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How Many Types of Bells Are There?

We have been exposed to the sound of bells ringing from a young age. Most of us are familiar with doorbells, but there are different types of bells out there.

Each type of bell serves a different purpose and our brains have become attuned to associating the sound of a bell with its purpose automatically.

So, it was only fair to tell you about the most popular types of bells. There will be some you already know about on this list and some you will learn about. Let’s go through the list of various kinds of bells.

Church Bells

Church Bell in Church Tower

Do you know why the church tower features a bell? The purpose of the bell at a church is to ensure the sound travels throughout the town. You can ring the bell using a swinging headstock attached to a rope. When you pull on the rope, the bell will swing back and forth and bang against the clapper, to produce a loud sound. However, the church is not the only place of worship you will find a bell. You will also find a bell in a Hindu temple.

Hand Bells

Hand Bell on Desk

A hand bell is a miniature version of a regular-sized bell hanging on buildings. Hold the hand bell upside down or upright and move your hand back and forth. The clapper inside the bell will hit the sides of the bell to create a sound.

You can also buy a medium-sized hand bell, consisting of plastic or wooden handles. You can hold more than one bell in your hand due to their size. If you stop moving your hand, the bell will stop instead of continuing to move back and forth like a church bell. For this reason, you will find people using hand bells in performance events, calling people together, and getting people’s attention.

School Bells

School Bell Outside School

You will still hear the school bell ring when it is time to change classes. It also indicates how much time you have left to get to class as well as when school ends. However, back in the day, like churches, schools also had towers where they placed the bell, ringing it to dismiss students. Now, most schools play the sound of an electronic bell through their intercom system instead of having a physical bell or an electronically-operated bell.

Bicycle Bells

Bicycle Bell on Bike

Most people are familiar with this type of bell, having used it while riding a bike. You will find it on the handlebars. To operate it, flick it with your thumb to move the lever. The bell contains two loose metal discs that create a sound when you ring it.


Door Bell on House

At some point in our lives, we played Ding Dong Ditch where you ring the bell and run as fast as you can to avoid being seen and caught. But it does not serve the function to annoy people, but to alert them. You press it to tell someone you are the door, or someone presses it to tell you that they are at your door.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that everyone has heard a doorbell. Before you had a small physical bell hanging in front of the door, which people rang, but now, you have electronic doorbells.

Alarm Clock Bells

Alarm Clock BellsWe do not know how many people still use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning because ever since smartphones came on the scene, people wake up to their phone. There may be some who may still use a classic alarm clock or perhaps, they wake up to its sound, programmed into their smartphone. How do you wake up?


Cow Bell on Cow

In every cartoon featuring a cow, there is a cowbell around its neck. Some people may even use a cowbell as a musical instrument. However, farmers mostly place it on their cows. Cowbells help farmers keep track of their cattle. Another purpose they have is to scare off any predators that might come to hunt their cattle.

Cowbells have a tapered, hollow square with a clapper on the inside. When you shake the bell, it creates a sound. You will also find cowbells without a clapper in them. To ring them, you need a mallet or stick.

Call Bells

Silver Call Bell

Do you need to call someone in the building? Use a call bell to alert them that you need their assistance. A call bell, also known as a service bell or concierge bell, is placed on service desks. You will also seem them placed at restaurants and hotels.

Chime Bells

Chime Bells

Chime bells consist of less than 23 bells. They have been around since 1487 and are hung from a bar. When they clash together, they produce a sound. You will often find them placed outside homes. When the wind blows, chime bells create a sound.

Crotal Bells

Crotal Bell on Wall

Crotal bells are small and round, consisting of two halves of bronze attached together. Inside the bell, there is a pea-sized ball that clangs against the metal to create a sound. You will find them on horse-drawn carriages as they are used to alert people on the street. However, now, you will rarely see them.

Electric Bells

Electric Bell on Wall

Electric bells have been used for telephones, railroad crossings, burglar alarms, and schools. This type of bell consists of an electromagnet and electric currents. Together, they create a continuous buzzing or clanging noise. Old electric bells had a round bulb and a metal piece with a small ball at the end. When you apply the electric current, the metal piece moves from side to side against the metal bulb.

We know we are leaving some types of bells off the list, but we have tried our best to cover the most popular ones. Which one is your favorite one from this list, or have we left your favorite bell off the list? If we have, let us know.

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