Version: Jan. 9, 2007

John Petty

Jew's harp reproducer


Picture courtesy of Wyatt Markus


Here is how this reproducer is presented on the label on the film can it comes in. Several of these reproducers were made in the early 1980's by the Rev. John A. Petty, and on this page I present pictures of three of them, most easily identifiable by the colour of the handle of the lifting mechanism lever (red, white or yellow). The cartridge mentioned on the can label, the Shure M3D, is a stereo cartridge from the 1960's, with a recommended tracking force of 3 to 6 grammes. Of the reproducers presented here, only the red one is equipped with this pickup. The other two seem to have later Shure models.

The reproducer fits in the ring of Edison phonographs. For all three, the basic construction is the same, but they are by no means identical. Here are a few differences:

  • The red and yellow ones fit the larger reproducer carriage rings with a diameter of roughly 50 mm, whereas the white one is made for the smaller ring, diameter about 38 mm.
  • The red and yellow ones have the output connector on the same side of the ring as the wires coming out of the pickup, the white one has that connector on the trailing side.
  • The yellow and white ones have the lift mechanism cut out of a brass plate, the red one has it made of bent wire.
  • The red and white ones have the wire that lifts the pickup screwed to the center of the plate the pickup is attached to, whereas the yellow one has it screwed to the plate toward the stylus side, and its plate is also shorter.
  • The red and white ones have the arm holding the connector soldered to the inside of the ring, the white one to the outside.
  • They are all equipped with different pickups (although that is not given by the construction of the reproducer).
  • The red and yellow ones are secured in the film can inside a ring firmly mounted on the bottom of the can, and held down by a rubber band. The white one is held in place by a wingnut on a bolt passing through a hole in the arm between the main ring and the connector. The red and yellow ones let the wires from the pickup pass through this hole.

From all these construction details I find it hard to see a line of development and estimate the chronology of these three devices.

Users tend to find the reproducer straightforward and easy to use on an Edison phonograph, despite its fragile appearance. With a cylinder in good condition it renders an steady and pleasant sound. I was wondering why it has a lift mechanism at all, when that already comes included in the Edison, and Robert Barnett explained to me why: "This is necessary if you install the reproducer on a later Amberola machine, such as the model 30, 50 and 75, and maybe others too. You'd need the lift arm to have the stylus clear the cylinder before and after playing. On retrofitted Homes, Standards and Firesides this lift arm isn't needed, since the entire reproducer carriage lifts up to clear the stylus."

Christer Hamp, 2007

Photo © Rob Lomas, 2000 Photo © Rob Lomas, 2000
Photo © Robert Barnett, 2007 Photo © Robert Barnett, 2007

Picture courtesy of Wyatt Markus

Photo © Robert Barnett, 2007

Photo © Rob Lomas, 2000

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