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What type of metal would work best to make the piano (piano?) in music boxes? Answered

 I have been wanting to make a music box in large scale.  The music box I am referring to is a mechanism that when a crank is turned, a metal cylinder attached to the crank revolves.  Attached to the cylinder are metal teeth, which pluck a piece of slotted metal, like in the picture below (which I will be referring to as the piano, because I have no idea what term is actually used to describe it).  Usually these can be found in bookshops, and commonly play "somewhere over the rainbow".  

As I mentioned, I want to construct one on a larger scale.  The problem is, I do not know what to make the "piano" with.  I tried an old tin lacquer can, but the metal proved to be too flimsy to produce the sound required.  Then again, I don't want something too hard to where it cannot be plucked.  Which type of metal would be best suited?

In my previous attempt, I just scaled the image below, traced and cut it out.  Is there something that I'm missing, or is it just the metal?

I have been running dry on Google, and can barely produce any images of the item I am looking for.



Best Answer 8 years ago

The item pictured is usually known as a "comb", for obvious reasons, or a "vibration plate". I think that these are made from spring steel (thin - less than 2mm). What your picture does not show is the back view. It will have been ground so it's thinner in the middle of the length of the teeth - helping tune them.
The idea of these things is similar to a tuning fork. They resonate at the desired tone when mechanically struck or plucked. If the metal is too weak, it won't sound, if it's too rigid it won't sound either.

Scaling this up to a larger size will be interesting.

Steel or brass will work well, as they are commonly used in instruments.  The thing you must consider, however, is that both the length and mass of each tine will determine its frequency.  Using this harp as a template will only go so far; you will need to shave metal from each tine in order to get the proper pitch for each note.

Th' item you are referin' to is called a "harp"  and is usually made of spring steel ,  altho I think certain grades of stainless might work and I think I may have seen some brass ones as well