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Thread: Backwards recording

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    Backwards recording

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    I've been inspired to try backwards guitar recording again after talking with Level Anything. It is easy enough to set up (but difficult to get it to sound good!) using a portastudio - just flipping the cassette over - but I'm wondering how this was done in the old days with reel to reel. My late brother made some great reverse guitar recordings using just a single Tandberg 3000x and I can't think how he would have done it. This model records only stereo - it is 4 track but with the two stereo tracks on either side of the. tape. He built up layered tracks laboriousy with guitars and vocals using mono sound-on-sound. Does anyone know how the backwards guitar could have been added using this sort of set up? I'd be really grateful for any ideas.

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    On a multitrack you flip the tape over like a cassette. It's more fiddly because you have to take both reels into account and try not to end up with a twist in the tape, but it's doable. Some of the microprocessor-controlled decks can record backwards simply by reversing the capstan motor and disabling the erase head, but I've not been able to get the MX80 to do it.

    With a 4-track stereo deck I'm not sure... I would guess another deck was used somehow. Either using the second machine to play the tape backwards, or by using a mono deck that lets you choose which of the four tracks you're playing/recording to.

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    the old ones had track selection for mono and I think my old Roberts and Akai move the head block. If the short amounts of spooled tape, one can just spool it backwards

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    Thanks jp. I'm 99.9% sure he didn't have a second deck - is there anyway you can get a backwards effect just by twisting the tape? I can't work either how the tracks would play back on a 4-track stereo deck after a tape flip. Has anyone tried this?

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    I dunno if there is a reason to mess with 2-channel, 4-track heads. MONO can be cheap and there is QUAD and 2-chan, 2-trk. You could probably figure out the old Akai/Roberts, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Findlay View Post
    Thanks jp. I'm 99.9% sure he didn't have a second deck - is there anyway you can get a backwards effect just by twisting the tape? I can't work either how the tracks would play back on a 4-track stereo deck after a tape flip. Has anyone tried this?
    Well...if the heads are lined up to only PB one half (2 tracks) of the tape...and then when you flip it, the other half...you're kinda SOL.

    If it was a 1/2 track 2-track (if that makes sense, not even sure if I'm saying it right)...meaning, you only have two track, with each track occupying half the width of the tape, and it only plays in one dirtection...then it would be simple.

    You record on say..the left track...flip it...and it will play backwards on the right track.
    I use to do it with my 4-track reel. When you flip the tape, you just change the track order. 1-2-3-4 becomes 4-3-2-1.
    So I would record a couple of backing tracks on 1 & 2...flip the tape...they now play backwards on 4 & 3.
    So then as they play backwards, I record the lead guitar on what is now track 2 (which when flipped again, will be track 3).

    In the end, I flip the tape back again, my original backing tracks are on 1 & 2 playing forward, and my guitar track is on track 3 playing backwards.

    Now here's the real trick and harder part...when you play the guitar, you are hearing the original two tracks backwards...so, you have to play the song on the guitar while hearing it in reverse...so like if the chords went G - C - D...backwards you will hear them D - C - G...and that's what you play to.

    It's not that complicated once you get your head around it.
    I did a bunch of backwards guitar in those early 4-track days until the fun of doing it, and the sound effect of using it...wore off. I even did some double leads...one forward the other backward, and then blended them....cool stuff.
    Now days...I can just flip the track in the DAW....takes about 2 seconds.

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