Linking tunes to cylinder numbers for Reuge and Sankyo


Most manufacturers of music mechanisms link the name of the tune used to a number inscribed on the cylinder roll.
Both Reuge and Sankyo do. Reuge also stencils the number on the comb. The cylinder (with the comb) determines what tune is played.
A few manufacturers of music mechanisms, for instance Mapsa Switzerland, do not and for those there is no way to link the tune to the music mechanism.

For the period we try to represent, 1945 to 1990, Reuge and Sankyo are the main providers of music mechanisms and therefore this exercise is limited to those two. We contacted both Reuge and Sankyo to try to obtain from them the lists relating cylinder numbers to tunes. We never got a reply from Sankyo, but their web site strongly warns against taking over any content from them. They do publish on their web site a small list of tunes relating to numbers for the music mechanisms they presently offer. Reuge did reply (thank you) but said that such lists would not be made available. We can only speculate as to why these manufacturers take this point of view. They may consider this ‘Proprietary Information’ that they would like to protect. Why? For fear of imitation? That seems highly unlikely within the entrenched market both have, despite recent Chinese production.

From my point of view, this linking of tunes to numbers, and vice versa, is an important contribution to understanding and interpreting our cultural heritage in so far music boxes are concerned. Many music box lovers are interested in the tune played, certainly in buying one. We get many questions in that regard. We therefore decided to make our own lists based on our own Collection and not using any published information.

To link the tune to a cylinder number we need to have both access to the cylinder roll (able to open up the music box without destroying it) and a label indicating the tune. In some cases we were able to recognize the tune without label, but rare and only done when being absolutely certain. Unfortunately most of the labels indicating the tune have disappeared from the music boxes. Effectively we were able to identify approx 50 Reuge tunes and over a 150 Sankyo tunes. They are in the annex herewith grouped as ‘Songs/Tunes Alphabetically’ and ‘Songs/Tunes By Cylinder Number’ for both manufacturers.

Others, like manufacturers of music boxes, apparently have come up against the same problem (of not identifying tunes by cylinder numbers) and have composed their lists by giving tunes a number of their own. Schmid is one and World of Music Boxes is another one. But as they do not link to the number of the manufacturer of the music mechanism, they are no help in this regard. As an aside, over 700 tunes used in music mechanisms can be identified that way, probably half of the ones used in total, by my very rough estimate of approx. 1500 used in that period.



Reuge Tunes Alphabetically

Reuge tunes by cylinder number

Reuge Tunes by Cylinder Number

The Reuge system used over time is very straight forward. They only use numbers, either 3 or 4 numbers for identification (we found one 2 figure number but wonder in retrospect whether that one is correct). Mostly the numbers are good to read, as often repeated on the comb, and we feel relatively certain about this list, without claiming, however, that it is perfect, as mistakes are still possible. Most Reuge combs are in the 18, 19 and 20 teeth range and tune numbers do not differ depending on the number of teeth.


Sankyo tunes by cylinder number

Sankyo By Cylinder Number

Sankyo tunes Alphabetically

For Sankyo the lists are more uncertain. While Reuge seems to ink the numbers on open spaces, Sankyo inscribes them only on the cylinder, rather haphazardly and often around the cylinder pins making them hard and sometimes impossible to read. Also, any time a change is made to the music mechanism, Sankyo starts another way of numbering so that the same tune may come back with different numbers, very popular tunes with many numbers. The enclosed Sankyo lists should therefore be treated with some caution. Originally all music mechanisms were made completely with metal parts. As of the early seventies the first plastic wheel and axles were introduced and in time more and more parts were made of plastic. This resulted in music mechanisms in the nineties made mostly of plastic, with only the base (bedpan), cylinder and comb made of metal. Also, Sankyo produces a greater variety of music mechanisms, from the small 12 teeth or so used for instance in key rings, to 14 to 20 and even 23 teeth in normal sized mechanisms.

We can identify the following systems used by Sankyo for numbering: (Letters = L, Numbers = N)

That makes for 10(!) different systems, and leads to more uncertainty in the enclosed lists.

Sankyo may have introduced more identification systems after 1990, but that is not covered here as our Collection only covers the 1945-1990 period.


The 4 lists are not interactive and therefore will only be updated from time to time.
There are no audio files attached to the lists.

In the end we hope that, however modest the result of the effort is, it will be of some use as the hand of history will have generally preserved some of the most used tunes. Any additions the reader could give of confirmed links would be greatly appreciated.
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