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Hints on using a Pick-Up

A Johnson-Randall, The Wireless Constructor April, 1928.
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The following hints and tips were presented at the back of the magazine that featured his main article. Click here or the right side bar for the article.

  • A gramophone pick-up should be handled with the same care as one employs in the case of the sound-box. See that it fits the tone arm snugly, and arrange it at an angle of about sixty degrees to the horizontal surface of the record. Try various angles until you get the best results.
  • When you use a pick-up for the first time you may be a little worried over the little dithers you hear from the device as it is travelling around the grooves in the record. If you have purchased a pick-up of good make do not be alarmed at these irritating sounds, because if you have arranged the leads from the pick-up in such a manner that the lid of the gramophone can be closed, the only sounds that you will hear will be those from the loud speaker itself. These little buzzes and dithers will not be reproduced via the loud speaker.
  • It is a good plan to keep the gramophone at a distance of several feet from the loud speaker, and in addition to closing the lid it is always advisable to shut down the sound baffles on the front of the gramophone cabinet.
  • Use various needles in the pick-up, just as you would if you were employing the usual sound-box, and if a particular record sounds a little harsh with say, a loud needle; try a half-tone instead.
  • Always try to keep dust out of the pick-up, because this may settle between the vibrating armature and the magnet poles and produce effects which may be put down to the distortion in the amplifier or to scratches on the record itself.
  • If your amplifier distorts or blasts on local broadcasting it is highly probable that it will do so when you attempt to use it in conjunction with a gramophone. Therefore, you must pay attention to such points as correct HT voltages and proper grid bias, etc., if you, wish to get maximum efficiency. Perhaps your set utilises one of those cheap, name-less transformers which cut out all the bass when used on broadcasting. If so, your gramophone reproduction will be just as disappointing, because although the richness and depth of tone is on the record, your amplifier will not be able to reproduce it, and, consequently, the resulting music will sound high-pitched and tinny. Therefore, do not blame the pick-up or the record, but set about improving your amplifier until you feel sure that it is able to do justice to the high musical standard of the gramophone recording room.
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