hand organ, music, instrument

Melodion vs Melodica – What’s the Difference?

What is a Melodion?

Melodica is the most ubiquitous term when it comes to pianicas and key harmonicas; however, there are other names that the blow-organ goes by that are either not as common or specific to a certain instrument maker. The Melodion is one of them. Melodions are Suzuki’s contribution to the melodica market, and they do have some unique characteristics. So, when we consider the melodion vs melodica, what’s the difference? And, is there even such a thing as a Suzuki melodica?

Let’s get some terms straight – the melodeon organ and melodeon vs accordion

Part of the problem understanding what the melodion is lies in the fact that several different instruments over many different years have used the same or very similar name as melodion. In fact, you can find references to a melodion that was a large organ-type instrument with “vibrating metal structures” as early as 1806.

And then we have the melodeon as well, and of course, there’s more than one. We can find organ style instruments as well as accordions being referred to as “melodeon” since the 19th century. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re all free-reed instruments. It’s the same link they have to the modern melodica.

It seems safe to say that in North America a melodeon is almost always referred to as an accordion. However, in other parts of the world the number of rows of buttons often determines the instrument’s name as well. For instance, in Ireland, if the accordion has only one row of melody buttons, it’s called a melodeon. Otherwise, it’s still an accordion. So, depending on where you are and the configuration of the accordion, you may be playing a melodeon. Good luck.

Melodeon vs melodion

So, not to be confused with the melodeon, the Melodion is Suzuki’s name for their collection of melodicas. In the late 1980s, Hammond was acquired by Suzuki, which is why their selection of melodicas are also called Melodions. The Hammond / Suzuki partnership has produced some of the highest quality and best loved Melodions on the melodica market. (Confused yet?)

Melodions have been popular instruments for music education for many years, especially in parts of Asia. The Suzuki Melodion was, in fact, designed specifically to teach young students a wide range of skills such as control of breath, keyboard skills, and playing in an ensemble. 

The Melodion gave education leaders a solution that satisfied requirements for both a woodwind instrument as well as a piano keyboard instrument. It was also easier to teach basic music theory to kids on an instrument as accessible as the Melodion.

For Suzuki, it took a few years to design an instrument where airflow traveled evenly across the reeds and the keyboard range was consistent. But, in the late 1950s, the Suzuki Melodion was born and was implemented into schools across Japan.

Suzuki Melodions today

While Suzuki Melodions began as student instruments primarily used to teach early music education, they have gone on to become some of the most respected professional melodicas available today. They have a rich, full tone and the craftsmanship is top of the line. Suzuki produces their melodions with quality materials which means that they’ll last a long time.

Some big names in music these days are using Suzuki Melodions. Jon Batiste, for instance, sometimes plays a Suzuki Pro 37.

Suzuki Melodion models

Suzuki breaks their collection of Melodions into distinct note range categories. They have instruments that fit into the soprano range, the alto range, and the bass range. For someone looking for an all around melodica that can play the largest variety of songs and still let you play solos and chords, the alto Suzuki Melodions are the best choice.

The alto melodicas that Suzuki makes are some of the best on the market. The Suzuki Pro 37 and M-37C fall into this category. They’re great instruments for almost anyone at any age. They aren’t the smallest or cheapest melodicas that you can buy, but their quality is nearly unmatched. For very young kids or people looking for a very inexpensive beginner melodica, I’d recommend something else. Everyone else looking for a great all around melodica should have a look.

SUZUKI M-37C Melodion Melodica From Japan
  • The new Semi Pro M-37C Alto Melodion has exceptional sound and range at a reasonable price. Featuring phosphor bronze reeds, all aluminum covers and full 37 note range. Great choice for the serious Melodion hobbyist and performer.
  • Standard Mouthpiece
  • Trumpet Style Mouthpiece
  • Flexible Tube Mouthpiece
  • Soft Gig Bag with Handles

The Suzuki B-24 Bass Melodion is a special kind of melodica too. Bass melodicas are somewhat rare, and they can be a bit temperamental. But the B-24, for the right melodica player, can become a healthy obsession. If you’re a bass player wanting to explore bass melodicas, this is your answer.

Suzuki B-24 Bass Melodion
  • Bass melodion
  • 24 Keys
  • Includes accessories and portable case

Suzuki soprano Melodions are smaller and on the higher end of the range of notes. They are more expensive than similar melodicas in the soprano range, but they are completely different in terms of quality and workmanship. You’ll find that these instruments are easier to play than cheaper alternatives. They’re sealed better, so you need less air to play it. Also, they will last you much longer before wearing out or breaking down. The S32-C is a great choice if you’re looking for an excellent quality soprano melodica.

Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation S-32C Soprano Melodion with Case and Mouthpiece
  • 32-Key
  • Soprano Melodion
  • The ideal learning instrument for the beginning musician
  • Precision tuned and constructed to last a lifetime
  • Includes Carrying Case & mouthpiece

Melodion vs Melodica – now we know the difference

So, is there such a thing as a Suzuki melodica? Sure is, but it’s called a Suzuki Melodion. Remember, it’s not a melodeon, that’s something else. But also remember that these instruments are wonderful and long-lasting. No matter where you are in your musical journey, you can get a lot of enjoyment from a Suzuki Melodion.

Last update on 2021-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *