Judy Spotheim: Seeing & Hearing The Light Page 2

Scull: Can you tell us, briefly, how it works?

Spotheim: Well, think about an ice-skater spinning a pirouette on one skate. When he wants to slow down, what does he do? He drops the other skate to the ice and controls the spin, turning more slowly until he stops. But it doesn't mean that he couldn't continue turning. He would just lift the other skate back off the ice, you see? That is the basic idea of how the two pivots work.

Scull: They have to be close to each other?

Spotheim: Yes, so the second pivot doesn't hinder the travel of the main pivot. You must understand that there is no such thing as a true unipivot. They all have to have an antiskating adjustment. And the antiskate device ties the tonearm to the base, so you end up with two pivots, or one pivot controlled by another. In reality, a true unipivot arm simply does not exist.

Scull: I see. Judy, you've got customers all over the globe, is that right?

Spotheim: Yes, I even have one in the Far East who wanted the base-plate, usually stainless steel, to be done in titanium!

Scull: Very exotic.

Spotheim: Yes, and very expensive, very crazy to manufacture. There's only one place I could turn to for that kind of work—only one factory that would meet me with a cup of coffee and a cake, so to speak. But surprisingly, they told me "No problem"! When I received it from them, of course, I was very curious to hear it and see how it worked. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. But I found it so difficult to part with. [laughs] I knew I wasn't going to do many like that—in pure titanium! Anyway, I finally sent it to my customer, and I received such a nice letter back in return. He even sent me a book written by his father.

You see, sometimes I have good contact with my customers, people who really appreciate how it's made as well as how it sounds. You know, I listen to every turntable and tonearm before it leaves. I adjust it, I fine-tune it—I enjoy. I like to break it in a bit and I try at least two cartridges in every arm, for instance. I have to know my babies, Jonathan!

Scull: [laughs] Right!

Spotheim: I could never make La Luce or the SpJ arm with mass production, for example.

Scull: No, Judy...you'd better not.

Spotheim: I was hoping you would ask me why I called it La Luce.

Scull: You take the words from my mouth.

Spotheim: La Luce is Italian, of course. It means "the light." You could say the name came to me from the mouths of babes. Some local children come to my place to play around in the yard with the animals I have there—like my cat, and the chickens and so on...

Scull: Chickens?!

Spotheim: [laughs] Not chickens...how do you call them? Ducks!

Scull: Ah-ha. I knew there weren't any chickens pecking around your yard.

Spotheim: I have small ducks in a pond behind the house. So one of the children was at that time about eight years old. He liked sometimes to listen to music because, you know, he found it so nice. He was looking carefully at the turntable late one afternoon when a ray of light came through the window. He suddenly said, in Dutch of course, that the turntable not only made music but it also played with the light.

Scull: Ahhh...

Spotheim: Yes, and I said to myself, "That's it!"

Scull: You know, George Cardas is such a hippie, he told me to put a colored record on the platter and shine a light through it.