Effect pedals for your Melodica

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Lee Anderson 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #6453

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Effect pedals. Yea or Nay

    I was asked the other day, “why do you use effect pedals” and not just play the melodica as is. My response was a bit short and simple “I like it” I finished by adding, You know, I think if Mozart would have had an echoplex or fuzz tone or mayby a wah wah pedal he probably would have used it. Or maybe a stomp box to change the color of the harpsichord by adding some chorus or delay you know, to kick it up a notch and blow the powdered wigs off those sissy Boroque lovers in the house and do a little Galant head banging. I don’t know, maybe it would have got his head chopped off for playing the devils music, who knows but I think he would have probably tried it. I get board easy so I love trying new stuff all the time. If you are a melodica purist (if there is such a thing) My comment would be, the instrument has to be able to express what the musician wants to convey to his audience even if it’s by adding a little reverb. I have been working with effect pedals for a while and find that many are not easy to use especially if you are new to them and select an effect that does not work well with the Melodica. Along with the pedals you will have to choose a amplifier. Most music stores will let you try out amplifiers and pedals to see if you like them. If you own a Hammond melodion or already have a pick up for your Melodica, you can take them in and try them out. There are several types of effects that work well with the Melodica. The two that you will probably use the most is “reverb/echo” and “delay” these two bring quick satisfaction and can make you sound very full and lively. There are many to choose from and the cost can range from $35 to seversl hundreds. I suggest starting on the low end and let time be your guide. Play with them and see if you like what they do for your playing style. The Beat way to hear the effect is by way of a small amplifier that allows for headphone this can help by separating the live Melodica sound and that of the Melodica with the effect. One feature that you should consider is a pedal that has mix control to allow the sound of the Melodica and the amount of effect you are adding. If anyone is interested in knowing more about effect pedals or if you have questions on how to use them, let me know.
    Thanks
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica.

    #6454

    Melodica-Me
    Participant
    #6519

    beezer
    Participant

    HI Melodica-Me,
    Thanks for your offer of assistance about pedals I love the melodica sound with and without effects/ amplification. I love the dynamic range, and being able to get louder and softer while playing chords. I AM a harpsichord/Baroque player, and I agree about Mozart etc. pianos were being invented when he was a kid, and he went straight to the new technology, so yeah, he would have gone for the echoplex!
    I have been experimenting with pedals with my hyper and hammond 44. Am having a great time with it, and as i expected, it is changing the kind of music I am writing. I got the Digitech ElementXP guitar effects pedal and, while fully 75% of the preset effects don’t “read” – (don’t affect the tone too much) – the ones that do work have so many ways i can edit them that it gives me a good idea of what kind of effects I like.
    I have been trying the Myers pickups for my smaller melodicas, but have not had the same outcome as you. I get feedback feed back feedback. I am new to sound amplification, and have worked with three different music store guys and we haven’t had much luck.
    Keyboard, guitar and bass amps/monitors have been tried, Para acousitc DI, some other DIs, no improvement. The only thing that will let me hear any effects without feedback (but volume isn’t turned up much) is a wee little desktop Kawai KM15 keyboard monitor I bought in the 80s.
    Got any ideas on what i should try next? Should I drill a hole into the pianicas and stick the gooseneck inside?
    Beezer

    #6521

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Beezer, I would hate for you to drill a hole in your melodica, but it sounds like you may not have enough volume from the melodica where you are placing the gooseneck Mic, causing you to have to raise the volume to much on your amplifier. I have several melodicas that have this same issue. Example: I have a Hohner profession 36 that has sound hole/slots where the sound emits from the Melodica and thats where I place my Gooseneck giving me plenty of headroom for the amplifier and I get plenty of melodica volume through my amplifier. Now I have a Hohner Piano 36 that does not have any sound holes and I have to place the gooseneck over the keyboard so I get a lot more indirect sound from the clanking of the keyboard and room sound that feeds back into the amplifier causing feedback, this is the same for my clavietta. What I did for the clavietta was to remove the metal cover to check if I could get a more direct sound. Once I did this I was able to raise the volume about 30% more on my amplifier before feedback started. Since I have several end caps for the clavietta, I drill a hole and taped the gooseneck to the metal cover in the inside and now I can get a lot more melodica volume to send to the amplifier and since the goose neck is covered from the room sound it removed the feedback until I get very loud with the melodica. Some melodicas are easier than others and some just do not work due to noise where you can pick up a lot of clankng from the keys. You mentioned in your post that you used a DI with a parametric equalizer. I use a SanAmp Paradriver DI that works great to remove frequency that cause feedback. When using a parametric equalizer the trick is to start with an even EQ set up. With the mid range cut feature, find the frequency that is causing the feedback and roll that frequency back as needed. I actually use this a lot as all melodicas produce different harmonics so you have to tweak the mid as needed for different melodicas. Lastly for the pickup issue, your amplifier set up needs to be tweaked in the same manor, usually I first cut all the mid off and raise it slowly keeping the base and treble about 1/2. And remember if you are too close to the amplifier it will feedback by nature. I have my amplifiers when practicing approx. 7-10 feet and I can hear the melodica with its effects clearly with plenty of volume. My indicator is my wife usually telling me to lower it.

    A little on the effect pedals.
    It is true that many pedals will not work with the melodica easily, the reason for that is that you no not have a strong enough signal from the melodica to generate the processors to function. Example: The Hammond 44 is a lot better for effects pedals than the Hammond Hyper, simply because of the tone differences that each produce. What I have done to help this situation is to use a buffer pedal to push the signal about 5db before the effect pedal I want to feed, Big difference, I have done this going directly to the amplifier Example: Melodica to buffer then amplifier. I could not get a strong enough signal to a chorus pedal to work, but with the buffer added the processors get plenty of signal and the effect is clearly heard. I have found that combination pedalboards that features different effects on one unit does not work well with melodica. I feel that individual pedals are best for the melodica. I went through several chorus pedals before I found the one that worked best for the “melodica” I wanted to use it on. One pedal may or may not work well with all your melodicas. Many stores have a “No Questions Asked” return policy on pedals, that allow you to take the pedal home and try it and return the pedal if it does not work as expected, allowing you to try a different one. Unfortunately there are no reviews on effect pedals with melodicas that you will find on line that can help you decide, but there are plenty of videos of pedals with guitar and keyboards that can demonstrate the effect that can help you decide if you like the effect for your melodica or not.

    I hope this helps you a bit

    Thanks
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    #6522

    beezer
    Participant

    Great! I’ll try those ideas, very useful specific info. Thanks.

    I also want to put in a good word for Gregg Myers – he is committed to helping me get the setup to work with my melodicas, is going to send me an inline transformer to see if that solves the issue, etc. He says a lot of melodica players have his pickups, and they are satisfied with them.

    It’s great to have all this help!

    #6523

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Beezer, let me know how the Inline transformer works for you, I am sure with a little tweaking you will get your set up just right.
    Melodica-Me

    #6524

    Lowboy
    Participant

    Hi Guys,

    Not sure how I missed this thread, but let me add a couple of ideas.

    As Melodica-Me suggested, reverb and delay are the bread and butter effects that bring a professional sound to the melodica. I almost always play with one or the other. EQ is nearly a must too to shape your sound, though it is less important when playing with HM-26/27/32s as you can shape the tone through playing techniques.

    I have tried adding many multi-effects to my sound using multi-effects processors. They are fun and some serve the melodica well, but lately I am trying to get a natural sound, keeping things simple for live performance, and learning to get the sound I want through technique.

    It is easy to have unrealistic expectations about amplified volume with a microphone. Sound reinforcement at it best is just that, sound reinforcement, not huge amplification increases. If you are in an arena, you need a great soundman. If you are playing the local winery or restaurant, you want to reinforce the natural sound of the instrument without changing its character. You may be expecting too much from an amp. I do want my effects to come through the amp, but now I accept a blend of the natural sound and the reinforced sound.

    I find the melodica is a loud instrument relatively speaking, I can drown out my acoustic guitarist easily. Actually, I sometimes have a hard time playing soft enough while still being able to get the melodica to sound right.

    I fought with this amplification issue for a long time. Now I am able to relax and in most playing situations, get the reinforcement I need while still letting the instrument speak on its own.

    Finally, I am getting pretty good volume from both a stage monitor and a guitar tube amp. Usually I can get the volume controls of these amps half way up and get good volume when needed. I use an SM57, a pedal or two, and go straight into the amps. Mic and amp placement are key, as are effect settings. I find if you are using multi-effects or many pedals, feedback control becomes much harder. Tell us what you are doing specifically, and maybe we can offer specific suggestions. I would start with the mic straight into the amp and see what volume you can get. You might be surprised. Then add effect pedals one at a time and see how each one reduces your ability to achieve the same volume as going straight into the amp.

    Regards,

    Lowboy

    #6527

    Lowboy
    Participant

    Let me clarify the last paragraph of my previous post. For me, adding pedals seems to increase the propensity of getting feedback before reaching a volume I could easily reach if I was plugged straight into the amp. Lowboy

    #6582

    beezer
    Participant

    Thanks everyone – I am making some progress!
    Gregg Myers sent me a transformer which now makes it so I can hear the melodica through different amps without cranking everything up and getting tons of feedback. None of the amps I currently have access to have XLR input. (I know, some day I’ll get the right amp!)
    The inline transformer is a 600 Ohm to 5Kohm impedance matching transformer. It is in 2 parts, a XLR male to 1/4 mono female adaptor, and a XRL female to 1/4 male line matching transformer. The first XLR male part says low impedance along the side.
    Gregg has been consistently helpful.

    I have used a Road Rickenbacker R25 12 inch, Fender Rumble25 v3 1×8 25w Bass Combo Amp with overdrive (works great with Hammond bass melodica), and a Kawai KM15 desktop kybd monitor (which is the least fussy for feedback, and picks up more of the effects).
    I think the melodica is already a loud instrument, so am not looking for a lot of amplification. But I like the ability to tinker with EQ, delay, reverrrrbb and pitch shift (for doubling the bass an octave lower).
    I have an Elements FX multi effects pedal for learning about effects, which is cheap, works good, and incredibly versatile. I have been testing each melodica – hyper, 44, Hammond bass and SS27 super soprano (could anything be higher!?!); Suzuki M37C, MX32, bass and yamahas with Gregg’s pickup. Am keeping track of how each melodica reacts to effects and creates feedback. As suggested, I started by standing in the next room and gradually coming closer to the amp.
    I too have found that some effects reduce the usable dynamic range, which i don’t want – I play melodica BECAUSE it plays loud and soft and crescendos etc. I also find the Hammond 44 to be better than the hyper for effects. And suspect that i will be narrowing down to 2-3 melodicas that I will use with pedals.

    B

    #7005

    Lee Anderson
    Participant

    Thank you for your insights concerning pedals and melodicas. I have the Hammond 44 HP, and I am having trouble seeing significant differences with pedals. I plug into a hot-rod Plexi and then go to a Ventura Vibe and a Polara Reverberation pedal. You mentioned that it may be necessary to add a “buffer” pedal to the mix to increase the signal going through. I’m not sure if the Hot Rod Plexi is a buffer or not. I see that Amazon sells buffer pedals that are also “booster” pedals. Is this what you are talking about? Do you have any suggestion of a good buffer pedal that will boost the signal?

    I hate to think about buying another Hammond 44 without the HP, but I would do that if necessary to get good pedal effects.

    I am running things through a Ventura Preamp and an Orange box speaker.

    Thanks!

    Lee Anderson

    #7012

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Lee, there are several ways of boosting the output of your Hammond 44. what you want to consider first is that the Hot Rod plexi is a distortion pedal not really made for the type of pick ups on your melodion. This will distort the signal to the other pedals and you may not get much use from them. You need to good a clean signal from your melodion pick up first then go to the vibe pedal and then your reverb pedal. If you want to use the distortion pedal, the typical chains would be clean boost pedal to distortion pedal to vibe pedal to reverb pedal to amp. But first start with the clean boost to your amp and check the signal is strong and clean. Skip the distortion pedal for now. Add the vibe pedal after the clean boost and check your signal again. Now add the reverb pedal and again check your signal. At this point all should be working “clean” and your signal should be strong. Note. Start your clean boost about 1/2 way and the volumne on your melodion should be about 3/4 of the way up allowing you a little room to push the pick up signal to your clean boost if needed. Carfull not to over feed your clean boost as it will distort if to much signal is fed to it. In theory you need to create a strong clean signal for these pedals to work right if your signal is weak they tend to not work properly. You need to check your amp volume as you are adding each pedal. If your feed to the amp is to hot once you raise the volumne on your amplifier it will be distorted. So keep checking your signal and try to get as loud and clean in the beginning before adding effects. Take your time and go through all your setting before you add effects. One more thing. Depending on the type of patch cords you are using, these can hinder the signal path as well. The 10 patch codes for $20 bucks deal usually do not provide a good signal path. I have a box of them that are worthless. Also if the vibe pedal is a distortion pedal as well you may be distorting the signal path as well. The type of harmonics a guitar produces versus your melodion is completely different. These pedals were not designed for melodions but can work if you take your time and work the signal.
    I hope this helps you. Please let me know and I will get back with you ASAP.
    Hanks
    Melodica-Me

    #7047

    Lee Anderson
    Participant

    Oh man, that is really helpful. Thanks so much. I will start working on this. That’s a lot of information! You really took time to answer my question. I’m really thankful. That’s just great. I’ll let you know how this turns out. Thanks again.

    Lee

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