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 There are examples of unpublished records that are better versions of  the music than the same 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 Some appear to be  unpublished because the singer was too close or too far from 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.
>> clark
>> 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