Everything Malcolm says is true. My friend and mentor Art Shifrin taught me -- clean it first, clean
it well, then play it with the right stylus. Old records get all kinds of crud in the grooves from
those lousy old "albums" they're usually stored in.
Malcolm's statement about modern playback methods combined with tasteful use of software can be
experienced in the Mosaic set of Bix/Tram/Big Tea:
The difference in the Bix stuff compared to old LP reissues and the CBS early-era CD's is shocking.
Listmember Doug Pomeroy did the disk transfers. I have a few of the original Bix 78's and the 78
reissue albums from the 40's (all in decent but not pristine shape) and none of those hold a candle,
no matter how I clean them or what stylus I use. I assume Doug had access to metal parts. If not,
then this work is all the more impressive.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Malcolm Smith" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 1:13 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Visual evaluation of 78s
>A thought to add to this. Years ago I bought a 78 rpm record for a few coins in order to hear it.
>It appeared to be in poor condition. and played very poorly. After cleaning with detergent and a
>shaving brush, it looked excellent and played very well. I might have retired it to the garbage
>bin if I hadn't cleaned it.
> It also might be pointed out that very rare records, today, can be processed with audio software,
> often producing a very good result. A cracked record, if it hasn't been played a lot producing
> damage along the crack, or a record with bad needle scratches can often be run through audio
> software removing the clicks that are heard on each rotation. A lot of records that were thrown
> out in the past, today, would have new life thanks to the digital revolution.
> How the records are played is another factor. Some records that play very poorly with a standard
> size stylus play well with a custom stylus of the right size. A friend years ago who issued LPs
> from rare 78s sometimes copied them to tape played in reverse - from the inside to the outside.
> This sometimes made a considerable difference.
> There are examples of unpublished records that are better versions of the music than the same
> titles published. Some appear to be unpublished because the singer was too close or too far from
> the horn. Unlike the times when these recordings were made, they play well on modern equipment.
> Malcolm Smith.
> On Aug 6, 2008, at 7:59 AM, Clark Johnsen wrote:
>> To my mind there are two types of problem.
>> -- Surface blemishes are relatively easy to see and span the range from
>> actual cracks and gouges and dimples, to small-area abrasions of
>> different depths -- plus fingerprints and mold, never good signs.
>> -- Groove wear in a well-handled (or machine-handled) disc can easily escape
>> notice until a grayish pall from too much use overtakes the usually hard
>> surface of the groove walls. This condition is far less easy to rate in its
>> intermediate stages, although a corollary indicator can be the condition of
>> the center hole.
>> On Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 2:01 PM, John Ross <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Is there a set of established standards for visual evaluation of 78 rpm
>>> discs? I'm working with the owner of a significant collection to catalog the
>>> discs and ultimately transfer them to digital form. I would like to include
>>> a preliminary note about the apparent condition of each disc as part of the
>>> preliminary catalog.
>>> Obviously, the ultimate evaluation of each disc requires playing it, but as
>>> a first step, I want to go with a visual examination.
>>> So I will welcome your pointers to any kind of commonly accepted terms for
>>> describing 78s. Thanks in advance.
>>> John Ross