3D Printing a Melodica (5) – The range
15 July 2014
Nearly ready for printing!
I’ve now nearly finished the 3D drawing of the melodica. I’m leaving it without a case, for a more exposed look. Instead I’ve incorporated a finger rest and thumb rest to grip the instrument. I’ve made the white keys slightly smaller so there’ll be room to add the ivory tops, and the black keys are just a flat base to which I can glue the wooden parts. There’ll be decorative wooden ends and a wooden mouthpiece.
A more suitable range
The range of the Yamaha P32D, which I’ve used as a model for this experiment, is F (below middle C) to C (2 octaves above middle C). I find that I very rarely use the low F, as most of the time I play in D major or related keys. Also, a lot of Irish tunes only go down to the G below middle C, as this is the lowest note on a fiddle.
So I had the idea yesterday, of shifting the whole keyboard up one tone. Starting on G, and ending on a D. This took a long time, and I’m still not sure whether it was really worth it. It means I can’t easily use the standard Yamaha reed plates, without tuning every note up a tone. This would be a huge amount of work, and would probably considerably weaken the reeds. It’s more likely I’ll use the reed plates from a P37D, cutting them down to size, trimming off a couple of notes from the bottom, and a few notes from the top.
Could I print my own parts?
When I started this project, I planned to use the services of a commercial 3D printer, but having spoken to two friends who regularly use 3D printing to develop and experiment with free reed instruments (Eddy Jay and Brendan Power), I’m seriously considering purchasing one myself. This would be a huge step for me, as there’s a steep learning curve involved. But it makes sense when I consider that a professional one-off print of this melodica would probably come close to the cost of a lower priced printer. And when I also take into account that there may be mistakes in my design, and that I’ll probably want to make modifications at some point anyway, or even build new instruments, the idea’s hard to dismiss.
The timber has arrived
My timber arrived this morning. I found an ethical producer of Zebrawood on ebay, and bought a small amount. Beautiful even untreated: