Building a new case for the melodica

Building a new case for your musical instrument can be a daunting task. You want it to be perfect and enhance the look and sound of the instrument. We’re a good bit along with our project now and although external factors have slowed us up a bit the end goal is still clear: to enhance the sound and street cred of the melodica.

The shape of things to come

Our build has well passed design stage where we factored in the look together with the function of a Helmholtz chamber that would also protect the instrument from damage.

We also had to factor in the fact that there are many different types of melodica on the market and we wanted to be able to slot a more cost effective instrument into the new case.  It can be tough to decide which instrument to choose, there are 32 and 37 key instruments, ones with larger keys for fingers like mine and smaller ones maybe more suitable for beginners and we eventually settled on a Suzuki model as a reasonably priced student instrument.

At this stage Rocky took over measuring the dimensions of the case and working out how to adapt the guts of the instrument into the new housing.  The preliminary prototype had thrown up the issue of making the case airtight for a cheaper model instrument but the Suzuki resolved this by not relying on it’s own case being airtight which freed us up considerably.

Once Rocky had the dimensions of the case and the design it was time to start making the jig for the case so the design can be replicated and he got all technical using computers and programs and CNC to create the jig.

When you are designing a new case for your musical instrument, you will want to take into account the dimensions of the instrument and the materials you will be using. There are a few things to keep in mind when cutting your material.

The first is that you will need to account for the thickness of the material. This will help to ensure that the case is strong and will not break easily.

Another important factor to consider is the shape of the instrument. You will need to account for the curvature of the instrument so that the case fits properly.

Finally, you will want to make sure that the materials you choose are strong and will not break easily.

With the jig made we are now at the assembly stage when we begin taking into account other details relating to the sound.

The case is made up of a number of parts: the curved body, the top and the bottom.  As we intend to put in a pickup system to the new case we are now looking at how to transfer the sound from from the instrument through the case to the pickup.

We also have another factor to consider: moisture.  Melodicas produce condensation from warm breath coming into contact with cold reeds.  Luckily for us, the Suzuki model has its own seal system and this should prevent moisture from exiting the instrument and causing issues with the wood and electronics of the new case.

Although not at the finishing stage yet the finishing line is well in sight and we’re looking into the final visual appeal of the new instrument and which varnishes will most enhance the instrument.

The electronics of the case has been an issue I’ve been wrestling with.  I purchased a Fishman transducer pickup and have been testing it out on other melodicas and the results have not exactly been as I’d hoped. A transducer pickup operates by amplifying tiny vibrations from the bridge of an instrument and I’d thought it would have no issue picking up the vibrating reeds but the preliminary experiments indicated I may need to opt for a microphone of some description. Luckily the case dimensions are large enough to accommodate a microphone.

Although we have a bit of travel left to do we are well on the way to finished product and having a blast getting there. Thanks again to the ‘I’ve Got An Idea’ fund for supporting our endeavour and helping us create an instrument that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

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