View Full Version : Capehart stereo


Dawg
07-26-2004, 10:34 PM
Anyone know when the last Capehart stereo was built? My dad used to have one (I believe it was an early 70's model) and I'm trying to find more info on it. Thanks.

glen65
07-26-2004, 11:23 PM
Need a model number in order to locate any specific detail.

Dawg
10-27-2005, 10:50 AM
Well unfortunatley I don't have a model number as I was very young at the time.

The best I can do is scan some pics and send them to you. Perhaps by looking at the receiver you may have an idea as to what model it is?

Also in general I was curious when Capehart stopped making TV's/stereos.

Thanx.

bully
10-27-2005, 12:54 PM
Not soon enough.

blue_lateral
10-27-2005, 02:01 PM
Why would anyone care?


Actually Capehart was an old and respected brand. High end in the '30s. Their radios and phonographs had huge high-quality speakers and separate amp chassis with a lot of tubes. Comparable brands could probably be counted on one hand...

In the 50's they were associated with Farnsworth somehow. Yes, thats the Farnsworth who invented electronic television.

I have also seen a Capehart 8 track player from the 70's, and it was absoulute crap, even when compared with other 8 track players. This isnt the only time an old respected brand was bought up and then plastered on some horrible plastic POS. Fisher and KLH come to mind.

An interesting question might be "When did they go downhill?"

John

Justen
10-27-2005, 02:01 PM
That strange drive that makes any of us care about this stuff! Who really cares about an 1960's tv? Or an old 70's stereo? Obviously people here do....

Granted we may not think much about the brand, but he's just looking for some info about something that gives him warm memories... cut him a little slack!

blue_lateral
10-27-2005, 02:03 PM
Amen to that.

Brian
10-27-2005, 02:33 PM
Bully, Vintagestereo, tsk, tsk... Especially you Bully since you are the moderator. Vintage is vintage. Whether it is Capeheart or Pioneer of Quad or Mcintosh. I'm sure you'd not appreciate it if you'd mention Marantz or Sansui and got a similar response from those who only enjoyed Krell, ARC or similar and considered the mentioned brands as only for the uneducated unwashed unknowing and tin ears.

Celt
10-27-2005, 02:38 PM
Bully, Vintagestereo, tsk, tsk... Especially you Bully since you are the moderator. Vintage is vintage. Whether it is Capeheart or Pioneer of Quad or Mcintosh. I'm sure you'd not appreciate it if you'd mention Marantz or Sansui and got a similar response from those who only enjoyed Krell, ARC or similar and considered the mentioned brands as only for the uneducated unwashed unknowing and tin ears.
Exactly.

wualta
10-27-2005, 03:52 PM
Anyone remember reading Edward Tatnall "Random Rambler" Canby's reminiscences in the now-defunct Audio magazine about his college adventures (ca. 1930s) with the music department's gigantic and dangerously loud Capehart phonogramophone?

colortrakker
10-27-2005, 04:50 PM
Are you wondering when Capehart stopped making stuff or stopped marketing it? I've seen Capehart-branded stuff from the '80s. Not long ago at thrift there was a mid-'80s 25" Zenith console rebranded as a Capehart.

PS: I'd rather someone ask about Capehart than GPX or Yorx.

Dawg
10-27-2005, 04:58 PM
Wow, I was not aware that Capehart was such a crappy brand.

Also I was not aware about the rebadging thing of Zenith TV sets with Capehart name.

I don't think I've ever seen Capehart anything in the stores in the last 15-20 years.

Celt
10-27-2005, 05:29 PM
In all fairness, I think Capehart started out life making good stuff. As companies die off, there is always somebody ready to buy the "name" and exploit it with crap. IE: KLH, Fisher, Marantz and others. It happened in the musical instrument and watch industries too.

Dawg
10-27-2005, 07:19 PM
Actually I'm wondering why this particular stereo would be so bad? Did they not have good clarity? Was the volume not very loud before distorsion?

The one my dad had was pretty cool.....it had the backlit blue dial on it, the face was silver/woodgrain body with 5 or 6 silver knobs on the front of it, the 8 track deck was on the right side of the face beneath the dial, black tape door. I don't think it had a built in record player. Had "Capehart" inscripted in white lettering on the left side of the dial plexiglas cover. That's about all I remember....don't remember anything about how it sounded.

My Kenwood KR 3130 reminds me so much of it.

Justen
10-27-2005, 07:57 PM
Well, it wasn't so much bad as unremarkable... my grandmother has one and it sounds okay, fairly solidly built, late 60's early 70's vintage. All in one unit that suits her needs fine. But as stated before, it is one of those brands that got cheaper in quality over the years. Not something that most people would consider a collectible or desireable- but hell, some people here collect boomboxes, some have stacks of old tv's so probably none of us has room to judge! Your interest in finding out more about a piece of equipment from your childhood is cool here, despite what some might have said- I'm sure that if you could find a comparable picture someone could date it pretty well.

Personally I have an old Westinghouse console stereo that is rather unremarkable- it has a cool radio dial and a "cats eye" tuning tube. Doesn't sound that great but looks pretty neat. Not collectable I guess, but my grandparents had a similar one so I have good memories associated with it. I suggest if you find a Capeheart that gives you that feeling, buy it... sound quality is not an issue at that level...

Sandy G
10-27-2005, 08:54 PM
Capehart DID apparently, have some "smarts" about themselves-they were one of the companies contracted to build R-390As in '62-63. There were about 15 companies that made R-390As, most of them you've never heard of, some of 'em set up apparently for the sole purpose of making R-390As-and latching on to the Gov't swag & boodle. Even the Helena Rubenstein-the cosmetics concern-got into the act. They actually won a contract to produce R-390As, then realised they knew nothing about electronics fabrication, & had to go to Collins-the designers of the R-390A in the first place-and get THEM to actually produce the sets. A Helena Rubenstein-badged R-390A would about be equivalent to finding a SX-1980 NIB, never touched. No one has ever seen one, the R-390A fraternity thinks they all came w/Collins badges. One of my R-390As is a 1968 Dittmore-Friemuth-one of those R-390A "companies", it was actually made by Hammarlund.-Sandy G.

joenielsen
10-27-2005, 09:26 PM
Not sure where you're located but someone recently put a Capehart console up for sale in the Hartford, CT area:

http://hartford.craigslist.org/hsh/104557041.html

No affiliation, etc. I am just guessing that it is still available.

Dawg
10-27-2005, 09:32 PM
Thanx for the link, not like what dad had. I think his was called a table top stereo? It was one like you'd put on a table or a bookshelf....dimensions were around 18X12X5....

I'm still trying to find those pics.....

Justen I see you're in Advance, I'm in Fayettenam...what a small world. :D

Sansui Louie
10-27-2005, 09:38 PM
Up until now, I didn't respond because I didn't know HOW to respond. I'd assumed that Capehart was just another Soundesign/Yorx crapass brand...but from other posts, I've learned that it was an old moniker from the early days of reproduced sound...and the fact that in later years, someone capitalized on that good name and tarnished it with junk (i.e. Fisher, Scott and a host of others) just lends creedence to the glory of what once was.

Had this poster never brought up the Capehart stereo from his youth, I wouldn't have been aware that, at one time a long time ago, Capehart was on the cutting edge of hi-fi.

By playing Mr. Stuck Up Stickyboots, no one ever learns of this stuff. Let's be a little more open minded, especially with newbies, k?

tentoze
10-27-2005, 09:45 PM
By playing Mr. Stuck Up Stickyboots, no one ever learns of this stuff. Let's be a little more open minded, especially with newbies, k?

This is cogent and topical advice, folks.

Justen
10-27-2005, 10:05 PM
I'm in Fayettenam...what a small world. :D

NC is well represented on AK... welcome, BTW! Stick around, we might get ya hooked on something a little fancier than Capeheart!

bigphil
10-27-2005, 10:50 PM
I don't know whats with all the low-blows, AK is not usually like this, but I hope you don't take it to heart. I really hope you find the stereo your dad had, sentimental value is priceless. I have a pair of Sansui SP-100 speakers my dad has had since I was younger, not many (few) people seem to like their sound, but once I restore them 100% I'm taking them to my grave ;).

As for the capehart, that last vintage cabinet system did not look like crap at all so obviously there is no disputing that we should all give the brand a chance to represent itself before shooting it down. I think a picture would help the situation a lot - pics are always good :). Cheers and good luck!

Aage
10-27-2005, 11:02 PM
Actually I'm wondering why this particular stereo would be so bad?

Dawg, lissen up: Capehart, as an earlier poster said, were one of the VERY BEST brands in their heyday, '30s and '40s. GREAT stuff, extreme high-end.

So don't confuse what they represented to people THEN, with what they became at the miserable end of the marque's fate.

A lot of old prestigious companies went out that way. In the '50s and into the '60s, Fisher was tops. I have a tuner of theirs from that period that would sell for $1,000 on eBay today, no problem. BUT, when they sold the name to Sanyo, it quickly became evident that Sanyo only wanted Fisher for the name, and merrilly went on to sell tons of the Fisher stuff that was absolute junk.

It's sad, but that's marketing...

Dawg
10-27-2005, 11:22 PM
Hey fellas...no I don't take this stuff to heart. In fact I find it interesting.

I'll be honest with you....and how true this is I don't know but alot of people have told me the stereos made "back in the day" had much better sound quality than some of the more recent models.

In my home I own two stereo receivers, one of them is a Kenwood KR-3130 and the other is a Pioneer VSX-D308. Maybe it's my ears but I think my Kenwood (which is 1970's) surpasses the Pionner (1999 model) in terms of sound quality. However the Pioneer has more features.

The Kenwood even has a pair of Sansui SP-30 speakers hooked to it and still sounds good IMO.

I guess I figured dad's old Capehart was about the same. Even if not, yes that receiver brings back memories, especially when dad used to play George Harrison's 33 1/3 8 track on it.

I'm still trying to find some pics of me with it, circa 1980 or so. Might have to just sketch it out on paper. (Yep I can draw)

blue_lateral
10-28-2005, 12:20 AM
If you can find a pic or a drawing I'll keep my eyes open, and I think a lot of others here probably will, too.

John

Dawg
10-28-2005, 12:44 AM
Cool, well if I can't find a pic I'll draw it, I have a good memory of what it looked like in the pictures. Now who here would be kind enough to host the pic?

luvvinvinyl
10-28-2005, 05:56 AM
...Now who here would be kind enough to host the pic?
Dawg, you can upload the pic to AK's own server, so, to answer your question, YOUR AK server will host your pic. Use the 'Manage attachments' button, below the Reply text box.

Cosmic Charlie
10-28-2005, 08:24 AM
In 1977 right out of high school I went to work for Wakefield Capehart in Norwich Ct. It was more of an assembly plant. I worked in the mill room pushing wood through saws. On occasion I would wander around the plant just to check out the operation, not to impressive. The electronics were made off site and assembled in Norwich. I was making 2:10 hourly (min. wage) and paid union dues on top of that, I don't know what the union was doing for me @ min. wage. At that time it was basicly plastic crap. CC

Army
10-28-2005, 08:57 AM
Its' funny this thread came up when it did. I picked up a Capehart radio / phono console a couple of weeks ago at an auction.

It has no model number, but is in excellent shape. Nice looking walnut cabinet.

I'll have to post some pics later, maybe you guys can help identify it, if you'd be so kind.

fotno
10-28-2005, 09:02 AM
Dawg, so your another Ol' Heel Huh? Well it's good to have ya buddy.

Dawg
10-28-2005, 04:44 PM
Yep I'm an NC resident, but only because the military put me here.

Well I'm having trouble finding those pics of it so I went ahead and sketched a pic of it. That is the tape door off to the right side (which is odd because everyone I've ever seen had them on the opposite side).

I believe that's a head phone jack off to the left.

There's some writing under the Capehart logo but I left it off as I have no idea what they say. I drew this pic from memory and in the original picture I had the letters were too small to make out what they say.

If the pic isn't good enough I can redo it in pen as I just used pencil.

Dawg
10-29-2005, 08:55 AM
How's that pic look? Anyone recognize that receiver?

ketsie
08-30-2006, 04:03 PM
You all have me wondering now. My wife has been on me to take an old stereo down to the landfill but I've had problems parting with it. Any of you know if it's worth anything? It's a Capehart console circa 1970 with 8 track, cassette and record player - model 42L5C71 P

Cosmic Charlie
08-30-2006, 04:42 PM
After reserecting this thread you better have a picture. Just kidding, when I worked for capehart the consoles were done (77). As many times I roamed around the factory trying to stay out of sight I did not see 1 console, all either seperates or combinations of 8-track radio or turntable cassetts or all 4 in one package. I think they used BSR turntables at the time which at the time in my neck of the woods were considered not crap. CC

Dawg
08-30-2006, 08:52 PM
You all have me wondering now. My wife has been on me to take an old stereo down to the landfill but I've had problems parting with it. Any of you know if it's worth anything? It's a Capehart console circa 1970 with 8 track, cassette and record player - model 42L5C71 P

Hey I'd like to see a pic of that....please post pics.

wualta
08-30-2006, 09:07 PM
Sometime in the 1970s, one of the regular contributors to much-missed Audio magazine, one Edward Tatnall Canby (his Canby Singers used to record for Nonesuch) waxed nostalgic about the piece of gear that got him hooked into the magic biz of audio, the Capehart radio-phonograph from the early 1930s. If you can believe there was such a thing as extreme high end audio in the mid-'30s, this was it.

Anyway, Canby published his long rambling column about his adventures with his college music department's Capehart (playing whole symphonies on 78s and blasting them across the lake to another school, etc.) and that was pretty much that. I never knew the company lived on into the stereo era, but it was fun to imagine what it must have been like to know you owned (or were allowed to use) something that was at least 10 years ahead of anything else.

Turns out there are plenty of pictures of the old Capehart, and there's a site devoted to it, showing video clips of the machine playing 78s, flipping them like pancakes, only slower. Like I said, no ordinary phonograph. Have a look:

http://www.myvintagetv.com/capehart.htm

Aage
08-30-2006, 10:26 PM
Good Lord, what a Machine! Gorgeous piece, truly magnificent.

ps: don't expect to see this one at Good Will, folks.

Thanks for that website. Capehart and Canby, two fun, rich guys back in the '30s, what a life.

jedo1507r
01-07-2007, 12:29 AM
My friend has a Capehart Console Stereo system with phonograph, radio, built in amp, and 8-track that still plays. There seems to be a short between the 8-track and one of the speakers. The speaker cuts out sometimes when the 8-track is played. I was wondering what might be the cause of this. We have had the speaker out and the wiring seems to be in good shape. There is a set of external speakers connected to it that does not cut out when it is playing. Any suggestions? She and I aren't sure where to start other than the obvious.

Jukin Jay
01-07-2007, 01:20 AM
This may be a different Capehart, but Homer Capehart was a major player in the automatic phonograph industry from the 1920s through the 1940s. His record changer designs were used by Wurlitzer in jukeboxes for over 20 years. Capehart later became a US Senator. His Capehart brand was in its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_E._Capehart

glen65
01-08-2007, 05:59 PM
This may be a different Capehart,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_E._Capehart

Itís the same only now the name is just a label thatís slapped
on somebody elseís product.

Justen
01-09-2007, 07:48 AM
Well, picking up on this vintage thread- after looking at some of those stunning Capeharts, I wonder how many people (like my grandmother) bought their non descript tabletop "all in one unit" thinking they were moving up in the world because they could finally afford a Capehart. Where the name of the brand continues to have influence after the quality has long since diminished... other brands like Fisher, Marantz and Cadillac come to mind as well...