How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

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solophoneman
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How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by solophoneman »

The B&H Fibre needle was a unique alternative to the regular steel needles that were designed to play 78rpm records in the early part of the 20th Century. They were called fibre needles but were really made from wood most probably bamboo, and the needle itself could be repointed quite a few times before it was too small to use and then it was discarded. To accomplish the repointing of the B&H fibre needle you would of course need the B&H Fibre Needle cutter. The instructions here say that the needles were prepared using an oily matter which acted as a perpetual lubricant and the needle thus becomes a buffer for the record, actually polishing it and smoothing the grooves to a greater extent each time it is played. The instructions boasted the records would last forever if played only with Fibre Needles. Since the results far out weighed any frustration the user may encounter in getting them to work correctly, the Company became very successful and was eventually purchased by Victor. Most talking machines and victrolas of this era are most often found with the triangular shaped receptacle on the reproducer to accommodate these strange little needles. Early on in my collecting I acquired a B&H Needle cutter which I found inside a Victor X Victrola which I had purchased. Also inside the Victor were these original instructions from 1907 completely intact. I share them with you now. The fibre needle was invented by Fred D. Hall of the B. & H. Fibre Company, a Chicago based Company. The price for fibre needles in 1917 was $4 per thousand, or 40 cents for a package of 100.

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Steve
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by Steve »

Thanks for posting! As a relatve newcomer to fibre needles (I'm only 100 years too late ;) ) I am one of the newest converts and seeing and hearing the merits of their use, I cannot easily bring myself to use hard steel needles on records anymore.

I also have a B & H cutter which I purchased off Ebay a few years ago. It is not the best - that honour goes to the EMG "Davey" cutter - but being the first makes it one of the most important for any collector to have. I have about 2 dozen cutters in all.

B & H was a long way ahead of the pack with this idea and the future of our records owes a lot to them.

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Zeppy
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by Zeppy »

I'm a huge fan of fibre needles. I've always used the Wade fibre needle cutter, although I also have a victor (had a bum blade and I've tried to replace with an exacto blade, but doesn't cut quite right). Love 'em particularly for opera. Not so keen for using them for jazz and dance tunes. I still like steel needles for those.

I have to say though, the price of the needles has gone throught the roof over the years. There was a time I would find them thrown in some corner of just about everything phono related I purachased for a while...now it seems people are trying to get a dollar each...

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MordEth
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by MordEth »

solophoneman,

Thanks for sharing the directions. Does lubricating one’s fibre needles improve their performance?

I also opted to cut out the logo, in case anyone might want to use it as an avatar...

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And I ran the directions through OCR so that the search can index the text.

— MordEth

[hr][/hr]

HOW TO USE “B & H” FIBRE NEEDLES

THE instrument must sit perfectly level, so that tapering arm will not swing in or out of its own accord.

The cabinet or stand upon which the instrument rests, must not shake or vibrate. The needle arm of the sound box must have a triangular needle hole.

DIRECTIONS

Place the needle in the triangular needle hole, so that the long point is toward the front, then tighten set screw. When in position for playing record, needle will travel on the long point. (See cut.)

Before satisfactory results are obtained in playing some records it may be necessary to play them several times and each time with a new Fibre Needle, that is, if a needle fails to play any record to a successful termination, use a new needle and play over several times (each time with a new needle) that part of the record that fails to satisfactorily reproduce.

Needles may be repointed with Fibre Needle Cutters as many as six or eight times. Short or repointed needles should not be used until record has been trained for Fibre Needles.

“B & H” Fibre Needles may be used repeatedly without repointing, just so long as the reproduction is satisfactory and without the slightest injury to records.

A Fibre Needle shorter than one-half inch should not be used as it is apt not to reproduce properly.

Records will last forever if played only with Fibre Needles.

The very substance from which the fibre needle is manufactured precludes all possibility of injury to the record.

The oily matter in which it is prepared acts as a perpetual lubricant and the needle thus becomes a buffer, polishing and smoothing the grooves to a greater extent each time the record is played.

We ask, that in the first trial of the fibre needle, you be considerate and lenient, as a thorough knowledge of “how to use them” is necessary to obtain the best results.

B & H Fibre Manufacturing Co.

Chicago, U. S. A.

[Patented November 12, 1907.]
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solophoneman
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by solophoneman »

I wonder what the oily matter was that they claimed to prepare them with. They claimed it polished and buffed the grooves of the record. I wouldn't have a clue whether this claim is correct or was just some puff piece to promote the fibre needle.

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MordEth
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by MordEth »

solophoneman wrote:I wonder what the oily matter was that they claimed to prepare them with. They claimed it polished and buffed the grooves of the record. I wouldn't have a clue whether this claim is correct or was just some puff piece to promote the fibre needle.
I was wondering the same thing, but it sounded like it might be a puff piece. I would think that one would not want to be “polishing and smoothing the grooves to a greater extent each time the record is played”, but I could be wrong.

Normally one only wants to make sure that the grooves are clean, I’d think.

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gramophoneshane
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by gramophoneshane »

It's probably some sort of wax or fat that solidified in the bamboo fibres.

richardh

Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by richardh »

gramophoneshane wrote:It's probably some sort of wax or fat that solidified in the bamboo fibres.
I have heard that preparing your record by running a candle over your record before playing with a fibre needle helped to lubricate its passage through the grooves. I believe that graphite powder was also used for the same purpose (just messier!)

RJ 8-)

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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by estott »

As to lubricating records, I once found a large pile of records in a shop which had been cleaned (!) by wiping them with a very oily rag. They didn't sound any smoother when I played them.

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Steve
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Re: How to use the B&H Fibre Needle 1907

Post by Steve »

richardh wrote:I have heard that preparing your record by running a candle over your record before playing with a fibre needle helped to lubricate its passage through the grooves. I believe that graphite powder was also used for the same purpose (just messier!)
Correct on both counts!

EMG certainly sold wax "on a stick" which was to be applied conservatively across the record prior to playing with fibres. When I say conservatively. I simply mean one or two strokes across the record will suffice. The wax was sold on a lady's lipstick type apparatus. EMG also sold graphite powder in what we call over here, the "pepper pot" as it closely resembles one of these but just remember to not apply it to your food!

Surely other companies sold the wax and graphite powder too? Having said that, I don't think I've ever seen any reference to HMV or Columbia selling anything, so what about Victor? Pathé did also sell graphite in a cylindrical canistor.

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