Making Cactus Phonograph Needles
By Bill Finch
During the war (W.W.II) we lived in a rented house and the landlady's
daughter, Vivian, had a wind-up acoustic phonograph. Vivian told me
that I could play her records but that I had to supply my own needle.
Vivian was 16 and had to buy her needles with her allowance. I was 10
and had no allowance.
To make a long story short I experimented with cactus needles. The
sound was fairly mellow and they lasted for about two plays. I found
that I could extend the life to about five plays if I soaked them in
shellac for about a week and then baked them in my mother's oven for
about 15 minutes. The sound from these treated needles was fairly
I ended up giving a batch to Vivian in trade for her copy of "Der
Fuhrer's Face" by Spike Jones. (You really had to be there at that
time to appreciate it). I still have the record and an aspirin tin
full of treated cactus needles.
(Message sent Fri 28 Aug 1998, 20:35:31 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)