Musical Box Tuning
By Jim Heyworth
|Nancy asks "Where are the music box people ?"|
Well, I'm here, and since there is a problem that has perplexed me for a while I'll throw it out to the group. I will intentionally make it a bit wordy in an attempt to catch up with the, to date, small amount of space devoted to musical box topics in MMD.
I am in the 23rd (+/-) year (not full time, I might add) of restoration of a 24.5" Mikado Polyphon and, as so many times before, feel that I am almost done. Of course this too, to paraphrase Nancy on her age, may be only a state of mind.
The question is with regard to tuning the combs.
To set the scene, as I received it those many years ago the box was in sad shape. Case painted red and gold, the motor, including the spring, painted with aluminum paint, many parts replaced with the equivalent of Popsicle sticks and bent tin cans and all sorts of other goodies including combs which had been buffed in inappropriate areas to eradicate rust.
This will be my topic for the day.
I knew the tuning was off, but it didn't seem too bad until I replaced the star wheels. At that point many previously softly-playing teeth chimed forth discordantly.
Fortunately I have a copy of Graham Webb's Disc Musical Box Handbook that has the tuning scale for the combs. After the appropriate transposition and a few weeks of dithering about whether it contained errors (I had an experience with that on another smaller Polyphon). I plunged in.
So far it seems that Graham is right, and now things sound a whole lot better. Nevertheless, before I do the final tuning I have the following questions.
1. The upper and lower combs seem to have been tuned Sublime Harmony.
Should they be and
2. If so, by how much ?
3. The octave stretch at the upper end is extreme. I have seen this in some cylinder boxes but is this normal for a Polyphon ?
4. Is the box likely to be tuned to equal temperament, or should I try for something different ?
Well, that's it. What are your thoughts ?
Guess - 47 years, 3 months
Sechelt, B.C., Canada
[ What's Sublime Harmony tuning? -- Robbie
(Message sent Sun 16 Feb 1997, 18:45:01 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)