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Bell-Like Tuning and Optimization


We love music boxes and people. We know you want your music box to perform as well as it possibly can. We want that too, because we know your joy will be greater.

For this reason, I personally listen to every movement we receive to make sure it's performing as it should.

New Procedure: Bell-like Comb Tuning

We have been optimizing movements for a long time now. However we've been frustrated that we could not work on each tooth individually, so we have been building and working on a machine that can re-tune combs! Yes, you heard me right, I said we now re-tune combs. The beta version of this machine was completed in January, 2011, and is working well.

When a comb is inserted into our machine, I begin working with each tooth until the desired change that I want to see has taken place. When I come across a tooth that I think is dull, I will work with it until that tooth begins to ring and sound more bell-like. Each note will sustain longer, so the movement will have a brighter sound. Also the bass notes will be louder and you'll hear the harmonies more distinctly.



Other Adjustments

We are able to make the other adjustments needed to assure the best possible sound of your movement, including comb adjustments. As I have often said, "There are a thousand positions that a comb can be in, but only one of them is really right. If a comb is not adjusted properly, it may be very quiet, lose sustain, or even have incorrect rhythms." I make sure the pins are in proper contact with the comb and that all the notes of a chord are struck at precisely the same moment (unless the arranger had other intentions). I also adjust the tempo if I feel it is playing too fast or too slow - or if a customer wants a special tempo. Occasionally we'll find unwanted noises that can only be corrected by re-dampering the comb (dampers are tiny shock absorbers that help remove the vibration from a comb tooth before it comes in contact with its next cylinder pin). The result is that our average movement has proper timing in rhythm, and is more precise, plays louder and brighter, and has fewer unwanted sounds.

Why All This Extra Work

It's true that Sankyo does indeed produce musical movements that are mechanically tremendous. However they have a philosophy that I do not agree with. They say that perfecting the sound quality further would drive the price up too much. Thus, their sound quality is not as refined or as consistent as it should be.

We believe the appeal of a musical movement is mostly due to its fabulous sound, and that losing optimal sound is truly a shame. It is hard to find anyone who can do this kind of work well, and the few who can would no doubt charge hundreds of dollars - or more - to do it. I am a trained and active musician, have been avidly collecting music boxes for at least 40 years. Therefore I know what a movement could sound like, what is causing each imperfect sound, and what to do about it. We have invested months in designing and building a machine to streamline comb tuning so it won't push the price up too much.

Steve will also visually inspect each movement after adjustments are made, and we have a discount section for any movement with an unusual blemish. In addition to this, we use special tools to clean each movement just prior to shipping it to you. As far as we know, we are the only ones in the industry that go to these great lengths to make sure you'll love your music box.

If you have an existing Sankyo Orpheus 50 or 72 note movement you'd like improved, we charge $100 to optimize and re-tune it. If we're working on your movement, we do not charge extra for re-dampering if it needs it. Contact us for price if you'd like your Sankyo Orpheus 100 note movement improved.

We here at feel that this work is very important simply because it improves the sounds and tones of your movement. We care that your movement is in tip-top condition. This is one example of what is Better about We look forward to serving you.

Rick Epperly
(Updated 8/24/2011)

Customer Reviews

One musically skilled customer said "I purchased the 72 note Sankyo movement, La Campanella (K35), from Better Music Boxes.Com. I found their service to be excellent, and their interest in supplying me with the best possible product outstanding. The Sankyo movements are well constructed, precision built musical instruments, but I have to say that after Rick Epperly performed his optimizing, (voicing, tuning, and regulating of the standard movement), it went from a good music box movement to an outstanding one. The tonal quality is now bell like from top to bottom. Every note sings, and the sound is so refined you don’t want to stop listening to it. A great buy, LWP"

Others say "The comb on this movement rings longer than my other movements." Yet another customer of ours said, "The comb sounds much more bell like. I love it. Thank you very much for tuning my comb."

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