I make instruments that are sometimes unorthodox and it serves helpful to mark the notes that each part of the instrument creates for ease of use. This is often done using metal punches.

The issue with this is marking chromatic instruments or instruments that aren't in C major - finding a metal punch for the pound symbol may be close enough, but the italic lowercase beta is likely going to need to be custom ordered.

Are there other notations for flat/sharp notes that are easier to "draw" than the ones commonly used in western scores?

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    When you say "notate," you don't mean anything about putting "dots on paper," right? You're talking about actually marking the instrument itself? Mar 8, 2022 at 17:26
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    The only alternative I can think of is plus and minus symbols. However they’re not universal or widely used and when they are they’re used mostly for chord symbols, not notes: D7-9, G7+11, etc. I would say a lowercase b might do the trick. Maybe you can find a simple font that resembles a flat symbol. Mar 8, 2022 at 18:05
  • Aside from Michael's suggestion of sticking with lowercase b, pretty much any other solution would also require special explanation. But if you're going to be doing much of this, maybe it's worth the special order just to get a "pointy bottom" to the "b"! Mar 8, 2022 at 19:22
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    An ‘italic lower-case beta’ looks like this: 𝛽. Are you sure you don’t mean a flat symbol: 𝄬? Mar 9, 2022 at 8:46
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    A pound sign is £. Are you sure you don’t mean a hash: #?
    – Rosie F
    Mar 9, 2022 at 11:07

3 Answers 3


Similar issues come up just typing with a typical US keyboard.

# pound sign is close to a sharp .

b lower case letter b is close to a flat .

If you can find a metal punch for the pound sign, I would expect you could find a punch for b too.

In print the flat is sometimes a bit lower than the letter, so if you could offset it a little, it could avoid confusion as a lower case letter, even better, use a smaller font too...

enter image description here

That's just assuming you cannot find a punch for the flat sign, or don't want to paint on the pitches, etc.


I'm assuming you are talking about something like these:

TEKTON 5/32 Inch Letter and Number Stamp Set (36-Piece) from Amazon

As long as you don't mind an extra blow of the hammer for some accidentals, you might try the German system of naming, where C♯ is "Cis" and A♭ is "As". If you have lower case letters (my set lacks them), it will look even better. Of course, you might confuse people with the "H".

See: https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/26839/how-do-you-phonetically-pronounce-all-of-the-german-note-names/26844#26844


Michael's solution is possible closest to the main system nowadys, as '#' and 'b' are massively used in IT environments for this matter, but could be argued that could not so common to find a '#' punch for what you ask for.

Theodore's alternative shows a definetly more easy way to achieve this, but requires to know the German notation (even it looks not so much complicated).

Both are good solutions, but another workaround that does not suit to use metal punches (or just requires custom ones and you stated to avoid), but maybe other kind of tools you could use, is to rely on Braille notation. This could be a little tricky to achieve, not friendly at first glance, and of course require to know the notation. However, it's an international notation and adds accesibility features to the instrument for a blind person or even for people with limitated vision.



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