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  1. "I find lacquer to be a beautiful finish on the right piece. Not ARs, though." Peter, if you have seen a Steinway piano in lacquered walnut, black-lacquer or mahogany, the finish is smooth with a satin luster and no pores showing -- reflecting the proper technique for sealing before applying numerous coats of lacquer spray. AR's supplying cabinet shops applied those finishes prior to delivering the cabinets to the AR factory for completion. Lacquered AR cabinets are really beautiful, but lacquered finishes are extremely high maintenance and prone to scratching. You can almost look at one and a scratch will appear. AR cabinets had lacquer finishes applied the same way as Steinway & Sons pianos, but probably not with as much manual attention and hand-polishing, etc. The technique was the same, however. Ironically, an AR-3 in lacquered mahogany was somewhat less expensive than the same speaker in walnut when, if fact, it was much more expensive to finish with a lacquer coat than boiled linseed oil. It's just that African mahogany was more common and a less-expensive wood than American black walnut back at that time. The problem is that today, 50 to 60 years down the road, these cabinets have dulled, turned opaque, become scratched and generally left to deteriorate, and this is true of many old Steinway pianos, too. But if you could see how beautiful these AR cabinets were when new, you would think very differently. Tom
  2. That does resemble mahogany -- and it could be -- but I think it is walnut-stained birch. In any event, the cabinets look great! Tom
  3. Yes. Villchur had a pair of oiled-walnut AR-3as that he used for many years in his den/living room in Woodstock, New York. With them, he had an AR Turntable, AR Amplifier, Marantz 10B FM tuner and a Tandberg tape recorder. The speakers were recessed part-way into the wall on both sides of the fireplace. At some point in the mid-to-late 1970s, quite some time after Roy Allison left AR to start his new company, Allison Acoustics, Villchur contacted him to see if any parts were available to repair the AR-3as, as one had a problem. In the conversation, from what I understand, Roy said that he no longer had access to AR parts, but that he would be glad to retrofit the AR-3a speakers with Allison: Three midrange and tweeter, plus the crossover parts to make the change—which subsequently occurred at Allison Acoustics. The new crossover for the woofer would therefore be 375 Hz rather than 550 Hz, etc. I suspect that RA went to get the speakers and returned with the new versions for Edgar Villchur. I would surmise that Villchur’s son Mark or friends of his daughter Miriam now have those speakers, but I don’t know. —Tom
  4. You know, I rattled on about refinishing these cabinets, but you mentioned that you might just enjoy them like they are now for awhile. There are several things you can do, but first and foremost is to get a scratch-covering solution such as the all-time favorite -- and still among the best -- Old English Scratch Cover. Get the dark wood or mahogany version, and you will be amazed at how much better it will make the cabinets look! Sorry I didn't mention this at the beginning. https://www.amazon.com/Old-English-Furniture-Polish-Scratch/dp/B01J05XFSO?ref_=fspcr_pl_dp_5_15524341011 -Tom Tyson
  5. Bingo! I think we actually discussed this a few years ago. AR (Roy Allison) found that many AR-2-series speakers were being returned to the factory for warranty service with the woofer cones displaced out of the pole piece, and at first the thought was that customers were wildly overpowering the speakers and damaging the woofers. These were nevertheless fixed under warranty, but RA found that the boxes were nearly air-tight when sealed, and when a box was handled roughly or dropped, sometimes the pressure change could force the woofer in or out, particularly the very compliant 10-inch (actually 11-inch) Alnico woofer. Allison decided to put a cardboard piece in front of the grill to suppress the sudden pressure change, and it worked. The other AR speakers were not as adversely affected, but all received the cardboard panel in front of the grill. —Tom
  6. Here's something for Acoustic Research audiophiles: do you know why AR said that the flat piece (above) had to be placed in front of the grill on the AR-2/AR-2a/2ax? This will be the real test for AR historians. —Tom Tyson
  7. Those would likely be international versions made in Europe. I don't believe that mahogany was used for the few wood versions that were made in Cambridge, Mass. Can you send some pictures? Thanks.
  8. I agree with Roy. I think these are oiled-walnut cabinets with quarter-cut grain, giving the straight sap lines -- with all of the veneer flitches from the same lot, likely. I also think I see the "demarcation" line between the molding and the side-veneer panel. It is very close. Tom
  9. This is partially correct. After AR moved operations to Norwood and the new blue labels appeared, the AR-3a serial numbers no longer had the "3a-XXXXX" designation, simply the serial number. But to the left of the number was the model number and wood finish. The first AR models used an alpha-numeric numbering scheme, so AR tried different ways over the years. —Tom
  10. One other note: The AR-7 was originally available in vinyl and wood cabinets. The wood cabinet, only made for a few years, was walnut-stained birch veneer.
  11. This is the least-common optional AR cabinet finish: korina. I believe that AR made some custom-order rosewood-finished cabinets as well, but very few. This wood was often used for guitars and other musical instruments, but it had a beautiful grain that was very popular in the early 1950s. Much like mahogany, it (as well as other blond finishes) fell out of favor for cabinet finishes in the mid-to-late 1960s when walnut became so popular. American black walnut is one of the finest woods of any type for furniture use, and the fact that it takes an oiled finish makes the wood ideal for speaker finishes! The finish was durable and scratch-resistant and easily restored. AR was a pioneer in the use of "oiled-walnut" finishes, but numerous other speaker companies also made it available by the late 60s. By the way, I've graduated to "Rookie" status. Tom
  12. Yes, these are 100% birch-veneer cabinets (note that unfinished pine and birch cabinets usually were made with plywood panels) with solid-birch molding. There were not a huge number made, but they are not "rare" in the AR-3. Very rare cabinets would be an AR-3 in Korina, but they are out there. I had a pair of KLH Fours in Korina, and it was a beautiful cabinet. It was great that Acoustic Research had such a large variety of cabinet choices, but having one of the cabinet makers next door to the plant helped quite a bit! Tom
  13. There is almost a faint outline of the cabinet molding in some of these images, particularly in the black-finish picture, which I assume is one of the speakers in question. Yet perhaps the molding on these speakers was covered with veneer all the way to the edge of the speaker cabinet, as with some of the AR-2-series cabinets (and most of the KLH cabinets, but without actual solid-stock moldings as with ARs). This must have been European-only (Holland or UK) characteristic in cabinet design for the 3a, as I'm pretty confident that the US-built AR-3as had the cabinet molding attached directly to the front baffle and sanded smooth with the sides of the cabinet. Covering the solid-stock molding with veneer would also have been wasteful on the AR-3a, so it doesn't make sense. Tom
  14. Those scars are very typical of old lacquered-mahogany cabinets, and there is a history in each case for the battle scars. My first AR-3 was in mahogany (it was a mono unit, all I could afford at the time), and I had it perched on a metal stand with a towel under it. A family member needed the towel for something and moved the AR-3 and managed to make the bottom look almost exactly like the scratched bottom of this AR-3. After many years, lacquer-finished mahogany (or black walnut) will not only easily scratch, but it dulls as well, as shown in the pictures here. I think that a mahogany veneer could be coated with something like Mohawk's M603-3016 Pour-N-Wipe finish: https://www.amazon.com/Mohawk-Finishing-Products-M603-3016-Pour-N-Wipe/dp/B07NC7VTJ3/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&gclid=CjwKCAjw3riIBhAwEiwAzD3TidYRTb0r-3uIRIFhG9p4B_oj1TYatND7JE4037fFYbaFvkqi43XmPhoCWiYQAvD_BwE&hvadid=418676322453&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9009599&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=1095600853971296636&hvtargid=kwd-883475645436&hydadcr=7693_9898649&keywords=mohawk+pour+and+wipe&qid=1628391453&sr=8-2 This Mohawk finish was developed for the marine industry, and the finish gives a satin finish that is difficult to scratch. I've used Mohawk on oiled-walnut and oiled-teak veneer with great success, and it would probably work well with mahogany as long as the wood was carefully prepared prior to application. Lacquer is wonderful and is the ultimate may to finish this wood, but it's difficult to apply. Tom
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