How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

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How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by tylerbcrawford » Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:58 am

Just wondering for curiousitys sake. I know towards the end of of the 60's companies started making 8 track R2R and I know they used to use tube desks and plate reverbs.

What about mics? u47's, sm57's, but what else? Did they even have outboard pre's back then?

When did compressors come into play?

I'm really interested in this stuff which is why I'm waiting patiently for a book like Recording the Beatles!

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by Wonderland » Sun Oct 24, 2004 2:30 pm

As far as outboard pres go, I've always been under the impression that the highly coveted vintage pres of today were just the modules ripped out of the boards of yesteryear.

If that's true, I don't see why they would've needed an "outboard" pre or that there was such a thing then.

I'm no expert & I certainly could be wrong, though...

So don't hold it against me...experts. :wink:

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by percussion boy » Sun Oct 24, 2004 2:52 pm

What you said. Also ribbon mics (RCA, Coles), other fancy Neumanns and high-end dynamics (e.g., d-12). The old EV mics like the RE-15 and the 666 were sometimes used for recording.

Remember. there was no prosumer market in the sixties, so basically you had to spend a lot of money to open a full-fledged studio, but it would have good stuff because good stuff was all you could get. So you wouldn't buy outboard pres, but your board (although it might *look* primitive and weigh a ton) would probably sound great. Same for your recorder.

In addition to plate reverb, they also used echo chambers -- a hard-surfaced room with a mic and a speaker. Certain studios (Capitol in LA, I think?) were famous for the sound of their echo chambers.

Fairchild compressors were available in the 60's, if you had the money. The LA3-/LA-4/1176 didn't get big 'til a little later. Small studios like Stax and Muscle Shoals made some famous records *without* compression.

The well-financed, forward-seeing companies like Motown and Atlantic pushed up the track count as soon as possible. According to Jerry Wexler's book, Tom Dowd bought an early Ampex 8 track for Atlantic before 1960.

Two other points: It was common for musicians to play together in a room in the sixties -- even after multitracking came in -- so the sound of the room mattered. Also, synthesizers hadn't become a force yet, so orchestral instruments (horns, strings, mallets) were used a lot more to get additional colors in the arrangement.

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by chetatkinsdiet » Sun Oct 24, 2004 3:07 pm

Read the book Temples of Sound. It describes most of the famous studios in the US and UK.

It's all pretty much been said, but the usual cast of characters....Neumann U67 & 47 mics. EV dynamics like the RE15, 16 & 18s were used. Shure mics as well....57 or 545 primarily. Still a bunch of ribbons being used....RCA, etc.
Other gear was just really great boards and tape decks. Reverb usually was natural or in the form of a reverb room with a monitor and a mic. Delay was tape delay. Compression and eq were Fairchild and Urei stuff when needed at all.
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m

What it really was back then was very talented musicians all playing in the room together with equally talented people manning the recording process. As was mentioned before, there was no pro-sumer gear back then so it was all top notch or homemade, which in turn was pretty top notch as it was all tube or discreet based stuff. Usually this stuff was made by guys that had EE degrees as well. So, they knew what they were doing.
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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by wedge » Sun Oct 24, 2004 6:26 pm

Here's the bloody ironic thing -- and something I've having a hard time drilling intp the heads of my ill-informed bandmates -- that the technological limitations of the 50's & 60's (low track count, mostly) was actually a god-send insofaras the quality of the final product was concerned. The band was forced to play it live as much as possible, and thus, vibe, that hard-to-capture-these-days, undeniably powerful vibe, was a given on most recordings. Since technology has improved (cough) the recording process over the years -- giving an amazing amount of flexibility -- vibe has dwindled to the point of seeming to be a unattainable holy grail of sorts, when the answer is quite clear: play it live. Put another way, the limitations of yesteryear was actually a brilliant stew, whether intended or not, and the flexibility of today is a complex web of hard-to-fathom choices, leading to gobs of questionable music. Or, put even another way, seemingly, the 50's & 60's was the golden era of recording, apparently. Picasso once said that great art cannot be created unless the artist self-imposes limitations. Back then, these was no need to self-impose. Now, for f*ck's sake, there is!

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by MichaelAlan » Sun Oct 24, 2004 10:01 pm

That's a good point. My guitar player and I are always trying to find a cleaner way for us to record live. Sometime's it's very noticeable difference. We are, after all, a live band.


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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by hollywood_steve » Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:16 pm

Two other points: It was common for musicians to play together in a room in the sixties -- even after multitracking came in -- so the sound of the room mattered.

you might be surprised at how many sessions are still done this way, right now, in 2004. Without headphones, without any isolation. And it sounds fantastic, "just like a record". The band does need to know how to play and be well rehearsed, but should we be recording bands that don't meet both of those minimum requirements?

My guitar player and I are always trying to find a cleaner way for us to record live

??? I'm guessing that means with minimal bleed /maximum isolation. Why bother? Just based on what I have witnessed as a player and an engineer, any time and effort spent trying to minimize bleed would be better spent trying to nail an exceptional performance. Because if you've got an all around great performance, bleed is a good thing. You won't be replacing parts.
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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by logancircle » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:10 am

if you've got an all around great performance, bleed is a good thing.
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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by goldenechos » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:49 am

I agree with everything that been said, and I would like to add the idea that rock drummers are hitting EVERYTHING (esp. cymbals) much harder today when compared to drummers of yester year, Mitch Mitchell, Charlie Watts, Ringo, John Densmore, and even John Bonham... Amps have doubled and sometimes tripled in size and volume (think Mesa-Boogie Dual Rectifier).

It gets harder to put all that volume in one room and have it translate well.

tony

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by nortonmanx » Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:13 am

a trick glyn johns taught me and he recorded some pretty loud bands (ever heard a marshall plexi on full balst? that's loud...): set the gear up as if it was a live gig - drums in the middle, bass left (or right), guitar on the opposite. use baffles between instruments. line 'em all up so the phase is the same. result? big sound with minimal (read very nice) leak from instruments. if the room is good put a st pair for ambience and blend it in for some extra ambience. leak is not bad it's your best friend.

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by goldenechos » Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:59 am

nortonmanx wrote:line 'em all up so the phase is the same.
I am not sure I understand this idea... can you eleborate? do you mean so that the mics on each source end up in phase? or the instrument amps themselves?

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by nortonmanx » Mon Oct 25, 2004 12:25 pm

of course the phase won't be the same amongst the different instruments (how could it?) but the time of arrival for the room mics will be in phase since the instruments are lined up to the same distance (wall of sound). the phase is thus very natural. artificial verb is never the same. using cardioids with the instruments give you the least leak (very impressive separation indeed). the ambience you get from different instruments leaking into each others mics is very natural thus making it a lot easier to blend them together in the stereo field. a good example of this is any of the old van halen recordings (thou emphasized with additional verb). listen to old led zep recordings as well how the instruments blend together very naturally. however panning becomes a bit restricted since the instruments are already "panned" (the ambience mics remeber?) so you must keep this in mind while placing the instruments in the live room. then again you might want to ignore this altogether and move the guitar exactly to the opposite (from the room mics point of view) to give it more space since the spot mic and the amb mics are panned to the opposite places in the st field. experiment. i've made several recordings using this method and it sounds sweet, very natural. old school if you like.

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by djgout » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:10 pm

nortonmanx wrote: (ever heard a marshall plexi on full balst? that's loud...)
i also sounds fucking awesome!!!!! i jsut recently got to do this with an old metalface (apparently the earliest version of the plexi). insane.
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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by nortonmanx » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:33 pm

i got a marshall plexi -67 myself with a matching 4x12 angled cab with greenbacks. spent too much on the bloody valves but since it was a quartet of old never used mullard el34's how can one say no... you know the difference between the plexi and the older jtm/newer super lead marshall's lie in the transformer... the older one's used kt66 valves as well... any pre -76 in good nic in my book sounds brilliant. the new cabs are shit tho but good nic green/blackbacks are hard to come by these days. hendrix preferred the blackbacks by the way...

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Re: How much gear did they use to make records in the 60's?

Post by Stephen » Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:26 pm

goldenechos wrote:I agree with everything that been said, and I would like to add the idea that rock drummers are hitting EVERYTHING (esp. cymbals) much harder today when compared to drummers of yester year, Mitch Mitchell, Charlie Watts, Ringo, John Densmore, and even John Bonham... Amps have doubled and sometimes tripled in size and volume (think Mesa-Boogie Dual Rectifier).

It gets harder to put all that volume in one room and have it translate well.

tony
That and most modern drummers hit too many damned crashes. You wouldn't just hit the g string of your guitar randomnly, yet I am amazed at how often a drummer will hit crashes for no good musical purpose. Listen to "I Feel Fine." No crashes. Anything missing? Nope.
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