When we were kids my cousins and I used to sit on my grandmother’s back porch in the summer and listen to old 78 records on her Lawson hand crank phonograph. My grandmother purchased her record player in 1935 as a teenager for $15 with money saved from picking blackberries on her family’s farm. I don’t know if the records she had came with it, but many of the records were from 1908 and thereabouts. There were foxtrots and old gospel songs, but our favorite was a country song by Al Dexter called “Pistol Packin Mama” written in 1943. Check it out; I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it too.
Anyhow, when my grandmother passed away at age 96, she left me her phonograph. We transported it 266 miles home safely (contact me if you’re interested in how we transported this beast), cleaned it up, and did a little research on playing these records at home. There were many needles in the little cups, and while we were getting ready to transport it, dumped them all into the same box. After doing some research turns out there are different sizes of styluses (which is what phonograph needles are called) to control the volume of the playback. There is no volume control on the phonograph itself. Trust me, we looked for the knob. Taking a closer look at all the styluses I realized that there was indeed a very small difference in the thicknesses of the styluses. I spent a good
portion of one afternoon going through them, separating the sizes and throwing away any that looked rusty or worn down on the tip. I also found that you were supposed to throw away a stylus after 2 or 3 plays. These steel styluses were not meant to last, unlike the diamond tip styluses. I know for a fact that we never changed any of the styluses when we were kids, and probably there were many old damaged styluses that needed throwing away. Now that they were all dumped together, I had no way of knowing which ones were good, and which ones would ruin my records.
Here’s the kicker. Old records get dusty and dirty. Your records get ruined and less playable each time the stylus scratches the dirt and dust into the grooves of your record. Even if you do change your stylus every time you play a record (which can be VERY pricey at $7 to $36 per stylus) and keep your records very clean, records still get slightly damaged every time you play them. How did I solve this problem and preserve the antique records my grandmother gave me so I can pass them down to my nephews in years to come? Luckily, our studio has the capability to transfer these old 78’s to digital media. We have a Numark TTX turntable which has the capability of playing any 33, 45 or 78 record and converting it to digital media and preserving it for years to come. So now I can listen to my grandmother’s old records whenever I want or give a copy to whoever wants one, while preserving the records and saving money on styluses.
If you are interested in saving your old records and converting thm to digital media (CD’s or mp3’s) check out our website www.dtsrecordingstudio.com
to contact us.
From DTS Recording Studio,
this is Julie Schmidt Braeckman signing off for now.