Restore-A-Gram ARTY GB (1) copy


Gramophone Needles

Gram. Needles




These are the needles I use almost exclusively and the ones most readily available today.  As their name suggests they are intended to play just one side of a record.  I am frequently greeted with a bemused look when I suggest to newcomers to acoustic gramophones that they must only use one needle per side when playing their records.  It does on the surface (excuse pun!) seem excessive but below is the evidence I photographed recently.  It's common sense really as when a needle and a revolving record come together there is going to be wear somewhere, especially when considering the weight of the soundbox.  In order to ensure the record suffers least the needle is made to be softer and therefore wears the most on a playing.  After just one play the new, rounded needle has now got a chisel like profile caused by its presentation to the record at an angle when held in the sound box.  Now I dare say if not removed from its original position it could stand a further play, depending on how good the needle is, (some new needles barely do one side!) but if it is removed and then replaced at a later date the chances are the chisel edge will be presented to the groove such that the knife like edge now cuts into the record....not  something anyone wants to happen.


The needles come in various grades of Soft ( quiet), Medium and Loud with occasionally a couple of extras namely Extra Soft and Extra Loud.  Apart from sticking a towel or similar into the horn and unless the gramophone has a "volume control" i.e. doors on the front over the horn aperture, needles are the only other means of controlling volume. Generally I prefer the Soft and Medium as these are probably kinder on my records than the Loud ones and form a nice compromise between volume and record wear.

Multi Play Needles.


In an attempt to overcome the inconvenience of changing the needle at every record side played manufacturers came up with a range of multiplay needles .  As yet I have no trust in these as it seems to me the only way they manage to stay sharp is that they are harder than the record surface and therefore, I guess, it is that surface that gets the wear, especially when tracking with a heavy soundbox.  No doubt this did not concern the needle manufacturers, especially those that also manufactured records as a worn record probably generated the sale of another copy.

Thorn and Fibre Needles


In addition to metal needles various forms of wooden needle were available.  Also many gramophone enthusiasts would use thorn such as black thorn and fire thorn (pyracantha).  Those not available from the hedgerow (!) but purchased commercially took either a triangular or a more conventional needle format.  Both of these types can be resharpened .  The photo panel below shows them both and a sample of the devices used for resharpening.  The triangular needles require a triangular socket in the needlebar of the soundbox to accommodate them although some were made with a cylindrical section on the shaft to fit all soundboxes.

Click on thumbnails for larger image

Click on thumbnails for larger image

Click on thumbnails for larger image