Photo—-Tubing and Fixture for Hohner Melodica
February 26, 2017 at 5:03 pm #8317
I am not sure I could quickly find the recording of my A/B comparisons of a narrow ID tube to a wide ID tube. I have scores of recordings on several devices and most of the files are not labeled. I will, however, post a comparison of standard tubing with the new wider ID tubing I just received.
I received my 5/8-inch ID tubing a few days ago and it looks like it is going to work (fit) well with the large ID copper elbow and some of the wide ID mouthpieces I have, including the standard Hohner mouthpiece for my model of melodica. It may take me a week to two to construct the tubing and make a recording.
I can tell you this. When I recorded the A/B comparison (wide versus narrow ID tubing), it was clear that the wider ID tubing produced a deeper, fuller sound on my melodicas. It was not a huge difference, but significant enough that I am perusing this experiment with large ID tubing.
So just to be clear, I don’t think the wide Highland bagpipe mouthpiece has much to do with the deep sound. It is the tubing ID that seems to be the variable. I hypothesize that the most successful mouthpiece to use with wide ID tubing should have a sufficient inlet area as to not not choke the flow of air into the tubing. The original Hohner mouthpiece and the wide bagpipe mouthpiece seem to have good flow, but I would like to experiment with larger openings in mouthpieces as well. I am thinking I will end up using the original Hohner design because it has a ridge that enables me to hold the mouthpiece in my mouth no matter how hard I blow. It also has a big opening that is more round in shape and remains in the mouth cavity. Hence there may be more opportunity for using the tongue with the Hohner mouthpiece.
From my perspective, anything I can do to make the natural sound of the melodica fuller is a step in the right direction to get a more pleasing sound.
I will update you on my exploration.
LowboyMarch 1, 2017 at 2:20 am #8318
Note that on my post on 2/19/17, my statement, “What we need is corrugated, highly flexible, non-kinking tubing with a 3/4-inch inside diameter,” should have read: “What we need is corrugated, highly flexible, non-kinking tubing with a 5/8-inch inside diameter.”
Sorry for the confusion.
LowboyMarch 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm #8360
Today I did a quick down and dirty comparison (hear recording below) of my current narrow tube setup and a large tube setup, both similar to the setups pictured above. The large tubing seemed to be latex rubber.
If your playback software can display the sound clip, you can jump back and forth between the narrow tube and large tube sections of the recording to hear the difference.
To my ears, I did not hear any consistent difference between the narrow and large diameter tubing. I was surprised by this because I definitely heard a difference when I tried this comparison a number of weeks ago with a slightly different set of conditions.
There are too many variables I am not accounting for in this quick experiment: melodica type, tubing construction, and mouthpiece design to name a few.
I have not yet used the large diameter tubing I thought would be best because I cannot connect it easily to the fitting. I will be trying this and additional explorations in the effects tubing diameter on sound quality as the weeks go by and will report my findings.
I looked for the recording from my previous test but have not found it yet.
LowboyMarch 13, 2017 at 9:27 am #8368
Thanks for posting these Lowboy. I agree I can’t hear a difference in the sound.
Could it be that the main benefit of using the wider tube is in the comfort of the player?
I haven’t experimented, but perhaps with a narrow tube you have to press your lips around the mouthpiece to make a good seal, whereas a wider tube may require less effort?
Its worth noting that whatever the size of the mouthpiece, as soon as the air enters the instrument it is restricted into a relatively small aperture to regulate the airflowMarch 13, 2017 at 11:11 am #8369
Lowboy, in fact there is a difference, and graphically too.
My guess: different tube sizes affect the variety of attacks.March 13, 2017 at 11:25 am #8371
OK, all other aspects of the tubes being equal (diameter, materials, etc) has anyone experimented with the length of the tube?March 13, 2017 at 12:47 pm #8372
Yes, I can tell you that I perceived the larger tube as having more power and being easier to blow. It could be in my mind, but that is what I think I was feeling initially. I was using the standard Hohner mouthpiece which may have a slightly larger opening than the Highland bagpipe mouthpiece I have been using lately.
But you are right that once inside the instrument, the area of the flow channel openings is smaller than the cross-sectional area of the tube. The restriction really starts at the opening of the standard Hohner mouthpiece, which has the smallest open area of anything going on inside these Hohner Piano 26/27/32s.
The inlet channel on the Hohner piano 26/27/32s is long, reaching all the way to the bottom of the instrument before it does a u-turn and enters the reed chamber. The volume of the channel is large, but a number of baffles restrict the air flow to 5/16- by 7/16-inch openings. The opening into the reed chamber is also 5/16 by 7/16 inches. The inlet opening of the standard Hohner mouthpiece is 3/16 by 6/16 (3/8) inches. So the greatest restriction is at the mouthpiece.
Yes, I would love to a large comfortable mouthpiece with a inside cross-sectional area larger than the flow channel openings inside the melodica. That is what I am looking for if anyone has ideas.
Then the next logical experiment would be to modify the baffles inside the melodica to reduce the restriction and increase air flow: although Hohner engineers may have put the baffles in there for a good reason. But one of these days, that would be a good experiment.
LowboyMarch 13, 2017 at 1:04 pm #8373
Hi Jazzman 1945,
During editing of the recording with Audacity, and as I now review the waveform of my small tube/large tube recording, I see no appreciable difference in the shape of the waveform between the small and large tubes. What were the conditions under which you obtained your results? For example, tubing sizes, melodica brand and model, and recording conditions.
Previous recordings by me, which I have been unable to locate so far, showed the larger tube produced a fully sound with more lower frequencies. This time, I did not hear that, though there are many variables I did not explore.
First blush this time indicated I could blow easier and get more power, but the more I played and compared the tubing sizes, the less I experienced this perceived difference in performance.
LowboyMarch 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm #8375
Just a thought: the inside of your mouth is rather hearing sensitive. This is obvious when a dental professional is working on your teeth, or even if you simply tap one of your front teeth with your fingernail. This sound is not being perceived through your ear holes. Or try covering your ears and making a “P” sound with your lips. There is input from inside your mouth when you’re playing, and I’m guessing that this may be affected by the kind of mouthpiece you’re using. In any case, what you hear while playing is somewhat different from what you hear when you listen to a recording of your playing.March 13, 2017 at 2:28 pm #8376
And this is a big problem for me Alan, given the melodica is such a loud instrument. When I am playing amplified, I want to hear what is coming from the amp, but the sound I hear most (externally and internally) is what is coming directly from the instrument.
I hold the instrument on my chest starting right under my chin. Even with the sound holes on the back, the acoustic sound overpowers the amplified sound. If I hold the instrument down against my stomach and abdomen, I hear the amp a lot better, but it is difficult to execute the techniques when the instrument is held further down.
LowboyMarch 13, 2017 at 4:59 pm #8378
Lowboy, I took it from your record (timing is indicated from above). Here a comparison of four similar short fragments from the same record :
As a former violinist, I hear the difference, albeit small; but the performance of music is an art of a little bit, which is multiplied by hundreds of notes and becomes very noticeable. So you have to listen to the fragment in a loop.March 13, 2017 at 6:12 pm #8381
Hi Jazzman 1945,
When I open the link you provided, I only get one recording without a time line that tells me where in my recording the notes were taken from.
I understand subtlety in music, and I can hear and see some very minor variations in your comparison–and I can hear even greater variation over the course of my recording–but to me this variation is well within the limits of variation that can result from: inconsistent blowing pressure, position of the melodica near my chest, variation in the position of the melodica compared to the mic, my hand position on the back of the melodica, and few other things.
A true comparison would require close adherence to the scientific method and machine-like precision in playing and recording the melodica.
But even given the variables I did not control well, from a practical standpoint, I did not hear a level of variation that told me I should go out and buy big diameter tubing. [Though I am going to continue my exploration with large diameter tubing until I convinced the it has no beneficial influence on tone quality. And I am going to continue to look for my original recording that suggested large diameter tubing produced a more pleasing sound.]
Yes, no two notes ever sound the same. But I just did not hear a significant difference in my recording between narrow and large tubes that I would attribute to just the tube diameter alone.
LowboyMarch 14, 2017 at 12:52 am #8382
Lowboy, I am not a fan of the flexible tube, but I do used the harder solid tube with the Hammond 44, what I have noticed is that the extra length dose reduce the over all volume. When using the trumpet mouth piece the volume is louder. The benefits of the long solid flex tube is additional air and it creates a larger air chamber. If you practice circular air breathing this is helpful. In building the Diamante Wind Vox, the standard C7 mouth piece had to be bored to allow for more air to enter the chamber. This took several attempts as the first try allowed to much air and the lower notes would choke, so staring from the original note I went to about 20% less than the original try. So i guess where I am going with this is, these melodicas are designed to allow a specific amount of air for optimum performance. Daren, during the making of the mouth piece for the Danarse Melodica. Did you have this same situation with too much air. Or not enough.
Melodica-MeMarch 14, 2017 at 9:26 am #8383
Timing of recording – about after 2:02 .March 14, 2017 at 11:37 am #8384
Yes, I also found there’s an optimum airflow – If you look at plastic melodicas, as well as having a very small opening (after the mouthpiece), there’s a further restriction built into the reed chamber cover. It’s to stop too much air overpowering the lower reeds, and to give a reasonably even amount of air across all reeds.
The shape and size of the mouthpiece will certainly have an (enabling or disabling) effect on the players technique, so I’m very interested to see what Lowboy discovers here. For me, the tone changes considerably when I’m in an optimum state of “alert” relaxation, and the mouthpiece can influence this.
Circular breathing – I find it easier to circular breath with a smaller air chamber, so the smaller the hose or mouthpiece, the better for me!
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