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VV 4-3 / Consolette / VE 4-3 X

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The Consolette (later referred to as the 4-3) was one of four premiere Orthophonic models that were introduced in the late fall of 1925. This new line of machines provided far better sound-quality than any of the earlier Victrola models, with superior frequency response, higher volume, and a far less "canned" sound quality than was experienced with the previous generation of acoustic phonographs.  For a description of the Orthophonic machine concepts, please refer to the page: Basics of the Acoustic Phonograph.
The Consolette was positioned as the lowest-priced Orthophonic model, selling for $85.00, which equates to about $1,200.00 in today's money. Early-production Consolette models (picture on left) used a small non-folded semi-exponential horn, and did not have a cover over the horn opening. It also used a basic single-spring motor which must be wound after each record is played. While it sounded great compared to the Victrolas of the past, it may not have initially sold as well as expected. When sitting on the dealer's floor, it was likely positioned close to the Credenza, which was the flagship of Victor's product line, and probably looked and sounded anemic in comparison. In addition, the low-cost Orthophonic models may have suffered from the perception of being cheaply made when considering the competing phonographs that were available in the same price range. The Consolette's underpowered motor, small 10" turntable, and the gaping open horn cavity that faced listeners when the front doors were open could certainly give buyers the perception that the low-cost Victrolas were of substandard quality. This is especially true when considering the ornate cabinets and powerful motors of the previous generation of Victrolas, which in late 1925 were still available from any dealer at half-price! So in late December 1925, a grille cloth was added to cover the Consolette's horn opening, the turntable size was increased to a full 12", and a vastly improved double-spring motor was added to enhance its appearance and performance (these same improvements were also made to the Colony model).  The retail price was increased by $10.00. However, for unknown reasons, these updates were rolled-out inconsistently at the Camden plant; therefore it is common to find Consolette models with serial numbers as high as 40000 with only some (or none) of the aforementioned upgrades being included. It is quite possible that the factory pulled-back those Consolette machines, which were still in inventory and waiting to be shipped, for a "retrofitted upgrade"; however, machines which had already been delivered to dealers or wholesalers would have retained the earlier (non-upgraded) design features. Based on information from surviving examples, this appears to be the most likely scenario.
By the spring of 1926, the Consolette name was changed to the VV 4-3, and factory production output became consistent; with its powerful and quiet 2-spring motor and an improved overall appearance, sales of the 4-3 began to improve.
In the summer of 1927, the 4-3 underwent a total design change to feature a larger cabinet with a modern, high-quality appearance (picture on right). The horn was improved as well, now with better bass response. Sales skyrocketed in 1927 and 1928, making the 4-3 one of Victor's most popular models ever produced. The 4-3 was gradually discontinued from production in early 1929 when low-cost electronically-amplified phonographs became commonly available.
The 4-3 was also available with an electric motor option (VE 4-3) for $35.00 extra, bringing the total cost to $135.00. Production for these electrically-powered models began on a low-volume basis in the spring of 1926, but it was never a big seller. Production logs show that approximately 7,500 of these machines were produced, however the serial numbers of surviving examples indicate that at least 8,000 were made.
The Consolette / VV 4-3 was available only in a blended-stain mahogany finish and bright nickel-plated hardware was provided. A total of 242,000 Victrola 4-3 (spring and electric) machines were produced.

 

The current survival database shows the earliest existent Consolette (4-3) to be S/N 932 and the latest to be S/N 238070

The earliest existent electric (VE) 4-3 is  S/N 740 and the latest is S/N 8601

Manufacture Date Serial Number Range Feature Notes
1925 501-30000      No grille cloth over horn. 10" turntable, single-spring motor. See note above regarding inconsistent production builds during late 1925 and early 1926.
1926 30000-65500 Name changed to "4-3" and turntable enlarged to 12" in the Spring of 1926. Auto brake added at s/n 39501.
1927 65500-156500    Cabinet design modernized at s/n 91000
1928 156500-223000    
1929 223000-234824    Higher serial numbers have been reported
VE 4-3 Electric:            
1925 None        
1926 501-4300     All VE 4-3's have a horn cover cloth
1927 4300-6600      Cabinet design modernized at s/n 6401
1928 6600-7750    
1929 7750-7929    Higher serial numbers have been reported

 

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