Seeburg 1000 Restoration Complete!

Record changers are fascinating mechanisms from the recent past. Older folks take them for granted.
Audiophiles, enamored with vinyl, disdain changers. Noisy, common, abusive to records.

That’s a shame. From a younger person’s perspective, they are graceful and robotic. They are a pleasure to watch. It’s like contemplating a lawn sprinkler, relaxing and strangely entertaining. And with the Seeburg,  you’ll hear retro background tracks, music not intended to be heard above the department store din.

These selections, however, was laboriously written and recorded, one piece at a time, by real, work-a-day musicians. There’s excellence in the execution of these pieces. The recordings are solid and consistent. And, there’s lots of improvised solos and seemingly, entirely improvised pieces.  Some of the solos are pretty wild, especially for what is supposed to be background music. Listen to the final number in the demo video below.

I am fascinated by devices such as this Seeburg 1000 changer. Not intented for general use or consumption by the public. Intended to be hidden in a closet at the back of the store. Built like a tank, to work all day long, every day, for years.  The machine has many patents, all of them searchable on google patents.

For the uninitiated, here’s the basic introduction….

The Seeburg 1000 Background Music System is a phonograph designed and built by the Seeburg Corporation to play background music from special 16 2/3 RPM vinyl records in offices, restaurants, retail businesses, factories and similar locations. It provided a service similar to that of Muzak.  A full load of records, played all the way through, yields a about a 1000 selections, hence the name. 

This restoration was from a unit that was water damaged. The “compact” case that these turntables were built into are unattractive and have an awkwardly functioning door.  This one’s cabinet was quite rusted, and so I constructed a base to better appreciate the mechanism.  The unit was also available in an metal, chrome and glass cabinet, about the size of a large microwave oven. While certainly attractive, these cabinets take up a huge footprint, and again limit the appreciation of the Seeburg 1000’s form and function.

I don’t remember how I stumbled across these unusual players from the 60’s. But I happened across this decrepit example of a Seeburg 1000 BMC player on ebay, and the seller lived in Austin. We got together at the Vintage Radio Society Convention and Auction last November, and he sold this to me in its original form for about $100.
-by Pete Verrando

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