the Experts on how to play, shave and record cylinder records!
minute wax cylinders, new or old, play only on the correct equipment, that is the record must match the machine. Wax cylinders
are white-dark brown and black. The composition, has a wax-like appearance, although nothing in the compound justifies the
term, as the principal ingredient in all wax cylinder is sterate of soda with a metallic hardener. Two minute WAX records
were manufactured up to 1908. And so machines made previous to this time play them.
The Edison reproducer, known as the
sound box or head that will play them are as follows (The model of reproducer is usually stamped on the floating weight.)
: The standard speaker (Identified by external knurled diaphragm retaining ring, adjustment wing with no writing, and a rigid,
floating weight with recording and reproducing styli on a single bar.),Edison Automatic (It looks like the standard speaker,
only says Reproducer,and has a circular weight that is articulated and only has a reproducing stylus.), and model B,model
C. Edison Reproducers model K,S,M,O have the two stile and can play both two and four minute cylinders. A two minute record,
however will not play with a model H,N,N56,or any other four minute reproducer. The late Edisons have the diamond styli and
are models A,B,C, if you attempt to play any wax two minute or four minute with these, the groove will be ruined. You can
identify these if you look at the stylus, if it is pointed and conical, it is a diamond and the weights on all these diamond
stylus reproducers have a flat,steel spring between the weight and the swivel. On Columbia Machines, you can play them with
the Columbia Floating, Lyric, and Higham. Check to make sure the stylus is a ball or doorknob shape, and not pointed. as some
Post 1908 Columbia may have a pointed stylus designed for Celluloid records. (Celluloid is an early thermoplastic made of
cellulose,nitric acid, and camphor.) The pointed stylus will ruin any wax record, new or old! To play these records make sure
the gearing is set for two minute, slip the cylinder fat end to the right, thin end to the left, you will note the taper inside
the record, and the taper of the mandrel.Push it firmly, but not too forceful, or the record may crack. The record should
not be left on the machine when not in use. All wax cylinders expand and contract with changes in temperature, so the record
may crack if it is left on the machine (Any wax record). Next close the end gate (If the machine has an one.) wind the machine
up then place the on off lever in the on position. Next place the reproducer at the left end of the record where it
appears to begin, and then let it down gently on the record, it should be playing. Always return the cylinder to the box that
it came in. North American record boxes have pegs in the box to keep cylinders from scratches and moisture. Original cylinder
boxes have a cotton batting for a lining. This lining does a great job of keeping them from scratches, but recent studies
show the batting attracts moisture, and may cause the record to become moldy in areas of extreme humidity. Nothing can be
done for a moldy cylinder.
Recording hints and
To record first you need a recorder
head. These Always have an "Recorder" stamped on them. Replace the reproducer with a recorder (picture shown below),and place
a blank on the mandrel, then put the horn on the machine. Practice the music or subject you want to record, and use the same
steps as for playback. Place the recorder at the left end of the cylinder. Turn on the machine, lower the lift lever then
Speak into the horn, and record.
Advanced Recording Tips.
For talking records a cone horn with no bell, 26" and 6"
at the opening is the best recording horn for general use. Speak clearly especially sibilants sounds which should almost be
whistled slightly, to be audible in play back. Use an even distinct diction.
You should be about two inches from the opening
when recording. If you are recording a singer with a piano, have the piano about two feet behind you with the treble section
pointed at the horn. Grands should have the lid raised toward the horn, and uprights three feet off the floor on a riser,
no sustain pedal used. Sing about the same distance as the speaking record. If you have loud or high notes, take a step back
from the horn to equalize the amplitude, so you do not blast the recorder. For duets and quartets, two recording horns should
be hooked together with a horn copper adapter,and rubber tubing of 4" long. The singers at one horn and the other towards
the band or piano.
A band with singers should have the band some distance behind about three feet behind the singer, is
where the band should begin to balance the voice over music. Cornets, trumpets, and loud brass should be at the back, woodwinds
at the front. Bass drums should be omitted in brass band, and orchestra recording, they just do not record well on cylinders.
be used as an effect, and off to the side, not through a whole song, as they are quite loud. If you are
recording a brass band use a 36" or 56" horn, a bell is OK on these. It is a good idea on large recording horns to wrap rope
in a spiral down the length of the horn to reduce resonance. Solo instrument recording Use a 26" horn, and point the horn
at the instrument in the middle place trumpets cornets, about three feet distant from the Horn. Clarinets, woodwind solos
as close to the horn as possible. Violins should be very
close to the horn, with S holes pointed at the horn.
rock and country recording can be done with surprising results. You can use the small bass drum in these kinds of recordings,
they do not effect the sound too much. Place instrument amplifiers about six feet distant from the horn, singers should sing
as close to the recording horn as possible. Drums about six feet distant. You will need to have the amplifiers much softer,
as you are not using a PA system for the voice, Do not Use a PA for voice in an acoustic recording, the low mid range of the
speakers spoil the sound. If you have a real good clean PA with little distortion, you may use this for back up voices, mid
and tweeters pointed at the horn. To monitor the mix before recording listen at the small end of the horn, have the band play
to check the balance, what you hear at the small end of the horn, is what the recorder is going to hear. It sometimes is possible
to put an t in the line before the phonograph with a valve for a set of ear tubes (like a stethoscope) for listening to the
mix. Temperature is very important, about 95 degrees is ideal. To Achieve the right temperature, I use a
chicken house style lamp with a 100 watt light bulb placed five inches behind the back of the machine behind the blank I put
the blank on loose, and have the mandrel turning five minutes, wind machine up fully again, seat the blank, and tape the end
of it to the mandrel
with some scotch tape, then begin recording. When you are finished recording brush the swarf off
the record you have made with a camel hair brush. These brushes are available at high end art stores. ( Swarf, the little
worms of wax, that are made by recording.) Next take the blank off, shut the light off and let it cool to room temperature
again. Replace the recorder with the reproducer the hear the record you have made. In demonstrations it is best to have the
two machines, one for recording and one for reproducing. All this information is the result of years of experimentation and
that is the best way for you to learn the art, much trial and error.
Nothing is better
for shaving than a Commercial Ediphone or Dictaphone shaver. You put the record on the shaver mandrel, just like playing a
record, and close the end gate. Push the cutting head down to the wax, then lift it
up, place it on the right end of the
blank, and shave. Always shave several thin shaves to one thick one that may tear the wax. A cotton cloth dampened with Lamp
oil, Kerosene, or mineral spirits, may be used to dissolve the surface of an un-wanted recording, if no shaver is available,
the surface wills have much more noise than of those shaved with a commercial machine made for the purpose, of shaving cylinders,
but it does work none the less. Sincerely