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 Post subject: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Jan Wed 27, 2021 12:11 am 
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Joined: Dec Sun 07, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 4836
Location: Meridian, MS 39307
I walked in the thrift store and found this Mathes (before he started letting everyone know that his first name was Curtis) consolette hi-fi phonograph from about 1958. As you can see, it needs some help; but, I think it's fixable. Electronically, it needs what all of them this age need. It has controls for bass, treble, and volume, and uses a series string amplifier with two 50C5's and a 12AX7. Looking under the chassis, it's full of bumblebee capacitors and it looks like something burned up, long ago. It looks like it had a plug-in rectifier (probably selenium) and someone soldered in a new silicon diode across the old holder. I figure the old rectifier shorted, and then the carbon composition surge current limiter resistor blew up and left the black soot all over the underside of the chassis.

As far as my opinion on CM stuff, their tube stuff was OK; but, even that stuff was often loaded with cheap parts (some of the parts were of Japanese origin). By the time they went solid state, they had pretty much gone to crap in the quality department; but, their equipment was still very expensive and way overrated. With that said and if I can find a place to stash this, I'll one day try to fix it.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Jan Wed 27, 2021 4:10 am 
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Joined: Feb Wed 04, 2015 12:26 am
Posts: 1652
I was under the impression the Curtis Mathis used Wells Gardner chassis or built them inhouse?


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Jan Wed 27, 2021 6:06 am 
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Joined: Dec Sun 07, 2008 7:05 am
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Location: Meridian, MS 39307
Artcurus wrote:
I was under the impression the Curtis Mathis used Wells Gardner chassis or built them inhouse?


The earlier tube stuff was built in-house, with the color TV's being an RCA clone. Most of the later tube stuff and the solid state stuff usually contained a foreign-built chassis. Most of the solid state TV's had an NEC chassis in them.

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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Jan Wed 27, 2021 6:51 pm 
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I think this would be a fun project. The grill cloth should be interesting, trying to acquire it.

Curtis Mathis, the epitome of Consoles!

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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Aug Tue 31, 2021 12:43 am 
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Joined: Aug Mon 30, 2021 6:53 pm
Posts: 6
I found this exact Mathes Stereo for $25 last week and snatched it up. After doing some research, this post may be the only one about this stereo on the entire internet.... soooo, here I am. Personally, I've made a few pairs of bookshelf speakers but this is my first project on something from this era. I hope to glean some of y'all's wisdom and experience without being annoying. :?

The Turntable powers up and spins at each of the varying speeds but is understandably dry. I plan to fully clean and lubricate the turntable. If I find significant issues after getting into it, is there issue with buying a similar era Garrard / Zenith / Grundig turntable on eBay to swap??? If it comes to that, are there better manufacturers than others?

Only one of the tubes faintly lit up after a few minutes of the plate spinning so I went ahead and purchased 2 new 50C5s and 1 new 12ax7 to replace them all.

Capacitors are my biggest struggle. Specifically, what are the exact, right capacitors I need to buy both in the preamp and also within the speaker wiring. Any help on that would be great!

Also, I am open to any tips / suggestions / advice etc. Lay it on me.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Aug Tue 31, 2021 3:31 am 
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Joined: Jan Wed 16, 2013 12:04 am
Posts: 2578
Location: 77001
Supply us with a model number or a chassis
number, so we can look for a circuit schematic.

The Voice of Music 1200 record changer is a solid performer,
if it has not been damaged by someone.
Mechanism and motor will need a thorough cleaning,
a new idler wheel and motor mounts.
We have the service file and there are good internet
videos on tear down and service of the changer.

New replacement phono cartridges such as a Pfanstiehl P-228
are available for a reasonable price.

The original cart may still function.
Post a close-up photo of it.

Hotwax


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Aug Tue 31, 2021 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Aug Mon 30, 2021 6:53 pm
Posts: 6
Thank you for your reply! There is no serial # or any info on the tube amp nor did it come with a schematic map. I do have photos of the Mathes Hifi label on the back of the stereo as well as item # on the underside of the turntable.

I'll get a pic of the cartridge as well. I'd like to upgrade that anyway but good to hear the turntable is a solid one. I cleaned and lubed the motor and it is spinning smoothly which is encouraging. I will definitely look into those videos you mentioned. Will help me greatly.


Attachments:
File comment: One of the capacitors on the underside of the amp that I was attempting to buy a replacement for.
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File comment: Turntable information
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File comment: Back of stereo information label
image_6487327.JPG
image_6487327.JPG [ 103.65 KiB | Viewed 991 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 1:19 am 
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Joined: Jan Wed 16, 2013 12:04 am
Posts: 2578
Location: 77001
The CM model # is 311MS per the printed label.
There is no schematic listed anywhere that I could find.
Even so, you can do the basic capacitor replacement
and check resistors.

1.What is your knowledge level of vintage amplifier
service ?

2. Do you have tools such as solder iron, DMM, wire
stripper/cutter, needle nose pliers ?

3.Review these capacitor & resistor tutorials,
if unfamiliar with the components.

Your amp has some "bumble bee" plastic covered
capacitors that may appear to be resistors.
They are not resistors. They are covered in the
tutorials.

https://www.wjoe.com/capacitorinfo.htm

http://www.wjoe.com/resistor_resources.htm

https://www.justradios.com/captips.html

https://antiqueradio.org/recap.htm#replacing

4. You will need to remove the amplifier chassis
to start service on the amplifier.

Take lots of "before photos" of everything you
see, as you proceed with dis-assembly.
Organize and label parts in containers as to
where they came from.

Photos will be invaluable when you are putting
everything back into the console cabinet.

5. V-M 1200 video series by Chris Cuff (RIP)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZffuxl9bB0

Hotwax


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 2:15 am 
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Joined: Aug Mon 30, 2021 6:53 pm
Posts: 6
Wow!! Really appreciate this. Thank you for the help.

I have very basic experience. I'm average at soldering from the few loudspeakers I've built over the years after putting crossovers from kits together but that experience was much like doing a Lego... just following directions. And I've replaced some burnt out lights with LED's in receivers but no experience with stereos from this era so I really appreciate these resources.

I will definitely review tutorials and watch the videos in order to familiarize myself with the components and processes.


Thank you thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 10:09 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 10036
Location: Redlands CA
They have some nerve claiming that Amp is "Hi-Fi" with two 50C5's and an output transformer the size of a matchbook.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 1:08 pm 
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Posts: 28068
Location: Detroit, MI USA
But everything back then was sold as "high fidelity" because most people didn't know any better. The speakers in this thing don't come close to qualifying as high fidelity either so they are an excellent match for the amplifier. It is what it is.

The redeeming things about it are the nice VM changer, the cabinet is wood rather than sawdust with a fake finish printed on, and the styling isn't bad for the era.

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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 2:33 pm 
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The cabinet is nice, but I’d be tempted to stick a Magnavox amp with the quad of 6V6 tubes and some decent speakers, and maybe a horn tweeter.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Detroit, MI USA
That would be a definite improvement. Even a simple amplifier with P-P 6V6's would be a huge improvement but you'd totally need to find better vintage speakers to go with it.

But I think it will sound OK, at normal listening levels, the way it is. Not high fidelity, and not fantastic, but OK. That's what the average consumer back in 1958 was expecting and unless they had a friend with a component type system, might not even have cared about the differences.

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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 6:09 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA USA
It was all about the furniture....

-David


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 9:19 pm 
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Location: Meridian, MS 39307
Eric H wrote:
They have some nerve claiming that Amp is "Hi-Fi" with two 50C5's and an output transformer the size of a matchbook.


After getting the amp working on mine, I can tell you that it is nothing spectacular. Years ago, I fixed a Magnavox mono portable that only had one 50C5 in it and it sounded much better than this CM.

Some of the tube CM stuff was OK; but, I think Magnavox, Motorola, Zenith, RCA, and the other big names were better. Once CM switched to solid state (about '67 for the stereos and about '73 for the TVs), their quality went way down. I've often said that CM was the most overrated, overpriced junk that was sold. When someone bought one, they were mainly paying for a cabinet and the 4-year warranty.

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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Wed 01, 2021 10:07 pm 
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Location: Endicott NY: home of IBM and McIntosh Labs
The V-M changer is OK, but imo If you do have to replace the changer a mid-level Garrard such as Model AT6/AT60 is better built and will treat your records better, with an adjustable counterweight arm and ability to take different cartridges, they are generally very reasonably priced and parts are quite available.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Thu 02, 2021 9:12 pm 
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Any chance you could send me a makeshift schematic and/or list of caps used to get yours working?

I am getting this up and running for my wife so we have a decent looking piece in our living room to play records on. She (as most wives) hates all the wires and speakers and receivers and clutter in living areas of our house.

radiotvnut wrote:
Eric H wrote:
They have some nerve claiming that Amp is "Hi-Fi" with two 50C5's and an output transformer the size of a matchbook.


After getting the amp working on mine, I can tell you that it is nothing spectacular. Years ago, I fixed a Magnavox mono portable that only had one 50C5 in it and it sounded much better than this CM.

Some of the tube CM stuff was OK; but, I think Magnavox, Motorola, Zenith, RCA, and the other big names were better. Once CM switched to solid state (about '67 for the stereos and about '73 for the TVs), their quality went way down. I've often said that CM was the most overrated, overpriced junk that was sold. When someone bought one, they were mainly paying for a cabinet and the 4-year warranty.


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Thu 02, 2021 9:20 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 4816
Location: Boston, MA USA
If you are used to wires and speakers and receivers then you are really not going to be happy with this set. Normally we frown on this, but here a case can be made for removing the old VM turntable and 3-tube amplifier and installing a good turntable and receiver in their place. Best is to use good external speakers but if aesthetics demand they be hidden you can cut away the speaker board and hide them in the bottom of the console.

-David


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Fri 03, 2021 5:30 pm 
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:lol:
dberman51 wrote:
If you are used to wires and speakers and receivers then you are really not going to be happy with this set. Normally we frown on this, but here a case can be made for removing the old VM turntable and 3-tube amplifier and installing a good turntable and receiver in their place. Best is to use good external speakers but if aesthetics demand they be hidden you can cut away the speaker board and hide them in the bottom of the console.

-David


David -I hear what you’re saying and not totally opposed to it. That being said, I have the turntable refurbished and running smoothly. Getting the idler wheel rebuilt and a new stylus is on the way so I’d like to use it as it fits nicely in the cabinet.

If I used a phono preamp and small amplifier in place of this small tube amp; my only hiccup is figuring out how to power the record player. The tube amp has the power supply and the record player has the on switch.

Can I run the record player through the preamp (and if so do I need new tubes?) and then take the rca + ground to the phono preamp?


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 Post subject: Re: Curtis Mathes hi-fi console record player
PostPosted: Sep Fri 03, 2021 7:12 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Detroit, MI USA
Since there are only a few dollars worth of capacitors typically involved in getting a small amplifier like that one working, I'd suggest going in that direction, and then listening to the unit for a while and then make a decision whether to replace the electronics and speakers with something better.

The old changer will be just fine with whatever amplifier you feed it to. If it comes to that it is very easy to rewire it to operate by itself, no need to keep the original amplifier connected.

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