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Is There a 78 Revival Going On?

Posted by V.B., March 5, 2012 05:00pm | Post a Comment
To check out extensive LP label and price guides, head to the Vinyl Beat website!

One reaction to the digitization of our world has been the resurgence of vinyl and record collecting.Checker 78 vinyl little walter blues with a feeling People say it’s because a record feels real and sounds better than its CD or MP3 counterpart. Also dropping a needle on a turntable feels like a throwback to simpler times. Some people are taking it even further.

Some collectors are going to the roots and discovering 78s. BTW, these aren’t vinyls; they’re actually made out of a shellac mixture and are pretty fragile compared to vinyl. 78s have a broader tonal spectrum of 400hz to 10,000hz and they sound noticeably better than a 45, LP, CD, or MP3. There’s more music in their grooves!

However, there are some prerequisites for collecting 78s. First you need a turntable that can play them. A good portable ‘50s electric tube record player that can be bought at a garage sale for $50 - $100 will suffice. Purists will get an old wind up Victrola from the ‘20s or ‘30s that’s a real piece of furniture. Some prefer the cheap new designer players. They’ll work, but only until you get something better. The next step is to get a 78 needle if needed and to get your player in working order. Finally, you need to appreciate some of the music from before 1956, because there ain’t no Madonna 78s.

1920s 1930s 20s 30s victrola vintage vinyl 78s            1950s 50s electric tube record player turntable portable vinyl 78s


The rest is fun. There’s plenty of ways to find cheap 78s, such as garage sales, thrift shops, Craigslist, Amoeba (see Amoeba's online selection of 78s), and record swaps. Select the genres that resonate, and then start collecting and listening. There’s nothing like hearing Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline,” for instance, played on a 78. It’s a visceral experience.

There’s been articles written about 78 collectors like John Heneghan (pictured below), there’s references in moviesGhost World Steve Buscemi Thora Birch like Ghost World (pictured to the right) to collecting, and famous collectors like R.Crumb and Terry Zweigoff. There are also dealers like John Tefteller and Kurt Nuack who specialize in high-end 78 collectibles such as some of the pre-war blues records, which can go for up to $5,000 each.

Here at Amoeba, we’ve been selling 78s inexpensively ($1 and up) since we opened and we’re now also archiving some of them for our future web site.

Speaking of 78s, if you have some to sell or know of a collection, Amoeba is always buying

John Heneghan 78 collector

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R.crumb (2), Ghost World (4), 1950s (25), 1930s (19), 1920s (23), Victrola (1), Vinyl (126), 78s (7), 78's (3), 78 Rpm (3), Terry Zweigoff (1), John Heneghan (1)