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Re: [ARSCLIST] Robert Johnson recording equipment query
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Ann (and since I am for once advertising a skill, I do not mind that the
whole list knows),
I am one of probably very few who cut 78 rpm lacquer discs on a regular
basis. I have ca. 1936 equipment; a cutterhead that is better than Presto,
and I also have virgin lacquer discs. My equipment is portable, which means
that it requires two persons, one for each handle on the 16" x 20" x 20" box
(weight 100lbs+). The cutting machine is driven by a 50 cycles per second
synchronous motor, which means that we would need a frequency converter (not
difficult to procure) to convert from the 60 cycles that you use over there.
I would be able to perform a recording on my own or on local equipment,
possibly lent from a collector, and including early microphones; the actual
cutting amplifier could be hidden from sight (mine is a transistor
amplifier). I would bring my own cutting stylii, if necessary.
Since we would be cutting on mastering lacquer rather than replay lacquer,
there is no problem in performing a complete galvanic process to have pressed
records. The pressing material would be some sort of vinyl/acetate mix,
however, but that was not unknown in the late 1930s. At least one place in
Europe would be able to do it - turn-around time about a month, but it
requires supervision because of the coarse grooves. Do not forget a proper
I would personally have some time during the last week of June 2004.
If we were to get serious about this, obviously off-list is preferable. I do
not have a price list, except for my patent attorney clients, and that is not
what the archiving community is able to pay. But then, the film people will
not work for peanuts, either.
By the way, beeswax was not used for recording; the composition was entirely
part of original posting:
> New questions:
> * I've found a few leads for 1937-era metal-based lacquer discs (assuming this
> was the equipment used for the original recording session.) However, we need
> the equipment to be in operating condition, so that we can do an actual sound
> recording (of a musician singing and playing the guitar, like the Robert
> Johnson recording). Also, we need someone to actual operate the equipment
> during the documentary shoot.
> The film shoot would take place in June. We'd need to have both the
> recording equipment and technician/engineer at our film shoot location; of
> course, we would pay for transportation/shipping costs, and negotiate fair
> rates to cover other expenses (equipment rental, labor, etc.)
> Is there anyone on the list who would be interested in this, or can you
> recommend anyone? Please feel free to respond to me off list at
> * If we're able to pull this off, we will also need to stamp a record from the
> master for playback (I fear my terminology is all wrong...) Does anyone know
> if this can be done, and any other details (where, how long it would take)?