From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Tom Fine asked several things about Victrola needles, as to which records to
use them on, how frequently to change them, and what to do with used needles.
First of all, as it is Victrola needles, they were made for use on Victor
records. The Victor Talking Machine Co. had a thing about durability, and
they rarely let any records out that could not tolerate hundreds of
reproductions, provided you changed the needle for every side. Their groove
uniformity was such, however, that their TungsTone (or TungStyle--I always
confuse the US and the British variety) could last for at least 30 sides
before changing. Actually, you could wear down the little tungsten tip
completely without changing the needle, under the condition that you did not
rotate the needle once it had been fitted. When I demonstrate records on
acoustic machines I almost always use a tungsten wire one.
This also means that most Victor records will tolerate acoustic replay on a
good Victrola gramophone, not only the junk ones. The thing that could speak
against doing it is that possibly the shellac-based material has become more
brittle with time, but I would not expect it. I think it would be difficult
to set up an experiment, in which you could determine that since the last
establishment of a record's condition it had been played acoustically. A
resonant soundbox and leaky horn joint speak against using that machine.
The needles were polished after sharpening, and there was no cutting after
polishing. For $1000 I will repolish your needles (undercutting Don
Chichester, sorry!) I would simply take them bicycling, resting against the
I would hesitate in transferring Victor experiences to other labels.
Not only steel needles in soundboxes wear shellac records: I had experimented
so much with my copy of the VB (white label) 1950s pressing of Adelina Patti
"la Calasera", her last record, that the pickup has actually worn the groove!
But this groove is also so wild that the record was originally, in 1906,
quickly withdrawn, because it could barely play through on an ordinary
Gramophone. The re-issues of it on LP (the Patti set) and CD let the
compressor/limiter work hard, and even the special re-issue CD that came with
the recent Historic Masters vinyl set lets us hear troubled tracking. I think
I measured the recorded velocity to be above 60 cm/s in certain places.
> --- On Wed, 10/21/09, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > What do I do with the old ones? Does anyone recycle them or
> > should I just toss them?
> I don't think there's any (practical) way to resharpen them.
> I think that in their manufacture, the tip of the wire is
> sharpened before it is cut off. I suppose if you had pounds
> of them, a metal salvage yard might buy them. It is a pretty
> good quality steel. But by and large, I guess the used
> needles are just garbage.