The Talking Machine Forum — For All Antique Phonographs & Recordings

It is currently Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:24 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:14 am 
Offline
Victor Jr
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:45 am
Posts: 2
Location: Isle of Man, UK
Hello all I am new to the forum.

I recently acquired a Columbia Gramophone unit that is in beautiful working condition but I would like to keep it that way.

Can anyone suggest tips on care, and preservation of both the player and records? ( It came with about 50 vintage 78's)

Also it is really loud with the one needle that it has. Should I get "Soft" needles?

Also - the reproducer itself is heavy on the record, should it have free rotation or should it be firm but moveable?

Thanks very much and thank you for adding me! :)


Attachments:
3.jpg
3.jpg [ 58.64 KiB | Viewed 277 times ]
2.jpg
2.jpg [ 35.39 KiB | Viewed 277 times ]
1.jpg
1.jpg [ 39.01 KiB | Viewed 277 times ]
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:36 pm 
Offline
Victor IV
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:12 pm
Posts: 1558
Welcome to the forum!

shannick10 wrote:
Also it is really loud with the one needle that it has. Should I get "Soft" needles?


It only came with one needle? If this is a steel needle, then it was designed to play only ONE record before being changed--preferably ONE side of ONE record. You'll want to get yourself at least a couple of packs of steel needles, which are available from a number of sellers at varying prices, as well as on eBay. Needles normally come in packages of 100.

As for volume, a soft tone needle will provide a softer, more mellow sound. Along this line, if the reproducer or "sound box" is in its original state, and has never been overhauled, you might consider having it rebuilt with fresh gaskets, etc., and adjusted before playing too many records. This will greatly improve the overall sound quality.

shannick10 wrote:
Also - the reproducer itself is heavy on the record, should it have free rotation or should it be firm but moveable?


It should have free rotation without a hint of binding, though the movement should be without shake. I'll let others chime in about the tonearm restoration.

If you can find a copy, an excellent guide to keeping your gramophone in pristine running condition is "The Compleat Talking Machine," by Eric Reiss ( https://www.amazon.com/Compleat-Talking ... 1886606226 ). It walks you through most basic maintenance tasks.

OrthoFan


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:26 pm 
Offline
Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2858
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Your Columbia is a Console Model 154a which cost £15.15s (£15.75) when new in 1929. The catalogue image is shown below.
The volume can be controlled by the "Tone Shutters" in front of the horn mouth, or as others have said by different grades of needle.


Attachments:
Image.jpg
Image.jpg [ 619.31 KiB | Viewed 240 times ]
Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:36 pm 
Offline
Victor IV
I've got both kinds of music--classical & rag-time.
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am
Posts: 1372
Location: South Carolina
Of course it's loud. The horn is a bifurcated folded metal horn and the reason it's like that is because it would be huge if it were on top! It was designed to play the new electrically-recorded 78s that came out after 1925. The microphone & tube-amplified recording cutters were able to make more detailed recordings and they took a new breed of gramophone to play them to their fullest potential. You happen to have one of those potent machines.

The soundbox should be a No. 9 and that is a reliable little box that usually sounds great. I have a Grafonola 202 with the same soundbox (it's a portable machine shaped like a little typewriter case) and it works wonderfully on just about all records.

What OrthoFan said about needles is entirely correct. The No. 9 soundbox has a triangular needle hole that would allow you to use bamboo or fiber needles if you can find them and the little trimmer for them--that really can soften the sound. I was playing a 1914 Victor Victrola with some original fiber needles today and they filter a lot of the crackly old-time-record sound out of the music. Some records work a lot better with fiber needles than others--and you can sharpen them with a needle trimmer or, if you're careful not to split them, a pair of fingernail clippers.

The slats on the front will actually adjust the volume--You probably already knew that but some folks who haven't seen a gramophone before don't know that. It's one of Columbia's best features.

The machine should turn itself off automatically at the end of the record. You can see near the tonearm base a little chrome protrusion appearing under the turntable. Moving this should help set the brakes and the tonearm will click against it at the end of the record, setting the brakes and stopping the motor. The motor is a Garrard that is probably in very good working order but a tiny bit of gun oil, clock oil, or sewing-machine oil will usually smooth them out even more. Put it where shafts turn in holes (the bearings) and don't get it on the fiber gear (drives the governor.) You might want to service the motor if it is making thumping noises.

Tonearms on Columbias (yours is a "Plano-Reflex" arm, which is cool--nothing had a more Art Deco look) usually are pretty fragile things. Make sure there is grease in the bearing at the back, or drip some 30-weight automobile motor oil in there very carefully. Fresh oil, of course! This will help seal things up.

The "gooseneck" or crook of the tonearm should flex freely up and down and the pivot in the back should turn smoothly. The tonearm is going to be heavy but it should not grind up your 78s to powder--they didn't last 100 years being played on worn-out machines.

There are 2 cups for different tones of needle, and the covered cup directly under the tonearm rest is for disposing of used ones. Thought that would make things easier for you--just put the needle over it and turn the thumbscrew and the old needle should fall right out. I have a 1909 Columbia horn gramophone that doesn't have cups at all--you hang the needle over the side, push a lever, and it spits it out onto the table. Makes quite a mess. Glad yours had modern conveniences.

Oh, and don't polish it with Pledge or silicone-containing polishes. Use a good old-fashioned oil polish or Renaissance Wax or such to keep the wood clean, and dust it with a clean towel. Endust spray or Pledge will make it look like the baseboards of a mens' bathroom.

You have a beautiful and functional machine. Stick around on the Forum! The only thing better than a new gramophone is getting into a hobby of enjoying it and all the records you will want to listen to.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:48 am 
Offline
Victor Jr
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:45 am
Posts: 2
Location: Isle of Man, UK
Hi and thanks for the response and information, looks like we have a good one here!

I have ordered some more needles and will let you know how I get on. We couldn't believe how loud and clear it was for such an old device. Must've been well looked after.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:43 am 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
shannick10 wrote:
looks like we have a good one here!

You can say it loud: you entered the realm of gramophones escorted by one of the most reputed machines of all times! Excellent purchase!

While on one hand it is correct what already introduced by others - that the front blinds are a volume control - on the other hand it is advisable that you use needles as soft as possible in relation to the listening volume that you prefer, as the softer the needle, the more gentle it will be on the record. Ideally you should always listen - at the volume which fits your taste - with the blinds fully opened, which means that you're using a needle as soft as possible.

Concerning the needles, I can't recommend highly enough those provided by soundgen, who happens to also be a member on this forum: try to contact him by sending a private message. I suggest you buy a pack of his "soft tone" and another of his "extra soft tone" needles. Being your machine an orthophonic with folded horn it plays exceptionally loud, so I can hardly figure you ever wanting to play a record with a full tone or loud tone needle.

Since your gramophone is of such high quality, I also warmly suggest you try out thorn needles, which are made in a natural material that is seemingly (there's some debate on this point but let's skip it...) very gentle on records but most of all delivers a very mellow and pleasant tone. Fellow Orchorsol, who is a young and very nice chap, very active on the forum, recently pick up the business and I'm sure will be glad to introduce you to these needles, which require some learning in order to be used correctly but are highly reputed among gramophone enthusiasts.

Enjoy your Columbia and please keep us updated with your progress!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:45 am 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
Posts: 871
Location: Dover, UK
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
shannick10 wrote:
looks like we have a good one here!

You can say it loud: you entered the realm of gramophones escorted by one of the most reputed machines of all times! Excellent purchase!

While on one hand it is correct what already introduced by others - that the front blinds are a volume control - on the other hand it is advisable that you use needles as soft as possible in relation to the listening volume that you prefer, as the softer the needle, the more gentle it will be on the record. Ideally you should always listen - at the volume which fits your taste - with the blinds fully opened, which means that you're using a needle as soft as possible.

Concerning the needles, I can't recommend highly enough those provided by soundgen, who happens to also be a member on this forum: try to contact him by sending a private message. I suggest you buy a pack of his "soft tone" and another of his "extra soft tone" needles. Being your machine an orthophonic with folded horn it plays exceptionally loud, so I can hardly figure you ever wanting to play a record with a full tone or loud tone needle.

Since your gramophone is of such high quality, I also warmly suggest you try out thorn needles, which are made in a natural material that is seemingly (there's some debate on this point but let's skip it...) very gentle on records but most of all delivers a very mellow and pleasant tone. Fellow Orchorsol, who is a young and very nice chap, very active on the forum, recently pick up the business and I'm sure will be glad to introduce you to these needles, which require some learning in order to be used correctly but are highly reputed among gramophone enthusiasts.

Enjoy your Columbia and please keep us updated with your progress!

Young? :lol: Oh, you're too kind Marco!

To the owner of the Columbia, congratulations and welcome to the forum, and to the passion for these wonderful things! If you'd like a few free sample thorn needles please send me a PM (private message) on here.
BCN thorn needles made to the original 1920s specifications
www.burmesecolourneedles.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:13 am 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
Orchorsol wrote:
Young? :lol: Oh, you're too kind Marco!

In the gramophones' field we're allowed to stretch the concept of "young" very much. For this reason, I expect the word "young" to be applied to me just as well, of course! :D


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:54 pm 
Offline
Victor III
User avatar
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:51 pm
Posts: 644
Location: USA
I had a chance to buy one of these machines about 12 years ago, but passed on it. Based on the endorsements in this thread, that may have been a poor decision. :monkey:
Best regards ... AZ*


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola Viva Tonal
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:16 am 
Offline
Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2858
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
In the UK Columbia machines are underrated and undervalued, making them bargains for those able to see beyond the letters HMV.
Both companies made a quality product, but for whatever reason it is HMV that today's market wants.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Americanized by Maël Soucaze.