The Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording does not presently have a record cutter unit in our collection. However, we have received permission to share the following photos of various record cutters. These items are not for sale on our web site. This is provided for historical/educational information.
The vertical cut recording process is an early method of audio recording by which a stylus cuts a vertical groove into a phonograph record. This is in contrast to the lateral recording system which uses a stylus that cuts side-to-side across a record. The vertical recording process, also known as the hill and dale process, was used to record phonograph cylinder records as well as Edison Disc Records, Pathé disc records, and disc records made by numerous smaller companies. Vertical cut recording was also used as a means of copyright protection by the early Muzak 16-inch background music discs.
In this process the stylus makes a vertical cut, its depth determined in accordance with the current in the recording coil. The grooves of vertically cut records have a constant separation and varying depth, as opposed to grooves of laterally cut records, which have a varying distance of separation and constant depth.
If a vertically cut groove was examined under a microscope along its length, you would see a continuous wavy line as the needle cuts at different depths according to the tone and the loudness of the audio being recorded. These grooves show a transition from high to low peak as a smooth curve, giving the characteristic rounded 'hill and dale' effect to the groove, similar to the appearance of many geographic areas.
Recording is by mechanical means and the vibrations from acoustic energy, transferred to a cutting needle, make the needle cut a deeper or shallower groove. It is necessary to set the parameters of the cutting depth accurately as too shallow a groove on silent sections and the playback device, also a needle, will slip out of place, and too deep and you risk cutting through the thin layer of recording medium and/or creating excessive wear when the recording is played back, due to mechanical noise generated by the recording system the needle is never totally still, total silence would produce a flat even depth groove, so the hill and dale effect exists over all the audio recording section.
From Charles Moore - "Late 1940's early 1950's Radiotone acetate record cutting lathe. This is a rare unit and not often seen. Made in Hollywood by Ellinwood Industries. Looks to have more pro features than the similar Rek o kut and Presto units. This one can cut 16 inch transcription discs and can run 33.3 and 78 as well as variable in between speeds. The lathe has a variable groove pitch from 96 to 136 as well as variable cutting downforce. It's all tube based and has a output amp and speaker for playback. It has channel 1 and 2 gain controls and 2 microphone preamps built in for location recording. This unit was in fact used professionally in Hawaii through the 1950's and early 1960's by the gentleman I acquired it from. He said he recorded many music events and artistes and made a living with this lathe. It has a pretty cool history. He told me some great stories about using it. ...I tested it with a blank 10" acetate I had laying around and it was able to cut the groove and I could play it back through the tonearm and built in tub amp and speaker. This thing is heavy and when I say heavy I mean heavy 114 pounds."
I am the owner of the Radiotone RA116 Record Cutter you described on your website (above). Probably the only working one in the world! in Jan. 2016 we open our unique Moonshine Recording Studio in Munich. We only use recording equipment made in USA from the 1930s-1950s. We never use digital stuff. We recorded on Presto R11 and Sr27 Tapemachines and Ampex 403, So we created a 100 % original fantastic sound. Furthermore we offer in our studio lots of rare Guitars and Amps from Gibson and Fender like Gibson Country and Western Amp, 1952 Fender Super Amp and Guitars like 1956 Gibson es 5 Switchmaster blond etc. On our Presto 6N or Radiotone R116 from 1946 we offer nice record cuts on original recording blanks of that era.
Austin Custom Records Studio - Austin, Texas (est 1956 Roy T. Poole) - Neumann Record Cutting Lathe
Roy Poole opened Austin Recording Company on the second floor of the Littlefield Building at 6thand Congress in the early ‘50s, the only recording studio in town was the Radio House on the University of Texas campus. Austin Custom Records had one of the few Neumann Record Cutting lathes in an Austin studio.
On 03/04/80 Martin took the position of Chief Engineer (replacing Bob Behem) at Austin Custom Records. Later New Generations Productions staff also located at the Austin Custom Records offices.
Neumann Record Cutting Machine (model: SX24)
By 1928 Neumann had spread his attention to other aspects of studio engineering, such as record making. It was his interest in record technology that was, in fact, the real reason for the split with Eugen Reisz.
His enthusiasm and Reisz' opposition were stirred by a commission from Neumann's friends in England to build a machine for cutting records. This machine was to become the basis for Georg Neumann & Co's secondary line of products.
The earliest disc cutting machines were belt driven. The head was moved forward by a spindle, which was itself driven via a worm gear and a further gear from the base of the turntable. The obvious parallel between this configuration and later record playing deck is particularly significant when it is considered that by 1930 Neumann had already made the transition from belt drive to direct drive with the motor acting as a direct extension of the turntable spindle. More
The following excerpts are from "A Brief History of the Scully Tape Recorders," comments by their Sales Manager Ham Brosious and other sources listed in the credits.
"Scully Recording Instruments was a major manufacturer of professional audio tape recorders and other equipment based in Bridgeport, Connecticut from 1919 to approximately 1974.
The Scully Lathe was designed by John J. Scully (who originally was from Ireland) and his son Lawrence Scully. John J. Scully worked for Columbia Records from 1915 to 1919. In 1919 in his machine shop he produced a recording lathe.
Larry Scully founded Scully Recording Instruments in Bridgeport Connecticut as a builder of disc cutting lathes. He was a gifted machinist and designer. Business went well and Scully dominated the marketplace for lathes from the 1930's to the 1960's. Almost all major lacquer masters were cut on a Scully Lathe.
When Neumann lathes arrived in the US, it became clear that Scully had a problem and the decision was made to enter the tape recorder market. John Mosley enabled Scully to move to tape recorders. "
Date: August 25, 2015 at 9:11:45 AM CDT
To: Martin Theophilus <email@example.com>
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, Martin! I'll work with Dad on this and get it back to you as soon as I can. And I'll see what else we have that I can send over. Thanks for honoring us this way.
Eileen E. M. Scully
Founder, The Rising Tides
Making the Workplace Better for Women