I have been asked more than once what’s with that third tonearm? Why did they do that? It was built when?
The Ancient Mix Master has 2 turntables and 3 tone arms. The center tone arm can play on either turntable, while each turntable’s tone arm can be used as well. The intention was to provide a continuous soundtrack for home movies. The resulting sound(s) from the Ancient Mix Master are multiple samples, two from one record and one from the other. Mine was built in the late 1930’s by George K. Culbertson of Minneapolis, MN.
Years ago I was contacted by Roy Culbertson, a son of George K. Culbertson. He had found mention of his Dad’s machines on my web site and radio show page at KFAI. I sent them a hand written letter expressing my deep appreciation and wonder at the pioneering design of adding the third tomearm. George was 95 and in hospice at the time and seemed as excited as I was for the contact, and to know that one of his machines was still in use. Roy was able to read to George the letter that I wrote, thanking him for making these and telling him about using it on my radio show, in theaters, museums and club performances. In fact, I was told that George sat up and smiled, put his thumb up in the air and said “Another satisfied customer.” Very satisfied George. Very satisfied. George passed away in December of 2011. Thanks to the generous nature of George’s family who shared some images of old ads and an article with George himself from 1939! Here is a video with some of the images from these ads.
This pamphlet is from 1942. It will take you through the basic steps of making a dual turntable, and what kind of music to play for a particular movie scene.
One of my favorite descriptions of a performance was: “This sounds like the cartoon music in my dreams.” This video is from March 2012 and is a good example of the monkeyshine you can pull off when you have three arms.
Below is a picture and description of the Ancient Mix Master.
Item Description Function
A Fidelitone The Name of the particular unit. Made by the George Culbertson Co., Minneapolis, 1952.
B Micro” Input and control Microphone input jack and gain control.
C Volume and Mute controls The Black knobs are the volume control for each tone arm: Left, Center and Right. The Red buttons are supposed to mute the signal.
D Power Switch Turns on the power to the built in amplifier, motors and light.
E Motor control switches. One for each turn table, left and right.
F 45 RPM Adaptors One for each turn table, left and right.
G Speed Controls Three speeds: 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM. One for each turn table, left and right.
H Middle tone arm Inspired madness. Capable of playing on either turn table with or without the other tone arms.
I Power cord. Provides power once plugged in. The cord from the center of the table goes up to a small light with an on/off switch.