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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:15 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 727
Location: Italy
Orchorsol wrote:
Marco, would you like a few sample Burmese Colour Needles free? Please PM me your address again if so, and I'll send them.

Can they be used without specific cutters/sharpeners? Also: can they be used without lubricating the records with paraffin and such? If positive, I'd be very glad to try them out, and eventually become an "advertising witness" of your new small business! ;)

Concerning your other points (wear, residues, mold etc.) unfortunately if they are hard enough to leave no residues at all, it means that they're even harder than steel needles and thus they're not so gentle on records. If they're soft enough to be really gentle on records, quite surely they leave some kind of debris. Reportedly, this debris is quite prone to facilitate mold gowth, with a multiplying effect if the record has been lubricated with paraffin. This practice was quite common in the "good ol' days". I have read reports on this forum about the quantity of dirt that these records release when cleaned, and how hard it is to clean them in deep, that was enough to keep me at large...


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:13 am 
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Victor O
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Keep'em well oiled
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:51 am
Posts: 69
Location: Madrid, Spain
I read somewhere, maybe in Francis James book, that a treatment was applied to EMG bamboo needles. The formula was a well kept trade secret. But somewhere I have read that it was no more than boiling the bamboo needles in melted paraffin. I bought a block of paraffin to do the experiment, but still I haven't tried it... Maybe one of these weekends I will try and report later.
Inigo


Last edited by Inigo on Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:08 pm 
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Victor III
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
Posts: 686
Location: near Utopia, UK
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Orchorsol wrote:
Marco, would you like a few sample Burmese Colour Needles free? Please PM me your address again if so, and I'll send them.

Can they be used without specific cutters/sharpeners? Also: can they be used without lubricating the records with paraffin and such? If positive, I'd be very glad to try them out, and eventually become an "advertising witness" of your new small business! ;)

Yes and yes! Originally BCN supplied them with a small strip of abrasive similar to a nail file, then with a strip folded in on itself with a hard springy outer in which the user inserted the needle and turned it. Neither are as easy or reliable for getting a good point as a proper sharpener - but it's possible with care and practice. Sorry the second photo is poor, it's a very small object.

No lubricants are necessary, but generally for best results, records have to be in very good condition with little or no wear (even then, a few with particularly high or complex modulations may be difficult), soundbox and tonearm in good order, and the machine dynamically levelled. By 'best results' I mean very few premature failures of the point - it either lasts the side or it doesn't. All exactly as with fibre needles.

I do occasionally use miniscule amounts of ibota wax for difficult records - just a few very small particles are enough - but I don't like using any other lubricants.

Thank you in advance Marco, if you find the thorns satisfactory!

Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Concerning your other points (wear, residues, mold etc.) unfortunately if they are hard enough to leave no residues at all, it means that they're even harder than steel needles and thus they're not so gentle on records. If they're soft enough to be really gentle on records, quite surely they leave some kind of debris. Reportedly, this debris is quite prone to facilitate mold gowth, with a multiplying effect if the record has been lubricated with paraffin. This practice was quite common in the "good ol' days". I have read reports on this forum about the quantity of dirt that these records release when cleaned, and how hard it is to clean them in deep, that was enough to keep me at large...

I'm not sure whether 'no residue'='harder than steel' is 100% true - cohesiveness might be a separate matter - it would be interesting to investigate scientifically. I've never had first-hand reports of mould growth related to fibres or thorns, and I've bought a few very old collections myself which had always been played with fibres or thorns (but had no mould) so I'm not yet convinced that the connection is valid - but again I don't know for certain. I think damp conditions must be more significant, or at least in combination. Also I've bought other records with surface mould which have cleaned up fine (totally unlike mould on cylinders which eats into the surface). Also some with nasty old surface treatments that are impossible to remove, yes! But usually they play fine after a wash, nevertheless. Sure, they need cleaning but I don't think ultra-deep cleanliness is all that important for playing on acoustic equipment - only for hi-fi/archival purposes.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 2:24 pm 
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Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2241
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
The pros and cons of steel versus fibre or thorn needles have been argued for over 100 years. I use all types, depending on which of my machines I am operating.

When I acquired my Expert Minor I amassed fibre needles (HMV old stock) and cutters to cut them, thorn needles of various makes and sharpeners to sharpen them. The best in my unscientific opinion are the black I.M. thorns in their distinctive "top hat" boxes, unused examples of which can still be bought at a price.

One argument against fibre and thorn needles which I have read is that they generate excessive heat, which according to their detractors burnishes the record grooves and eventually leads to loss of detail. I am no scientist, but I do know that steel is a good conductor of heat and that wood is not.

In defence of steel, I have records from my father's (1914-2010) and my grandfather's (1885-1963) collections which have always been played with steel needles and show no signs of wear. Those original owners who changed their needles after every play had no trouble. It is those penny pinchers who used the same steel needle multiple times until they noticed a deterioration in sound quality who have given them a bad name.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:11 pm 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:31 pm
Posts: 601
Location: Claremont, NH
An often missed point with wear of materials is that a soft material often wears less than the harder material. Contaminants will embed into the softer material and the contaminants often being abrasive will wear the harder surface. A lap for enlarging a hole in hardened steel is made of soft brass and treated with an abrasive compound. The compound becomes embedded in the brass lap and most of the wear ocurrs to the steel. The old fibre needles uses parifin as a lubricant.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:23 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 858
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Can they be used without specific cutters/sharpeners? Also: can they be used without lubricating the records with paraffin and such? If positive, I'd be very glad to try them out, and eventually become an "advertising witness" of your new small business! ;)

Concerning your other points (wear, residues, mold etc.) unfortunately if they are hard enough to leave no residues at all, it means that they're even harder than steel needles and thus they're not so gentle on records. If they're soft enough to be really gentle on records, quite surely they leave some kind of debris. Reportedly, this debris is quite prone to facilitate mold gowth, with a multiplying effect if the record has been lubricated with paraffin. This practice was quite common in the "good ol' days". I have read reports on this forum about the quantity of dirt that these records release when cleaned, and how hard it is to clean them in deep, that was enough to keep me at large...


My 10-cent worth, Marco:

- A sharpener is required for the thorns, unless you are a sharp shooter and can maintain your arm at a fixed angle while you rotate your fingers for the time it takes to hone the tip over a flat sandpaper.

- I attest the quality of Orchorsol's needles, they are as good as the vintage thorns, and compare well even with the black IM top hat ones.

- As Orchorsol mentions, I only play records that have little wear. The thorn normally wears down excessively when playing worn records.

- The thorn does wear even when playing new records: it can be noticed at the tip. I always resharpen it after one play

- I never applied wax or paraphin on records, and I use a dust bug (record cleaner with an arm, quite popular in the 70s), so any residues generated by the thorn are caught by the dust bug roll

- None of my records grew mold, due to the utilization of thorns or otherwise. I think the relevant factor there is environmental control, when you keep them in a clean, dry and thermally controlled environment the mold will not grow

- As Epigramophone mentioned, it is true that the thorn heats up to higher temperatures than the steel, and it will damage some compositions of records: US Grey Gulls from the 20's are particularly susceptible, as well as most of the records produced in the US from the mid 40s onwards, German Amigas from the late 40s and 50s etc. Some mixes are robust, like English HMVs and Parlophons from the 50s.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:53 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
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Location: near Utopia, UK
Django wrote:
An often missed point with wear of materials is that a soft material often wears less than the harder material. Contaminants will embed into the softer material and the contaminants often being abrasive will wear the harder surface. A lap for enlarging a hole in hardened steel is made of soft brass and treated with an abrasive compound. The compound becomes embedded in the brass lap and most of the wear ocurrs to the steel. The old fibre needles uses parifin as a lubricant.

An interesting point! (Pardon the pun.) The original patents of 1928-9 emphasise the thorn needle being of similar hardness to the record surface, just slightly softer.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:16 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
Posts: 686
Location: near Utopia, UK
epigramophone wrote:
When I acquired my Expert Minor I amassed fibre needles (HMV old stock) and cutters to cut them, thorn needles of various makes and sharpeners to sharpen them. The best in my unscientific opinion are the black I.M. thorns in their distinctive "top hat" boxes, unused examples of which can still be bought at a price.


Imhofs produced I.M. needles I believe from 1937. They had a resinous coating, as did the first BCNs in the late 1920s, although BCN discontinued the coating by late 1930, and The Gramophone magazine's Expert Committee review found no deterioration in performance with the change. Resinous coatings are also described in the patents but indicated as optional. I'm experimenting!

Incidentally, Imhofs had also been one of the first UK agents for BCN in the late 1920s.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:01 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 727
Location: Italy
Orchorsol wrote:
Yes and yes!


Thank you very much Orchorsol, in this case I will be very glad to accept a small sample of your fibre needles, thank you! I will send you a PM with my address.

epigramophone wrote:
One argument against fibre and thorn needles which I have read is that they generate excessive heat, which according to their detractors burnishes the record grooves and eventually leads to loss of detail. I am no scientist, but I do know that steel is a good conductor of heat and that wood is not.


Indeed this is a point that I forgot to mention, although it doesn't worry me very much. As you anticipated, the heat generated by a steel needle is rapidly conveyed to the chuck, and from there to the soundbox, which is a massive metal object that acts as a very efficient heat sink. This doesn't happen with fibre needles, which as you have correctly written are a heat isolator: the heat will stay there where it was produced. And finally, being shellac compounds moldable with heat, the heat may melt and deform the grooves.

I think, however, that should this damage be really conspicuous, there would be a general consesus that fibre needles should be avoided, while many people are enthusiast about them. Incidentally, this recalls me that with Hi-Fi microgrooves sometimes I saw reported data like temperature and pressure at the tip on loud passages, and they were out-of-this world figures, I don't remember them exactly but it was like hundreds of degrees and a ton per square inch. As a physicist, I believe that these figures, which have no practical meaning for the end user, are reported only to impress people and confuse matters that would be otherwise fairly easily understood. It is absolutely obvious that vinyl would melt/pierce at temperatures/pressures like those mentioned, but as this never happens and people all over the world happily enjoy their microgrooves, it will be understood that the matter at "micro" scale doesn't behave as it would at "normal" scale. It is interesting to note that this characteristic of the matter was already observed and described by Galileo Galilei, and perhaps by others before him. He made the example of a wooden crane engineered to lift (say) 1 ton without crashing, and he compared it with a scale model (say 1:100) of the same crane layout made with the same material, observing that the scaled-down model could lift without crashing wheights much heavier than those calculated just dividing by the scale. That is: smaller objects are by nature stronger than their bigger counterparts. This is basically why "nano"-scale technologies are considered so promising since at least two decades, although I have yet to see any nano-object that may have a signifcant impact over my everyday life, but we'll see what future brings. Also, this is why ants can lift objects much bigger than they are, although the documentary speaker will unavoidably talk about their unbelievable force in order to impress the audience, systematically forgetting to mention that they're helped by their small size. But we're digressing.

Summarizing: although it is very likely that fibre needles produce more localised heat than steel needles, it is however observed that this excess heat is mostly unharmful. I suspect that the small scale at which this all happens, helps the matter to deal with it.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Fibre needles and others
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:26 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:31 pm
Posts: 601
Location: Claremont, NH
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Orchorsol wrote:
Yes and yes!


Thank you very much Orchorsol, in this case I will be very glad to accept a small sample of your fibre needles, thank you! I will send you a PM with my address.

epigramophone wrote:
One argument against fibre and thorn needles which I have read is that they generate excessive heat, which according to their detractors burnishes the record grooves and eventually leads to loss of detail. I am no scientist, but I do know that steel is a good conductor of heat and that wood is not.


Indeed this is a point that I forgot to mention, although it doesn't worry me very much. As you anticipated, the heat generated by a steel needle is rapidly conveyed to the chuck, and from there to the soundbox, which is a massive metal object that acts as a very efficient heat sink. This doesn't happen with fibre needles, which as you have correctly written are a heat isolator: the heat will stay there where it was produced. And finally, being shellac compounds moldable with heat, the heat may melt and deform the grooves.

I think, however, that should this damage be really conspicuous, there would be a general consesus that fibre needles should be avoided, while many people are enthusiast about them. Incidentally, this recalls me that with Hi-Fi microgrooves sometimes I saw reported data like temperature and pressure at the tip on loud passages, and they were out-of-this world figures, I don't remember them exactly but it was like hundreds of degrees and a ton per square inch. As a physicist, I believe that these figures, which have no practical meaning for the end user, are reported only to impress people and confuse matters that would be otherwise fairly easily understood. It is absolutely obvious that vinyl would melt/pierce at temperatures/pressures like those mentioned, but as this never happens and people all over the world happily enjoy their microgrooves, it will be understood that the matter at "micro" scale doesn't behave as it would at "normal" scale. It is interesting to note that this characteristic of the matter was already observed and described by Galileo Galilei, and perhaps by others before him. He made the example of a wooden crane engineered to lift (say) 1 ton without crashing, and he compared it with a scale model (say 1:100) of the same crane layout made with the same material, observing that the scaled-down model could lift without crashing wheights much heavier than those calculated just dividing by the scale. That is: smaller objects are by nature stronger than their bigger counterparts. This is basically why "nano"-scale technologies are considered so promising since at least two decades, although I have yet to see any nano-object that may have a signifcant impact over my everyday life, but we'll see what future brings. Also, this is why ants can lift objects much bigger than they are, although the documentary speaker will unavoidably talk about their unbelievable force in order to impress the audience, systematically forgetting to mention that they're helped by their small size. But we're digressing.

Summarizing: although it is very likely that fibre needles produce more localised heat than steel needles, it is however observed that this excess heat is mostly unharmful. I suspect that the small scale at which this all happens, helps the matter to deal with it.


To consider heat in this equation, you have to factor in time. Being that the needle is in motion, I think that the effect of heat, unless it is extreme will be negligible. In regard to thermal transfer you have to consider that the heat is primarily generated by friction. The steel and fiber needles are likely to have different coefficients of friction. Lubrication such as paraffin will reduce friction and heat. If I were to attempt to produce some fiber needles I would try to make them as close to the old school needles as possible, paraffin and all.


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