Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to tune a melodica

Going to music stores can be very dangerous on the wallet. Time spent in three nice music shops in Bangalore on Sunday and I find myself with a new instrument. This time it's another melodica. A 37 key one opposed to the 26 key one I already have.

It is not unusual for even a brand new melodica to have notes that are out of tune. It's sad but unfortunately the case. Luckily however this is not something too difficult to fix. A screwdriver, a tuner and some sand paper and one hour later mine was playing like a dream.

Having watched some YouTube videos on the same topic this is what I did:

  1. Take your tuner and identify the notes that are out of tune. Note how many cents they are sharp or flat. I would tackle only the very worst ones first. It is unlikely that you will notice notes that are slightly out of tune. I dealt with the ones that were 10 cents or more off.
  2. Unscrew the melodica. Be careful to keep the same screws in the same wholes. The last time I took a melodica apart, I didn't quite put it properly back together, and it was leaking air making it almost impossible to play.
  3. Identify the reeds that correspond to the out of tune notes, either by gently plucking with a pocket knife or lining up the corresponding key. 
  4. Take a small piece of sandpaper and sand a small amount at either the tip or the base of the reed to correct it.
  5. If the note is flat, you need to sand near the tip. Support the tip from under with a pocket knife or something like that to protect it.
  6. If the note is sharp you sand the base near where the reed is attached.
  7. Put the melodica back together without the screws, and test the notes. You will need to blow fairly hard.
  8. Adjust as needed and put the melodica back together.
  9. It is very important that the screws are tightly put back or the melodica will not be airtight.

This is what worked for me. A feel good fix for someone that had spent money on an instrument, and was disappointed when it was out of tune. The melodicas I have are not expensive and I was prepared to take the risk. I would advise anyone wishing to do this, to research it properly first. For a more thorough explanation read these article from melodica.com and melodicaworld.com

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