Tuning and Gapping Hammond Bass melodica

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Lowboy 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #3601

    Frances Demoretcky
    Participant

    I bought a Hammond Bass melodica @ 4 months ago and would like to tune and gap it. I have done this successfully to several other melodicas, but this one looks kind of different with the “bladder” and everything. Has anyone done this before successfully and might have some helpful tips before I dive in?

    #3605

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Frances, caution when tuning the BB. The Hammond bass Melodion will tend to play a bit out of tune. This melodion required a lot of air control or it will give the impression of it being out of tune. You need to provide enough air to the melodion prior to depressing a key. If you press a key and push air in at the same time you will hear a little out of tune. Fill the melodion with air the. Press a key you will hear a difference. It took a while for me to learn how to control the pitch but wil a little practice of when to fill with air and when to press you can keep it in tune.
    Melodica-Me
    Monsters of Melodica

    By he way I will be posting a new video this week where you can hear base Melodicas in all their glory

    #4024

    Tom Teasley
    Participant

    Thanks M.M.! I actually notice this with my Yamaha instruments as well. THe amount of air velocity really effects tuning. That makes it tricky when rechecking it. Do you notice a difference when playing soft (with less pressure) I guess? Still working on the fine points.

    #4031

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Tom, most Melodica’s will tend to de-tune if played hard so I normally play at a moderate volume, I always play with enough air in my lungs so when playing soft the pressure is the same. It is much harder to play soft with and achieve a consistent tone than it is to play loud (at least for me). When I play live, I play through an amplifier and effect pedals so I can control the type of sound I am looking for. The air and volume needs to be consistent for the effect input level from the pick up. So in order to control the overal volume I use a volume pedal. Sometimes you have to back off a bit and sometimes I need to punch it (Solos) so a volumne pedal really helps when using effect pedals. I have noticed that my Mylodica, a Angelhorn in a wooden coffin would get out of tune if I blew a little to hard, a very easy melodica to bend notes. Unfortunately after bending notes to often it is now quite out of tune and I don’t really have the patience to take it apart and tune it. One thing that I found in my early days of melodica playing was that with a hose more air is available to the chamber and the intonation would be more consistent than if I played with a trumpet mouth piece at lower volumes. This also helps when circular breathing. I did play with a hard flex pipe (Hammond 44/hyper) for a long time but now play with a trumpet mouth piece.
    Melodica-Me

    #4040

    Tom Teasley
    Participant

    Great stuff MM. I hope to meet you sometime if I’m on tour in Calif or you are in the D.C area. I’ll re-read this often! Thanks again, Tom

    #4043

    Lowboy
    Participant

    And I would add that lower notes bend easier than higher notes. If you play an octave and increase the air pressure gradually, you will hear the lower note start to go flat while the upper note remains pretty much in tune.

    No matter how hard you blow, higher notes will barely move off of their tuning.

    Practical translation: Bend notes when you are in the lower register; play chords in the middle register; use vibrato in the upper register.

    Lowboy

    #5419

    Frances Demoretcky
    Participant

    I tried to take the bladder off my Hammond Bass melodica but it looks like the bladder is glued to the body. I assume the bladder has to be removed to get to the reeds to tune them. Has anyone removed the bladder of the Hammond Bass?

    #5420

    Melodica-Me
    Participant

    Hello Frances, I have a tutorial I will be posting hopefully in the next day or so showing how to replace the bladder with picture and discription. But in short, you have to remove the entires bladder glue and all. Give me a Couple of days and it will be up.
    Thanks
    Melodica-Me

    #5421

    Alan Brinton
    Participant

    High level of interest here. You are the best at this stuff, MM, a man of many talents.

    #5422

    Alan Brinton
    Participant

    Does everyone agree with Professor Bootay that high notes do not bend?

    #5427

    Lowboy
    Participant

    But I retract my own statement due to a recent discovery. Under normal circumstances with a typical melodica, the notes in the highest register do not bend more than a couple of cents (barely noticeable), and I would welcome hearing a recording of anyone executing a high note bend of any appreciable depth. (Though Quetscher seems to have found a special technique using his Vibrandoneon to bend some notes in the middle-to-higher registers if I remember the recording correctly.)

    However, several weeks ago I discovered a way to bend the highest notes on a HM-27. The bending is not quite as deep as in the lower notes, but it definitely is a musical sounding bend much deeper than just a few cents.

    It is a difficult technique to execute, particularly at playing speed when you are playing melodies. The stars must aligned properly and you must chant certain incantations, but I am able to do it, inconsistently.

    I am still working to get a recording together showing the expressiveness that I am wringing out of my Hohners, but each day I find new discoveries and keep trying to perfect them before making the definitive recording. Plus life has been very busy. My acoustic trio performed last Friday, will perform this coming Friday, and has several gigs booked for the summer, so I should have some field reports coming along.

    Hopefully I will get to a recording soon.

    Lowboy

    #5428

    Alan Brinton
    Participant

    Maybe by high and low notes you mean high and low relative to the particular keyboard, so that it’s the notes closest to the mouth that are easier to bend? This must be it since you bend on your HM-26 as well as on your HM-27? or no?

    #5429

    Lowboy
    Participant

    I would add that it is well known that you can bend almost any note by depressing a key ever so slightly with great care and precision. But the hand position, finger position, control, and precision needed to use this techniques during playing makes it impractical.

    The technique I developed I believe will be useable as it does not require precise manipulation of a key. But I will need sometime to develop the technique.

    Not related to the technique I discussed in my previous post, another little discovery I made about note bending is this: if you play 8th or 16th notes rapidly on a single note while trying to bend it, it will bend much easier.

    So using this technique, you can extend the range of bendability upwards on the keyboard to include some higher notes. However, the downside is the machine gunning of notes has to fit into your melody. You can use this technique more often than you might think in many types of music.

    Lowboy

    #5430

    Lowboy
    Participant

    Generally speaking, as you move from lower notes to higher notes on any melodica (alto, soprano), bending becomes harder using the “hard blowing” technique. You can try accelerating and deaccelerating the melodica abruptly as you bend a note. You can also try moving the melodica quickly away from or towards the mic, or passing it across the mic quickly, to maybe add some doppler effect.

    I use these techniques quite often, and while I cannot speak to the true effectiveness, it is my belief based on what I hear that they can accentuate the note bending process and provide other subtle tonal changes. They certainly add a visual element for the audience to consider. The audience can “see” you bending the note. Hence the audience may perceive the bend to be greater than it actually is.

    Lowboy

    #5431

    Lowboy
    Participant

    Hi Alan,

    I bend notes on both the HM-26 and HM-27. The same note, particularly higher ones, on both instruments will be easier to bend on the HM-27. That is my perception anyway.

    Lowboy

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