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Maelzel Metronomes Explained.

One thing that quickly became apparent to me when I started collecting Antique Metronomes was the simple rule that the older the item, the better the quality, this still rings true today ( no pun intended! ). Especially when you compare the cheap, plastic or wood effect metronomes currently flooding the market. The build quality, materials and hand cut and finished workmanship of a mid period Victorian metronome is unsurpassed. Paquet, a French company and by far the largest manufacturer in metronome production history was founded in 1846 and many of their later units retained the same build quality even though material shortages after two World Wars curtailed the supply of quality materials and man-power. The firm progressed from hand assembly and custom fitting in the late Victorian period, to mass production by the start of the century and went on to manufacture in excess of 1.25 million metronomes.
 Robert Cocks and Cramer & Co of London, produced some of the finest metronomes ever made. Reliable, sturdy and utilizing only the finest materials and hand assembly techniques, these Victorian metronomes prove to be very popular today and arguably were the finest metronome manufacturers of the period.

Our units have the mechanisms removed and fully stripped, each part is ultrasonically chemically cleaned ( with the exception of the sealed mainspring ), re-assembled and lightly oiled. The cleaning of the exterior cases varies depending on the condition, appearance and general wear or damage. In most cases we undertake a sympathetic clean only in order to preserve originality and an antiqued appearance, leaving any heavy cleaning at the discretion of the new owner. The case seams are also re-glued if required internally and the units fittings, scale, pendulum and feet are all assessed, cleaned or replaced if necessary. Please read the metronomes description page carefully which will list any faults or flaws we encountered.
TIP: If you have a metronome that is experiencing limping or unexpected slow down's, take a soft bristle small pastry brush or half inch soft paint brush and gently brush over the entire mechanism concentrating on both toothed cogs and the nipple end of the pendulum escapement arm that contacts the exterior wooden case. ( you can find this point by looking down directly underneath your metronome's tempo scale. ). For optimum performance on any pyramid style metronome, try not to wind the unit to the absolute maximum stop but stop maybe a turn or half turn before.

What is a Metronome.

 Originally developed as a musical aural aid for musicians, to provide a set tempo that was variable between 40 to 208 beats per minute ( Lento - slow to Presto - fast ). This is achieved by the use of a sliding weight on a pendulum that is moved up or down the arm depending on the required tempo. The main purpose was to provide or assist in keeping a steady tempo and for timing during musical practise. The mechanism of spring driven cogs and wheels, escapement and pendulum has changed little in close to 200 years since the original patent was developed by Maelzel in 1815.
 There have been many minor and major attempts at improvements to the mechanism or device with numerous patent variations all based on the same principle, ranging from silent aids to electric pulse metronomes, pocket and watch metronomes, quartz crystal electronic to the more recent software or apps based metronomes.

Which one should I choose.

 Quite simply there is no "perfect metronome". I am yet to come across two metronomes that performed exactly alike, even two metronomes that both consistently achieve 60bpm. It is important to remember that units advertised on this website are in most cases 80+ years old and each one has developed it's own idiosyncrasies and the internal mechanisms, cogs and springs wear differently depending on use. Your choice really depends on what you intend to use the metronome for and whether it is for display purposes only ( for which this website is intended ), or as an occasional practice metronome. A large majority of our units are sold to compliment or match musical instruments, piano's or accessories, it then comes down to simply choosing the best metronome visually, with timing and tempo accuracy second place. It is also possible on units that have a slightly inaccurate tempo, to remedy the fault by setting the pendulum slider +/- the additional BPM. i.e on a metronome that is timed at 68 beats per minute, setting the pendulum slider to 52 ( SLOWER TEMPO ) would account for the 8 beat difference and result in 60BPM.
 Metronomes with a long runtime are normally an indication that the internal spring has not been exposed to excessive use, however this is not always the case and varies between manufacturers. Paquet manufactured metronomes generally have a runtime of between 40-60 mins. Lastly, and most importantly please read the items descriptions carefully, I try to list all fault and flaws so there are no surprises and the new zoom feature in the gallery should give a good indication of the units condition. ( you might have to "allow blocked content" in your browser ).

With or without bell.

 It is possible most of the time to choose a metronome that includes the addition of an audible bell that rings every 2,3,4,or 6th swing of the pendulum, depending on the setting that you select. The metronomes with bells and the additions of extra cogs, wheel and spring mechanisms can be very temperamental and difficult sometimes to ensure that they operate correctly on all four settings. They are extremely susceptible to the slightest knock or rough handling. With that being said, a bell is a great addition and provides a pleasing audible tone variation at little or no extra cost over a standard unit.
I also need to state that when we mail our metronomes, we do everything possible, packing wise to ensure that rough handling by the transit companies does not affect the fine adjustment of the bell settings. If you find that a delivered metronome's bell unit does not perform to the units descriptions page on this website, please contact us and we will supply a diagram of the adjustment screw or provide help in getting it working without having to return the metronome. Metronomes made by Paillard and Wittner and occasionally Paquet have a nasty habit of jamming the pendulum mechanism if the bell slider is moved while the pendulum is in motion. If this happens, stop the pendulum and hold it in a central position, gently return the bell slider to the home setting and run the metronome without the bell to ensure that it is operating correctly. To select the bell, make sure that you stop and hold the pendulum PRIOR to moving the bell slide mechanism. I am afraid that we will not cover the cost of returns for bell related issues.


 The relatively simple internal mechanism is the heart of the metronome and takes very little maintenance providing the unit is not roughly handled, shaken or dropped etc. It is very important not to over-wind a unit, stop turning the key at the slightest resistance, it is far better to let the metronome run down to flat and then re-wind rather than pushing your luck by winding too far. Generally 3 or 4 turns of a key should be ample to provide a 20-30 minute runtime. If your unit has a bell, hold the pendulum still and central when adjusting the four settings on the timing lever, try not to adjust the lever when the pendulum is in motion.
 Keep the metronome away from radiators and heat sources ( the wood panels are glued in most cases ) and could dry out the joints or warp the panels. Wax or polish the woodwork occasionally and if you are mechanically minded a light oil of the mechanism's internal cog spindles once a year should be ample, although not essential. A metronomes leaf mainspring is the workhorse of any unit, each end of this spring is retained by a simple hole / pin inside a brass housing, that allows the spring to be compressed and relaxed at at even rate and consistent compression. When the metronome is run completely down and the mainspring relaxed, this is when your metronome is most vulnerable to spring related damage, not actual over-winding. A good tip for longevity and care of a metronomes mainspring is to get into a habit of turning the key once or twice when your metronome is completely flat, before storing, this slightly tensions the spring, meaning any knock or jolt will not dislodge either end of the spring and result in a terminal fault. The anti-overwind feature built into nearly all metronomes is designed to ensure the spring remains tensioned, however due to the age of any antique metronome, the mainsprings do wear and relax over time and the anti-overwind is not as efficient as it was when the piece left the factory.
 Metronomes do not like water.......


 Please take into account when assessing a metronome offered on this website, that we utilise a zoom feature that in some cases exacerbates and enhances flaw's, scratches and damage etc. We prefer that a potential customer gets to see every detail before choosing a metronome and that there are no surprises when a unit is delivered. It is also important to understand that these metronomes are not new, in most cases they are between 70 and 140 years old. If you require a metronome that is perfect not only visually but also operationally and for it to be used as an accurate practice time keeping device, this is probably not the best place to be looking. We strongly suggest researching modern alternatives if accuracy and aural perfection is key.
Thank you for reading and for visiting our website.

Sold Archive

View our sold metronome archive for an idea of the quality and variety of pre-1950 antique metronomes.

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