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Suzuki Andes 25F -- keyboard-based panpipes and pennywhistle


Mark Schmieder

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I saw a brand-new instrument at the accordion store today when I finally went to pick up my accordion that's been on consignment for a few years (fortunately I now have a private buyer). I tried it out and will likely be buying one soon.

 

The Suzuki Andes 25F is a 25-mini-key melodica type instrument with a similar mouthpiece and tube extension, but which has no reeds and instead is more of a substitute for a panpipe (hence the name) or even pennywhistle.

 

I tried a number of playing techniques and find it very professional and versatile, and of course it can also sound multiple notes at a time (whether unison chords or contrapuntal lines). It is also a beautiful olive green.

 

I haven't had a chance to look it up online yet and won't until tonight once off work. Just thought I'd mention it here because I imagine this would appeal to a lot of people on the forum who use those sounds in their music and would like more expressivity than can be gotten via sample libraries.

 

The price tag at the store was $289 (I didn't ask if it has a bag or case). That in itself shows that this instrument is aimed at professionals and not meant to just be a toy.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

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It turns out that this model was released in Japan in 2008 but is only just now being made available stateside.

 

Here are some YouTube demos, which I won't get a chance to watch/hear myself until I get home from work:

 

 

 

 

At least when bought new, it comes with three different types of mouthpieces, like the Hammond-Suzuki Melodion 44, and also a case. I can't find any new ones on offer though; just some used ones on eBay in Japan with unknown import fees, and similarly on Amazon with import duties hinted but not itemized.

 

Here are a few links that show product details (these are not meant to be endorsements or recommendations of the vendor sites):

 

http://www.theharmonicacompany.com/_harmonicastore/product/340-suzuki-andes-melodica.asp

 

http://www.suzuki-harmonicas.com/shop/suzuki-keyboard-recorder-1422p.html

 

http://www.amazon.com/Suzuki-A-25F-25-Key-Recorder-Keyboard-Mouthpiece/dp/B000WXD0XY

 

http://www.melodicaworld.com/post_reviews/suzuki-a-25f-andes/

 

I found out about the release year from Synthtopia, which also has a video demo but unfortunately chooses my least-liked Andean song, "El Condor Pasa":

 

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2008/05/31/the-bizarre-andes-25f-keyboard-wind-instrument/

 

It also comes in a hideous Carmine Red. I prefer the olive green.

 

I'm hoping to find one on eBay that isn't subject to import fees, as I have an eBay Bucks certificate for around $200 or so that expires in a few days and this would be the ideal use for that coupon.

 

 

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I haven't had a chance to look it up online yet and won't until tonight once off work. Just thought I'd mention it here because I imagine this would appeal to a lot of people on the forum who use those sounds in their music and would like more expressivity than can be gotten via sample libraries.

 

Indeed, the way to get around that is to not use samples:

 

 

This is the "Gower", part of my NXTP project and it can get more flute-like than demonstrated here, but you basically control the tonality (accordion -> flute) using the mod wheel.

My music http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Pk12

 

My Soundware (Kurzweil PC3)http://pksoundware.blogspot.com/

 

My Kurzweil PC3 Tutorials http://www.youtube.com/user/poserp.

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I forgot to mention that the Suzuki Andean Melodion responds to overblowing techniques, which makes it even more awesome when emulating penny whistle and panpipe technique (as well as wooden recorders).

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I ordered from eBay tonight using my coupon. I took a lot of time to pick the most trustworthy seller, and when it came down to a tie, chose the one who has a history of working with musical instruments. I already got a knowledgeable response post-sale.

 

Normally I would prefer to support local business, but I had an impending expiry on the eBay coupon and there isn't really anything else I need right now for which eBay would be a reasonable outlet.

 

As for availability in the USA, I did finally see it listed at Suzuki's education website, but nowhere else in this country (yet all over the rest of the world). I don't really get it. It does seem that the Hammond branded melodions are based on the other two high-end Suzuki models though. I doubt Hammond would ever do a version of this one though, but who knows?

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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The third link you posted (

) is me!

 

I like this instrument, but it is unbelievably loud. You really have to watch it. Playing softer, however, makes it more difficult to stay in tune--you can hear me adjusting my wind to play with intonation in my video.

 

I've only used it on a one recording, and I felt it was very cool for that.

Doug Robinson

www.dougrobinson.com

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Pretty cool. Yeah, it was WAY louder than I expected; more so than my Hammond-Suzuki 44 Melodion.

 

I sold off my baroque recorder collection a few years ago, and also bought a flute but haven't had time for it lately (my background is more on reed instruments). I'm looking forward to this Andes model helping me to more regularly practice my breathing and other techniques during times where I have to put the flute aside, at the very least.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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In Canada, it should be easier. The USA seems to be the only country in the world where this model isn't readily available for regular customers (as opposed to schools).

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Sorry to hear about your loss, as someone who has been robbed a gazillion times. I hope you were able to replace it.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Thanks, guys. I replaced my Hammond 44 with a blue plastic version which cost me about $40 USD. The timing was wrong for me to invest in another expensive toy. And now I'm living in the Puerto Vallarta area, where everything gets ruined by humidity, so I'm fine with the cheapo for the moment. :)

 

one day, though...I'm a good enough player to really have fun with these things onstage and in the studio. I'd like a nice one again, though the pickup in the HAmmond 44 never sounded very good to me. I'd probably try for a nice Suzuki or that wooden one which also costs around $450...

Doug Robinson

www.dougrobinson.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey, I've been off-line for a few weeks as I had to unexpectedly move on a moment's notice (not easy at my age and with my gear) due to a crisis not of my own making.

 

The box arrived over a week ago and only today did I find a short spurt of time to open it and try it out.

 

No worries on the shipping from Japan via standard air mail; it arrived intact with no dings or dents, as it was double-bubble-wrapped and there is also bubble-wrap inside the manufacturer's box, which is designed to be a temporary carrying case.

 

It comes with two mouthpieces. They are quite different. I like the short firm one for penny whistle type work, and the long flexible one for panpipe style playing. Recorder-style playing works well either way. Ergonomically it's easier to hold with the long flexible mouthpiece.

 

Lots of pitch bend, and it takes to quadruple-tonguing, flutter-tonguing, and anything else you would try on a flute, recorder, saxophone, or clarinet. I quite like it.

 

My only complaint is the pitch range, which I would prefer to be slightly lower overall as I keep reaching for lower notes but only use the upper half octave for penny whistle.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Did you try it with the strap on?

 

Dude: Isn't that a rather personal question???? :-)

 

This thing is really cool! I play whistle (Low D, but I have 3 penny whistles as well) and this thing is awesome, and about the same price as my Overton Low D.

 

I gotta look at this. Thanks for the heads up!

 

..Joe

 

 

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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I guess I was tired when I wrote that, because I have a distinct memory of writing about the strap, but also my entire initial write-up got swallowed due to an internet glitch so I had to write it all over again.

 

The strap is useless in my view. Horrible balance. I haven't tried adjusting it yet though so maybe I just need to work with the cable some.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I guess I was tired when I wrote that, because I have a distinct memory of writing about the strap, but also my entire initial write-up got swallowed due to an internet glitch so I had to write it all over again.

 

The strap is useless in my view. Horrible balance. I haven't tried adjusting it yet though so maybe I just need to work with the cable some.

 

Ah well. Still, I got a $50 off eBay coupon for my latest sale, so I used it towards buying my own. I'll figure out the strap thing later.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Received my Andes today. I thought the balance was ok, although perception may be affected by your preferred arm positioning, the length of your neck (if you are using the shorter mouthpiece), etc.

 

The notes sure go high on this thing. I tried to play the melody that begins this tune but I had to go up an octave higher than the recording. I was also unable to play the harmony notes (more on that later):

 

[video:youtube]

 

With the shorter mouthpiece, it's easy to bend the pitch down by playing with the air flow as it comes out of your mouth. Bends with the longer tube also work. It will take some practice to get the intonation right. Legato doesn't work quite the same as on a monphonic synth. If I hold more than one note while blowing, I get some weird interactions of harmonics - almost like a ring modulator kind of sound. Thus, I don't anticipating playing chords on this thing.

 

It can get fairly loud, but not as piercing as I feared it might be, which is a relief with that high pitch range.

 

The seller sent me a packet of Japanese tea and a cute little note.

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Received my Andes today. I thought the balance was ok, although perception may be affected by your preferred arm positioning, the length of your neck (if you are using the shorter mouthpiece), etc.

 

The notes sure go high on this thing. I tried to play the melody that begins this tune but I had to go up an octave higher than the recording. I was also unable to play the harmony notes (more on that later):

 

[video:youtube]

 

With the shorter mouthpiece, it's easy to bend the pitch down by playing with the air flow as it comes out of your mouth. Bends with the longer tube also work. It will take some practice to get the intonation right. Legato doesn't work quite the same as on a monphonic synth. If I hold more than one note while blowing, I get some weird interactions of harmonics - almost like a ring modulator kind of sound - on the upper octave. On the lower octave, it is possible to play fairly clean-sounding chords.

 

It can get fairly loud, but not as piercing as I feared it might be, which is a relief with that high pitch range.

 

The seller sent me a packet of Japanese tea and a cute little note.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Precisionsound have just announced that they are soon releasing a sample library for Kontakt. They make good libraries, but to me the whole point of the Andes 25F is the playability vs. the specific sound.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Precisionsound have just announced that they are soon releasing a sample library for Kontakt. They make good libraries, but to me the whole point of the Andes 25F is the playability vs. the specific sound.

 

Very much in agreement. Having a lot of fun discovering various expressive techniques and practicing them on my Andes. Thanks again for hipping us to this instrument.

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