When considering the choice between a 32 key melodica and a 37 key melodica, you might be tempted to think, “what will five more keys do for me anyway?” Well, you’d be surprised. Every time you step up in the number of keys you open up lots of options musically. This is true for everything with a piano-style keyboard: midi controllers, melodicas, digital pianos, and on and on. The 32 vs 37 key melodica decision requires the consideration of several factors. Let’s have a look at them.
What’s your musical setting?
Are you gigging live every weekend? Are you sitting at a table learning scales and chords? Somewhere in between? Aside from build quality and aesthetics of your melodica, where you are musically is one of the most important things to consider when making a choice about the right instrument.
Some people find that holding a 37 key melodica for long periods of time can get tiring. You do have the option of keeping it on a stand or a table. However, if you’re the kind of musician who moves around on stage or wherever you practice a lot, this can be limiting. If this is your situation, pay attention to the weight of the melodica models that you’re considering.
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If you’re relatively sedentary when you’re playing, weight isn’t much of an issue. So, if you like to play sitting down, a 37 key melodica might be the way to go anyway since it will feel more like a piano with the added width.
What are your goals with the melodica?
Your musical setting kind of leads into your goals for playing melodica. If you’re a student learning to play keyboard instruments for the first time, you want to give yourself as much flexibility as you can. I would always recommend the extra keys if it fits your budget and your situation. Even small kids can get their hands around 37 keys. And just like with shoes, bigger is sometimes better as they’ll grow out of their melodica more slowly.
In terms of music education, having the extra keys that a 37 key model will give you opens up a lot more opportunities to move around the keyboard with scales and chords. You’ll be able to find more songs to play with more keys as well.
If, on the other hand, you’re already skilled on a keyboard and you have different goals than a beginner player would have, what do you consider? Think about what you play most often. Do you play supporting rhythm chords, or do you play lead lines? Also, do your lead lines and your solos require as much keyboard width as possible? If you feel limited by smaller keyboards and midi controllers, you definitely want to opt for the 37 key model.
Are you a bass playing melodica lover?
Just a quick note here for the bass players out there. If you’re mainly holding down the low end for the music that you create or play, the number of keys on your melodica will matter less. If you like creating long walking bass lines that travel up and down the full range of a bass or keyboard, you may want to opt for a melodica with more keys. Make sure to find a melodica that’s on the lower end of the register and has good, full bass sound.
An even better choice might be a bass melodica like the Hammond BB PRO-24B.
What’s your budget for the 32 vs 37 key melodica debate?
So, budget isn’t quite as big of a factor here as it might be with deciding between melodica manufacturers and build levels. For instance, if you know you’re shopping for a beginner melodica, and you’re deciding between a 32 vs 37 key melodica in that same category, the cost won’t be vastly different between the two.
However, if you’re deciding between a 32 key beginner melodica and a professional 37 key melodica, the price difference can be huge. The best advice here is to decide first on the level of melodica you need. If you know you need an intermediate model, the price differences will be a lot closer. And you’ll be able to make an informed decision much more easily.
Melodica brands and construction
Budget leads us right into thinking about brands and the overall construction level of the melodica you choose. Better, more respected brands will most likely present a better option overall. Still, pay close attention to reviews if you’re purchasing online. We’ve taken a closer look at the best professional melodicas if you’re looking for something like that.
For the most part, Hohner, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Hammond are great choices for high-quality melodicas. They’ve been in business for a long time, and they’re serious about creating quality instruments. If your budget allows, start with those brands.
If you’re purchasing a first melodica for someone who may or may not be seriously interested in learning, there’s no problem with taking a look at some of the lower-end brands like Cahaya, amoon, and Eastar. They have some very decent melodicas for the money that you’ll pay. Just remember to set your expectations. Think…you get what you pay for.
If you can find a melodica that features materials like metal or wood in its construction, that may be a good sign that the quality level will be much higher than an all-plastic model.
Breathing techniques for melodica
One thing that people new to melodicas don’t think to consider is that bigger melodicas require more breath. Even five extra keys can make a significant difference. This will be most pronounced in lower quality instruments. The reason is that a high-quality melodica will be constructed from better materials and will be sealed much more securely.
When you have a melodica that’s sealed well and has no air leaks, it requires less airflow from the player to create notes. A well-constructed melodica should allow you to blow easily and get a good, strong sound. This obviously, is a bigger consideration for kids and other folks who have limited lung capacity.
If this is something you need to consider, either go with the 32 key melodica or opt for a higher quality 37 key model.
32 vs 37 Key Melodica Decision
As with every good answer, it always starts with…it depends. We say that a lot here. But it’s true. The decision is up to you and your particular situation.
All things being the same, however, I’d say go with the highest quality 37 key melodica that you can afford. It will last you longer, give you more flexibility in terms of songs and musical options, and it will be a lot more fun to play. In the end, that’s the most important factor of all. If it’s a joy to play, you’ll play it a lot more.