Original Basement Studio

One room was set up as a performance space with sound proofing to dampen the sound so as not to disturb is neighbors. This is where Tom kept his guitars, amplifiers, speaker cabinets and organs and performed each part, track by track, for the records.

Performance Space

Cabinet and Microphone positioning

What I find particularly interesting is what we see in this last photo. In many interviews, Tom has talked about how he would place his microphone several feet away from his speaker cabinets when tracking his guitar parts. Notice how the 2 cabinets are positioned several feet away from each other but both pointing to the microphone. I have to think that by positioning it this way, he was able to simultaneosly pick up the sound of all 4 speakers in both cabinets, with all the phase cancellations and unique colorations you get from them. I would expect it to sound just as if you were standing in front of the full stack, several feet away. That is quite a departure from the traditional method of close miking a single speaker. But he also agonized over this setup because he could never go back and capture the exact microphone position, no matter how hard he tried to take coordinate measurements, to get the same sound later.

Additional Processing

Tom uses a piece of outboard gear to shape his now-famous guitar sound, a somewhat bulky and unglamorous wooden box on the floor next to the board. He mikes a Marshall ("I got 'em around and basically couldn't find anything better, so I use 'em") that's been Power Soaked and then runs the signal through the box-- a patchwork of separate compression, eq entering and leaving (and some of his contours on the 10-band MXR are very unusual) and other assorted delay and ammendment devices- and then into the board. For every change of sound, Scholz has to redo every setting and the sheer clumsiness and inefficiency of the system finally led him to consider taking action. "We still have these big, clunky amplifiers that you have to put all kinds of garbage in front of and then have to run through boards and more crazy stuff just to get what you've got on a record. It was a mess, getting a good sound from a Marshall, and I just got fed up with it."

This finally led him to develop the Rockman in order to get a more consistent sound.

Control Room

In the control room he had the several analog tape decks and auxilliary equipment he used in this tiny space to record, process and mix his sonic vision for us all to enjoy.

Reel-To-Reel Tape Decks

We can see from these photo's the many tape decks that Tom used to record his masterpieces. Tom has said that whenever he is in the studio, he always has a tape running to capture whatever he plays. If he plays something he likes, he stops the tape, and that exact track is then dubbed on to a master tape. Later, after layering up all the additional tracks to balance out the left and right sides for natural chorusing for his "wall of sound", he would then bounce parts down as very concise and fully processed submixes to make it easier to do the final mix later.

We can speculate that Tom may have used one of the 2 track tape machines for the first step of recording his thoughts and ideas, dubbed them to the 24 track tape machine on the left where he could finish layering up the individual parts, and then bounce them to the Scully 12 track on the right as the submixes. But again, that is only speculation. Only Tom knows for sure.

Auxilliary Equipment

In the photos below we get a closer look at some of the auxilliary equipment you see as we scan the room from right to left. Note his extensive use of compressors, limiters and equalizers to shape his recordings in such a way to create a perfect mix where everything can be heard and everything has its place, both in the frequency spectrum and the stereo space.

Here is a partial listing of what we can identify:
Lexicon Delta T 102 Digital Delay

Alison Research Kepex Compressor/Expander modules

Loft Series 440 Digital Delay Flanger
DBX 160 Compressor Limiter
Urei 1176 Peak Limiter Compressor

Urei 527-A Graphic EQ
Ashly SC-50 Peak Limiter Compressor
Ashley SC-66 Parametric Equalizer
Eventide FL201 Flanger
Urei 530 (maybe 527A?) Graphic Equalizer

DBX 4 Channel Noise Reduction System
Urei Compressor Limiter
Countryman Phase (Shifter?)
Phase Linear Noise Suppressor
Eventide H910 Harmonizer
Crown Electric Crossover
Urei Graphic Equalizer

Tom's Workbench

Of course, since Tom was an engineer, he found it necessary to invent some of his own equipment to accomplish things that he wanted to do. We can see from this photo that sometimes he didn't have time to keep himself as organized as he was in the studio...

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Last updated October 10, 2020