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The Best Music Box

Last updated on July 10, 2023

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

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Our Picks For The Top Music Boxes

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Officygnet Engraved Hand Crank Music Box

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Officygnet

Engraved Hand Crank Music Box

Carved by hand, this palm-sized wooden music box features an engraved message that makes it the perfect gift. You can choose from different messages designed for family members. The box plays music once it’s hand-cranked.

Overall Take

Great GiftIf you’re looking for a gift for your mother or wife, this music box with a loving message is sure to please.

 Runner Up

Fezlens Carved Wood Hand Crank Music Box

Fezlens

Carved Wood Hand Crank Music Box

Choose from a variety of popular screen classics with this small music box. The attractive wood and detailed carving make it a classy and cute addition to any décor. The sound mechanism operates with the use of an old-fashioned hand crank.

Overall Take

Fun and UniqueThis music box is perfect for the movie lover in your life, with soundtrack and holiday-themed options.

 We Also Like

Youtang Metal Movement Hand Crank Music Box

Youtang

Metal Movement Hand Crank Music Box

This mini music box features wood with an attractive vintage design. Choose one of several different melodies and kick off the music by turning the hand crank. A variety of designs and colors will fit your tastes no matter what they are.

Overall Take

Fun Design OptionsIntricate designs make this hand crank-style music box with exquisite sound a true conversation starter.

 Strong Contender

Ucuber Lightweight Engraved Wood Hand Crank Music Box

Ucuber

Lightweight Engraved Wood Hand Crank Music Box

Fans of "The Wizard of Oz" will love this music box, which plays "Over the Rainbow." It’s made from high-quality wood, and the parts are designed for precision. A small size and lightweight build makes it a nice little token you can take with you.

Overall Take

Precise MovementMade from high-quality materials, this music box is lightweight and durable with precise movement.

Buying Guide

Music boxes were a high-tech item when they were first introduced in the 18th century, allowing users to listen to automated music. Today’s music boxes don’t work much differently than the first ones, but they’ve become a novelty item that offers nostalgia to some and are a curiosity to others.

Music boxes use a metal cylinder that rotates as a spring or a hand crank moves it. Pins protrude from the cylinder, and those pins strike prongs on a steel comb as the cylinder moves. When the pins make that strike, the prongs vibrate, which causes the tunes that emit from the music box. Short prongs make higher notes, while longer prongs make lower notes.

They may not be as popular as they were when first introduced, but there’s definitely a unique retro feel to them. They make great gifts, especially for younger generations who may not have seen them before. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes with different themes and are made from various materials.

Another thing that can make music boxes highly giftable is how customizable they can be. This starts with the choice of music. You’ll find tunes you’ve never heard, tunes from familiar movies and TV shows and well-known classical songs. If a loved one has a favorite song, a music box that plays that tune could be a big hit.

The look and feel of the music box is another way to customize a gift. Various types of wood are available, and some versions come in bright colors as well as neutrals. You can get one that features a sentimental quote or a poignant message, making them great for expressing your feelings for a loved one.

Of course, you might be buying a music box for yourself. If so, you can find one that fits your own personal style or matches your décor. For a music box that’s designed to store jewelry, check to make sure it’s the right size for all your valuables.

What to Look For

  • Music boxes aren’t always designed to store valuables. If you’re looking for one that holds jewelry, you’ll need to check the inner compartment to make sure it’s made for that purpose.
  • Note that small music boxes will not be large enough to play entire songs, so you’ll generally get a recognizable chorus or snippet of a song instead.
  • Some jewelry boxes have a rotating, “dancing” object inside, such as a ballerina or a unicorn that spins in time with the music. It’s usually attached to a spring so it bends to fit when the lid is closed. This might make a great gift for a young person.
  • The inside of the lid of many musical jewelry boxes may have a mirror or an engraved message. These little extras can be a nice touch.
  • Musical jewelry boxes rely on a cylinder turning for a melody to play. Some have a hand crank, while others use a spring. With the spring-bound method, you simply crank until you can’t, and the music starts playing. Still others rely on a battery. With those, you simply flip a switch and enjoy.
  • If you choose a music box with an engraved message, check the quality of the engraving. Some are hand-carved, while others are printed. The same goes for the design on the exterior of the box. Hand carving can last longer than printed designs.
  • Pay close attention to the dimensions of any music box. Small ones can fit in the palm of your hand while larger sizes can hold more valuables and provide useful storage space.
  • Some jewelry boxes play music from popular movies or TV series. Check the logos and music carefully to make sure they’re true to the originals.
  • Music boxes can be made from a variety of materials. Real, solid wood can weigh them down a little, but if the box is made with quality instruction, it’s likely to hold up longer than one that’s made from manufactured wood or plastic.

More to Explore

Long before smartwatches were invented, people used mechanical watches to tell time. These devices wound with a spring, then unwound over the course of a day to keep time. The wind-up music boxes still sold today operate on a similar concept.

So, it’s likely no surprise that music boxes were inspired by the work of clockmakers. In earlier centuries, bells were inserted into clocks to alert people to the time. Some would chime at the start of the hour, for instance, or at one specific time of the day. It was this chime that inspired two German inventors to make music using the same technology.

The timeline of the invention of music boxes varies depending on which source you give credence to, but according to some, Hasler and Heinlien gave Emperor Rudolf II with an automatic musical clock in 1601. Around 1750, Pierre Jaquet-Droz created the first musical clocks. And in late 1700s Switzerland, a watchmaker from Geneva named Favre is usually given credit for the first cylindrical music box with a metal comb and tuned teeth.

The invention, of course, led to other sound innovations, including the first interchangeable circular disc music box, the Symphonion, from German Paul Lochmann. In the same era, the invention of the phonograph — credited to Thomas Edison in 1877 — soon changed things up.

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