Cartridge help?

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  • 02-22-2009, 12:38 PM
    Hah! There's a Garrard Model 80 in our basement. Plastic top/cover is still on it. Lots of remnents of children's stickers on that, most of them partially removed. Very dusty. It's automatic, since I can't move the tonearm manually. And the arm on it is aluminum with a triangular tube profile. Didn't bother pulling it out to check the cartridge, but from my boyhood I remember it having very extended, delicate highs.
  • 05-11-2009, 09:33 PM

    Originally Posted by emaidel
    While I certainly can't dispute your experience, my statement was based on the enormous amount of returns on the LAB-80 we received at Lafayette Radio when we were selling the unit back then. Almost all of us in the store switched customers over to the Dual equivalent, as it was not only a better turntable to begin with, but a less troublesome one too. That you have one that's 45 years old and still works is nice, but few that we sold lasted more than a week before problems set in.

    The Lab 80 had a glaring design error which would disable it if an owner were unlucky enough to encounter it (and it wasn't all that hard to do). Turn the platter backwards into its automatic cycle and a plastic tip on the spindle-operating cam follower would become trapped in a dead-end in its cam, and would break off. Garrard did issue an upgraded part made of metal instead of plastic but it didn't show up until the followup model, the Lab 80 Mk II, along with an "escape" path in the cam. Replacing those parts was a somewhat tedious job. Don't ask how I know.:crazy:

    There was an automatic record changer of the time which was more arcane and complex in its design: the Perpetuum-Ebner 2020. It was even worse! Furthermore in normal consumer use it seemed to teeter on the ragged edge of malfunction most of the time. I often thought the PE 2020 was specifically designed in order to circumvent patents held by Garrard, Dual and Miracord, resulting in a Rube Goldberg-like mess of second-best and third-best design elements...and worse. Perpetuum-Ebner gave up after that and sold itself to Dual, which scrapped the PE2020 design. Subsequent PE machines were rebranded Duals.:nonod:

    The Lab 80 also suffered from its being a derivative of the RC88 record changer of 1958. The RC88 begat the Garrard Type A of 1961, which was proclaimed as being "the step beyond the turntable - the step beyond the changer - the world's first Automatic Turntable!" The Type A's successors were the Type A70 and the Lab 80 of 1964. All of these models shared an operational inconvenience (not a "defect" or "fault" since they are working as designed) in that if you started to play a record in AUTO and then wanted to pick up the arm and put it back onto its rest, you couldn't. The setdown mechanism wouldn't let you move the arm back from its automatic setdown position without overriding a safety spring that was there to prevent damage to the machinery, and if at that point you lost your firm grip on the arm, it would go skittering, bouncing across the record, the stylus probably gouging the record. To stop play safely, the ONLY way on these machines is to use the automatic reject function.:skep:

    The Type A, and even more the Type A70 due to a better tonearm, do have advantages. They have the best, most reliable and safest automatic record changing mechanism ever: Garrard's pusher platform. I still use my Garrard A70 in my second system with an upgraded vintage Fisher 800B receiver, as an automatic record changer to play 78rpm records. My 78s are not rare or valuable, and I'm admittedly too lazy to get up and change records every three minutes when listening to an extended-length classical work. The A70 handles the chore for me, safely and efficiently. If I do decide to play LPs singly, it's up to the task too; it's easy to swap styli in the Stanton 500 cartridge; and the 500E Mk II tracks well in the A70's arm, to below two grams. :)

    The Lab 80, however, doesn't play at the 78 speed and it doesn't use the pusher platform to change records. But I have always felt that its chaste, tasteful styling was a standout among its competitors. The original Garrard Lab 80 of 1964 remains a beautiful machine to this day.


    Originally Posted by Reticuli
    Hah! There's a Garrard Model 80 in our basement. Plastic top/cover is still on it. Lots of remnents of children's stickers on that, most of them partially removed. Very dusty. It's automatic, since I can't move the tonearm manually...

    The Lab 80's arm should be easily moved if it's in its neutral, automatically shut off mode. Unfortunately, if you can't move the arm at all, yours might be broken.
  • 05-14-2009, 12:02 PM
    SL Caution...
    One other caution with the Garrard SL (and some other series) turntables...

    I used to own three. One had the inner platter (which is driven by the wheel) attached WAY off-center...or perhaps, out of round somehow! (the others weren't perfect either)

    The result of this was ever-present, rotational wow...which is impossible to get rid of (at least as far as I could figure out)

    Combine that with the noisy ball bearings on the platter, rumble from the wheel, and you've got a real mess.

    You might wish to consider this before investing in any repairs or improvements in these old tables.

    I'm SO glad I got rid of those Garrard tables in the mid 70's, and never looked back. There are so many, far better options out there.

    Just noting my personal experience here.
  • 05-14-2009, 12:34 PM
    That eccentricity of the inner platter is one problem the Lab 80 did NOT have. Like the Garrard 301 and 401, and unlike any other Garrard idler-drive automatic, the Lab 80 had a single-piece, cast nonferrous alloy platter that had its drive surface precision-machined prior to the platter's being dynamically balanced. All other Garrard automatics had a separate stamped-steel inner drive platter. If there was a larger outer platter, whether cast nonferrous or stamped steel, it was either attached via riveting, or sat on top of the steel one (those DID have the locator lugs machined to a precise fit, however that did nothing for the drive surface of the inner drive platter..

    Garrard's engineering director, Mr. Mortimer, wrote a treatise about transcription turntables in the early 1960s. He specifically stated that the stamped steel platter was inadequate for the kind of precision needed in a transcription turntable, which by then was the Garrard 401.
  • 03-15-2010, 08:22 AM
    Garrard SL 95b
    This is a reply to an old post regarding cartridges for the Garrard SL 95B record changer. I hate to see emaidel crucified alone, so I decided to join him. Misery loves company.

    I have 6 turntables, a fact that has prompted my teenage son to think I'm certifiable. I also had 4 oscilloscopes until I recently sold one of them. I like to collect old electronics equipment.

    Two of those turntables - a BSR 810 and a Garrard SL 95B - are "record changers." Both claim to be "transcription" turntables, but that's stretching the truth.

    I bought the SL 95B for my wife to play her old albums on. It has the nice wooden plinth with the lift-up wood and plexiglas cover, and it blows away the hideous, Chinese-made, plastic platter, belt-drive "turntable" that came in her TEAC GF-680 entertainment center. The GF-680 has decent sound, and she can play her tapes and CD's in it while she works in her home office. But the junky turntable, with its wow & flutter spec of 2.5% (yes, that's not a typo - 2.5 percent!!), will make your ears bleed. Thankfully, TEAC included AUX input jacks so one can plug in a decent turntable through a phono preamp. The Garrard seemed to fit the bill perfectly since she also likes to stack records.

    I've stripped the Garrard down and lubricated everything, and it plays nicely, and cycles as it should. It came with a Shure M40 cartridge, and I found a SHURE NOS 6 mil conical stylus for it, which is perfect for casual use.

    But after comparing it to the BSR 810, I think I'll sell the SL 95B on eBay, and give her the BSR 810. Emaidel is correct: The SL 95B tonearm is wobbly (and I've adjusted the gymbal), the platter is stamped steel like the cheaper Garrard changers, the muting switch is exposed, with open wire contacts, and the tonearm jerks around like it has Pharoah's shakes. Plus, the speed isn't even adjustable.

    While not audiophile grade itself, the 810 is much better. The platter is a full 12-inch heavy casting, the mute switch is an enclosed type with relay-style contacts, the tonearm is MUCH more precise, and the automatic spindle does not require the records to be held by the edge. The tonearm movement is also somewhat jerky, but it's still much better than the SL 95B.

    Both turntables suffer from hum, caused by their respective cartridge slides. I solved that in the 810 by running new shielded tonearm cable directly from the cartridge down to the mute switch, and then using the heavier twisted cable from the mute switch out to the RCA jacks. That eliminated the hum entirely, although it makes changing cartirdges a hassle. But the M91ed that came with the 810 is all that she needs.

    Despite eBay's bad reputation, you're better off finding a good Pioneer, Merantz, Kenwood, or other classic turntable there instead of buying one of the "modern" atrocities. Just look at the seller's feedback, and be sure to ask questions before bidding. Cripes, the new $500 DJ-style belt-drive turntables by Stanton and others have plastic housings and brag about having wow & flutter of 0.1%. That's as bad as the 810 or the Garrard with their idler wheel rim drive systems. Those old 70's and 80's direct-drive tables were typically .025 or .03%. I would put my money into one of those.
  • 03-15-2010, 09:00 AM
    You can adjust the gymbal all you want on the Garrard SL95B. The looseness is due to the ball-race type bearings in the vertical shaft, for horizontal movement. No cure for that!

    Over the years of futzing with record changers, I've found that the kind of looseness presented by this kind of arrangement is not all that bad if the mass of the tonearm's rear hub assembly is sufficient. Dual recognized the situation and addressed it in their later models by a true four-point gymbal, but with little or no improvement upon earlier models that didn't have it. My opinion at the time, persisting decades later, is that the improvement was dictated by the Dual (or United Audio in the USA?) advertising department.

    Like many, I like Duals in general (though I have a 1249 that has the accursed and unfixable Dual motor that likes to run at double speed on 60Hz AC!) but if I were to recommend a record changer now, it'd probably be an ELAC Miracord. A 50H would be ideal but any of the large-chassis models would do (I don't have a 50H!). The large-chassis Miracords have the smoothest autocycle mechanism, excellent platter and tonearm bearings, and the best durability, without the hardening British hog grease as used in Garrards and BSRs, and the flimsy plastic parts that tend to break if forced by users unaware of the effect of dried lubricants in Duals. Over the many years since these machines were built, the Miracord's platter castings have proved to be the most stable, in addition to being the best-finished. Duals and BSRs...and some manual turntables with cast platters, too..can exhibit warpage of the castings with time and age. But not, from what I've seen, the Miracords.
  • 03-15-2010, 03:10 PM
    And another "ancient" thread is reborn! I had long forgotten about this thread, and "being crucified" (by a site mod, no less!), but find it amazing that stuff like the Garrard LAB-80, or SL-95 still has adherents.

    I sold my best friend a Dual 1009SK around 1967-68, and in 1968 sold his father a Garrard SL-95B. My friend couldn't understand how I could possibly have sold his father such a "piece of junk" (his words, not mine). Why did I do that? Money, plain and simple.

    Working for Lafayette Radio in the 60's and 70's was a mixed bag when it came to trying to make a living, or trying to sell the better of two items. We made very little whenever we sold a Dual turntable, but made a disproportionately larger sum whenver we sold a similarly-priced Garrard model. The reason was quite simple: Lafayette's profit margin was far greater on Garrard units than on Duals. Add to that the fact that Lafayette sold zillions of cheapo Garrard 40B turntables (priced around $50) which had no corresponding model in the Dual lineup.

    My own ears learned the "audio truth" when I replaced my Garrard Zero-100 (which I actually liked for a while!) with the far superior, and far better sounding Dual 1229Q. And to think how many customers walked out of my store with a Zero-100 instead...
  • 03-15-2010, 04:11 PM
    Just be glad you didn't sell very many Dual 1249 (and related contemporary models) that had the accursed and unfixable Dual motor that likes to run at double speed on 60Hz AC!

    As for your experiences at Lafayette: consider that Dual and Garrard were comparably priced, and that Lafayette made a lot more money off Garrards. How much LESS did it cost to MAKE a Garrard than a Dual?

    When the Lafayette store in San Francisco closed, my brother bought a complete but out-of-box Garrard SL72B with the solid walnut base (not the moulded hollow plastic, genuine simulated walnut base that came later)...for $10. He said to the salesman, "I'll bet the store still makes a little bit of money on this!" He was joking. The salesman wasn't, when he replied, "we're not losing as much as most people would think!"

    I got hold of that SL72B and "blueprinted" it. Not that there WAS a blueprint, but for someone with mechanical skill who knows his onions, it's not that hard to figure out how a machine SHOULD function. I relubed it with good stuff, not the classic Garrard yellow hog grease that would harden in eighteen months. In the center bearing I put the special "adhesive oil" specified by Dual for the same application. I filed down, adjusted, bent, straightened and polished the parts and levers in the mechanism so that it all would work the way it was designed, not how it had been built (and at any manufacturer, not just Garrard, there were errors in parts manufacture vs. design, only some of which have come to light over the years). The result was a silky-smooth automatic cycle without the creaking, snapping, groaning and near-stalling of the usual SL72B. The motor and drive were smooth, powerful and QUIET. The arm tracked, and the end-of-side trip worked like a champ. We even put a Pickering XSV-3000 in it, which normally is MUCH too light a tracker for an SL72B, and it tracked perfectly. The SL72B's arm is substantially lower in mass than that of the SL95B; that helped a lot, too.

    But by the time the time put into it was totaled up, "normal" wage rates would have put the cost to do the work into the hundreds of dollars!

    I even fixed the looseness in the SL72B's tonearm bearing by hand-selecting one with a perfect fit at a local bearing shop! Surprisingly enough, YEARS prior with another model, Garrard used tapered races for the tonearm bearing balls, so that an assembly-line worker, by setting a clamp on the tonearm shaft JUST so, could make the bearing free-moving, yet free of looseness. But that would cost more in labor than just slapping together a loose assembly that was meant to be that way.
  • 03-15-2012, 09:03 AM
    I ran across an AR thread...and noticed at the top:


    Hello GP49,
    It appears that you have not posted on our forums in several weeks, why not take a few moments to ask a question, help provide a solution or just engage in a conversation with another member in any one of our forums?
    Okay, they asked for it. I'll stir up the s*** here!

    Somebody said the Garrard SL95B arm is aluminum. Somebody else said wood. The SL95 and SL95B arms are UNLIKE the Lab 80's in construction. The Lab 80 arm IS primarily wood, a "beam" of Afrormosia which Garrard's USA distributor claimed to be "the least resonant of all woods." Like many of their advertising claims, that isn't really true, but I'll leave that for now. The Lab 80 did have an aluminum plate on the bottom of that wood, to carry elements such as the headshell plug and clamping screw and the stylus pressure adjustment mechanism; and to cover up the groove where the arm wiring went. But once all was said and done, the Lab 80 tonearm was wood. The SL95 and SL95B arms were primarily aluminum: an extruded channel of aluminum, performing all the mechanical and structural functions. There was a thin inlay, about 1.5 mm thick, of Afrormosia wood, glued into the aluminum channel. Beneath that thin strip of wood, the SL95 and SL95B arms were HOLLOW. Basically that wood was TRIM! On some samples, the glue job was a bit sloppy; you could see the brown "contact cement" type adhesive around the edges. Yes...sometimes the wooden strip did come unglued, perhaps more so if the wood warped, which did happen occasionally. It all must have originated with the advertising department, not with Engineering!

    To the person who noticed that the SL95 tonearm tilted at the cartridge end, creating an azimuth error: YOU'RE RIGHT! I always shimmed the cartridge when installing one in an SL95.

    The SL95B (and SL75B and SL72B and 82 and Zero 100 and Zero 100C and Zero 92 and Zero 100SB and AP76 and 86SB and Zero nauseam) did NOT "slam" the stylus down onto the record in automatic play. All of these models (but NOT the SL95 and SL75...lacking the "B") had damped arm lowering in both manual cue operation and in automatic cycle. It was a minor point, barely mentioned in Garrard USA's advertising literature, but it WAS mentioned in the guide to the new models, sent out to dealers in advance of their public introduction. Perhaps in a chain store operation like Lafayette, one copy went out to headquarters, and a literature collector there absconded with it, so all the other umpteen thousand salespersons never learned about it? Who knows?

    All this information comes from years of FIXING turntables. I certainly have fixed more Garrard SL95s and SL95Bs than Ed Maidel sold! They, and other Garrards, Duals, BSRs, etc. were a means to a good living for many years.

    A lot of Garrard's problems, and their fall from grace beginning in the early 1960s, can be laid at the feet of the British electronics conglomerate, Plessey, which bought Garrard in 1960 and expected it to be some kind of cash cow. Even cash cows need feeding, though; and that's what Plessey DIDN'T do. Starved of investment in new machinery that Engineering wanted and Production needed, Garrard struggled on with 1950s-era assembly and design facilities. Without the necessary manufacturing equipment to compete with competitors like BSR on the low end and the engineering facilities to keep up with Dual on the high end, Garrard began a long decline that wound up seeing it sold to Gradiente of Brazil for a mere £1 million. Gradiente had already been manufacturing Garrards in South America on more modern equipment for some time, actually fabricating some parts and modules that were sent back to England for final assembly there, because the Brazilians could make them to closer tolerances than could the British on their old equipment.

    A couple of Garrard/Plessey anecdotes:

    I have long owned a Garrard DD75 direct-drive turntable. It is based upon an excellent Technics direct-drive motor (by then, Garrard had quit making its own motors anyway; all were sourced from Japan). The auto lift at the end of side used a photocell and an LED light source; and a solenoid driver built from logic gates. One day it quit working. I dug into it and found a bad capacitor...proudly labeled with the brand name, PLESSEY. Now, who but Plessey could make a polyester film capacitor that would fail after only five years of service at less than 1/3 its rated working voltage? The secondhand DD75 service manual that I got some time later even has someone's service note, handwritten on the schematic about failure of that very same capacitor!

    Much is made of the yellow "hog grease" in many Garrards, that hardened into near-cement in a short time, often less than two years, and sometimes in less than one. But that wasn't always the case. It seemed to happen beginning with units built a couple or three years into Plessey ownership, after Plessey had time to take actual operational control. This led to the speculation...and who knows, it might be true, Plessey having been a conglomerate...that Plessey must have owned a grease factory. Or maybe it was a hog farm.

    Plessey got its due eventually. Ten years after selling Garrard, Plessey was taken over by GEC and Siemens, which broke it up. Plessey no longer exists, whereas long-suffering Garrard still has at least a presence and a current identity as the maker of the super high-priced Garrard 501 and service facility for the Garrard 301 and 401.

    To be fair, the other major record changer makers of the era died, too. BSR's fall was even more catastrophic than Garrard's. By 1977, BSR was making a quarter million record players A WEEK (source: ""Just For The Record", by Alan R. Cox)! Eight years later, battered by the CD, it shut down record player manufacture, laid off thousands of employees, shrank to being a power supply manufacturer (Astec (BSR) PLC) in Hong Kong, and then was sold to Emerson Electric. Dual (Gebrüder Steidinger) was the only one of the majors to actually go bankrupt, after being owned by Perpetuum-Ebner and Ortofon, neither of which could make a go of it. A small German entrepreneurial company, Alfred Fehrenbacher GmbH, revived the brand and still assembles some low/midline Dual turntable models; otherwise the brand name is one slapped on cheap mass-market car stereos out of China.