King Tubby's mixing desk

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King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Inyaki » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:36 pm

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.



Image

KING TUBBY’S………..

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 fag 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! :cool:

......it 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......
:)
Last edited by Inyaki on Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:38 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Sir Bellyas » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:42 pm

Phwoargh!!!
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby shortie » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:21 pm

Nice one Inyaki,

I remember being told that the send pot on this desk had a dual function: turn left it was Send 1 and turn right it was Send 2. In the middle it was off. I've tried to look carefully at the video of jammy mixing Jailhouse and I must say it looks like Jammy is very careful using the send pot and seems to turn it the other way when using it to send to delay.
Does anyone else know about this?
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby russ d » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:47 pm

yeah all of that sounds about right... i think i suggested the duality of the echo send one time, but might well have got it from something else seen, read or heard..certainly some mixers come with a single dual control send, and it certainly looks like it in use in the jammy/tubby vids... i too never really thought much about the myth side of things, but variously people have said he built the mixer, designed it etc, built the reverb, delay etc etc... but why, then all such equipment is readily there to use... im sure i seen a pic recently with byron lee at the desk at dynamics, but cant seem to remember where (anyone ?), and it looks the same as it did in any pics / vids of tubby`s studio, no sign of modifications... its always possible he could`ve replaced some dodgy pots or so, but i doubt much else...

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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:35 pm

Very interesting ,

Well I've been saying for years that it is a 12 ch desk x 4 subgroups - all anyone has to do is count the track faders to give to the channel count.

The KT wiki entry still calls it a '4 trk'.

I am sure this confusion came about because KT was a '4 trk' studio eg: 4 tape channels. (maybe they went to 8 later on)

I also don't believe much was done in the way of modification except for maybe adding new faders - which BTW I believe are drop in modular possibly involving no soldering even :)

Some type of mod to the spring reverb I could believe eg: building it into a case/chassis and maybe getting another spring tank, but for the rest there's not that much you can really 'mod' on one of those Fishers - very simple simple device & circuitry.

KT obviously had serious electronics skills given his repair, service & amp building career - but the idea that he heavily modified his studio stuff beyond reasons of repair & ease of use doesn't make sense to me - what would be the point? ...

The desk itself is IMO 100% certain to be a mid 60's Jeep Harned custom MCI console... prior to the launch of MCI as a company, when he was building stuff to order in his garage. Certainly very few of these consoles were made - probably less than 10 in varying configurations I would guess.

Here is another studio in Cincinnatti, named 'King' funnily enough - which had a near identical console, just with more channels & extra sundries. You can see that it had to have been the same builder, around the same time.

You can see it has those rounded 'EMI' style faders (Painton quadrant)- I am sure that's what KT changed out on his own desk for flat & smoother Altec or Langevin style faders (though leaving the original rounded faders in the group section) .. the EMI/Painton Quadrant faders were stepped in 1db increments whereas the Altec/Langevin type would have been a smooth, linear or logarithmic taper..


http://www.bluejeansplace.com/KingRecordsStudios.html

Image



"I worked at Criteria Studio in Miami before moving to Cincinnati and I tried to take what I had learned from the guys at Criteria and apply that knowledge to KING's facilities. Remodeling and cleaning KING was a high priority for me. The remodeled studio was modern and equipped with a console identical to the one that went into Criteria's studio A in l966. Jeep Harned built both of them simultaneously at his MCI Company in Ft. Lauderdale Fla. MCI stood for: Music Center, Inc.
Last edited by Chocolate Soldier on Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:53 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:49 pm

FWIW - I am pretty sure KT had 2 High pass filters - the one big knob built into the desk which had that clicked/step sound and another outboard which functioned more like some kind of analogue synth type HP filter with adjustable resonance which gave the knife slicing through the mix sound. Maybe it was a bandpass filter.

Please - who is going to go on Wiki & change the '4 track' business? It is just so 'wrong', with respect to the journalists & historians who put it out there who otherwise did a great job, save for little technical details like this.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby nitz in dub » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:11 pm

Give thanks for sharing Inyaki. Really good info . Also thanks to Russ with the link. Love the photos of all the valves in the circuits.
To think of all the classic tunes mixed on Tubby's desk.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:15 pm

While CL rightly pointed out the magic lay in the people involved - I think there is there is still something to be said for elements of the technical set up at KT studio which had to be conducive to mixing dub in the KT style - not to mention the vibes, the times & the way they were getting material delivered.

Just look at the fact that post KT studio - none of the big figures associated with KT studio, including KT himself mixed any dub tune which came anywhere near the level of the original KT studio output.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:02 pm

Painton Quadrant faders


Image

Image
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:04 pm

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….



I have done things like this before - its not that unusual.
run a group out an effect, filter etc & return it to a desk channel & blend to taste.
There's at least one big time LA top 40 mixer who does stuff like this with compressors on the subgroups (vocals, drums etc) & blends with the mix.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Inyaki » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:33 am

Thanks for the excellent contributions (usual suspects!)

In especialist magazines they go very deep interviewing Jazz or Rock engineers....but if you wanna read decent Reggae related stuff.....you have to follow internet forums like this cause the books / magazines are wrong.

Many of the myths and inaccuracies about jamaican studios are due cause the writers interview the wrong people or they don't know which questions to ask.
Many of the books are based on interviews with artists ( singers who just sung), musicians (who just played instruments) or producers like Bunny Lee, Prince Buster, etc.... all great contributors no doubt but none of them engineered a thing, they actually paid other people to do it cause they can't.
Even if King Tubby's passed away, there are loads of people who are still around: Phillip Smart, pat Kelly, Jammys, Scientist, Professor, etc...but (correct me if I'm wrong) nobody bothers asking the right questions.....or they are allowed to get away with very vague answers (like the Sylvain Morris interviews I've read).
If anybody is in contact with any of them and they don't know what to ask...just print this thread! ( cause this is the most accurate you are gonna get )
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby crowdwaker » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:52 am

Hi, i posted this video which, even if it's quite recent, shows Scientist mixing an asher production (if I'm right...). We see him using what seems to be a vintage HP or band pass filter in an outboard, the same thing that Choco was talking about. An heritage from KT to his disciple?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEwm6pWWFvA

Peace.
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby Chocolate Soldier » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:03 am

Looks to me to be identical to a certain vintage US make of passive HPF/LPF..

Doubt it was something from KT given to Scientist...

Fwiw I remember a while back Scientist was selling HPF units which were DIY apparently (?)..
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby dudley one » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:47 pm

Very Informative. 8)
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Re: King Tubby's mixing desk

Postby juniorsound » Wed May 09, 2012 4:43 pm

what desk did jammy use?
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