica Orchestra video, Rotan plays the Hammond bass melodion pretty good within the piece and the arrangement is well done. Rotan and the rest of the Tokyo Melodica Orchestra worked on a track with the Monsters of Melodica (Valdez in the Country” where he used the bass Melodica on some of the bass parts at the end. If you listen to the track the subsonic bass that sounds like a moog synthizier is actually the Hohner Electra Melodica. If you can find one available in decent shape (very few were made and have survived) that one would work extremely well for a walking bass line but you do need an amp for that one. It took a little bit of work and the right setup but I got it to sound like a synth and guitar combined for the solo. An awesome Melodica.
    Melodica-Me

    #9022

    Binyomin
    Participant

    I have a Suzuki bass which I use with my six-piece band on some tunes, but I don’t use it instead of bass. Here’s an example. There are actually a lot of low instruments on this track.

    I also use it occasionally in an acoustic quartet format with acoustic guitar, violin, and upright bass, but I don’t have any recordings of that group I can share.

    The Suzuki takes a lot of air, especially the lower notes and has a slower response too, so playing faster melodies or basslines is a challenge. The range is limited as well, depending on what keys you might need to play in.

    #9023

    Binyomin
    Participant

    Not sure why my link didn’t appear in that last post, but here’s the track I mentioned above.
    Asur Lehityaesh – with bass melodion

    #9024

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Sounds great Binyomin, awesome use of the bass Melodica.
    Melodica-Me

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