Playing Very Old Cylinder Recordings

FAQ #648 Updated July 17, 2007

Question:

Do you have a suggestion as to the type of phono cartridge that could be used to build an adapter head to reproduce sound from an early 1900's Edison GEM phonograph? This was a mechanically reproduced system. I have both 2 minute and 4 minute wax (very hard) cylinders with what appears to be very narrow grooves. The cylinders are about 2 1/8 inch diameter x 4 1/4 long. The 2 minute recording has about 112 grooves per inch. The recorded material is not impressed as a displacement side to side but rather appears to be vertical "hills and valleys" in the wax

Answer:

Shure phono products cannot be adapted to play Edison cylinders. We suggest you to search the World Wide Web for antique record player or antique radio collectors or clubs. A collector is likely to have solved this problem before.

You might also check with the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution as both have large collections of old recordings.

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