Melodica Tubing Upgrades–Photo
Tagged: Melodica tubing and mouthpieces
May 14, 2017 at 11:12 pm #8890
The photo is not very good, and I do not have time for a lot of comments right now, but I did want to share some upgrades I made to melodica tubing for my application. The CPAP tubing used to create my three custom tubes is medical grade, much larger in diameter than stock tubing, and fits well with various common fittings and Hohner mouthpieces. I cut the Hohner mouthpieces in half at various lengths to assist with assembly.
My initial impression is very positive. I will file a detailed report in the upcoming weeks after I use these tubes for awhile.
The big, rubber, donut-shaped mouthpiece–second tube from the top–blew me away. With a giant hole for effortless air flow and easy tonguing, an outer groove that accepts your lips, and soft rubber that you can grip and squish with your teeth, this could be a breakthrough in mouthpieces for melodicas.
These upgraded tubes maximize tubing diameter and air flow and do a few other things. I think it is going to work really well. But again, I must play with them quite a bit to know for sure. I will keep you posted.
Note that the black tubing is the Hohner stock tubing that I have been using up to this point in time.
May 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm #8892
- This topic was modified 8 months ago by Lowboy.
Lowboy, what some of us need is longer tubes for tabletop playing. Often times when reaching for high notes on the 37 key melodica I am finding too much strain, occasionally pulling the mouthpiece right out. Thanks for your hard work researching better mouthpieces.May 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm #8893
Two of these tubes were cut to custom lengths. The cut tubes came from OEM pieces that were 4 and 5 feet long. You can just cut it to the length you need.
LowboyMay 15, 2017 at 4:27 pm #8894
However, I wonder what the increased inlet volume of a long piece of large diameter tubing will do to performance and playability?
If everything is tight, I suspect it may offer some interesting possibilities or new capabilities.
I don’t think it would bring any negatives. I could be wrong, but I say this because when I am using my CPAP machine with about 6 feet of tubing at this large diameter, the machine responds to pressure changes in my breathing in what appears to be milliseconds.
Air flow performance could be another story. I can try this experiment as I have a few pieces of long CPAP tubing. I will put it on my “do to” list.
LowboyMay 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm #8895
Thanks, lowboy. I think something in the range of 24 inches would solve the problem.May 16, 2017 at 1:15 pm #8896
A quick update on tubing. I tried the three, new, large-diameter tubes last night at rehearsal and they did not perform well.
The high air flow feels good, however the tubing is too stiff and pulled sideways at my mouth. I have much more flexible tubing and will try that going forward.
The donut-shaped mouthpiece that I thought would be so good turned out to be terrible when played for any length of time. It is too big and seemed to cause me to salivate more than usual. A smaller diameter donut might work.
More to come.
LowboyMay 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm #8897
I would think that a larger diameter of tubing of these lengths would require more air to be moved while playing. But this may be a scientifically flawed intuition.May 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm #8898
I don’t think I used accurate words when I said the “The high air flow . . . ” My intuition suggests the reed is the gate keeper of flow rate at a given pressure no matter what size the tube. More pressure equals more air flow through the gate. A large tube and mouthpiece opening may enable higher pressures at the reed. That remains to be seen.
But I think a large tube and large mouthpiece opening can influence other air flow characteristics that change the sound or playing experience.
I think sound quality, resonating characteristics, and reed response may be influenced by a large tube and mouthpiece. Maybe I am wrong, but I am still pursuing this possibility.
LowboyDecember 30, 2017 at 8:34 pm #9571
Well after 6 months of thinking I found the best tubing possible for my style of playing, I spent three hours fabricating two pieces of tubing with mouthpieces and fittings.
Look at the difference between my custom fabricated tubing and the Hohner original equipment tubing in this photo.
When I tested the new tubing (which is light, large diameter, and highly flexible), it seemed to perform beautifully, offering no resistance to air flow and enabling me lots of freedom to move my keyboard harmonicas around. In every way I was happy with the tubing.
Then as I played more and more and listened closely, I found one flaw that is a showstopper. This tubing acts much like a slinky. And when pressurized, it elongates along its length. This elongation–or give–delays the attack on the notes.
It is fine if you are just blowing steady and pressing notes down, but the melodica is much more musical and expressive if you blow each note separately (when you can or when you want to). When blowing each note separately (ala Jazzman1945), the response of the larger and spongy tubing is not fast enough for accurate playing.
I guess it is back to the drawing board. If anyone knows of a source of tubing that is like the Hohner original equipment (stiff against pressure but still flexible) and having a larger diameter, please let me know.
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