Caring for Your Music Box: Maintenance Tips and Tricks

A music box is more than just a decorative piece – it’s a treasured keepsake that can bring back fond memories with every melodic chime. Whether you’ve received a custom tune music box from Only One Music Box as a special gift or treat yourself to one of their exquisite maple or rosewood boxes, proper care is key to ensuring your music box lasts for generations. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about maintaining your beloved music box so the music never stops based on our expertise.

How to Maintain a Music Box?

The beauty of a music box lies in its simplicity – a few small components working in harmony to produce those enchanting notes. With some basic maintenance, you can keep your music box in top condition:


Use only a completely dry, soft cloth to gently wipe down the exterior wood surfaces. Never use water, chemical cleaners or damp cloths, as moisture can cause the wood to warp, crack and degrade the inner mechanisms over time.


Find a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity to store your music box when not in use. The ideal conditions are around 70°F (21°C) and 50% relative humidity. Boxes with glass panels should be kept with the lid closed to prevent dust buildup.


Every few years, add a drop or two of quality lubricating oil to any external moving parts like the gears and the governor. Too much can cause grime buildup, so use it sparingly.


Don’t let your music box sit idle for too long. Give it a gentle wind every few months to keep the inner gears and springs in working order. Let it play all the way through until it winds down.

How Many Years Can a Music Box Last?

With proper care and handling, a well-made music box can last for decades – even centuries in some cases! Many antique music boxes from the 18th and 19th centuries are still playing today.

The key factors that influence a music box’s longevity are:


Boxes made from quality hardwoods like maple or rosewood tend to age better than cheaper composites or softwoods. The same goes for the metal components – boxes with brass fittings generally outlast those made with steel.


Music boxes individually assembled and tuned by skilled artisans using precision parts and techniques will stay in tune and working order far longer than mass-produced pieces.


If played regularly but not excessively wound, a music box’s inner workings will remain properly lubricated and freely moving, preventing jams or breakages.

By investing in a high-quality piece from a reputable maker like Only One Music Box and treating it with care, your custom tune music box could theoretically last over 100 years!

Can Music Boxes Be Repaired?

Yes, in most cases a professional music box repair technician can restore an older or damaged box back to working condition. However, extensive repairs can be costly, so prevention through proper maintenance is always preferable.

Common issues a repair shop can fix include:

  • Replacing worn or broken tines (teeth) on the music comb
  • Lubricating and adjusting internal mechanisms 
  • Repairing cracks or damage to the wood casing
  • Retooling custom music combs for antique and discontinued tunes

With vintage and antique boxes, it’s best to leave major repairs to experienced professionals who understand the unique inner workings and can properly source era-appropriate replacement parts.

Can You Overwind a Music Box?

Definitely – and it’s one of the most frequent causes of music box damage or jamming. Overwinding puts excessive tension on the inner springs and mechanics, eventually causing parts to wear out prematurely or even break entirely.

To avoid overwinding:

  • Never force the wind-up key if you feel increasing resistance or hear grinding noises
  • For most boxes, around 8-12 full turns of the key should be sufficient 
  • Let the box fully run down between windings
  • Don’t let it sit fully wound for extended periods

If your music box does get stuck in an overwound state, don’t try forcing it or taking it apart yourself. Seek help from the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician to resolve the issue properly.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Along with the main maintenance points above, here are some additional tips for keeping your Only One Music Box in pristine playing condition:

Mind the Movement

The inner “movement” contains the tuned music comb and many delicate parts. Avoid excessive shaking, jarring or button-pushing when the box is operating.

No Dust Covers

While a glass panel helps keep dust out, avoid using any external dust covers that could transfer moisture and condensation to the interior.

Steady Surface

Always place your music box on a flat, stable surface while playing to prevent rocking or vibrations from affecting the movement.

One Tune Per Wind

Don’t rewind the box before it completes its full tune cycle, as the mechanism needs this respite between plays.

Enjoy Your Music Box For Years to Come

By treating your music box with care and following these simple maintenance guidelines, you can ensure the breathtaking melodies of your custom tune will serenade you and loved ones for many years to come. Should you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly experts at Only One Music Box.