Zen and the Art of Ringing Doorbells

Posted on May 29, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

There's an entire feedback loop involved in ringing a doorbell.

You may not have thought much about the simple act of ringing a doorbell. However, when you break it down into the experience for the caller outside the home, and the residents inside, there's quite a bit to it.

When you ring somebody's doorbell, you are asking to be invited into their home. You want to make a good impression, and so does the host. From the callers perspective, you want the doorbell to be heard outside of the house so you are certain the occupants have actually been summoned. Think back on how many times you have rung a doorbell only to knock because you didn't know whether the doorbell was working?

  As the occupant behind the front door, you obviously need to hear the doorbell. But you don't want the sound to assault your ears. And you want your guests to have a good impression and a pleasant wait.

A long chime doorbell provides the best possible experience for all concerned. The luxurious long notes are loud enough to be heard outside so it makes your house sound welcoming. Inside the house, you and your family are alerted of guests by the harmonious sound of real bells.

  And when you greet your guests and they finally see your elegant doorbell, the Zen is complete.  An anonymous 1930s long chime doorbell copywriter summed it this way:

"A thrill for the visitor, satisfaction and pride for the owner... rich, melodious tones that vibrate throughout the house. Callers do not soon forget so distinctive a greeting." 

There is a certain Zen to it, don't you think?

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Posted in door bells vs door chimes, feedback loop, history, zen

Noise Enemy Number 1—Door Chimes vs Doorbells

Posted on May 22, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

In the 1930s, doorbells that rang like an alarm were considered at best, annoying, and at worst, as dangerous to ones health. After electric lights, doorbells were often the second residential electrical appliance in a home.  Early doorbells were exactly that:  bells which sounded like a fire alarm. Thus door chimes were marketed to combat  "Public Noise Enemy #1" and calm "Doorbell Nerves".

Sure, early doorbells alerted you that somebody was at the door but it was like hitting you over the head with a hammer!. In the 1930s door chimes saved the day by treating the world to a much more pleasant sound by striking one or more tubular bells or metal xylophone-like tone bars.

Today, door chimes produce the ubiquitous "ding-dong" sound we know today.  For more on the subject of door chimes vs doorbells,  please see the article on my sister site, the Doorbell Museum.

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Posted in Door bell nerves, door bells vs door chimes, DoorbellMuseum.org, history

Long Chime Doorbells in Movies and Television

Posted on May 08, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

Doorbells frequently turn up in TV shows, movies and the theater. If you spot one, let me know.

More often than not and unsurprisingly, their sound is used to announce a visitor. Sometimes, set decorators use doorbells to speak silently to the circumstances and set a mood. In the Wonder Years (ABC 1988-1993) a long chime doorbell is featured in a scene where Kevin and Paul get home from school and converse with Paul's family from the Pfeiffer hallway.

The characters lived in ranch style homes typical of the millions built in post war America. We all related to Kevin, his friends and family because so many of us grew up in just such houses.

In a stroke of brilliance the producers kept the show's setting ambiguous while taking extraordinary care to  precisely reproduce homes of the period. This enabled us to relate the characters to our own experiences as we picked out furnishings we remember from growing up in  Mid Century Modest surroundings.

In Edward Albee's absurdist play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a long chime doorbell has a stronger supporting role. The chimes are used to illustrate the fractious relationship of the characters with faith and each other.

The doorbell is at various times rung and violently bumped to advance the plot. At left, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton perform in front of the doorbell in the 1966 Warner Brothers film adaptation. 

ElectraChime doorbells have been used as stage props in a number of Virginia Woolf productions including a notable 2007 revival at the Sydney Theatre Company.

If you are producing "Woolf", ask us about prop rentals.

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Posted in Mid Century, Movies, Television, Theater

ElectraChime Long Bell Door Chimes on YouTube

Posted on May 01, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

Let me know what you think!

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Posted in ElectraChime, Video, Youtube

Two or Three Tubes for your ElectraChime Doorbell Chime

Posted on April 24, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 1 Comment

In this post, we'll look at whether a two, or three bell, ElectraChime is best for your application. 

The center bell in ElectraChime doorbells is entirely decorative. All ElectraChime doorbells ring "ding-dong" for the front door and "ding" for an optional third bell. When a caller presses your doorbell button, a striker hits the shorter tube to produce the "ding" and when the button is released, the striker recoils to hit the longer tube for the "dong".

Even though the mechanics of two and three tube doorbells are identical, the aesthetics are quite different. 

Without question, a three bell chime presents a fuller look. On doorbells with larger cases like the Comet pictured above, this can provide extra balance. The same cover looks more modern, and perhaps a bit less formal with two tubes beneath. So if you subscribe to a minimalist design philosophy, a two bell doorbell assures the form follows function.

In Feng Shui, odd numbers give Yang energy and even numbers Yin. Thus, a two bell chime has more feminine energy while a three bell chime has more masculine energy. Cecilia Walker's blog, everything in threes goes deeper on the subject. 

Design principals hold that odd number compositions—and in particular the rule of three—adds motion and interest. This can be explained that your eye and brain can't pair odd numbers of elements. Above, I arranged three vintage Rid-Jid patio chairs to demonstrate. 

I'm not certain I've provided any clarity to the subject of two or three bells or just muddied the waters a little bit more. And I'll so my best to resist creating my own doctrine of the "ding and the dong".  So I will just leave you with this old saying I just made up:  

Your house is your castle, so furnish it as you will.


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Posted in Comet, ElectraChime

Where to Hang a Longbell Door Chime

Posted on April 16, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

There are no rules as to where to hang a longbell door chime, just a few best practices.

It's a good idea to mount a long bell doorbell where it will be heard in the rooms where you spend most of the hours when you might expect visitors. A location near your front door is desirable as this allows your callers to hear the door chime as they push the doorbell button. This provides feedback that you have indeed been summoned. Ideally, your chosen location treats your guests to the sight and sound of your still resonating long bell doorbell as they enter your home. 

In general, a spot between 72 and 78 inches above the bottom of the finished floor to the top of the case is about right if your ceiling height is eight feet. You may choose to mount your chime at higher or lower to suit your taste. 

If you are lucky enough to have a door chime niche, The location for your door chime was made for you by a thoughtful designer.

At left a vintage, never used, Kensington by Rittenhouse Long Bell door chime has a commanding presence in a Chicago area home. Meanwhile, an ElectraChime Empire tubular doorbell graces a niche in Minnesota. 


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Posted in doorbell niche, ElectraChime, Empire, Gallery Photo

ElectraChime Empire Customer Photo

Posted on April 09, 2014 by Robert Dobrin | 0 Comments

Here is an ElectraChime Empire door chime keeping watch in a Mid-Century Pacific Northwest home. This million dollar view definitely warrants this stately doorbell.

This client chose a simple case and three nickel-plated brass bells. Look closely and you'll find the homeowner curled up with a good book.

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Posted in Empire, Gallery Photo, Nickel-plated brass bells