KS Musicmaster "point one five"

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by Mike Stehr, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    Two years back or so, there was a CL add for a mahogany entertainment center with "retro" stereo components.

    I hooked up with basically the stereo system that this guy Don bought back in the late fifities, early sixties.
    A homemade mahogany entertainment center, Altec 415A biflex speakers in homemade cabinets, a Eico HF-85 pre-amp, a Altec 345A power amp, a Webster Electric RTR with tube control pre-amplifier, and the Musicmaster TT.

    It's a Japanese idler drive record player, 3 speed, with a eddy brake type pitch control. It either came with, or he picked up a Velvet Touch (Gray bootleg) ball and socket type unipivot type tonearm. He had a Stanton/Pickering 380 cartridge mounted on it.

    I guess Don didn't feel like swinging the extra cash for a Thorens or whatever higher offering in the day, and went the budget route.

    When Don was showing the stereo to myself upon purchasing, he seemed to flash the turntable the most during the transaction. "It still works....See...."
    There were then stories of his wife and himself enjoying records over the years, and noodling with the RTR.
    I didn't think much of the TT at the time, I was mostly concerned about the Altec 345A amplifier.....

    Don appeared to be at least 90. I asked when he had last listened to the stereo, powered it up, etc. He said 15 years or so. I think it was more like 25-30 years.
    He had the fifth wheel and truck out in the front yard. He bought the 20 acre spread 50 years ago or more, and built the house. The wife had died 10 years earlier, and was down to him and the dog.

    Too big a place, and too tired and old to keep it up. He said his knees were going. He was cashing out the place, and doing the final retirement on his son's property at Bonnie Lake in the 5th wheel.

    I told him I was going to use and listen to the stereo components, at least most of it. That I wasn't some greedy eBay monster......
    Thanks to ol' Don, I have a pretty cool vintage piece of Hi-Fi audio history.

    I messed with the TT around a year ago or so, and then got into something else, and shelved it for awhile.
    I fired it up again a few weeks ago, and have been having fun.

    I ordered some 600,000 cst (centistroke?) silicone damping fluid, and used some. That helped quite a bit. I can tweak in the 2 second cue time pretty easy. It can be a touchy to tweak as well.
    Don made a mahogany plinth for the TT. It's a hollow type plinth.
    I want to make a solid constrained layer plinth for the Musicmaster, but will have to wait until the weather warms up.

    So for now I'll use the same hollow mahogany plinth, and thinking of bracing it with hickery hardwood flooring.
    Don had the tonearm base mounted too low, and jammed up right against the turntable base.
    And he had the spindle to pivot distance at 9 inches. JE labs Joe shows 200 millimeters, measured from a Realistic TT, using a Calrad version of the Velvet Touch tonearm. 200 millimeters follows along with the 9 inch Gray tonearm.
    200 millimeters comes out to 8.74XXXXX inches......So I made a little tonearm riser thingie, and made the spindle to pivot distance at eight and three quarter inches.
    There was distortion on the last two tracks before, I hope I come out better this time.

    I spent the day sanding the finish off the plinth. I liked Don's finish, but it was trashed. I got most the stain I could off, and he used some sort of water base clearcoat or something. Sanding was a chore.....however, the mahogany veneer is good and thick.
    I hit the plinth with a couple coats of boiled linseed oil. It looks a lot better in person than in the picture....it glows.....
    I need to finish the little tonearm riser, and mount the RCA jacks upon it. That will help shorten the tonearm wire path. Then a polarized power cord.

    I need to figure out something for a mat as well.

    I have a Shure SC35 cart/stylus to set-up on the tonearm once everything else is squared away.

    I'll see how the ol' Musicmaster sounds then.......

    Ugh....sorry about the droning post......

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  2. Redboy

    Redboy a few good watts Subscriber

    Mike, that thing's a real beauty! I love it! I saw one on eBay a while back that appeared to be made of brass. Very nice.

    What kind of motor does it have driving it? Is the platter as stout as it looks? At first glance, it's reminiscent of RekOKut, but dressed up a little nicer.
  3. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    Thanks for the compliment, Nate.

    Here's the motor. It's really nuthin' fancy. They are made by Suzuki-Denki. However, the US versions are named KS Musicmaster.

    It has a internal fan, so it does have a slight whirring noise. The fan noise isn't objectionable. You have top be right near the TT with your ear to hear it.

    The platter is aluminum cast, and roughly a 1/4" thick. It seems stout, but I haven't compared it to other idler drive platters.

    So what do you think, cork or rubber for a mat? I'm probably going to have to experiment to see.......
    The original mat is wore out and cracked. It's not worthy of donning records on it anymore.

    I really need to build up some sort of a phono RIAA tube stage, so I can listen to the beast through a tube amp.
    I'm using a JVC S-A5 integrated SS amp for now with my Cornwalls.

    Seems like a cheap set-up.....but it sounds really good. Way better than I thought it would.

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  4. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone, otherwise they'll just go up in price.

    Nice job on the turntable. I use mine with a GE RPX through a Quad II variable EQ tube preamp for my mono and 78 stuff along with a Magnavox PPP mono amp. It truly does sound better than I thought it would. When I first bought mine it was only for the arm but after listening to it I decided to keep it all together.

    I ended up using a old thick rubber mat. I tried cork and drawer lining material but I didn't notice a benefit with either of those. Perhaps one of these days I'll try a relatively cheap felt mat.

    Do you notice much rumble using a stereo cartridge?

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  5. Redboy

    Redboy a few good watts Subscriber

    The motor looks like the square motors found on a lot of earlier Rek O Kut tables. I'd be inclined to use a cork mat, but like Scuzzer says, you will want to experiment.

    Would like to experiment with one of those clunker old arms someday, too. I have a feeling I'd be surprised at what they can do.

    Hey, if you get a chance, would you shoot a picture of the platter bearing assembly?
  6. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    It looks to be the same as the one on mine and I tore mine completely apart, cleaned, and lubed it. Very similar to the motor on my ROK. Mike, does your motor have the two oil tubes connected to it?
  7. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    No not really. It's more of a slight low frequency coupling sound. It isn't objectionable, but it's there. It's not a rumble sound to me.

    I think some of the noise could be the hollow box type plinth. When I rapped on the empty plinth, it's got the hollow box ring to it.
    I just scrounged up some 3/4" Hickery hardwood flooring, to brace up the plinth and maybe get rid of the boxy ring....it may help.

    I don't think my TT motor has the oil tubes. I'm not sure, I would have to check again. I tore mine apart and lubed it around a year ago. I think it's just a matter of keeping the felt pads oiled. Tearing down the motor wasn't too difficult, but I don't like how the endbells are attached with the folding metal tabs. I was nervous I was going to break one.

    Here ya go. It has the ball bearing on the bottom, and the shaft rides in a brass tube that is threaded into the TT base.
    (The one pic I pinched.)

    It's a simple device.

    This project turned out longer than I thought. I made a tonearm riser, and kinda messed it up with regard to RCA jacks.
    I fixed it, and figured I'd paint it hammertone silver. It's cheap 3/8" plywood, like balsa or sumthin'.....
    Well, it turned out super lame. I was going to use it anyway, but it is just too ghetto looking.

    Scrounging some more, I found brazillian 3/4" cherry flooring. But I would have rip it down to 3/8" thickness. I don't have a bandsaw, and the stuff is like sawing through a brick.
    Scrounging more yet again, I just found some 3/8" veneered mahogany plywood from the RTR case the guy made.

    Now I can cut up a 4" x 4" square piece of the 3/8" stuff, and use it for a tonearm riser. If done right, the riser should look like a extension of the plinth. Except the sides of the riser.
    It should more professional than the painted balsa wood riser. It'll make a good template, however.

    I wanna get it going pretty soon.

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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  8. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    Well, the material I found turned out to be 3/8" raw plywood.
    While it don't look too pretty, it works.
    Sometime this week, I'm going to find a little 4" X 5" X 3/8" piece of solid mahogany to build another tonearm board/riser.

    That will make it more matched with the plinth.

    I took some 3/4" brazillian cherry hardwood flooring, and made some braces.
    They are just tapped in, but firm and tight.

    I just have to finish mounting the tonearm and cartridge, and then start setting it up. I might be able to listen to it tomorrow night if I don't cock around at it......

    Finding the proper metric sized screws for that Kasol, (cartridge slide) is a exercise in futility. I gave in and retapped to standard.


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  9. Redboy

    Redboy a few good watts Subscriber

    Very nice, Mike. I really like that table.
  10. Big Bill

    Big Bill Summertime Rolls..... Subscriber

    Nice table!
  11. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio


    Ok. I finally got the Musicmaster going tonight.

    Setting this tonearm up can be a challenge. I still have to tweak in the spindle to tonearm pivot distance. Ol' Don had it set up at 9 inches, and it always sounded funky on the last two tracks. (more distortion, drop in highs, rounded bass)

    I think the spindle to pivot distance is 200 millimeters. Or 8.75 inches.
    I'm still a 1/6th of a inch off at 8.8125.


    I'd be forever grateful if you could measure the spindle the pivot distance on your Musicmaster TT. You have the TT base and Velvet Touch tonearm on a stock Musicmaster plinth, IIRC.
    That would confirm the spindle to pivot distance. If you don't mind.

    Nonetheless, the last two or 3 tracks sound much better now, more consistent through the whole record.

    If the plinth isn't very level, the tonearm will sag to the lower side and go unlevel....kinda interesting...
    I have four Robinson Aviation Vibro-shock (Met L Flex) mounting Isolator/brackets, a retired air force estate sale find.
    These things are probably period specific to the turntable. (early, mid-'60's?)

    They have threaded holes on the top of them. I fitted screws and nuts in them, for adjustment to level the plinth.

    Most the weight of the plinth is over the TT base, so using three of the isolators seems to work best for leveling. You can tweak and level the tonearm base with three leveling screws, but I had the best luck with keeping the base flush with the tonearm board and worry more about leveling the plinth.

    The arm has fixed overhang, so much for that option........

    The VTA is determined by how much you adjust the screws on the silicone damped unipivot ball and socket. It's a tweak and adjust thing.......

    In order to get much adjustment with a (Baerwald?) gauge, I had to kinda hog out the mounting holes on the cartridge. Then I could get enough slop to adjust the cart on the gauge the best I could.

    With all the weights I have in my "Kasol", I still have to park a couple of pennies on top to keep the stylus from riding on top of the grooves.
    I need a scale and a trip to Harbor Freight.

    I think I can get away with a stylus with bit less stiff cantilever action.
    Then again, I've only plowed through a couple records so far. It may loosen up more.
    At the first record play, the cart/stylus had a rolled-off sound. It seemed to sound better after a couple LP's.......but then again, my ears might be adjusting to it. Or the LP.

    All in all, it seems to sound rather good so far. Plenty of strong bass on a old Jimi Hendrix-Bold as Love record. Good sound.

    Xavier Cugat and his orchestra cranks on "tequila".

    But now I gotta chase hum monsters. I think I may have disconnected the tonearm ground setting it up.......that sucks....
    It really growls when you get a finger near the cart jack pins, it wasn't that bad before. I'll chase it out.

    Someone mentioned cheap magnetic screws around here maybe causing problems. I may as well convert them to nylon.

    I even scrounged up a little lamp that's kinda the same vintage as the TT. Even the interconnects are 50 years old.
    Still need a mat. I'm thinking Felpro FRP 3005 combination cork/rubber at 1/16th inch thickness.


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    Last edited: Jan 16, 2010
  12. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    My center to center is 8.875 inches with no distortion or other stuff happening in the inner grooves.

    On mine you can adjust the vta by raising or lowering the three mounting bolts via the thumbscrews. I dialed in the 2 second drop and then leveled the arm using the 3 mounting thumbscrews.

    Noooo! They didn't have Baerwald then IIRC, use a Stephenson or just bolt it up and go.

    With mine the previous owner drilled out the counterweight so he could mount a Shure M44. I use a quarter and a couple of pennies to add counterweight to the backside, at least until I get a few more cartridge slides built so I can zero out the VTF. Of course I'm using one of the heaviest cartridges around, the GE RPX-052

    I've played plenty of Cugat via mono LP and 78. The lecherous old man sounds pretty good at high db.
  13. Mike Stehr

    Mike Stehr Poverty Audio

    Thanks Skuzzer for measuring that spindle to pivot distance. It's much appreciated. I'll adjust it a bit more.....I'm pretty close I guess.

    You'll have to bear with me. I'm still a bit green on TT terminology. I'm better with tube circuit terminology.....to a point....
    Even though I went through my childhood beating up records, I just played them.
    I meant VTF instead of VTA. My tonearm has the three thumbscrews, and it is the same as yours.

    I also didn't realize Bearwald guages were not around in the day.
    Never heard of a Stephenson gauge.

    The cart and stylus seem to breaking in pretty good I suppose. I may try the N35X stylus in the SC35C cartridge when I'm a bit more flush.

    Thanks again.

    You too Nate, and Big Bill. Thanks for the compliments.
  14. RobRoy

    RobRoy It's just stuff - but fun

    When I worked at Jafco in the mid-70's a customer gave me his old system when he bought a new one from me. A Fisher tube integrated amp (dark brown paint with brass edges) and a turntable. I saved the turntable under my daughter's bed and one day the slats gave way and squished it. I threw it away.

    When I got back into vintage hi-fi a few years ago I searched the web for a photo of it. It was yours, except the wood was stained and varnished mahogany. Oh, and it had an off-white rubber mat. Everything else is absolutely identical, assuming the tan paint is crinkle finish. It is one of the few old pieces I used to have that I really wish I still had.

    Nice TT...
  15. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    The plinth was originally stained veneer but the guy I bought it from thought he'd pretty it up with a nice coat of cheap paint. I've been meaning to build a new plinth for it but it works just fine as is. Mine came without a mat so I used a thick old heavy one I had on another turntable.
  16. JohnVF

    JohnVF Banned

    Are you still liking this? I just had a KS Musicmaster (more like the one in the original post) end up on my doorstep. Odd, considering I don't have a doorstep. But its here, and it doesn't work (I think it may just be the power cord), and I'm wondering if its worth the trouble. I already have two Lencos and an Empire motor unit in line for whenever I get out of high-rise living into a place with a workspace.
  17. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    Is it the greatest idler turntable ever made? No. However it meets my needs and it does a great job with my mono collection, both 78 and LP. I originally bought it for the arm but after getting the turntable cleaned up and lubed I just couldn't scrap it. The "point one five" should be a slightly better table considering it's heavier build and has a machined platter. Mine has a rather simple stamped platter.

    I know someone who'd dispose of that Musicmaster properly if you're not so inclined to mess with it in your cramped quarters...:D
  18. JohnVF

    JohnVF Banned

    And who would that be? I need to look into it- it has a gigantic motor and the strangest tonearm I've ever seen. The arm has no vertical movement, it just swings around and the stylus protrudes from the arm. Very strange- I'll need to take pictures. I'll probably start a thread on it at some point. Its just the motor/idler unit on a board, taken out of a console, with the arm attached to the board.
  19. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    Too bad it didn't come with viscous damped tonearm. Looking forward to your thread.
  20. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    Hey John, maybe it's an Argonne GA-4 tonearm?


    The name finally came to me while I was cooking chili tonight.

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