How To Select Good Harmonium in 2020

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How To Select Good Harmonium

Introduction:

A harmonium also known as a ”pump organ” is a keyboard instrument. It originated in Europe and is highly popular with Indian music. The harmonium is one of the most respected instruments in Indian music. The rising popularity of harmoniums has created interest from people around the world. Before we know the answer to the question “how to select good harmonium?” we have to know the origin of the harmonium.

origin of the harmonium:

You may be surprised to know that India was not the origin of the harmonium. It was first invented in Europe by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein who was a professor of physiology at Copenhagen.

It grew an immense amount of popularity in churches and private homes because they could not afford expensive organs. Due to the different versions available, the harmonium popularity continued to grow throughout the 19th century.

They required no electricity, which allowed them to be a great fit for travel. The harmonium was first introduced to South India by Portuguese missionaries. The missionaries wanted to conduct their weekly prayers on Sunday morning, but couldn’t carry their organs around.

After it was introduced, it also became popular with Indian musicians for its simplicity and portability. Although the harmonium was initially a western instrument, the east made it their own and it became a staple of their culture.

Origin Of The Harmonium

most common features:

Now that the origins are covered, it’s important to know the most common features when deciding on how to select good harmoniums.

Harmoniums come with several parts. Keys, bellows, drones, stop, coupler, and reeds.

STOPS:

Stops also known as knobs, are larger than drones and are in the front of the harmonium. They provide an opening and closing of airflow into the air chambers.

DRONES:

Drones are the smaller knobs. They play a fixed note but can also be customized to the musician’s choice.

REEDS:

Reeds come in 3 different octaves: bass, male and treble. Bass is the lowest, male reeds are a bit higher and treble reeds are an octave higher.

BELLOWS:

Bellows are needed to pump air into the harmonium. It usually comes in 2- fold, 3-fold or 7 fold. But the fancier harmoniums have 7-fold.

OCTAVE COUPLER:

Octave couplers add an octave to notes, this helps with adding volume to your music.

How To Select Good Harmonium: Top Ten Tips

Before someone purchases a harmonium it’s important to first learn the different types. There are several techniques that musicians use when they’re deciding how to select good harmonium.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF HARMONIUM:

There are ways to ensure that you pick out a proper harmonium that fit your needs. Different types of harmonium brands give musicians various options to choose from.

STANDARD

COLLAPSIBLE

FOLDING

Standard harmoniums are ideal for almost everything except for air travel.

Bulkier but more reliable than folding models.

Folding harmoniums are small, less bulky and can be easily transported.

They have durability and are more reliable than collapsing harmoniums. 

It has fixed bellows with very  little possibility for leaking.

There are clips on the side of the harmonium that stabilizes it. But, these clips commonly break.

It has more durability and less moving parts. 

There is more reliability due to it having less moving parts than a standard.

Very clunky with lots of instability.

It comes with full sized bellows for optimal performance and air retention.  

It comes with full sized bellows for optimal performance and air retention.  

It comes with full sized bellows  for optimal performance and air retention.

It's quite bulky and doesn't break down for easy transit.  

It can be rocky as you pump because it isn't anchored to the base like folding models.

Very prone to breaking because of all the moving parts. 

However, many people don’t quite understand what to look for in a harmonium. So, here are 10 considerations to review whether you’re a beginner or a regular player:

1. PORTABILITY

Portability should be considered before making an investment in a harmonium. There are 2 different general types of harmoniums, non-portables, and portables. Non-portables are called stand-up or upright harmoniums and their box is just a single box, that doesn’t change shape.

However, portable harmoniums also known as collapsibles are made of 2 boxes, an inner box, and an outer box. They collapse into a smaller sort of briefcase shape.

2. RANGE

Some harmoniums have just 2 1/2 octave of range on the keyboard. Some have 3 1/2 and others may have more. The average harmonium is around 3 octaves.

Therefore, a 2 1/2 octave harmonium should be fine for beginner players. It will also be adequate for people who play the harmonium regularly.

3. FANCY HARMONIUMS

It’s important to not get blindsided by fancy harmoniums. There are some harmonium makers that put unnecessary special features on them. Most professional musicians won’t use these features.

So, beginners who are just starting out would be tempted to purchase this type of harmonium. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that it is of better quality and has more value because of all the added features. This includes a scale changer.

Some people like it, but most people don’t actually use a scale changing mechanism. It may also come with tons of buttons called,” stops” that serve different functions. Some of them you just open them up to allow air into the bellows.

The other smaller buttons open up drone notes. More buttons/knobs don’t mean better. It’s important to choose based on what you need and will use.

4. REEDS

Take into consideration how many sets of reeds that the harmonium has. There are harmoniums that have just a single set of reeds that sound very thin.

However, most harmoniums have 2 sets of reeds, a low set, and a high set. They’re played simultaneously, so they blend together to provide a rich sound. This is what most players use because it sounds great.

There are other harmoniums with 3 sets and even 4 sets of reeds to provide a bigger, louder and fuller sound. More reeds would generally make the harmonium a lot heavier and less portable.

5. INSTANT KEYBOARD RESPONSE

If you’re testing out several different brands of keyboards, you’ll notice that some brands have a lag time when pressing a key on the keyboard. So even if you have already primed the keyboard there still might be a lag. In a quality harmonium, it should not take time to get the sound, it should be instant.

6. GOOD SUSTAIN

You want your harmonium to be able to maintain a nice even sound. Different types of harmonium brands have a variety of sounds. It should sound even unless there are leaks in the bellows. Sometimes this may happen because they’re shipped from India, so various parts of the harmonium could be uneven.

7. REPUTABLE STORE

Sometimes they’ll come from India in various states of disrepair. So, the stores that sell it to you are importing it and getting it in good condition before you purchase it.

Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that the store is reputable and that they’re doing good repair work. Also, if you’re getting one shipped from an online store, it may have minor problems such as buzzing reeds.

Occasionally, you’ll receive a harmonium with the key sticking down or a buzzing reed. These are quite easy to fix, but you’ll need the store that you ordered it from to talk you through it over the phone. It could take a little time to get fixed, which is why you need a reputable store to walk you through the process if it happens.

8. JOLLY

Often you’ll see on the top of a harmonium, a glass jolly. Jolly is a Hindi word that means window, it’s removable and it serves as a baffle or a mute. That’s where the sound is coming out of the reeds.

The jolly’s objective is to mute the sound or even it out so that it isn’t blasting out of the reeds. However, if you desire to play a lot louder you can always remove the jolly. Some harmoniums also have a wooden jolly with similar mechanisms.

9. ENJOY THE SOUND

Whether you are a beginner player or someone who’s more experienced, it’s important to love the sound of your instrument. Do you like the tone of the harmonium? Sounds and tones often change and sound differently depending on the brand that you’re using.

If you go to an actual store and make a purchase, listen to several harmoniums and you’ll hear the differences and fluctuations of tones.

10. TUNE

Making sure that the harmonium is in tune is an important consideration. A-440 is the international standard for tuning. It’s a certain pitch that all instruments in some way or another reference. An interesting fact is, a couple of centuries ago before American musical standards became the international norm, British standards were applied.

In Britain, they were using a standard of A-444, a different tuning frequency, and reference. So when harmoniums came from Britain, by missionary shops to India, the Indians liked them and started manufacturing them.

Some manufacturers keep A-440 and others may use A-444. Also, Indian manufacturing is not a very standardized and consistent process. If you’re not sure about the harmoniums tuning, then it’s important to ask the store to make sure that you’re getting A-440 tuning.

How To Select Good Harmonium

PROBLEMS

Sticky keys, rattling noises, and buzzing reeds are some of the most common problems with harmoniums. If you hear a rattling noise, it’s usually in the top cover. Removing the cover could help it go away.

If there are buzzing notes then something may be stuck between the reed and its frame causing the buzzing sound. To test if you have a leaky bellow, you can squeeze them gently until there is a little resistance.

When you’re squeezing the bellows and don’t feel any resistance, then there might be a problem. Beginners should ask lots of questions to ensure that they’re getting a high-quality product. Also, it’s a smart idea to get your harmonium tuned at the store to prevent future issues.

Additionally, you should bring a picture and a description of your ideal harmonium. Although there are some problems that you can fix on your own, there are also problems that you will need assistance with.

Most importantly, if you’re having problems with your harmonium and are not sure how to fix it, take it to a professional. Take it back to the store that you purchased it from. If you made the purchase online, then find a reputable store to help you or return the harmonium.

Harmonium Comparisons:

different types of harmonium

Before choosing your desired harmonium, make sure that you check out prices from different locations and choose the correct brand that is right for you. Since modern harmoniums are built in India it’s good to compare the two regional styles of harmonium construction.

DELHI STYLE HARMONIUM:

 • The Delhi style harmonium is quite inexpensive compared to other musical instruments.

 • It’s one of the most popular harmonium brands. You can use them if you’re a beginner or intermediate player.

 •It has a lightweight and portable design that is easy to maintain

 • It has a dynamic tone that can be used to play many different styles of music like folk, indie, ambient, etc.

 •Has an affordable price around the range of $500-1000

KOLKATA STYLE HARMONIUM:

• The design is very detailed and solidly constructed.

• It has 3-4 reed sets that play across a broad range of octaves, producing a full tone.

• The complex engineering, more labor, and material make this the least affordable option.

•The price is no less than $1200 and even higher quality is around $1800.

KOLKATA 9-STOPPER PORTABLE FOLDING
KOLKATA 9-STOPPER PORTABLE FOLDING

Click Here for Pricing & Reviews on Amazon

Conclusion:

Hopefully, this was helpful and you’d be able to find some clarity and understand how to select good harmoniums. With its rich cultural background, variety of styles and affordable prices, it’s no wonder why the harmonium is a popular instrument.

There are plenty of choices to choose from and brands offering different features to fit each musician’s needs. When proper research is done, both beginners and experienced players will enjoy the fulfillment that the harmonium can bring.

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