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  • Describe your first recording experience and how old were you?

    I liked Lee's post on "describe your first instrument" and thought this topic might also be interesting.

    My first R-R machine was probably a battery powered Aiwa with 3" reels at 5 years old. Then, in junior high I graduated to a Voice of Music R-R that I modified to do sound-on-sound overdubbing. I got frustrated with the limitations of that machine and found a studio owner that took me under his wing and taught me a great deal of what he knew (12 years old). He had an Ampex 3 track
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  • #2
    When I was 6 my Dad brought home a small battery powered reel-to-reel, using 2 or 3 inch reels. Had a lot of fun with it, but never recorded music with it. I remember trying to rewire it to make a tape echo out of it. I was more into playing with the electronics end of things at that age; I didn't get into music till I was 9 or 10.

    My first experience with recording music was with a Teac 3340S 4-track, which I still have and use.

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    • #3
      I had a Ross brand 4 track cassette based recorder back in the late 80's. Plugged my Scholz rockman directly in and started recording some truely horrible songs! But it was a lot of fun and I would like to think I learned a lot from that experience.
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      • #4
        When I was 6 my Dad brought home a small battery powered reel-to-reel, using 2 or 3 inch reels. Had a lot of fun with it, but never recorded music with it. I remember trying to rewire it to make a tape echo out of it. I was more into playing with the electronics end of things at that age; I didn't get into music till I was 9 or 10.

        My first experience with recording music was with a Teac 3340S 4-track, which I still have and use.


        Funny. This is me too except that I never tried to rewire the reel to reel and I sold the 3340 for a Portastudio.

        That little reel to reel was used to record silly comedy improvs with friends. I was mesmerized at the power. The 3340 was the first time I heard myself accompany myself. I'll admit I was disappointed. Not in the reproduction but in my performance. That disappointment started my intense desire to recreate my imagination in a recording.

        I haven't stopped...
        __________
        Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
        Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
        Jesus

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=philbo;24663069]When I was 6 my Dad brought home a small battery powered reel-to-reel, using 2 or 3 inch reels. Had a lot of fun with it, but never recorded music with it. IQUOTE]


          Me too - except i was in 5th grde- maybe 9 years old. I taped off the radio.
          I still have that ancient machine in my basement.

          First time to record music was in my Jr high jazz band circa 1968-9.
          A friend had a quater inch 2 track.
          We did a binaural recording of our school jazz band in the auditorium.
          It actually wasnt bad.
          Psst... Wanna check out some free tunes?
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          • #6
            Funny. This is me too except that I never tried to rewire the reel to reel and I sold the 3340 for a Portastudio.

            That little reel to reel was used to record silly comedy improvs with friends. I was mesmerized at the power. The 3340 was the first time I heard myself accompany myself. I'll admit I was disappointed. Not in the reproduction but in my performance. That disappointment started my intense desire to recreate my imagination in a recording.

            I haven't stopped...


            Yeah... the rewiring was futile, since it was a single-head unit (I was trying to make it reproduce both recorded & played-back signal using a tape loop - - didn't know enough to realize that the record bias would erase what was recorded on the loop when it got back under the head again... The power of ignorance is that you try things simply because you don't know they're impossible.

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            • #7
              My first recorder is my avatar (well, an identical model, anyhow, the pic was snapped off a horror movie on TV). I got it in maybe fifth or sixth grade. (I'd been fascinated by tape recorders since the neighbor caught me singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" when I was about 4 years old on one of those old piano key Wollensaks he'd got to dictate a book into.)

              My little battery powered machine didn't even have a capstan. The "erase head" was a permanent magnet on a copper arm that swung into place against the tape in record mode. Like you, early on I modified it so I could "overdub" (sound-on-sound, as it were) by bending the copper arm back temporarily so I could record on top of the previous track.

              Flash forward to around 12 or 13 years old. Since I'd built a component stereo that replaced the family all-in-one stereo portable ('bought' with Blue Chip Trading Stamps), I was pressed into doing the background music for a large 50th wedding anniversery for my grandparents. (There were about 75 people.)

              I borrowed my cousin's pretty cool Sony stereo deck...


              After I'd got done getting a careful blend of Mantovani, 101 Strings, and just a couple of the more tame Tijuana Brass tunes to liven things up a little (these were, after all, people who'd been born in the first generation after the US Civil war -- you wouldn't want to have played any of those crazy new outrageous rockers, The Beatles, for instance -- but The Lonely Bull worked okay if it was followed quickly by some Jerome Kerne or Irving Berlin classic)...

              ... Anyhow, after the "party tape" was done I grabbed my mom (who still has a nice voice more than 40 years later) and said, hey, how'd you like to do a duet with yourself. (I didn't play or sing and I was DYING to do an overdub -- since the Sony had separate record/playback channels -- and the all important combo rec/play head I'd later learn to call a simulsync head.)

              She laid down an a capella track of "The Anniversery Waltz" and then doubled it (or harmonized -- it's so long ago -- I wish to HECK I'd saved THAT!!! But tape was expensive -- $5 or $6 a box for the good stuff from 3M or Ampex on a 7" reel if I recall correctly. [sigh])

              Anyhow, it worked out so well that we played it at a key moment of the party and I have to say it pretty well brought down the house.


              [Like others here, my first true multitrack deck was a used 3340 -- the knife-blade switch model, later replaced with a couple of push button models as I wore one after another out. But that was more than 20 years later. In between I learned how to play and, perhaps more importantly, I relearned how to enjoy music for its own sake and stopped being obsessed with maximum fi and unaffordable gear. Praise heaven.]
              .

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              • #8
                I recorded a Jazz album at 10 and tracked all the guitars[2004 G&L Tribute S500 Premium,1998 Epiphone Les Paul 100,1990 Yamaha RGX 112 and my 1992 Yamaha PAC 120sd through a POD xt.This was in January 2005.Now I record on Audacity.
                -Will

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                • #9
                  It was a partially cloudy spring day in northern Illinois, the murmur of lawnmowers in the distance. I was ten years old, studying at the local elementary school. My parents had returned from their shopping trip with a special gift. I sat crosslegged on the shag carpeting, just having torn open the Radio Shack packaging. I gasped with amazement at what I saw.

                  The Compact Cassette machine gleamed at me, wanting me to turn it on. With much anticipation, I tore the cellophane off the cassette three-pack and inserted one into the black and chrome recorder, placing it under the grand piano. I looked at the red button. Record. I played a simple Bach fugue, and then, satisfied with my performance, breathlessly waited as I rewound the tape.

                  The performance was good. But I was not completely satisfied. "Hmmmm, the microphone placement on the floor seems to accentuate the bass frequencies, and the cassette machine housing occasionally resonates because it's on-axis with the soundboard of the piano."

                  I shifted its location to a tabletop that was several feet from the opening of the piano, good and much higher so that that its mic would be pointed at the opening of the lid, looking down at the strings. "And perhaps placing these blankets underneath will help dampen some of cassette machine's resonating."

                  The second recording was considerably more satisfying, and I felt that the vibe and immediacy of the performance transcended some the negligible wow and flutter.

                  But now, my neighbors were asking me if I could record their vocals...
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                  • #10
                    My Dad bought me a RADIO SHACK recorder of EIGHT TRACK CASSETTES (the big clunky kind) in 1975... I was 12.

                    It had two 1/4" inputs in front which enabled you to record in stereo. I had two inexpensive RADIO SHACK mics each one on a 16' grey cable. I'll have to admit, it was VERY cool to hear myself in STEREO. I just couldn't get over that for the longest time. I could hear myself walk or talk from LEFT to RIGHT!! What a thrill.

                    I recorded all manner of sounds....water, pets barking, television programs: I'd secretly record the grownups' conversation during their bridge game, then play it back to them without their expecting it. They usually weren't amused. I'd deliberately pinch the cat's tail to get her to scream into the mics.

                    I even recorded bizarre little pastiches of different songs all punched in willy-nilly in funny (to me) ways. I think I'd been listening to too much SERGEANT PEPPER'S.

                    But the biggest thrill was to wear headphones and hear my little world in stereo.

                    But I SURE wasn't smart enough at the time to understand the technical details of audio.
                    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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                    • #11
                      It was a partially cloudy spring day in northern Illinois, the murmur of lawnmowers in the distance. I was ten years old, studying at the local elementary school. My parents had returned from their shopping trip with a special gift. I sat crosslegged on the shag carpeting, just having torn open the Radio Shack packaging. I gasped with amazement at what I saw.

                      The Compact Cassette machine gleamed at me, wanting me to turn it on. With much anticipation, I tore the cellophane off the cassette three-pack and inserted one into the black and chrome recorder, placing it under the grand piano. I looked at the red button. Record. I played a simple Bach fugue, and then, satisfied with my performance, breathlessly waited as I rewound the tape.

                      The performance was good. But I was not completely satisfied. "Hmmmm, the microphone placement on the floor seems to accentuate the bass frequencies, and the cassette machine housing occasionally resonates because it's on-axis with the soundboard of the piano."

                      I shifted its location to a tabletop that was several feet from the opening of the piano, good and much higher so that that its mic would be pointed at the opening of the lid, looking down at the strings. "And perhaps placing these blankets underneath will help dampen some of cassette machine's resonating."

                      The second recording was considerably more satisfying, and I felt that the vibe and immediacy of the performance transcended some the negligible wow and flutter.

                      But now, my neighbors were asking me if I could record their vocals...


                      I loved that. I was there with you. And... you were happy with your performance. That's saying something about your personality. That's a good thing I think.
                      __________
                      Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                      Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                      Jesus

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                      • #12
                        I have a two-part answer.

                        My very first recording experience was on one of those black, oblong-shaped cassette recorders from the late-70s. I'd track myself playing poorly, and then listen back to my poor performance, and still be thrilled that I was on tape. By the early-80s, my little pals and I were using cassette boom boxes (in stereo!) to record and listen to band rehearsals.

                        But it was in 1984 that I got my first TASCAM Portastudio. I don't think I left my room for two weeks. With the help of my parents and saving every penny from summer jobs and after-school work, within six months I'd gone from having basically nothing to being the owner of a Roland Juno 60, a real Fender Strat, a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, a Boss DR-55 Dr. Rhythm drum machine, and two Audio-Technica dynamic mics that came with the Portastudio, which I got last. I must have written and recorded 50 songs within the first three months I had the thing. None of them very good, mind you, but it was a creative explosion for me at the time.

                        That pretty much set the course for the rest of my life.
                        Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                        • #13
                          It was a partially cloudy spring day in northern Illinois, the murmur of lawnmowers in the distance. I was ten years old, studying at the local elementary school. My parents had returned from their shopping trip with a special gift. I sat crosslegged on the shag carpeting, just having torn open the Radio Shack packaging. I gasped with amazement at what I saw.

                          The Compact Cassette machine gleamed at me, wanting me to turn it on. With much anticipation, I tore the cellophane off the cassette three-pack and inserted one into the black and chrome recorder, placing it under the grand piano. I looked at the red button. Record. I played a simple Bach fugue, and then, satisfied with my performance, breathlessly waited as I rewound the tape.

                          The performance was good. But I was not completely satisfied. "Hmmmm, the microphone placement on the floor seems to accentuate the bass frequencies, and the cassette machine housing occasionally resonates because it's on-axis with the soundboard of the piano."

                          I shifted its location to a tabletop that was several feet from the opening of the piano, good and much higher so that that its mic would be pointed at the opening of the lid, looking down at the strings. "And perhaps placing these blankets underneath will help dampen some of cassette machine's resonating."

                          The second recording was considerably more satisfying, and I felt that the vibe and immediacy of the performance transcended some the negligible wow and flutter.

                          But now, my neighbors were asking me if I could record their vocals...





                          Pull my left leg... the aftermath of getting t-boned on my motorcycle left it considerably shorter.oke:


                          Someday, the cultural anthropologists will be poring over my rambling blog-style posts (amusingly my actual blog is typically pretty concise -- I have a hard time working for the Man even when the Man is me, so I usually get in and get out on the ol' blog)... and much of what they will know about the explosion of home recording will be, naturally enough, from moi...






                          PS... I really like "the murmur of lawnmowers in the distance"...
                          with a few words you've set up the ambience of a lazy suburban weekend or perhaps the extended afternoon of a summer evening...
                          .

                          music and social links | recent listening

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                          • #14
                            I must be about a decade younger than most of those who have responded so far.

                            The first thing I distinctly remember is recording a song called, "It's a Really Smelly Spot." It was on one of those desktop cassette machines with the mic built in. The song was about things that smelled bad, including a cat litter box and my best friend's garbage disposal on his kitchen sink. The song was dedicated to my best friend. I was probably 7 or 8. I can't find the tape now, I wish I could.

                            I was accompanied by a Yamaha PSR keyboard repeating the "rock boogie" (or something like that) riff in on the auto accompaniment.

                            I know that my sister and I messed around with recording on the tape machine before that, including making fake radio shows, but I think this was the first recording that I could call completely my own.

                            I later upgraded to recording on one cassette deck and then overdubbing by playing along while bouncing to another deck, and on and on.

                            Finally, at about age 15 or so, I moved up to a Tascam 424 (first version) cassette 4 track, which I still have, but which the tape transport is broken on. I recorded all my friends' bands and my band as well as my own "solo project."

                            The funny thing is that I am sure it is not only recording hobbiests and professionals who played with tape recorders as kids. Most kids like playing with tape recorders. I wonder why we stuck with playing with them?

                            *Edit: it was a Yamaha PSR-11 keyboard, to be exact.

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                            • #15
                              I loved that. I was there with you. And... you were happy with your performance. That's saying something about your personality. That's a good thing I think.



                              I'm so glad you remember that. It was a really big moment for me, as you can tell by how lucidly I recall the event. And I want to publicly thank you for setting up some of the bass traps and gobos that day.
                              Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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