I am often asked about metal clips that are found on HMV gramophones fom the late 1920s and early 1930s.
At that time HMV produced semi-permanent needles called "Tungstyle" needles in special slimline tins. These will fit into the clips which are too narrow for standard needle tins. Tungstyle needle tins were available for different tones and in different colours and are quite hard to find nowadays.
Most of the 78s we come across are "Needle-cut" recordings in which the vibrations created in the grooves are lateral, that is side to side and, when they are played, the vibrations are picked up by needles that might be steel or fibre. The steel needles are used once only (three times at a push!) then thrown away. In the case of fibre needles (only) they might be re-sharpened several times before discarding, but in any case, the vibrations cause the needles to become worn. More so if the record is in poor condition.
Some records, produced by the Pathe Frere Company and others, followed the principle used in playing phonograph cylinders and these discs were "Phono-cut" with the information in the bottom of the groove. To read these vibrations a sapphire stylus was used which had the advantage of not wearing out and would play many records without the need to change. In this case the reproducing head and stylus vibrated up and down and the records were known as "Hill-and-dale" recordings.
In general needle-cut records are easier to play. When playing phono-cut discs the reproducer tends to skitter across the disc surface unless the turntable is set up with the greatest care!
It is not always easy to spot phono-cut records and they are easily ruined by using a needle by mistake. Less damage is caused the other way around as a sapphire stylus used in error would not damage a needle-cut record, but neither would it play the record.
If you have a gramophone that is designed to play phono-cut records, the tone arm might well be straight from its pivot and the reproducer will be at right angles to the tone-arm
whereas in the standard gramophone set-up the sound-box will be fitted parallel to the tone-arm on a right angle bend or goose-neck.
Occasionally "duplex" gramophones may be found with a reproducing head on the tone-arm that can be rotated from one position to another so that both a needle or a stylus could be used for the appropriate record. See pictures below.