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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Vibrators

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My very first vibrator was a coil vibrator called the Prelude, which I bought from Good Vibrations (GV). It was very powerful and I loved it, but it finally got too hot, temperature-wise, and I had to ditch it. I have found a couple more coils since, but they were not as intense. The next time I looked on the GV website, they had no coils.

Do you know why these seem to be a thing of the past? I sure could use a good powerful one now that I am dealing with delayed orgasm. The usual vibrator does little for me. Even the drugstore model is not as powerful as the old one I had.


“Coil vibrators,” so called because the motors inside the toys include coils, have been around for decades. They plug into the wall (instead of being battery-operated) and are beloved by many because they are quite powerful and are smaller and quieter than other plug-in vibes, like the Hitachi Magic Wand. The most well-known type (which, unlike the Prelude, is still produced) is the Wahl 2-Speed All-Body Massager, the design of which has changed little over the years (we have antique versions at the Tool Shed that appear to be from the 1940s that look pretty much the same as the ones Wahl currently makes).

You bring up two concerns that can be frustrating to vibrator-lovers. The first is that toys (like the Prelude) are sometimes discontinued by manufacturers, or their design is changed slightly so that the vibes have a different intensity or frequency of vibration. If someone has found a vibrator that’s just perfect for them, and they later realize that this vibe is no longer available, it is quite maddening. I agree with you that Wahl products have lost intensity over time, although they are still strong and well made.

The second concern is that coil vibrators seem to be harder to find, at least in sex toy stores like Good Vibrations or the Tool Shed. This is because Wahl recently decided to stop selling to "adult" businesses, for no other reason that I can see outside of sheer prudery. However, you can still buy their products at drugstores like CVS and Walgreens; they haven’t completely gone away.

There may not be an exact substitute for your beloved Prelude. There are lots of strong vibes on the market, but they aren’t interchangeable. If you aren’t happy with the Wahl coil vibrators available at drugstores, some newer types of powerful toys to try include the Fairy Wand line (which we do have at the Tool Shed; if you’re in the area, you can stop in and turn our floor models on and off to get a sense of their frequency and intensity) and the Eroscillator (which has a different type of motion from other vibrators, which some people really like).

Laura Anne Stuart owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than 15 years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.
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