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Thread: RCA Victor record find. What exactly have I got here?

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  1. #1
    I'll Lock Up Maj.Nick Danger's Avatar
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    RCA Victor record find. What exactly have I got here?

    Yesterday it was my distinct pleasure to rummage through the basement of my latest and greatest vintage junk store. I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store, and needless to say, I will frequent this place.
    Anyway, I found 2 albums full of RCA Victor 10 inch records from such artists as Count Basie, Tex Beneke, and Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra on vocals. I think I might have Sinatra's first record with the Dorsey band here, also one of his first solo recordings.
    Is it possible to play these recordings on an Edison machine? Or do I have to use a Victrola? Also, does anyone know of a web resource for information on Victor recordings by number?
    Thanks very much FL music experts, for any assistance you can provide.



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  2. #2
    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
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    What you have here are some very nice mid-forties Victor 78 rpm records. You can play them back on any 78 rpm turntable using a 2.7 mil (or "78" marked) stylus. They would work on a Victrola or other common acoustic phonograph, but its not a good idea to play 78s of this vintage on pre-electrical machines -- there will be excessive wear and the sound will be distorted. They can't be played on Edison machines -- Edison used an entirely different system of groove modulation.

    Victor began using its 20-xxxx numbering scheme in October 1942. A good basic guide to dating Victor discs is at http://members.tripod.com/~Vinylville/faq-9.html

    Nice find!
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  3. #3
    Gone Home
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    She's right! These are mid 40's re-releases that were from an album. They can't be played on Edison players because the Edison machines were known to use a "Hill and Dale" styled groove pattern. And, you can play these on earlier acoustic machines but, as Liz says, they wear down the record faster because of the weight of the reproducer and such on that small needle point. Some what like an elephant on a broom stick... it's a lot of pressure to be putting on a piece of thin shellac!

    As for the sound... it's fun to hear the old players but, I much prefer the later electric reproducers of the late 30's to early 40's... they sounded so much nicer and they're also more user friendly... your records will thank you.

    As for the first hit of Frank's, I believe it was "All or Nothing at All" that he recorded with Harry James Orch. in 1938... it's a beautiful song if you've never heard it! But, "I'll Be Seeing you" was a big hit of his during the war years.

    Enjoy!
    =WR=

  4. #4
    I'll Lock Up Maj.Nick Danger's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    Great news and great advice! I won't try playing these on a wind up machine, that's for sure. And an amplified electric machine will of course sound way better.
    In all I scored 21 discs that seem to be in playable condtion and I have some Red Seals from a previous score also, so I have to get myself a turntable.
    Is it possible to play them back on a modern turntable through a modern stereo system?
    ~ Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of. ~

  5. #5
    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
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    Absolutely -- just be sure you have the right size stylus. An LP stylus is far too small, and will produce poor sound in the wider groove of a 78. Many older stereos came with a flipover needle, so if you have one of these, just flip it to the 78 position. Some of the current "retro style" players also have this type of stylus.

    A lot of 78 collectors like the big classroom style record players -- the Califones and similar brands. These are often very very cheap at school equipment sales, and give excellent sound for the money.
    The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. -- William Jennings Bryan

  6. #6
    I'll Lock Up Maj.Nick Danger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LizzieMaine
    Absolutely -- just be sure you have the right size stylus. An LP stylus is far too small, and will produce poor sound in the wider groove of a 78. Many older stereos came with a flipover needle, so if you have one of these, just flip it to the 78 position. Some of the current "retro style" players also have this type of stylus.

    A lot of 78 collectors like the big classroom style record players -- the Califones and similar brands. These are often very very cheap at school equipment sales, and give excellent sound for the money.
    Cool. Thanks again Lizzie. I seemed to recall from the dim recesses of my mind that long ago a different stylus was required for the playback of 78s, but I wasn't sure in this age of new-fangled CDs.
    ~ Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of. ~

  7. #7
    My Mail is Forwarded Here Tony in Tarzana's Avatar
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    If you're used to Frank Sinatra's voice from the 1950s and '60s, you may not recognize it on those records at first. Frank suffered a vocal cord injury in 1952 and was afraid his career was over. After he recovered, his voice became the one we know from the Rat Pack days, lower and edgier.
    Talk to the hat, pal.

  8. #8
    I'll Lock Up Maj.Nick Danger's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've heard some of those early recordings and I didn't know it was him until the anouncer mentioned it. But now that I know, I can just barely tell by the underlying vocal characteristics if I listen carefully. I think the injury actually helped his career by lending a much more distinctive sound to his vocals.
    ~ Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of. ~

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