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HMV Gramophone.

Discussion in 'classic' started by George J, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    The Model 102 HMV portable was made from 1931 to 1960. It was a very successful design and one of the longest produced of all acoustical gramophones.

    Here is a good youtube of what it was capable of.

    I had one [bought for £4 from a junk shop in 1972] and got endless pleasure from a collection of about 1200 78s that I borrowed from an old lady whose parents had bought the records back in the 1930s and '40s.

    Best wishes from George
    Craig B and Vinny like this.
  2. wd40addict

    wd40addict Active Member

    Ah, but even these aren't immune from audiophilia: which is the best soundbox, No16 or the 5a or 5b. Some actually prefer the 101 (shades of NAC72 Vs NAC102).

    The 102 (HMV) :) performs well, as well as my table top Columbia.
  3. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    The 78s sound (pardon the pun) at least as interesting as the gramophone, obviously cherished and now probably so much junk or landfill. Sad...……………….
  4. wd40addict

    wd40addict Active Member

    If you've got some get an at mono3/sp and be prepared to be amazed what's in some of those grooves!
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I have a 102 just like the one in the video (a very late one, you can tell by the angle of the winding handle). Mine was allegedly NOS that had just sat in someone’s attic, and has an inspection tag dating it to Nov 22 1956. It even has the key to the lock! It has a 5B soundbox. I have a little stack of jazz 78s; Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller etc and it sounds great. Surprisingly loud!
    lordsummit likes this.
  6. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear Tony,

    Mine was an early example with non-chromed winding handle. Unfortunately no photo exists and it met a sad end. I had the last side of Schnabel's estimable 1932 recording of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto in C on the turntable and I left my room [at farm college] when some person decided to go in and have a play. Unfortunately it had locked the auto-stop at the end of the side so the motor could not turn, but obviously it was almost completely un-wound at the end of the side.

    So the pillock wound it up with no turning action and kept going till the spring broke. Back in 1984, I suppose that nobody thought of actual repairs to a spring on an out of date gramophone, and reluctantly I put it in the bin. I had played all 1200 78s I had borrowed over the preceding three years, and that little machine led me to some performances recorded in an older age that I still treasure like the Artur Schnabel Beethoven Concertos and the Adolf Busch Bach Brandenburg Concerto set among others. I actually cried over its demise. But I returned the 78s to their owner, and if it had not happened I guess that I would probably have been given them and still have them today. As it is I would guess that they have long since been thrown out.

    Fortunately the best of those veteran recordings have emerged on CDs over the last thirty years, and as a result of this experience, even today about a third of my remaining CDs are transfers from 78 masters by EMI from those particular recordings I grew to love through that little gramophone. Can you imagine me winding the little machine up on my bed in the dark playing six or ten sides before sleep! Perfect attention to the music can be achieved in the dark ...

    Only one thing has given me as much pleasure in terms of home music replay since, and that is my Troughline - also frequently listened to in the pitchy blackness of the night. There are certain musical replay devices that though obviously not perfect do the essentials so well that you can forgive the fact that it is not real live music making.

    I still have the winding handle and a box that once contained medium tone needles.

    Before I borrowed that large collection of 78s I had access to a smaller selection of my own scrounged records! Including a rather unusual record issued in 1917 on Regal of the Russian [Imperial] Anthem, the Begian, the French, and the UK anthems played by the King's Military Band. Many Regal Gracie Fields records in including Sally, but also several complete Elgar [composer conductor] recordings including the two symphonies, Violin Concerto, Wand Of Youth Suites, Severn Suite, and some sides from an incomplete set of the Cello Concerto with Beatrice Harrison. It so happens that I have never come across a performance the Cello Concerto that comes close to the poignancy of Harrison's recording.

    Seemingly understated, it digs deeper into the retrospective sadness of the music than any recordings since. An amazing achievement recorded back in 1927.

    Sorry for the ramble.

    Best wishes from George
    Sloop John B, Vinny and Jono_13 like this.
  7. wd40addict

    wd40addict Active Member

    I bought my blue 102 a few years ago for a knock down price because the spring appeared to be broken. I disassembled it and found that it had actually broken right at the end where it attached to the rivet on the drum. Luckily there was still enough untempered end left to drill another hole. I carefully reassembled and it worked :)

    It should be noted that working on springs is potentially very dangerous and even experienced repairers have ended up in A&E. I did a lot of reading up before I attempted it.
  8. kennyh

    kennyh pfm Member

    I have a friend who re trims and restores these for the classic car brigade......he then beautifully logo's them up with MG,Morgan,Jaguar, Rolls etc. You see and hear a few of them belting out flapper music at the car shows.

    I have a Decca trench and I'm astounded at the sound it produces. Impressive old pieces of kit aren't they?
    George J likes this.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Here’s mine:

    Craig B, Jono_13 and George J like this.
  10. kennyh

    kennyh pfm Member

    Lovely looking piece of kit that Tony.
  11. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Thanks for this picture Tony!

    Best wishes from George
  12. wd40addict

    wd40addict Active Member

  13. Barrymagrec

    Barrymagrec pfm Member

    A former colleague who was brought up in Kenya told us of attempting to replace a broken spring in the school gramophone - twisted and tangled spring all over the place, luckily no serious injuries.
  14. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    WRT the old 78 recordings, etc. I've only recently started using YouTube and have been surprised just how many old recordings are available there. In my case the main surprise was that hundreds of the 'V-Discs' are there, and I have now listened to many of those which I'd assumed I'd never have a chance to hear. I also found a number of George Malcolm recordings of broadcast concerts as well as old records, The files aren't exactly 'high rez' in modern terms as the max audio quality is about 128k aac. But for the old 78 mono era discs this isn't a disaster if no better version is available.
  15. Pine Marten

    Pine Marten pfm Member

    I have a HMV Table Grand model103 from the 20's with No4 soundbox. The ads on the paper sleeves of many of my 78's extol its virtues, especially "Hear The Bass!" It sounds best with pre electric i.e acoustic or mechanically recorded discs. Discs from the 40's onwards are harsh and far too bright. Of course this is when "equalization" and recording curves such as RIAA started to be used, as "electric" pickups became more common.
  16. Newboy

    Newboy pfm Member

    I had an HMV table model, but now play my 78's through my main system using a full range of Esoteric styli & a Graham Slee Jazz Club. It is amazing the quality of sound produced through a modern system; the reproduction of the day was not up to the capability of the medium.

    Unfortunately during a recent house move the movers managed to have a smashing time with my shellac discs; they smashed about 50 including a 1920's Tango record which my father had brought back from Argentina. None of them were worth much in money terms but irreplaceable to me. BooHoo!

  17. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear Julian,

    When the first electrical recorded 78s arrived at the Gramophone Magazine for review in 1926, the editor Compton MacKenzie wrote an editorial on this very subject saying that the current gramophones were almost certainly brining out far less than was in the groove.

    Also playing commercial release 78s means that there is always some surface hiss, and on some pressing rather a lot. This was caused by the slate dust that was mixed into the shellac to give better wear qualities to the groove walls and sharpen the steel needles.

    To really get a good idea of how fine the basic recording actually was you need to find a good transfer from fresh vinyl pressings taken from the metal master parts [made from the wax cut]. EMI have made countless superb transfers this way, and some required no more treatment than EQ adjustment to straighten out the response cut into the masters themselves. Other of course pose more severe technical problems, but usually can be made to reveal the very high quality of the original recording and the system in use during the direct cut wax 78 days.

    best wishes from George
  18. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    The above prompts me to add that many of the V-Discs were actually pressed into a 'plastic' material rather than shellac. This means that if they have been played in the past with care they have the potential to give better sound that shellac equivalents in terms of background noise, etc. The snag, of course, is to find such an example and be able to play it!

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