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An EMG,not quite what it seemed.
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Author:  Strobedisc [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:03 pm ]
Post subject:  An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

A few years ago after my father passed away, I acquired his collection of 78s, I brought the collection home and played them on my modern HiFi, when I say modern, I mean a Garrard 301, SME 3012, I think it’s modern anyway?

I must admit the novelty wore off and the records were packed away.

Roll forward to a few weeks ago and I started to browse the internet looking at acoustic gramophones, that led me to this forum and I began to focus on the EMG and Expert articles, I bought a copy of Francis James’ book, I was hooked.

However I quickly began to appreciate what rare beasts these machines are and accepted the likelihood of acquiring one slim. But a boy can dream.

I was walking past the local house clearance emporium just at the top of my road, glanced in and carried on, I went to cross the road but I stopped, turned back and went in. You can guess what I was thinking.

It’s a vast place full with old bed frames, smoked glass top coffee tables, lots of 1980’s black chipboard shelving units, you get the picture. As I said a boy can dream, but then I thought I was dreaming, for in front of me was an EMG Mk X base!!!
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However when I opened the lid, horror!
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Then I spotted the baffle speaker.
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Needless to say I had to have it. The seller said it was from a house clearance, it was one of many items left after various antiques dealers had been through the premises, a very large house in London, owned by a surgeon.

Sorry about the preamble, but I thought I would set the scene.

The motor board isn’t the original, it’s about 1/8th inch thinner than the original would have been and strips of wood raised it flush with the cabinet top. It’s been modernised twice, the new motor board has evidence of a quadrant speed controller and the name plate has been moved to accommodate an EQ switch. Also evidence of an earlier tonearm.
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I think it started life as an acoustic Mk X, spring drive, the winder hole has been blanked off.
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It was then converted to electric motor drive 78 rpm only with an electric pick-up and amplifier built into the cabinet. The amplifier is a strange item, single PP3/250 triode output, the component choices are a mixed bag.
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Then finally when microgroove records arrived, a 3 speed deck, new tonearm (Collaro Connoisseur) and the EQ switch added. The deck, a Garrard Model T is hardly high end, but it was probably considered fitting and quite novel at that time.

Was this done by EMG? The Newman St. badge suggests it was as cabinet predates it?
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Serial number to rear of cabinet, has anyone seen the like?

What happened to all the acoustic components? But more to the point where could I acquire all the acoustic components???

Your thoughts and comments would be most appreciated.
Thanks Tony

Author:  kirtley2012 [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Graham Rankin on here (emgcr) would be the one to look towards for acoustic components and restoration, he's done some top class restorations of EMGs, at least as far as internal conduit, a motor shouldn't be too hard to find and new motor board fitted, a tonearm would be tricky, as might be horn

It could be done by emg, the speaker baffle seems to have been bought from emg, first impression was it being a bit rough for emg to have done it, possibly adapted by emg then further adapted elsewhere with the current components, but you never know!

Author:  estott [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

If restoring it back to acoustic is a bit daunting you might consider taking it back to 78 electric, with better quality period components.

Author:  emgcr [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Well well well---that's quite a fascinating story and very many thanks for sharing. In actual fact it is not that uncommon for EMG/Expert gramophones and, because of the unusual nature of the beast, Frank James once said they are just as likely to turn up on a skip as at Sotherby's ! Many congratulations !

You have acquired a very fine Mk X base with superb (walnut ?) veneers probably built in the nineteen-thirties and subsequently modified (twice ?) in the nineteen-fifties by EMG themselves (once). This updating process was common practice as the Newman Street address confirms. The company was at that address from 1948 to 1967. Whilst your cabinet could have been a Mk X, Xa or Xb I think it probable that it may have been the earlier Mk X due to the lack of lateral gussets on the lid close to the hinge. It was found that the lid had a propensity to spread/warp if restraints were not present. There are two holes on the vertical faces of the lid jambs which would have once fitted two corresponding pegs in the lid itself which were an attempt to arrest the warping. The pegs are often missing. In addition, the full hinge points to the earlier date---smaller “counter” hinges on either side of the case came later.

The Mk X horn was not well designed in terms of structure and, like the Mk IX, did not have an initial bronze or aluminium casting long enough to support the rest of the exponential (papier appliqué) horn. These horns often collapsed and indeed I now know of only one extant. It is therefore possible/probable that the owner wanted to make good use of an itinerant but glorious base and had EMG convert to the state of the art after the war. The deck-board, tonearm, conduit and spring motor have been removed to make space for the amp’ and electric motor. As you say, the updating process seems to have been carried out twice but, due to the quality of the work, I do not think EMG were involved the second time around. It is interesting to see the installed gauze allowing egress of hot air from the amp where the horn outlet used to be. The replacement deck-boards are quite well-matched to the case showing attractive veneers. The rear vertical board would not, of course, have been present in the original acoustic design but was introduced to conceal the new tall amp’.

The conversion is consistent with other models produced in the nineteen-fifties. I have attached photos of mine showing a similar baffle speaker (Whiteley), knobs etc. In this case, I think the Lenco motor was fitted by EMG, as was the tuner. The nameplate is also 6 Newman Street. There is no number stamp but a friend with a similar model (last three photos) has the number 4715 on the back. I have never seen a five figure number before but I think investigation into post-war items has been limited. Chunny and Orchorsol on this forum may well be able to comment further. Similarly, my knowledge of the post war amps’ is very limited other than being able to say that quality and performance was very good judging by my own example :

It is quite a quandary as to which way to go with the restoration isn’t it ? What you have is eminently restorable although personally I might replace the motor and tonearm. If you would like to return to the original acoustic specification, I am sure the correct spring motor could be found but it would be good to assess the geometry allowing the escutcheon and blanked winding hole to be re-used. The position of the latter will determine the make/model of the original motor. I could supply a new aluminium conduit and blanking deck-board flange but your main problem will be to find a tonearm. These are rarer than hens teeth but you may be lucky enough to come across a ruined base unit perhaps due to damp or heavy woodworm infestation. Then you have the problem of the horn. Once again, these are very rare indeed but do surface from time to time. The larger the bell mouth diameter, the greater the bass reproduction. The standard Mk Xb measured 29 ½” and the Oversize 33 ½”.

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Author:  Orchorsol [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Just to add to emgcr's excellent appraisal, I'm sure the turntable and tonearm are likely to have been fitted by EMG - despite not being top quality at the time (though middling-good) and despite the tonearm appearing to have been re-mounted crudely at some later date. I have the remains of an electrical EMG unit (sadly lacking speaker and amplifier) which has the same Garrard turntable, modified in exactly the same way - (1) lever added to convert the deck's original auto start/stop as a manual on/off control, (2) the Garrard's own tonearm removed, despite leaving unsightly hole/slots in the metal deckplate, and (3) longer Collaro tonearm fitted instead, mounted separately on the wooden motorboard. Apologies, I don't have access to photos at present but will see if I can find them.

Author:  Strobedisc [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Hello Graham, thanks for your prompt and thorough response. Yes, it’s a walnut veneered case, yes the pegs are sawn off in the lid and there are corresponding holes in the base, the lid stay was also missing. The veneers are a bit scuffed, but the worst area is the blanking of the winding escutcheon. Sure it was done some 70 years ago and the veneer insert has shrunk back, but when originally done it was very roughly sanded, course scratches are visible under the finish and to disguise this, fairly crude graining was applied (which matches the graining on the motor board and vertical back plate, so all contemporary)

As I understand it? Originally EMG assembled main components bought in, the bases would have been from skilled cabinet makers, so when they were lured back from customers for conversion to the latest electrical mode the cabinets were reworked in house? not by skilled cabinet makers? hence the comparatively poor finish.

I am reassured by the common appearance of the amplifier in your set to mine, they seem to have a house style- Matt Black! Unfortunately the primary winding of my output transformer has gone open circuit due to a faulty capacitor, somewhat of a shame bit not unsurmountable.
I have read elsewhere on this and other forums, as to the sacrilege of vintage kit being tampered with, but I consider the initial “modernizing” of an Mk X to electrical reproduction to be far worse and have no compunction in returning it to its original state (funds permitting!)

Not that I am criticising the owner or EMG, had it not been for the 1950’s upgrade the base would not be in my possession. Nevertheless, today you wouldn’t remove the burners from a gas cooker and install a microwave inside it! But the post war world was a far different place.
I wonder if the original tonearm etc. are in the loft of the house where this all came from, who knows it might turn up on an auction site, or in a skip!

May I contact you directly regarding the parts you mention? This is my first posting on this forum and I’m not sure how that is done.

Author:  chunnybh [ Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Amazing find.
It's the first time I have seen an acoustic base that has been totally converted to electric. The parts are consistent with an EMG conversion.
I would suggest you restore this as is, so that it plays. The turntable and tonearm are a bit lame but original to the conversion. I am sure the unit will sound excellent with your 78's and mono vinyl. I assume it has a flip over stylus which you will need to replace. The amp will probably need to be recapped. Keep all the original capacitors with the unit and take lots of pictures of before and after.
I'm sure you will find a complete acoustic EMG sometime soon. Looks like you are tuned in.

Author:  emgcr [ Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

Good advice from Chunny and it would probably be cheaper and easier (certainly quicker) to find another acoustic EMG complete with all the missing pieces. You do have a unique conversion as far as any of us has experienced which is worth saving. It occurs to me that it would be possible to have your cake and eat it by making up new deck-boards having found all the missing acoustic parts which could then be interchangeable with the restored amplifier set-up. An artefact demonstrating the progress of technology is quite acceptable in my humble opinion ?

Tony, to get in touch, the method is to send a Private Message (pm). Having logged in, you will see the icon to click on at the bottom (left) of any post made by the person you wish to message.

Author:  chunnybh [ Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

The more I look at it the worse it gets. With the transformer blown, the messy turntable and that nasty tonearm... It hardly seems worth restoring as is.
I like the idea of keeping it as is for posterity but that walnut cabinet is quite special and even though it looks like it needs to be stripped, I'm sure it would look fantastic restored to it's original acoustic state. Perhaps Graham can work his magic with it. I can see one of his wonderful horns on it.

Author:  Phototone [ Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: An EMG,not quite what it seemed.

I don't know if tube numbers are different in England, but in the USA a UX250, or type 50 triode output tube was considered obsolete by around 1930. Vendors much preferring push-pull UX-245 of type 45. Much cheaper tube didn't require as much plate voltage. The "high end" triode output tube of choice was the 2A3, in consumer gear.

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