How it Works:
This is a unique kind of music box mechanism that uses a paper strip to play the song. Once you insert a song into the music box, holes punched into the paper activate gears within the music box mechanism that play the notes.
We include everything you need to get started, including:
- The 30-note music box movement;
- M3 screws;
- 5 blank paper strips; and
- a special hole puncher for making your own songs!
Please note: a wooden box is not included with this movement; however, we'd be happy to make one for you, if you'd like! If so, please check out our custom boxes.
We can also make custom songs for this movement as well.
Upon request, we'd be happy to send you a diagram of the music box movement including all the dimensions, as well as plans for making your own wooden box.
About the Mechanism:
Our music boxes are a modern take on the antique polyphon music boxes from the 1800’s. We use a unique kind of music box mechanism that uses paper strips to play a song. Holes punched into the paper strip activate gears within the music box mechanism which play the notes. Using this system has a bunch of neat advantages over normal music boxes.
One of our favorite features about using this kind of music box mechanism is that you can play multiple songs with the same music box. There’s a slot on the front of the music box which you can feed songs into, and it’s quite easy to switch from one song to another. Because it uses paper strips to play the song instead of a barrel (like traditional music boxes), there is no limit to how long a song can be. We’ve even made full 5-10 minute songs before! Lastly, because paper is pretty easy to work with, we can make custom songs for your music box!
The 30-note model is the largest, and best sounding out all three models. It has a similar range to the 20-note model (3 octaves), but it uses a chromatic scale instead a diatonic scale. The chromatic scale includes sharps and flats (the black keys on a piano), and the inclusion of ‘accidentals’ makes nearly every song compatible. We’ve even been able to arrange the full length version of Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb! A small number of songs may not be compatible with the 30-note model because of a physical limitation (see below), but we really suggest getting the 30-note model (instead of the 15 or 20-note models) if possible.
- Upgraded Metal Gears: the upgraded version uses metal gears instead of plastic, so that the mechanism lasts a lot longer.
- 30-Note Range: the music box mechanism has a 3 octave (semi-chromatic) range. Check out the picture above to see which notes it includes.
- Special Hole Puncher + Blank Templates: you can use the included hole puncher and 5 blank song templates to make your own songs!
- Over 250 Songs Already Available: we've made a ton of songs for the 30-note music box over the years. Check out our song catalog!
- Custom Songs: if you're interested, we also make custom music box arrangements for the 30-note music box!
I'd like to make my own songs, does the 30-note music box mechanism have any limitations in relation to what songs will be compatible?
That's awesome! We have a ton of fun making arrangements of songs for the 30-note music box.
While most songs are compatible with the music boxes, there are a few limitations that you should keep in mind.
The range of the music box determines the highest and lowest notes that the music box can play. The 15-note music box has enough notes to play almost any singable melody (as long as it stays in one key: diatonic). Both the 20 and 30-note models actually have the same range, which is large enough to play pretty much everything. It’s not as large range as a full sized 88-key piano of course, but with a little tweaking, almost any song can work.
The type of scale your music box uses is important for many songs. The 15 and 20-note music boxes use a diatonic scale (think C-Major or A-Minor). Most music is written in a diatonic scale, but a lot of music uses more complex harmony, that wouldn’t be compatible with the 15-note and 20-note models. For example, most movie soundtrack and classical music take advantage of borrowed chords and modulating harmonies to add color to the music. For more complex music, you’ll want to get the 30-note music box. The 30-note music box uses a chromatic scale (the black notes on a piano) which makes it compatible with the most music. It sounds the best too, both sonically and harmonically.
Lastly, there is one last limitation that is shared by all three music box models, and can make a song not compatible with even the 30-note model. The music box mechanism uses metal teeth to simultaneously register the hole punched out in the paper, and plucks the note. Due to the distance between teeth, the mechanism needs some time to reset before playing the same note again. By far, most songs won’t be affected by this limitation, but some songs that have fast repeating notes won’t be compatible.
If you ever have any questions about making songs for the music box, definitely let us know. We're always happy to help!
Do you have a blueprint with physical specs to make my own wooden box?
Yes! Let us know, and we can give you the dimensions.
Do you make custom songs?
Yes! We can make a custom music box arrangement of almost any song!
Do you have any pre-made songs available for the 30-note music box?
We do! Over the years, we've made a ton of music box arrangements for the 15, 20, and 30-note music box. Check out our song catalog!
Do you have any audio previews so I can hear what it sounds like?
Yes, we do! We've just started uploading videos to YouTube.