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01/07/22

This is where it all began

Cat Ranch Studio left

Back in the day we "bounced" tracks to build recordings. At the Cat Ranch Studio in Paradise we would record drums and bass on two tracks. Then we would play that back while playing along on guitar and keyboards, recording the mix onto a second machine. Then bounce back to a new section of tape on the first machine, adding vocals and lead guitar, and maybe percussion.

Cat Ranch Studio center

It starts using two cassette recorders. Then it escalates to using reel to reel recorders, because with them there is less tape noise. (tape noise was the limiting factor to the number of bounces you could reasonably expect before the accumulated hiss got louder than anything else) After the first reel-to-reels it escalates again, to a 4 channel reel-to-reel machine, like the Teac on the left. On this one we could record and play back 4 tracks, thus obtaining a stereo drum mix, bass, and guitar. It saved a bounce!

Cat Ranch Studio center right

The control room at the Cat Ranch was tiny- just part of an enclosed back porch. It was drafty in the winter time, but sunny! From here mic cables would be run out to the dining room, on the other side of the house, where the drums and electric guitars were set up.
In the corner under the JBL and Radio Shack speakers you can see the good old Sony 350 reel-to-reel, my first 1/4" recorder, the "other" tape machine in the bouncing process. I could set up mic stands to support long tape loops running through this recorder to use as rhythm tracks.

Cat Ranch Studio right

Here's the control room seen through the doorway from the even tinier vocal room. The vocalist shared that space with a small chest freezer- remember to plug it back in when we're done recording!

You can see some of the tools of the trade there on the floor. Stanley, the accordion. Stevo's acrylic tambourine. My DX-100, one of the world's worst synthesizers, is on a shelf on the wall. Years earlier I had an Arp Axxe and a Univox Mini-Korg in there, to go along with my Roland DR 55 drum machine. Ah, the early 80's were some prime bouncing days!

Cat Ranch Studio rear

To complete our tour of the control room, here's the back wall. That big hunk of iron there is an Ampex half track machine which I never did get working properly. It would have been fun to use and help heat the space, but four track cassette recorders were getting to be affordable by this time. (that portable cassette recorder on top of the rack was one of the first I used to bounce tracks with)

And there, next to the window into the kitchen, is the water-skiing blonde, studio mascot through all these years.

Science Loop


Science Loop was a sample of the coda of the Thomas Dolby song She Blinded Me with Science which I looped and manipulated and to which added synth tracks and guitar. I was very envious of that Linn Drum Dolby used!