Jack easily makes it in time again – –
I really don’t want to write anything about Covid 19 so last week I wrote about my wee parlor guitar. This week it’s about a different and equally beloved piece of musical equipment –
Many years ago I had a hankering for a wind-up gramophone (phonograph over here). So Wendy announced before one Christmas that we were going on a trip. She had done some research and found a gentleman who collected and sold ‘old technology’. He lived in a big old mansion house south of Edinburgh and he welcomed us graciously when we arrived.
The basement area was a warren of passages and side rooms that were probably originally cold storage for food etc. Each room had a different kind of ‘stuff’ – radios, TVs (including mechanical Baird Televisors), Medical equipment, telephones, scientific instruments – and on and on!
Eventually we reached the room with gramophones. Everything from old cylinder machines to 1960s Dancettes.
I had already gathered a fair collection of old 78 rpm records, everything from old Scottish traditional performers to Glenn Miller. But I wanted the kind of machine they were intended to be played on.
We chose a lovely old HMV machine and agreed a price. The gentleman then insisted on giving us a free box of needles too (I still have most of them).
For any readers not familiar with these machines – the turntable is driven by a powerful spring which is wound tight by the handle on the side. The needle picks up the sound vibrations and a diaphragm makes them audible, then feeds the sound to a horn. In my gramophone the horn is built in and opens behind two doors on the front. The doors are, effectively, the volume control. There are two levers beside the turntable, one controls the speed of rotation and the other is a brake which turns the rotation off or on. There’s no electricity involved at all.
The great thing is that my old 78s sound exactly as they should.
I often wonder about the previous owners, what they played on it and whether it had pride of place in their houses – I like to think it did, just like here!