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 Post subject: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:26 pm 
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Victor Jr
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 pm
Posts: 2
Hello,

I am brand new to this forum. I am going to look at a Columbia Grafonola G2 next week and would like to ask what I should look for when examining it. The price is $100. It is a floor model and the cabinet appears to be in very good condition. The owner says a previous owner had refinished it. It could used a new felt pad that the record sits on. He states that it plays very well and I will bring a couple of my 78 RPM records with me to try.

I have already learned that a new needle should be used after playing each record and have found a couple of sources on eBay.

The records in my collection that I inherited from an aunt are from the 1940 - 1955 period. Should these play ok on this machine?

If I should buy it, I would have to lay in down in the back of my small SUV. What precautions should I take with securing the tone arm? It is about 150 miles from my home.

Thank you, in advance, for any and all replies.

Steve/USA


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:55 pm 
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Victor III
I've got both kinds of music--classical & rag-time.
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am
Posts: 975
Location: South Carolina
Hi, Steve!

Welcome to the most enjoyable side of vintage audio gear!

Let's see. $100 for a Grafonola in good shape isn't too bad. I would have to see the "Refinish" job; if it was done in polyurethane that will devalue it considerably. You might not be as picky. At any rate, I bet it looks a lot better than the rough gator-hide effect of the cracking, damaged original shellac.

Should you buy it for the late-era records from your aunt's collection, I don't know if you will like the results. These kinds of machines WILL play them--my grandmother thought my 1914 Victrola was a 1930s model because in rural NC during her childhood, Victrolas were still circulating in furniture stores as a viable record player!

Late-era records often are over-recorded for the vintage machines. They will sound squawky and wear out a little faster than you would want. Rebuilding the reproducer would help, but the best bet is to find a more modern sort of phonograph such as a post-1925 "Orthophonic" Victrola, or "Viva-Tonal" Grafonola. I'm sure another member will chime in with suggestions.

Should you decide to buy it, I would, if I were you, take out the motor, turntable, and tone arm before transporting the thing. 150 miles is a long way, and Grafonolas use a potmetal elbow at the back of the arm which is often found broken nowadays. The jolting of an automobile was not the environment it was designed to last in, and 100 years later they have not improved with age. Pot metal is very brittle so remove it for best results.


Another option you might not have guessed--go purchase the Grafonola, then a small Columbia Viva-Tonal portable such as a a Model 163. Display both together, and get some early pre-1925 records for the G-2. Now you can have almost the entire first half of the 20th century's best music right there in your living room, played on original machinery. Cool, eh?

Best of luck and happy collecting!
Charles F.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:40 pm 
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Victor V
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:54 pm
Posts: 2538
The major problem that plagues these Grafonolas is the pot metal used in the tonearm and "elbow" (the part that connects the tonearm to the rest of the machine.) This pot metal corrodes and expands over time, limiting the movement of these parts. As long as you have full, unhindered, free movement of the tonearm in all directions, you're good. Slight hindrance can be remedied by removing the parts and sanding lightly with emery paper.

This type of machine was designed to play acoustically recorded records from pre-1925-ish. Fortunately these are readily available for peanuts. Your post-1940 records were really designed to be played with electrical amplification. As noted, they will play on your machine, but they will "overdrive" your reproducer/sound box.

Happy collecting!


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:18 pm 
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Victor IV
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Man who ride on tiger find it very difficult to dismount! Charlie Chan
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:29 am
Posts: 1712
Location: Temecula, CA
You present a problem that depends on your future plans for the right answer. If your reason for buying the Columbia is to get a record player for your 40s and 50s 78 rpm records, and you don't plan to buy any pre-1925 records, then you should pass on the Columbia and look for a turntable, like a Dual, that can play 78s, as well as 45s and LPs. Dual and Garrard record changers from the 1950s - 1970s are sold on Ebay. Many of the 78s that you inherited will be made of vinyl, often trademarked Vinylite, especially the ones from the late 40s and 50s. You cannot play vinyl 78 records with a steel needle on a heavy tonearm. They require a modern lightweight tonearm with a jewel stylus. Warning! Avoid buying one of the brand new, all-in-one record players, often with nostalgic names like Victrola. They are made to be as cheap as possible, and they sound it.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:05 am 
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Victor II
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:46 pm
Posts: 208
Location: Baltimore, MD
If you get the machine, take along a couple of flathead screwdrivers. Remove the turntable, needle cups, and the tone arm assembly and transport them outside the cabinet. I also usually remove the motor board as well.

This machine dates from the late 1910s to early 1920s. As others said, I would only play pre-electric recordings on it (about 1925 and earlier).


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:57 am 
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Victor Jr
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:44 pm
Posts: 2
First and foremost, thank you to all those that replied. I appreciate it very much!

I have about 70 records but do not need any dates on any of them to determine if they are pre or post electrified style recordings. I am pretty confident thought that they are all electrified style disc as several of the dust jackets speak of "ceiling prices" which would be from the WWII era.


If I would get two players, one for each style disc, is there an easy way to determine which is which?

And finally, if I would get the Columbia Grafonola that I am interested in, how does the tone arm come off for transport? If it moves freely across the record, should it just lift straight up? As far as the platter, does it just lift straight up and off? The idea of removing the motor before transport seems more complicated. But I am not sure how much expertise would be involved in removing the motor moving before this antique 150 miles. Any simple instructions that could be passed on to me?

Again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond.

Steven Meyer/OHIO


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:27 am 
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Victor VI
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Needle Tins are Addictive
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:32 pm
Posts: 3767
Location: Belmont, North Carolina
Normally, the tonearm can be removed by taking out the screws that hold it to the cabinet (motorboard), then to remove the turntable just lift it up off of the spindle (it might be tight but don't worry it will come off), then remove the motor by first removing the crank (unscrew it by rotating it counter-clockwise) then remove the screws on the corners of the motorboard (not the screws that are close to the center which attach the motor to the motorboard) after removing those screws, the entire motorboard (with motor attached) should just lift up out of the cabinet for transport... Lay the cabinet on its back and tie the lid closed so it doesn't flop around. When you get it home, just reverse the procedure...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia Grafonola G-2
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:48 pm 
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Victor IV
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:12 pm
Posts: 1429
Because the G-2 was fitted with a gradually tapered tonearm, and a reproducer with a relatively large mica diaphragm--similar in size to the one fitted to the Victor #4 sound box--a restored G-2 should do a fair job of playing mid 1930s-early 1940s era records, without excessive damage, or blasting, as this video indicates:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBHwUrY5hpE


I agree, though, if you want to preserve your aunt's records, it's best to play them on a good quality electrically amplified turntable, as would have been the case when the records were new. (It's true that all acoustic portable phonographs were sold throughout the 1940s into the 1950s, but they were hard on records, even when new.)

OrthoFan


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