I want to try to make my own musicbox. The picture below shows what I mean: enter image description here

I was wondering how to determine the length of the metal tone generating plates (shown in dark grey). I assume it is a function of the length and thickness, I just don't know the exact relationship.

Could someone please provide me with a formula relating the plate dimensions with the frequency?

  • I am not sure if this is the right SE to ask this, feel free to move it to a more suitable SE site. – Saaru Lindestøkke Dec 4 '12 at 18:16
  • Sadly this is now too old for us to migrate. Thanks for flagging it up though. – Dr Mayhem Jan 26 '16 at 10:09
  • Do you know what gauge the steel teeth usually are? At the base anyway (ie. what it starts out as)? Thanks – Alicia Nov 9 '19 at 9:28

The tuned teeth (or lamellae) of the steel comb is typically set to a chromatic scale. To change the tuning would require adding or subtracting material to an individual tooth with some trial and error and a good ear. Changing the length would cancel the action of the pins on the revolving cylinder so that is not a good idea.

If you think the scale you have meets your tuning definition then it would be far easier to make a new scroll to change to the melodic and harmonic content you desire. If you are starting from scratch and have the tools you should make a system to be able to change the scrolls so you have a diversity of songs.

Here is a reference to tuning the reeds on a harmonica since this is adding and subtracting material related:


Information on how to tune lamellae as used in a Karimba:


Here's a place where you can make your own music box tunes by using punchable paper strip musical movement:


Math part:



I am not entirely certain that using tuning fork math is the right place for a series of metal bars as found in a music box comb so I have done some more searches and found a reference that covers much more here:


  • I was planning on doing it from scratch, I hadn't thought about changing the roll... I'll look into that, thanks. – Saaru Lindestøkke Dec 4 '12 at 20:06
  • I would buy a cheap movement for like under $10 and experiment with it to gain experience before you start your design and first prototype. – filzilla Dec 4 '12 at 22:39

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