Sunday, September 16, 2012

Groovy Baby or Brother, What a Stereo!

On my way home from work Friday while driving on Mueller Road in South County, I barely caught sight of a garage sale sign on a side road.  I almost dismissed it as an old sign until I saw the word "Today" on it.  Occasionally, people will have a Friday evening pre-sale, so I knew it was a possibility.  In the time it took to process all of that, I had already passed the street so I had to turn around and head back.

I found the address and saw the garage door was up, but saw no signs of life.  I walked up the driveway and into the garage, but still couldn't find anybody.  It was clearly being staged for a garage sale with items laid out on tables, but I began to wonder if I was a day early.  I saw a large white object and could see the label "Brother" on it.  Knowing Brother from the old days of dot matrix printers and word processors, I assumed that's what it was until I got a closer look.  Once I realized it was this, I wasn't leaving until I found someone.



The door from the garage into the house was open and I heard someone moving about, so I bided my time looking at the other items waiting for someone to come out.  An elderly man finally did come out and I verified he was open for business.  I asked him about the stereo and he said it was his son's.  He said it worked, but that his son was looking at the needle and thought it was broken because the cartridge was hanging out.  I asked him how much it was hoping it was $20 as I'd already made up my mind I wouldn't spend more than that.  He wanted $30.  So after looking through the rest of the sale and picking up $2 worth of items, I left him my business card and told him to call me if it didn't sell and I would offer $20.

Driving away, I immediately began to regret it.  I texted a friend that I'd just passed on a way out '60's stereo and he asked "Why?".  I was asking myself why as well.  By this time, I was about a 1/2 mile away, but I swung a U-turn and headed back.  Ten minutes later and $30 poorer, I was headed home with it.





Who knew Brother made stereos, much less stereos this cool.  It's meant to emulate the Eero Saarinen Tulip design and probably dates from the late '60's to early '70's.




It works great and after looking at the tone arm, it was a simple matter to snap the cartridge head back in place. It was missing a needle, but I found those are easily and cheaply replaced. It uses a Tetrad TC8HO cartridge and a separate needle snaps into it. I found a needle on eBay for $6 with free shipping and bought it.  The turntable is made by BSR (Birmingham Sound Reproducers) out of England who produced turntables for 87% of the stereo market at one point in the 1960's and '70's.


I found absolutely no information about this stereo on the Internet.  I did come across two posts of other people who had come into possession of similar Brother stereos (coincidentally another here in St. Louis), but they didn't know anymore than I did.  There's no model number or name on it.  The other stereo from St. Louis was posted on Mr. Modtomic's blog.  That model had a lid that covered the entire top of the stereo and featured an equalizer.

I'm going to hang onto this one for a while and have some fun with it.

***Update***

I have since learned the name of this stereo is the Brother Charger I. 

I also came across this archive of the Bangor Daily News from May 22nd, 1975 with an ad for Zayre's Department store:


This is actually the Brother Domino II (note the full dustcover and equalizer) which I believe is the descendant of my Charger I.

24 comments:

  1. WOW. i've only ever heard of these. i am betting that it is an amazing SCORE. i'm green with jealousy!

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  2. My very first job, my first purchase I actually saved money for, my very first stereo! I bought this and Black Sabbath in the same purchase :) This stereo also included a monster pair of headphones...I just googled 1970's brother stereo hoping to find a photo, thanks for this post and the good memories

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  3. Me again. I have to now admit to not having read your entire blog entry, I got so excited by just the pictures alone but after posting my comment I started to read the rest of your story and WHAM! Guess where I'm from? I worked at the Steak n Shake at Lindbergh and Lemay Ferry Rd. at the time I purchased my stereo.....small world, lol

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    1. I bought that stereo no more than a mile or so from that Steak 'n Shake. You sure I didn't buy yours? :)

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  4. How funny is that....not at all sure you didn't :) I've talked about that stereo through the years and always referred to it's design as a mushroom....The memories I have with that stereo are like gold though. To this day I am a complete music lover who rarely turns on a t.v.

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  5. So, What did you pay? What is one worth? I have one and can't find any information on it.

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    Replies
    1. I paid $30 for it. As far as its worth, I've seen them on eBay for $75 to $300 depending on their condition and completeness.

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  6. Man, $30 is just into that range of "I could get burned on this", since there's so much vintage stereo crap out there that is worthless. But you did the right thing, doing the "walk of shame" back to take the item for full price.

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    1. Yes, I'm not above the "walk of shame" when the end result is something really cool. But you're right, it was a gamble.

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  7. I had one of these when I was a teenager. Cool!

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  8. Like others have mentioned, was my very first stereo too. Bought at my first job (furniture store) around 1975. They had a few repoed stereos in the basement with the bargain stuff, went right for the Brother...guess it was the space age look of it. Got it for $30 without the stand(figured I didn't need it) with my first pay. The plastic speaker cabinets had the first tweeters I'd ever owned, thought that was high tech. Used the FM, record player, and 8 track in my teens till i saved up enough to get a sansui amp that would blast.

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  9. I just got one of the Domino II's for $20!

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    1. Excellent. An even better deal than mine! I'd love to see pictures of it.

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  10. Both my mother, my father's brother, and the owner of the hardware store my dad worked at had one of these. The theater guild I volunteered at used a pair of the speakers as hallway monitors for the stage audio feed. I ended up with Mom's old pair of them. They sounded ok. If I recall, the woofers had paper surrounds, but the throw was very long for a paper surround.

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    1. Yeah, this isn't state of the art by any means, even for the time, but it sounds okay in a small area and looks so darn cool.

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  11. I have this exact same turntable with the stand and speakers in my garage as I type this. My dad was a pack rat and has all kinds of random things..I remember it sitting in the corner of the garage under a burlap sack for as long as I can remember. Maybe I need to get it out and clean it up, see how it sounds.

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  12. Thanks for the information. I received this as a gift today and I'm amazed there isn't any more information out there. I believe mine is the Charger I since it has the half-cover. My base is slightly different as well. The shape of the table matches the radio, but the tulip part is round and metal.

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    1. You're welcome. Glad to hear of another found in the wild.

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  13. I have recently come into possession of a similar stereo. It is a Charger 2. It was my grandmother's and I found it in our old river house. It's a little bear up and the stand is gone but I have it. The 8 track seems to function but not actual play. The tuner works fine and the record player wants to work so bad. I want to get it up and running soon.

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  14. I have recently come into possession of a similar stereo. It is a Charger 2. It was my grandmother's and I found it in our old river house. It's a little bear up and the stand is gone but I have it. The 8 track seems to function but not actual play. The tuner works fine and the record player wants to work so bad. I want to get it up and running soon.

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    Replies
    1. The 8 track heads might just need to be cleaned You can do that with a long cotton swab and some alcohol. What doesn't work with the record player?

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    2. The loading arm won't budge and I'm sure it just needs a new needle. I can get the needle on the record and it will play, but it's very quiet. It also doesn't stay in place for long. I goes for about a minute then just slides on through the record.

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    3. The loading arm won't budge and I'm sure it just needs a new needle. I can get the needle on the record and it will play, but it's very quiet. It also doesn't stay in place for long. I goes for about a minute then just slides on through the record.

      Delete
  15. We have one of those consigned into tomorrow's auction if anyone is still in the market for one be sure to stop by!

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