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Melodian enhancement.....

Bill Spencer

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I've had my Hammond 44 Melodian for a while, been shedding on it a bit. I've played it on gigs a couple of times, just acoustically, or near a live mic, with not a lot of joy... then I did a gig recently where I pluged it in to the PA with a bit of 'verb on it. What a difference! Before, I was blowing so hard to be heard, there was no dynamic range, and the low notes wouldn't even sound (which is a result of overblowing). With adequate amplification, I can play it softly, where the tone is actually kind of nice, and blowing harder changes the timbre enough that there's a (small) range of tone and dynamics.


I'd like to get some kind of efx box into which I can plug the output of it to get even more different tones. I'd like (at a minimum) chorus, verb/delay, distortion/compression, in as small and convenient a package as possible, with battery power. The output is from the built-in dynamic mic, so I'm not sure if guitar boxes will work. It's a 1/4" unbalanced output, what would we assume the output is, Low or High impedance? It does require pretty high gain on my little Alesis' mixer's 1/4" mic input. Can't find any spec on this other that it's a Dynamic Mic.


Since I'm in NYC, tomorrow I'm taking it to the big stores to try out some boxes, so I'll know then what will and won't work, but I hope you all might point me to some likely candidates. I did see a Korg Pandora Mini that has the desired physical characteristics (small, battery operated)...


Any thoughts/suggestions greatly appreciated!


Bill Spencer

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Melodica convert here. Just through a dynamic mic as I've only a student model, not that beauty you own.


The Pandora is a good idea - let us know how you get on.


I'd also suggest trying a Vox Mini 3 - an actual battery powered guitar amp. It still quite wee and portable. Mic it for live.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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I use a melodica with effects all the time. I also use a Hammond 44, though I've also a MyLodica with a piezo pickup. (IMO the Hammond works better with effects).


I use regular guitar effects and they work fine for me. I always use one of these two pedals:

-Mad Professor Bluebird Od

-Mad Professor Golden Cello


Both are distortion + delay in one box. I keep the distortion pretty low, crank the volume, roll the tone knob almost all the way off, and mix the delay to taste.


This gives the melodica a nice old school blues harmonica kind of sound. Thick and warm, but still cuts through the mix very well. And the delay gives it some ambiance.


I'll occasionally throw in some other effects, but that really does it for me. I like to keep it sounding relatively acoustic despite being amplified.


Here's a (very) rough take of a song that uses this setup on the melodica.



Also, as a general note, I find that amplified/effected melodicas are very prone to feedback. I use a little EV ZXA1 for melodica and it's pretty tolerant of that setup. But I can't have any melodica in the monitors at all or it will howl immediately. I think it's a relatively weak signal coming out of the H44, so it needs a decent amount of gain to get it up to the volume of other amplified instruments, which is probably the culprit.

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Just had the last day of a studio session with me on melodica only. Running a Hammond 44 through octaver, vibrato, wah, whammy, fuzz, distortion, delay and verb. A very fun experience. I also had a blast with not blowing in the melodica, but instead using it as a microphone for hammering, beating, dropping key chains, vocal and other textures. And enhancing the sax player standing next to me.
When in doubt, superimpose pentatonics.
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