A longtime dream has come true and I now own a classic console turntable stereo (Sears Silvertone) but I have some questions about replacement styli and more. Help me make the most of this beautiful wooden music machine.
July 21, 2012 9:11 PM   Subscribe

A longtime dream has come true and I now own a classic console turntable stereo (Sears Silvertone) but I have some questions about replacement styli and more. Help me make the most of this beautiful wooden music machine.

Ever since seeing that Tom Ford movie A Single Man a few years ago, we have wanted a console turntable. Today thru sheer luck we found one in our neighborhood. Huge score. And it is GORGEOUS.
Sounds beautiful too. But I have some issues/questions...

A. The record player seems to have an automatic feature where it pulls the arm up and puts it down randomly in the middle of records on its own. Not sure why that is but it will end a record and pick up and drop the needle say 10 minutes back. If I had to guess I'd say it's about the point of the start of a 45 yet the table is set to 33.

B. when I switch it to Radio I notice that the bass is far deeper and fuller than on records. The records sound great ad we've tried a bunch, old and new. It's totally a sound difference we can live with but if we can get that low bass too that would be beyond perfect. Is this to do with the stylus? Also how would I get a replacement stylus? I've enclosed pix to this help.

C. Any other tips to help me wrong out maximum enjoyment from this beautiful beast?

I tried to find a model number but it's not listed here on the back.

Here is the the whole thing.

Here is a close up.

Here is the stylus.

Thanks guys! Any help would be great.
posted by Senor Cardgage to Technology (5 answers total)
Is there not a switch that says 7-10-12 or something like that? There sometimes is a setting for automatics like this for the size of the record. It might not be marked for some reason.
posted by bongo_x at 9:33 PM on July 21, 2012

From that photo, I think the model number is 6065, 6067, or 6068 depending on the style of case.

Have you tried contacting Sears? Or perhaps looking for aftermarket manuals like SAMS?

If you don't have a phonograph store in your city (they're still around, just not too prosperous) you could try these guys, from whom I've bought some stuff, though not cartridges nor needles.
posted by hattifattener at 9:35 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: With regards to (A), a few things come to mind:
  • From your 3rd pic, it looks like the "Off - On - Rej" switch linkages are misaligned / loose, though it may (depending on the turntable model) simply be in the "auto" (finish record, drop & play next) position. If you put it in the middle "On" position, does it play the record then finish correctly?
  • Assuming it is the auto position, what happens if you load up a record on the top of the spindle with nothing on the turntable - does it drop the record? Does it then start playing from the beginning, or from ~ 7" position?
  • On the turntable, poking through the mat there should be 1 or 2 (maybe even 3!) little pivoting "fingers" that act to detect both that there's a record on the mat and its size. Do they seem to both pivot freely and feel like they're operating a (very light) linkage?
I'd be inclined to lift the turntable deck and have a look for bent / broken / misaligned linkages, missing adjustment & set screws, etc. - usually it's pretty obvious if something is amiss, and not too difficult to figure out what needs to be done.

(On the other hand, the "stacker" drop mechanisms on the spindle can be a real pig to get right - it that works fine, leave it alone!)

With regard to (B), that's pretty typical, for a couple of reasons:
  • Radios of that era (early-mid 70's, by the look of the deck & cabinet) tend to be a bit light on high frequencies (shitty shared IF stages), so sound "bass-ier" that modern radios (particularly as they often have large single or double-cone speakers).
  • Turntables of that era deliberately roll off a lot of the low end to reduce both motor rumble appearing in the output and prevent low-frequency feedback.
  • People these days tend to expect/favour more bass-heavy music, and the whole market - from artists, to engineers, to equipment manufacturers - leans towards subtly beefing up the bass frequencies at each stage. Even so, a truly flat stereo system playing that content often sounds 'tinny' to today's ears...
If the stylus is badly worn it's more likely that records will sound bassy, & any high frequencies you get will sound 'scratchy' - but you'll be chewing records up well before that gets too noticeable to the untrained ear. I'd replace the stylus just on spec - they're not too hard to get from certain places in Oz (e.g. Soundring), so shouldn't be too hard to find in the US.

On further consideration of all the pics, it looks slightly odd to me - like an older deck retrofitted with a newer tonearm. It may be that it dates from a changeover period between styles, or it may just be a difference between typical US & Aus/UK styles of the time…
posted by Pinback at 9:58 PM on July 21, 2012

For new styli, or a new cartridge, try canadianastatic. They've got 'em all, new old stock, and when they run out they make more or make a different cartridge fit. Without seeing yours in person, it will almost certainly need a "ceramic" stylus or cartridge. They can also come up with NOS or can remanufacture higher end magnetic cartridge styli, at a price.

There were only 3 or 4 or 5 OEM stereo record changer manufacturers, for 50 different console and "portable" record player brands, and not Sears itself. But I can't identify that one from your pictures. The real manufacturer of the turntable is probably printed on the underside of the turntable somewhere.

If that turntable still gives trouble and can't be adjusted, you can swap in a more common but vintage stereo BSR or Garrard turntable pretty easily.
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:21 AM on July 22, 2012

Going waaaay back to the early '70s here for point A: there is probably a stabilizer arm that can be moved out of the way to load a stack of records onto the long 'changer' spindle; once the stack is loaded, that arm swivels back over to sit on top of the stack of records on the changer spindle, much like the tone arm swivels to play the record.

If, after last of the stack of records has been dropped onto the turntable, and the tone arm has automatically returned after following the lead-out groove of the last record, and that stabilizer arm happens to be swiveled out of the way (and not where it would be if it were stabilizing the stack on the spindle), the tone arm would automatically drop onto the top record again in just about the same spot as you describe. I don't know why, but that's the way my changer worked too.

Point B: styli are technically limited in the way it can physically track highs and lows in a microscopic groove...there's just not enough room for the deep valleys that need to be etched into the groove that bass frequencies, in particular, require to be reproduced with fidelity. That's where the RIAA equalization curve comes in: an industry standard that deemphasized some frequencies in pressing the vinyl, and an electronic circuit would 'reemphasize' those same frequencies when the disc is played.

Reminds me of the old riddle - how many grooves on a typical record? Two very long ones - one on each side.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:45 AM on July 23, 2012

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