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Author Topic: Smile Mixing desk question for scholars  (Read 6375 times)
desmondo
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« on: August 01, 2013, 08:32:06 AM »

I am hoping that someone can tell me what happened to the various mixing desks that were used for the Smile Sessions in 66/67 - I believe there is one in Bath UK - any help greatly appreciated

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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 09:20:07 AM »

There's no specific 'SMILE Console' per se ... Brian used whatever desks were at the studios around LA at the time. These were all essentially custom-built. I have some info on the console at Columbia somewhere. The one at Western was Universal Audio. I doubt if one of those consoles were in the UK it would be referred to as the 'SMILE mixing desk' ... because there would also be countless other classics recorded and mixed through it!

Brian used Western, Columbia and Sunset Sound mostly I believe. Wally Heider's a little ater on.

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)
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desmondo
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 09:24:30 AM »

There's no specific 'SMILE Console' per se ... Brian used whatever desks were at the studios around LA at the time. These were all essentially custom-built. I have some info on the console at Columbia somewhere. The one at Western was Universal Audio. I doubt if one of those consoles were in the UK it would be referred to as the 'SMILE mixing desk' ... because there would also be countless other classics recorded and mixed through it!

Brian used Western, Columbia and Sunset Sound mostly I believe. Wally Heider's a little ater on.

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

I understand this one was built for Frank Sinatra and sold to the Beach Boys - any help

A friend is recording through it today!!!
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 09:34:57 AM »

There's no specific 'SMILE Console' per se ... Brian used whatever desks were at the studios around LA at the time. These were all essentially custom-built. I have some info on the console at Columbia somewhere. The one at Western was Universal Audio. I doubt if one of those consoles were in the UK it would be referred to as the 'SMILE mixing desk' ... because there would also be countless other classics recorded and mixed through it!

Brian used Western, Columbia and Sunset Sound mostly I believe. Wally Heider's a little ater on.

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

I understand this one was built for Frank Sinatra and sold to the Beach Boys - any help

A friend is recording through it today!!!


Is it UA? Doesn't really make sense man. The Beach Boys wouldn't have bought a console during the Smile Sessions, sorry! The mixer used for Smiley was a Gates broadcast job, probably rented. The one they bought for BW's home studio around '68 was a custom Quad-8 board, made to Desper's specs I believe.
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desmondo
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2013, 09:49:20 AM »

There's no specific 'SMILE Console' per se ... Brian used whatever desks were at the studios around LA at the time. These were all essentially custom-built. I have some info on the console at Columbia somewhere. The one at Western was Universal Audio. I doubt if one of those consoles were in the UK it would be referred to as the 'SMILE mixing desk' ... because there would also be countless other classics recorded and mixed through it!

Brian used Western, Columbia and Sunset Sound mostly I believe. Wally Heider's a little ater on.

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

I understand this one was built for Frank Sinatra and sold to the Beach Boys - any help

A friend is recording through it today!!!


Is it UA? Doesn't really make sense man. The Beach Boys wouldn't have bought a console during the Smile Sessions, sorry! The mixer used for Smiley was a Gates broadcast job, probably rented. The one they bought for BW's home studio around '68 was a custom Quad-8 board, made to Desper's specs I believe.

I think it was Western 3 - probably it was a question of the board being made for Frank and Brian just used it as it was there
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2013, 10:41:23 AM »

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

"Smiley Smile" was mixed at Wally Heider's, per Jim Lockert.
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Mikie
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2013, 11:40:43 AM »

Yeah, Ken Lockert verified that too.

I always wanted to see Murry's board that Britz built for him.  Anybody have a picture?
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2013, 12:08:34 PM »

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

"Smiley Smile" was mixed at Wally Heider's, per Jim Lockert.

ah cool ... Can we assume Wild Honey was mixed there as well ?
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DonnyL
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2013, 12:09:29 PM »

There's no specific 'SMILE Console' per se ... Brian used whatever desks were at the studios around LA at the time. These were all essentially custom-built. I have some info on the console at Columbia somewhere. The one at Western was Universal Audio. I doubt if one of those consoles were in the UK it would be referred to as the 'SMILE mixing desk' ... because there would also be countless other classics recorded and mixed through it!

Brian used Western, Columbia and Sunset Sound mostly I believe. Wally Heider's a little ater on.

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

I understand this one was built for Frank Sinatra and sold to the Beach Boys - any help

A friend is recording through it today!!!


Is it UA? Doesn't really make sense man. The Beach Boys wouldn't have bought a console during the Smile Sessions, sorry! The mixer used for Smiley was a Gates broadcast job, probably rented. The one they bought for BW's home studio around '68 was a custom Quad-8 board, made to Desper's specs I believe.

I think it was Western 3 - probably it was a question of the board being made for Frank and Brian just used it as it was there

in that case, it would be an original UA board! let's see some photos !!!
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desmondo
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2013, 12:24:25 PM »

I'll get one organised
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desmondo
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2013, 12:28:31 PM »

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151520752691401&set=a.105331031400.98115.684221400&type=1&theater
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2013, 12:36:48 PM »

WOAH yep that's a legit UA board ... don't think it was ever owned by the Beach Boys, but it certainly was used by them! any MANY MANY others if it's from Western.

What's the name of the studio that owns it? PM me.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2013, 01:00:51 PM »

Sure enough, that is a UA board! Cool. Not a lot of those around.

I do want to clarify something: Those were modular boards, all of those used at United Western at least until '67-'68 or so, which means they were all basically assembled using the same 610 modules. Saying one was built specifically for Sinatra, or whoever else, may suggest a custom build, but essentially weren't all of them basically using the same components? There was one on display at an AES convention last decade which was the mobile board used by Wally Heider, among others, to record a variety of live albums, and it was essentially a group of 610 modules in a housing just like the Pet Sounds photos of Britz et al at Western 3, and all of the rest from that specific era.

Would it be wrong to suggest anything that would have been "custom" would have been the housing and the number of modules? I'm thinking the term may be misleading in this case since the whole idea of UA's "modular" design was that these pieces could be easily swapped in and out as required.

And yes, Smiley Smile was mixed at Heiders by Jim Lockert, and the process was described by Jim and reprinted in the Byron Preiss book.


As far as where are these things today...the UA stuff could have would up anywhere as evidenced by that new photo posted here, and since it was sold elsewhere, just because it was a UA board doesn't mean it was used exclusively at Western, or United, or wherever.

According to Hal Blaine, when United-Western swapped out and upgraded their studios, circa 1967, Papa John Phillips bought what was probably in Western 3 (he loved that room as well) and used that to set up a home studio. Again, according to Blaine, this would have been around '67 but dates like that can't always be trusted.  Smiley

And another somewhat famous UA "board" is the one owned by Neil Young, and there is a video and written account of how they brought it back to UA for a special retro recording session some time ago. But that Neil Young-owned board is a fully-maintained and working example, as is the one owned by Mark Linett.

But this new-found UA board mentioned here...hot damn, that is cool. On the surface maybe a little more legend attached to it than perhaps is really accurate, but who knows until more is told about it. More info on that would be appreciated.
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2013, 01:19:01 PM »

And just for comparison, this is one of the better 60's photos of Brian behind one of Western's boards (Studio 3, I believe), compare this UA modular board to the one in the new photo (they're not the same, but built with similar components and modules):

« Last Edit: August 01, 2013, 01:22:50 PM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2013, 01:44:58 PM »

A real keeper from a BB's soundtrack session:

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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2013, 01:46:51 PM »

Note that both of the UA consoles from those 60's photos use the same 610 modules, but they're different configurations and/or housings.
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2013, 02:11:09 PM »

At the mo all I have is the photo and a little bit of info (as above from a Friend) - as soon I get more I will post
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2013, 02:14:03 PM »

Those B/W pics look too early - pre 66/67
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2013, 02:15:14 PM »


Is it UA? Doesn't really make sense man. The Beach Boys wouldn't have bought a console during the Smile Sessions, sorry! The mixer used for Smiley was a Gates broadcast job, probably rented. The one they bought for BW's home studio around '68 was a custom Quad-8 board, made to Desper's specs I believe.

Wait, though. Is it possible they bought it to take it out on the road with them? In other words, was their live sound set-up under Steve Desper sophisticated enough to where they would be bringing a board and PA on the road with them by 1967, or were they still using house equipment on every stop? Someone should ask Steve.
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2013, 02:21:29 PM »

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

"Smiley Smile" was mixed at Wally Heider's, per Jim Lockert.

Mhmm, not just mixed there but physically assembled there as well. Somebody posts Lockert's story to the boards every few years or so, and it's always a fascinating read. I remember he seemed pretty impressed with Brian's modular recording technique!
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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2013, 03:06:26 PM »


Is it UA? Doesn't really make sense man. The Beach Boys wouldn't have bought a console during the Smile Sessions, sorry! The mixer used for Smiley was a Gates broadcast job, probably rented. The one they bought for BW's home studio around '68 was a custom Quad-8 board, made to Desper's specs I believe.

Wait, though. Is it possible they bought it to take it out on the road with them? In other words, was their live sound set-up under Steve Desper sophisticated enough to where they would be bringing a board and PA on the road with them by 1967, or were they still using house equipment on every stop? Someone should ask Steve.

Anything is of course possible in this crazy Beach Boys world, but I suspect any such board would have been rented ... and the UA board would not have been particularly suitable for live work.

The group (or specific members) could very well have bought this board at some point after it was retired from Western. I guess I just feel like since they used the Gates broadcast (i.e., significantly cheaper) board, there's not much of a chance they bought this UA board at any point around '66-'67. I don't think they even bought their own multi-track machine for the home studio until '69. The previous stuff was rented.

I mean, we're just guessing here ... the story of this board being bought by the Beach Boys is basically just heresay ... cool story, maybe even true !

My guess is 'possibly used by the Beach Boys for SMILE' got twisted somewhere along the way.
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2013, 03:08:00 PM »

A real keeper from a BB's soundtrack session:



as usual, great photos & info Craig !!!

you really know how to dig up these photos
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2013, 04:24:58 PM »

Now there WAS a specific 'SMILEY SMILE' mixing console ... that would have just been for recording though ... it was actually mixed at one of the proper studios (no one can confirm where!)

"Smiley Smile" was mixed at Wally Heider's, per Jim Lockert.

Mhmm, not just mixed there but physically assembled there as well. Somebody posts Lockert's story to the boards every few years or so, and it's always a fascinating read. I remember he seemed pretty impressed with Brian's modular recording technique!

 Grin  I've been the culprit several times...fascinating reading. I'll repost here as well for those who haven't seen it for awhile.

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« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2013, 04:27:01 PM »

From an old post of mine, Jan 2005, probably the ol' Smile Shop, here's the compilation of Jim Lockert talking about Smiley Smile, in italics:


Due to the recent interest in the mixing and sound of the Smiley Smile album on this board, I thought it appropriate to include comments from Jim Lockert, who engineered the album. I think you’ll agree after reading this that the album’s construction was a lot more complicated than it sounds on record.

 Jim Lockert:
“We found a room adjacent to the large music room and built a control room in there and installed a remote console and speakers where we could do it. We were in the office before that…We physically changed the music room into a recording studio with isolation and baffles and sound treatment so we could do some recording in there without problems.

Brian’s swimming pool had a leak in it and was empty, so we put a microphone in the bottom of this damn near Olympic-size swimming pool and the guys laid down inside the pool and sang so the sound would go down the wall of the concrete pool into the microphone-and that was part of the vocals on one of those songs…We had to watch out for the planes coming in over LA airport. We did it late at night so hopefully we wouldn’t have that kind of noise bothering us.

We did some other vocals-all the guys got into the shower and we put the shower on. We had the microphone above the shower head so it wouldn’t get wet. We recorded them singing in the shower. I learned a lot from those guys.

The Smiley Smile album was done on eight track in segments that were never put together in one tape. The intro was on one reel of tape, the first verse was on one reel of tape…When you take a song you have an intro, first verse, a chorus, second verse, a chorus, and then you have an ending. Each segment of that thing was on a different tape for each cut of the album.

We had all the component parts with all the first verses on tape. We went into Wally Heider’s Studio Three one night at five o’clock, we mixed the intro of each song as we went to a two track, then we mixed the first verse, then we went back and wiped off the verse that was on that tape and we put on the second verse or the third verse or whatever was on that song.

We overdubbed the same tape, wiped out the vocals that were there. We didn’t have another take of it. They didn’t want to make copies of it to put it together. So we’d do the first verse and mix it down and then we’d wipe off the vocals on it and then go in and sing all the harmony parts and lead parts for the second verse and record it onto the tape. Then we’d go in and mix it down.

They were overdubbing the instrumental track. We’d overdub on the same instrumental track. You’d wipe out the first voice and put the second verse voices on it. We had one piece of tape for the verse. We’d mix it to a two track, we’d erase the vocals on the verse, and we’d rerecord the second set of vocals on it. We mixed each piece of this down as we went along…We’d cut the piece together so that the song was almost together by the time we were through. Almost every cut was this way. “Vega-tables”, “Little Pad”, “She’s Goin’ Bald”.

When we came out the next morning at six o’clock, the album was mixed down, cut together, and was complete. One of the guys from Wally Heider was my second engineer and he said, “Well, I never believed in miracles but I saw one tonight.”

That’s the way they did it. It wasn’t my idea. They mixed it chorus and verse, chorus and verse and intro, and all the levels had to match.”

Jim Lockert’s comments were taken from Byron Preiss’ book “The Beach Boys”.
Guitarfool2002




2013: Every time I read that, it's still amazing that so much went into that album and yet it sounds so primitive.


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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2013, 04:29:10 PM »

A real keeper from a BB's soundtrack session:



as usual, great photos & info Craig !!!

you really know how to dig up these photos

Thanks! You don't see that one too often, that's from Mark Linett's page.

Note the girl in the front of the photo with the bow in her hair...Annette Funicello. There are other shots from this session, but they never show the board or those old monitors.
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