My kid just got a new used bell kit (glockenspiel) for school (we were renting hers, but we just decided to buy a second-hand one from a kid who quit). The new bells have a tuning problem- every chromatic bar sounds the same as the note one half-step below. (The C# sounds like C, D# sounds like D, etc.) How can this be?

I know kids can whack these things out of tune, but it's every single chromatic note. Is there some way to adjust the rack or something that will uniformly tune the chromatics back to where they should be? Checking with the old bell kit, the natural notes (not chromatics) seem to be tuned correctly.

I don't even see how this could be possible- my kid explained the problem to me and I thought she was crazy. But there it is...

  • Stupid question - are you certain the # and b actually should be # and b, or could someone have substituted 'white keys' for them?
    – Tim
    Jun 2, 2020 at 17:14
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    @Tim All bars are labeled with their note names by engraved letters- not painted on, or anything like that. So the bars could not simply have been swapped or misplaced. (not a stupid question!) Jun 2, 2020 at 17:18
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    Are the sharp keys and their corresponding natural keys exactly the same length? Jun 2, 2020 at 20:06
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    The kid who quit needs questioning closely! Jun 2, 2020 at 23:18
  • Thanks for all the replies- I'm glad I'm not crazy. I returned the kit to the other mom. So I guess I'll never have my answers. For the questions: Just by looking, the C# seemed to be the same length as the C. But I didn't measure them. It was a glockenspiel (metal). All keys had their alleged letters engraved on them. All are removable, but they were not in the wrong order. Jun 3, 2020 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


I also don't see how this is possible, without some manufacturing mistake. Glockenspiel bars are very robust and no amount of kids banging on them could make them a half step lower, unless they used rocks or hammers.

That said, I'm afraid there's no easy solution. Adjusting the rack makes no difference to the pitch. The only way to fix it would be to shorten the chromatic bars on both ends, or making the ends thinner (by filing their undersides). Unless you're equipped to do this, you're probably better off getting another glockenspiel.

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    Thanks! I returned it. So it's academic at this point, but I'm still puzzled. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Jun 3, 2020 at 13:59
  • I would love to see your glockenspiel, because I'm still puzzled how this could happen. Jun 3, 2020 at 15:16
  • Sorry I didn't take any pictures- all of the keys had several indentures drilled into them on their bottom sides. Maybe some overzealous tuning gone awry? Jun 3, 2020 at 18:34
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    Who knows? I guess anything is possible. I've never seen a commercial metalophone with tuning marks, the bars normally have standardized lengths and are not tuned individually. Yes, perhaps someone retuned it by hand for whatever reason. Jun 3, 2020 at 18:54
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    The bars' pitch should be lowered "by making their ends thicker" or "by making their midpoints thinner", not "by making the ends thinner" - I think you just mistyped this.
    – Edward
    Jul 3 at 23:47

It is a manufacturing defect. I also have one with every bar a half step off. To play in G, I have to play in G#. Weird but true. The bars on mine are all mismarked by 1/2 step.


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