Mystery Bar on Old Phonographs

I snagged a picture off of a video telling me about the wonders of “Living Stereo” records by RCA. I am guessing this was made sometime in the fifties.

What is the bar that is on the left hand side. I have seen this before on old phonographs, but new record players do not have them. What are they for, and why do they not have them now?

You could stack records on the spindle and the arm sat on top to hold them in place. The next record would drop down automatically when the previous record finished playing. There’s a piece in the spindle that holds the records up; when the tone arm reaches the end of the record, it goes back and activates the piece to drop a new LP. Then the tone arm will move back and drop onto the edge and start playing.

It has to go with the long spindle that goes through the centre of the record. On that spindle is a ratchet that moves to let one disc down when the preceding disc has finished playing (and when the tone arm has lifted off the record to get out of the way). If you didn’t have the bar on the left, the discs sitting at the top of the spindle would not sit horizontally, and might hit the tone arm while a record is playing.

This is why some double albums had sides 1 and 4 on one LP, and sides 2 and 3 on the other. You would stack them with side 1 under side 2, your record player would drop side 1 first and play it and then drop side 2. When side 2 was done playing you picked up the stack and flipped them over to play sides 3 and 4.

This one is a slightly different design, but here’s a picture of that extra bar doing its thing:

Record changer

Proper hi fi nuts frowned on such devices as they could scratch the heck out of your records each time they dropped a nonspinning LP on top of a spinning LP from a height of 3 to 4 inches.

Yes. It’s a changer.

Notice the metal insert tabs(?) on the center spindle. You could stack a whole bunch of records, and the arm and the tabs would allow one at a time to drop onto the turntable. There was a complex mechanical action; the needle reaching the middle would trigger it returning to the rest spot, so there was room for the next record to drop. The arm sat on top to detect records to drop and keep things level; the next record in the pile would drop, and the needle moves in to start playing the next record.

IIRC (not sure) one effect of this design was that a large box set collection, like “Beethoven’s Collected Symphonies”, would often have Symphony 1 on DIsc 1 side 1, DIsc 2 Side 1, Symphony 2 or Disc 3 side 1, Disc 4 side 1, etc. and ending with 9th symphony on disc 2 side 2 then disc 1 side 2. That way you could play a complete work without having to remove and flip the disc in the middle of the play.

This sort of mechanism disappeared with the advent of anal hi-fi in the 60’s. The type of abuse this changer could inflict on discs was considered not good handling.

I think every double album I saw had the 1/4 and 2/3 arrangement of the sides.

I assume that real dyed in the wool audiophiles could actually tell the difference in sound when records had been stack and played that way, but I played tons of records like that and I could never detect any degredation in sound. Whatever wear and tear records got was a lot more likely to come from the worn out needles, which were often about as gentle on the record as a ten penny nail. That, and the occasional scratch as the tone arm got bumped or dragged across the record. By the way, the OP should also check out images of the old 45 rpm players, that had a big fat spindle in the middle that did the same thing without the arm, because 45’s had a big hole in the middle. Etc.


Pardon me, whilst I search eBay for a walker.

I found if you had more than about five singles in the stack, there would be enough slippage between records to affect the sound. This wasn’t as much of a problem with LPs because they had a raised rim, so there would be vinyl-to-vinyl contact between discs. With 45’s, only the labels were touching.

A walker? A WALKER?

Why back in my day when a body couldn’t motate hisownself he took up a wheelie chair.

Up next, "“Why do they call them ‘skate boards?’” and “Why are old TV shows not in color?”

Officially, we are old. Don’t quite know when it happened, but it did. :frowning:

CMC fnord!
Who knows how to pop the adapter into a 45, the metal ones, not the crappy plastic ones.

Hey that’s exactly the record player my dad had!

Anal hi-fi? Most people I know used headphones.


Even though I am fairly young (under 30), I grew up with a record player.

However, I had never seen one of those before. I had no idea that you could stack them.

I guess you learn something new (and useless) every day.

Here is a page with the automatic 45 spindle adapters.

I had auto changers on all the stereos I purchased into the early 80’s. For most people being able to play a stack was more important than worrying about sound degradation from damaging a record with an auto changer.

I have a skateboard with clay wheels, like my first one.

Well, if you were looking at turntables in the 80’s then it makes sense that you wouldn’t have seen a record changer.

By the end of the seventies the only units that had this device were the kind of all-in-one stereos that you bought for a 12 year old. You know, the kind with the record changer on top, an AM/FM stereo radio, and an 8-track player/recorder in the front.

They were, as has been said by many so far, looked down upon. (like “Record Player” versus "Turntable)

Anyone buying separate components in 1980 would have bought a standard turntable, without this feature.

I remember taking apart quite a few of those. It seemed like such a neat mechanical gadget that it begged to be disassembled. And when you took apart a cheap record player, there was a spiffy A/C motor that baffled me because it had no brushes.