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Old 22nd September 2012
Here for the gear
Thought I'd copy and paste something interesting on this topic I've just come across on this thread

Blood and Fire • View topic - King Tubby's mixing desk

"I've been reading so much nonsense about jamaican recording studios in the last 30 years, mostly from reggae "experts" who are actually knowleadgeable record collectors but don't know anything about a recording studio or playing music. Loads of innacurate information taken as the truth...still being copied and paste nowadays.
Hardly any decent interviews with the actual musicians or engineers who made the records.

Chris Lane wrote some excellent articles about Dub and studio techniques. Best I've read.
And he was actually there in the 70s!
Anyway, we were talking about Tubby's board, and he send me this.
I think is too good not to be shared.

Many people here are producers / engineers / musicians. Please add to it or correct.

Information courtesy of Chris Lane.


I think this photo came from the museum in Seattle which bought the desk from Blackbeard.... I think I've got most of the controls correct.although there could be a coule of mistakes in that 'map'..... notice there are no panpots on the mixer...... and how many knobs have gone missing! :roll:

... and it's not a four track mixer.... as you can see it's 12 into 4.

The desk is definitely MCI – I’ve seen it called a ‘Lutz’ but this is wrong – Lutz was the repair/service engineer at Dynamics – I know because I met him……

…and I’ve never quite believed all that stuff about Tubbs ‘modifying’ the desk – it makes a good story to say that he took it pieces and built it back up to his own supernatural specifications but think about it – why would he do that?

That mixer was already tried and tested – it had recorded and mixed more hit records than any other in Jamaica (in terms of worldwide sales possibly more than all the others put together!) so why would anyone want to **** about with it? ….. and I’m pretty sure Tubbs was the kind of man who knew that when something ain’t broke, you don’t try to fix it….

He probably did replace the faders, (after years of use, people smoking and dropping *** ash, etc in to them, they tend to get worn and dirty, and therefore noisy) but that’s a regular job – even I’ve done that, and I’m not exactly handy with a soldering iron!

I’ve seen a mixer that was similar-ish – but bigger – in the UK in the early 80’s…. it didn’t have the HPF, but it did have those same lovely illuminated quadrant faders on the output channels!

I’ve spoken to both Sid Bucknor and Andy Capp about it - they both said they were there to install it into Dynamics, in fact I think it was Andy who went to the US (Miami, I think) to collect it from the sellers – I got the impression that it was bought from a broker/dealer rather than a studio. They also said it had possibly been in a C&W studio, but they may have been guessing….

I also spoke to Byron Lee about the mixer – he even smiled when we talked about Tubby’s getting something different out of it after it left Dynamics – I think he was genuinely pleased that it was put to good use! He also told me exactly what the ‘big knob’ was – and who made it – it was an add-on to the desk, and it was on there when he bought it….. When I had my studio I must have asked at least seven electronic engineers to build me a HPF like Tubby’s – they all told me it would be quite easy, but none of them managed to do it (including Pepe Rush, who’s mentioned in the Graeme Goodall article).

(I wrote in my article that Siddy had used the HPF to get rid of unwanted LF on percussion mics - and of course, that's exactly what you would use it for if you didn't have the imagination to use it as an effect.... )

Tubbs has two big Tannoy monitors in the corners, a Presto (I think) cutter, and two half-inch four tracks – one a Scully, the other Ampex. The one on the right was used for delay when mixing……

I saw a Fisher reverb unit up on eBay a few years ago, have to say it looked very impressive – and again why would he ‘customize’ it?…. And I’ve never heard of him using the GB spring – I would have thought he could have found (or built) something a lot better than that if he’d needed to…..

The Big Knob is built into the board (see attached picture)… Jammy told me they would send the signal through a group output to the filter, and then back into the mix – to be honest, it didn’t sound very straightforward when he told me, so perhaps I missed something! I suppose really the treated signal should come back on the same fader as the original signal, so it should be as though you’d patched an effect into the path (even when the effect is in bypass)…. Or perhaps they did that with all the music channels and returned it on one fader, but that still sounds a bit odd…. Jammy also told me that Scientist’s ‘bong’ sound with the reverb was done with a speaker and mic in the voicing booth…. I always found it much easier just to feed back the reverb on itself through the mixer……

...and I remember Tubby's cutter being to the right of the mixer - under the speaker - so opposite to that rack with the compressor/limiter in it.... but in front of you, if you know what I mean....

HP filter effect:
some of the B-sides with that sort of effect are actually done at Randy's cutting studio.... Dennis and Errol Thompson used to put the rhythm track of a two track master tape through a parametric equaliser (and sweep the cut-off point) while cutting live to the acetate to create a similar effect..... it's almost the same, but hasn't quite got the 'edge' that Tubby's has got.....

'Fire From the Observer', the B-side to 'Saturday Night Special', the B-side to 'Arabs' Oil Weapon' are all from Randy's (I think!)... there's a quite few of these tunes, most have RRS matrix #s and DT or ET initials as well......

... and if you think about it, Tubby's (and the other engineers there) used it rather subtley and sparingly.... perhaps too much so!

And I forgot to say before that it isn't really the mixer that's "magic".....

.......the magic came from Tubbs, Jammy, Phillip Smart, Pat Kelly, Scientist.....

......and all the other engineers in the other studios as well! really annoys me that I was never really into taking pictures (and I hated having my photo taken!) so I haven't any proper studio shots (or even snaps of me 'at the controls'!).........

I hope this is helpful......