What are those boxes that play music called?

A music box works by rotating a metal cylinder with protruding pins that pluck the individual prongs of a steel comb. The sounds that resonate from the vibrating prongs are the notes we hear—lower notes from longer prongs and higher notes from shorter ones. Some more complicated music boxes even contained a small drum or little bells.

Music boxes have been around since the 18th century. Some were the size of a loaf of bread, others as big as a dresser. Back then, music boxes were actually used to enjoy some nice parlor music, unlike the little twirling ballerina box you might find in your grandmother's attic. In the 19th century, Swiss artisan watchmakers continually refined the design. What we have today is the result of hundreds of years of tinkering with gears and bells and pins and steel combs.

The trusty "Engineer Guy" Bill Hammack explains exactly how these little boxes work and discusses a bit of their history in his latest video, which is well worth a watch for both the mechanically and musically minded.

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What are those boxes that play music called?

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Source: Toyland

Jay Bennett is the associate editor of PopularMechanics.com. He has also written for Smithsonian, Popular Science and Outside Magazine. 

Cylinder-Type Musical Box

The inside of the musical box is called the movement.

The picture on the right depicts the basic structure of the cylinder-type movement and it consists of:

Normally made of steel and where sound is being produced.
Strips of protruding metal on the comb is called the teeth.

The revolving part of the movement where the tunes are imprinted on using metal pins.
It is normally made of brass.

Spring Housing
It hosts the mainspring that provides the mechanical power to move the cylinder.

The handle is used to wind the mainspring.

Governor / Air-brake
This is the part that regulates the speed of the revolving cylinder by restricting the speed of the spring release.

This is where all the parts of the movement are being secured to.

Disc-Type Musical Boxes

The picture on the left shows a simplified structure of a disc-type musical box.

The difference lies in the inclusion of the starwheel for the disc-type.

When the disc turns, the protruding pins on the disc would turn the starwheel, which in turn, will strike the teeth of the comb to produce the music.

Earlier version of the disc was made out of zinc. But it was changed to steel later on to increase the strength and durability. It is slightly warped to strengthen the pins.

Buy Music Box Mechanisms

Music box mechanisms, otherwise known as movements, produce the beautiful sounds that make music boxes a beloved gift and a household treasure. A metal cylinder or barrel with precisely placed pins rotates away from and then under a steel comb, plucking correctly tuned and placed prongs or tines creating a melody. The comb and barrel are in effect, created for each other and are tune specific. The shorter tines produce high tones while the longer ones produce the low tones. The number of tines on a comb indicates the musical ability of the mechanism.  18 note, 30, 36, 50, 72, 100 or 144 note combs play longer with more embellishment and more melodies. Some of the larger, more complex music boxes play 2 or 3 songs  or have 4 or more interchangeable cylinders playing 4 or 5 tunes.
Some contain drum-like sounds and/or bells.  

TheMusicHouse.com has one of the largest collections of cylinder mechanisms for your musical enjoyment. These are available to install in any client’s project or one of our new or used music boxes or fine cabinets. We take immense pride in the quality and sheer workmanship of our Italian made music boxes and in the condition of our used products. We carry only quality music box mechanisms, new and lovingly previously owned and their parts to purchase.

Our Music Box Tunes, Movements and Mechanisms

Music box mechanisms have a long and thrilling history. Snuff boxes were fitted with tiny mechanisms to transform them into music boxes as early as the 18th century. Musical boxes differed dramatically since some music boxes were the size of a loaf of bread while others were the size of a dresser.  People of Pre-Radio days enjoyed them as their parlor music. Music boxes today are usually smaller and meant for more personal enjoyment.

TheMusicHouse.com has a large selection of music box tunes, movements and mechanisms for any music box.
We have some very fine older Cuendet, Thorens, Lador and Reuge or Romance mechanisms
plus the newer Sankyo Orpheus Collection.

Quality and Custom Music Box Mechanisms for All Music Boxes

We carry custom music box mechanisms that can be personalized with an original melody or a licensed tune to play on a disc player. Kids will enjoy a musical box with a custom tune from their favorite Disney movies such as "Aladdin" "Dumbo" or "Beauty and the Beast." We can customize a musical box with a tune that appeals to any musical taste, whether someone is purchasing a custom music box mechanism as a gift, for a home or
as a reminder of a great love of music.

Choosing a favorite tune is easy with our wide selection. We have beautiful and popular classical tunes such as "Canon in D," "Mozart's Lullaby" and "Swan Lake," plus modern tunes from movies, popular culture and more. Recently or about to be married couples will enjoy a music box that plays their wedding tune or Lohengrin's "Wedding March." And to celebrate Christmas, our Christmas tunes such as "Frosty the Snowman" "Silent Night" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and the other Christmas Favorites, make great holiday gifts.

Types of Tunes, Movements, Mechanisms and Discs

Our inventory includes Thorens, Reuge, Jobim, Sankyo and other movements, including self-installation kits and stop-start assemblies for any musical box mechanism. Our quality, movements, mechanisms and discs will add something new to an old box and create a cherished musical possession for a lifetime.

Music Box Mechanism Supplier

Trust TheMusicHouse.com to provide cylinder or disc music box kits, music box mechanism parts and more, that will enhance your own creation of a new box or modify and existing box. Buy music box movements online today.

to place an order over the phone or via email or order on line. From some very fine older Cuendet, Thorens, or Reuge mechanisms to Sanko Japan using 12, 18, 22, 28, 30, 36, 50, 72 or 100 or even 144 notes, we have something that will suit your needs. Look for our special sales, which include Easter Parade in Clear Shell (a Vintage piece)

that tiny mechanisms were installed in snuff boxes as early as the 18th century? These mechanisms or movements are instruments that produce sound by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinders or punched out rotating discs that pluck tines on specially tuned combs.

and can supply most sizes of discs that can also be personalized with your own original melody or
with a licensed tune to play on a disc player.

Thorens, Reuge, Jobim, Sankyo and other movements and sell installation kits and stop-start assemblies
for almost any and all musical box mechanisms.

you buy one of our products as a gift for someone else or for yourself, we can help customize your musical box
with a tune that best appeals to your musical tastes.

Our online store houses an exquisite collection of unique music boxes, music gifts, music related jewelry, musical instruments, musical toys and instruments for kids, musical lamps,
musical art and sculpture and other things as well.
Shop with us in our Music House Shop

What is the music box thing called?

Polyphon is a disc-playing music box, a mechanical device first manufactured by the Polyphon Musikwerke, located in Leipzig, Germany. Invented in 1870, full-scale production started around 1897 and continued into the early 1900s. ... .

What are the music boxes in bars called?

Remember, the right jukebox can be a good source of extra income for your business, and the wrong one can only take up space in your establishment. The music you play in your bar or restaurant can liven up the mood of your customers and get them dancing as they play their favorite music.

What are the different types of music boxes?

Music Boxes – Automatic Musical Instruments.
Cylinder Music Box. Cylinder music boxes are the most recognized style and became widespread in the 19th century. ... .
Disc Music Box. This variety of music box appeared in the last part of the 19th century. ... .
Reuge Music Box. ... .
Thomas Kinkade Music Box. ... .
Sankyo Seiki Music Box..