Niche Biz: Phonographs

While many people are starting businesses to try and improve the future, some people are more than happy to look back at the great inventions from our past.

Don Gfell is the owner of Sights and Sounds of Edison, a phonograph recreation and restoration business located in the hometown of Edison himself. Sandusky Register reports that he has found much inspiration in a music player that many would consider outdated.

Dozens of phonographs are stored in Gfell’s antique shop in Milan, which he has operated with his wife, Bobbie, since the early 1990s.

While phonographs are unique, Gfell recreates the rarest of the players.

More than 99 percent of all phonographs ever created were metal. But wood is not only good, it’s better for phonographs, Gfell said.

The wood must be specially prepared, chosen from a tree no younger than 200 years old and cut by quarter-sawing the log.

Gfell, who has constructed hundreds of wooden phonographs, also carves the wood. He then shapes the rounded reproducer so sound can burst from the player and fill the room.

Dubbed the “wood horn man of the world,” people from as far away as Australia, France and Japan buy Gfell’s creations and restorations.

Photo by Gregory Moine

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