These are two of the best sounding melodicas at any price. The Hohner 27 is the darkest, smoothest melodica I ever heard. The Suzuki Student 25, so generously provided to me by our own Alan Brinton, is rich and wide in frequencies like a fine accordion, yet always smooth. Both melodicas are in perfect tune and both melodicas play more softly than most, making them perfect for accompanying acoustic guitar. I don’t play them very often, but when played without amplification, they have no peer in my mind.
I also love this photo, and it’s a timely reminder for me of tne special qualities of the original Piano 27. I’m headed out in the morning for two weeks on the Oregon coast, and by gum I’m taking one along with me to play as I while away my time. And that Suzuki is also something very special. If I could have only one melodica, that would be it. The small keys, from my point of view, are integral to the aesthetic of these two model, to the intimacy of the playing experience.
Recently, I was playing my cement-gray Horner 26, the sister to the claret (red-wine-colored) Horner 27 above. The 26 sounds even smoother and darker than the Horner 27. I forgot about that as it has been a while since I played my 26 and 27 side-by-side. If you want smooth and dark, go with the 26.
A word of caution. This style of Horner melodica is very difficult to service (take apart, tune, and repair). If your going to buy one, ensure it is perfect or ensure you can return it.
Fortunately, there many pre-owned 26s available in good shape.
The series of “Piano” model Hohners came in three stages. This photo shows all three of the Piano 26 models plus a Piano 20. The second one down, to which Lowboy just referred, was the first, introduced in or by 1961. This continued in production through the 1970s, and they vary a bit in color, light gray to dark, and even a very dark wine color as shown in some ads). The third one down is from the second series, which appeared late 1960s to early 70s. It’s shown in the photos with which Lowboy started this thread. At the bottom is its stablemate Piano 20. At the top is the late 1970s to 2011 third series Piano 26. They all have the “darker” sound, though each model has its own distinct tones. The Hohner Cassottos are from the third series. Each series has its Piano 27.