A simple guide when buying a harmonium you can narrow your choice by deciding what options you want. Basic choices options are:
Collapsible Harmoniums fold up into a suitcase-like box about 1/2 of their regular height. There is a handle in front so they can be carried with one hand like a suitcase. If you are traveling around a lot with your instrument this is an attractive option, since it’s lot easier to carry a harmonium this way than by the two side handles of a Standard Harmoniums. If you’re not, then it’s just another moving part. In general, you sacrifice no sound by getting a collapsible.
Benifits of a Scale Change Harmonium?
Scale change harmoniums have a mechanism that allows you to slide the keyboard up to four half steps left or right (transpose). So if you are used to always playing in B flat, and the song is in C, you just shift the keyboard up two half steps. This is not a feature you need if you can play easily in different keys, or if you will always be playing in the same key.
On the other hand, some proficient keyboard players have told us they prefer to always play from B flat because of the way their hand sits on the keys in that position (harmonium keys being smaller than piano keys). Keep in mind that what most makers consider their best instrument is a three reed scale change model.
Looking at the harmonium from the front there is a row of knobs, usually some larger than others. The large knobs are the stops. They open and close the air flow to the air chambers inside. (There is often some redundancy – a harmonium with 2 air chambers can have 4 stops) If you have a harmonium with 2 sets of reeds, and thus 2 air chambers, you can set your harmonium to play only one set of reeds if you desire some difference of sound texture. This is one reason some people prefer a triple reed harmonium. In reality, though, most people just keep all the stops out all the time.
The smaller knobs in front are the drones. They play a fixed note drone when pulled out. Most harmoniums come with drones that are the black keys on the keyboard (C#, D#, F#, G#, A# or some combination thereof).
The bellows pump the air into the instrument. There is also an internal bellows which pushes the air up to sound the reeds. Bellows can be 2-fold, 3 fold, or 7-fold. Two and three fold bellows are attached at the bottom. Seven fold bellows can be attached on either side to allow for left or right hand pumping. The number of folds, by itself, does not determine the quality of the instrument. However, most higher end harmoniums have 7-fold bellows. Some people say that the 7-fold bellows allows for more control. Some bellows have a spring, which pushes them open after you have pumped in.
This is a feature which adds an octave to the note you are playing. A mechanical key plays the note an octave up (occasionally the octave down) from the one you are playing. This is a nice feature which can add volume to your harmonium. It toggles on and off.
Comparison between Kala Kendar Harmoniums
|Harmonium Model:||Dimensions (cm)||Weight (kgs)||Reeds:||Bellows:||Drones:||Coupler:||Wood:|
|Model 1||58x31x26||8.6||Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||N||Pine|
|Model 2||63x30x27||9.9||Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||Y||Pine|
|Model 3||65x32x30||10.3||SPL Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||Y||Pine|
|MKS SPL-22||61x29x24||9.5||Palitana Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||N||Teak|
|Portable Rose||60x35x20||10.9||Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||Y||Pine|
|The Traveler Kolkata||48x38x18||8.8||Palitana Bass-Male||Multifold Side||2||N||Teak|
|Portable 3 Reed||60x39x19||12.7||Palitana B-M-F||Multifold Side||4||N||Teak|
|The Traveler||46x36x20||6.5||Bass-Male||Multifold Side||2||N||Pine|
|MKS SPL-22 Portable||60x39x20||10.0||Palitana Bass-Male||Multifold Side||4||N||Teak|
|Butterfly Dulcetina||57x20x27||6.4||Palitana Bass-Male||Multifold Side||N/A||N||Teak|
|Scale Changer 3 Reed||65x39x20||14.0||Palitana B-M-F||Multifold Side||4||Y||Teak|
|Scale Changer 4 Reed||70x42x20||17.2||Palitana B-M-M-F||Multifold Side||7||Y||Teak|
|Proline 2 Reed||58x30x30||12.4||SPL Bass-Male||Double Straight||10||N||Teak|
|Paul & Co 7 Scale Changer||58x39x21||15.3||SPL Bass-Male-Female||Multifold Side||7||Y||Teak|
|Paul & Co 9 Scale Changer||65x39x21||18.2||SPL Bass-Male-Female||Multifold Side||7||Y||Teak|
|Dutta & Co Scale Changer||66x42x21||17.0||SPL B-M-F||Multifold Side||7||Y||Teak|