InstituteEventsIn 1968, the introduction of eight-track recording and increasing sonic experimentation by The Beatles and other groundbreaking artists meant that the capabilities of Abbey Road Studios’ REDD.37 and REDD.51 consoles were being stretched. This called for a new desk. The name of the console was TG12345, with the TG being an acronym for The Gramophone Company. Abbey Road's Mirek Stiles delves deeper into the desk, delivering eight insightful facts about the iconic console.
The introduction of eight track recording in the late '60s had pushed the technical capabilities of the original REDD desks to their limits. It was decided a new breed of desk was to be designed as a joint effort between the Abbey Road recording engineers and the Central Research Laboratories (CRL) at the EMI Hayes factories.
- The Design of a New Mixing Console
Chandler Limited’s REDD.47 Mic Amplifier is a recreation of the original valve line amplifiers used in Abbey Road Studios’ heralded and rare EMI REDD.51 recording consoles circa 1959-1968.
The early prototype console (pictured below) was installed in the Abbey Road experimental room (Room 65) in the early summer of 1968. This enabled the recording engineers to acclimatise themselves the new workflow before being installed in a working studio. During the desk's time in Room 65 duplicate microphones were often placed out in Studio Two and fed directly to the TG console so recordings could be compared against the regular REDD desk.
- The Early TG Prototype Console
TG was an acronym for The Gramophone Company. The Gramophone Company merged with Columbia Records in the 1930s to form EMI (Electric and Musical Industries) but the loyalties to The Gramophone Company remained so much so that employees become known as TG men. The TG name was utilised on many designs over the coming decade.
- The TG Name
The name has continued to be used as part of Abbey Road Studios' collaboration with Chandler Limited in their TG series of products. From the TG-1 Limiter to the TG12345 MKIV EQ which draws its influence from the circuitry and components of the original TG desk.
Most of the engineering team were impressed by how clean the TG desk sounded although this didn’t come without its own set of new issues. The Beatles' recording engineer Geoff Emerick would comment that it was practically impossible to get them same drum and guitar sound he and the band had become accustomed to. It just wasn’t possible to get the same warm harmonic distortion you get from the valve desk via the transistor desk. The TG desk gave a smoother and mellower sound.
- Initial Issues with The TG Desk
Work began on the desk in 1967. The Abbey Road engineers communicated to the R&D team at Hayes what they expected from the new desk. The technical design of the desk can be largely attributed to the genius of EMI designer Mike Bachelor. Aside from the massive channel and track increase, the desk had various other innovations that made it light years ahead of any other known desks of the period including a Limiter/Compressor on every channel. This is the norm these days but was unheard of at the time. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to describe Mike Bachelor as the Godfather of the modern mixing console, with other legendary engineers such as Rupert Neve often crediting Mike as a major influence.
- EMI Designer Mike Bachelor
The final album by The Beatles was recorded and mixed on the first transistorised desk built by EMI – The TG12345. The sound of Abbey Road had a smoother more polished sound, unlike any of the previous albums that were recorded on the all valve REDD desks.
- The 'Abbey Road' Mixing Desk
The TG 12345 Mk I desk was used not only on Abbey Road, but also on several solo Beatles' recordings. John Lennon's Instant Karma was wholly recorded and mixed on the desk, as was much of Ringo's Sentimental Journey album. Some sessions for Paul's McCartney album also made use of the desk, and Maybe I'm Amazed and Every Night were both recorded and mixed entirely on the TG. George Harrison's classic All Things Must Pass album was very much a product of the TG as well.
- Projects That Made Use of The TG Console
After being removed from service at Abbey Road the desk was donated to a school in North London who used the desk to record seminars. Once it was no longer needed the desk was sadly skipped alongside large piles of rubble. A tape machine maintenance engineer for the school rescued what he could from under the rubble because he liked the look of the knobs. The surviving parts of the desk were allegedly swapped for an ADAT digital tape machine, the owner obviously unaware of the desk’s history and value. The surviving modules of the desk currently reside in private ownership.
- What Happened To The TG Desk?