Playing Very Old Cylinder Recordings

FAQ #648 Updated July 17, 2007


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


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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