Bob Ludwig Clears Up Mastering Confusion Around Clapton's New "I Still Do" Double 45rpm LP

The release blurb for Eric Clapton's new Glyn Johns produced and engineered record has left some readers confused about the source. Bob Ludwig clears it up.

While Clapton's new record was recorded to two inch analog tape and mixed to quarter inch 15IPS tape, the blurb's mastering credit reads "Everything is captured in stellar analog while the two of the industry’s leading engineers—Bob Ludwig and Bernie Grundman—handled the mastering and cutting, respectively".

This has led to a great deal of confusion among some readers and no doubt others as well.

If Ludwig "mastered" but doesn't have a cutting lathe, and Bernie Grundman cut from tape, was the tape used generated from a digital master? Or a "mastered" copy of the mix tape? That's what readers want cleared up so I asked Bob Ludwig and here's what he wrote back (used with his permission):

"While 'Mastered by Bob Ludwig and Cut by Bernie Grundman' is accurate, it should really read 'Digital media mastered by Bob Ludwig, Vinyl disk mastered and cut by Bernie Grundman'.

"When I heard what a great job Glyn did we agreed that the disk should be cut from the analog master as there wasn’t much to do. I assembled and edited the stack of reels of master takes onto a compiled A and a B-side reel with the correct gaps between the songs and shipped the original analog masters to Bernie who cut it from scratch there. I made 192kHz digital eq files when I mastered it."

So there you have it: the record is AAA cut from the master tape. I've heard low resolution files and even they sounded very good. The performances demonstrate an energized and inspired Clapton, as did his 70th birthday Royal Albert Hall Concert LP set that needs a review.

Auric G's picture

Cough-cough This is a AAA 45 lp I can get excited about.

Bob Levin's picture

I usually think of that being a two track mix-down to 1/4 inch tape. (In the analog milleu.)
That aside, Thanks Michael for setting it straight!
Worth noting that Peter Blake, best known for his work on the Sergeant Pepper sleeve did that marvelous portrait of E.C.
I'm in and can't wait to hear it.

Catcher10's picture

but more of an addition to the details. The "digital" edition of this album was mastered by Bob Ludwig. The vinyl is cut from all analog source. And yes this is a great value for an AAA record.

rompolompo's picture

They should record to analog tape and computer disk simultaneously and let consumers choose what they want.

Jim Tavegia's picture

There is no reason to not track it all on2" while at the same time do a 16 track digital version at 24/192 or dvd DSD, even if you didn't keep it for an SACD release. With the cost of digital so cheap and easy these days to not do both seems foolish to me. I would love to hear the 24/192, even with the DA to AD transfer to 2496 on burned on a DVD-R and I'll bet it would be terrific.

Ortofan's picture

...assemble/organize the "stack of reels of master takes" into a compiled A and B-side for the analog disc version? Did he somehow pause the cutter/lathe while switching between reels or were there multiple reel-to-reel recorders on hand, so that a reel on one machine could be swapped out while a track was being cut from another reel on another recorder? Or was there an intermediate step between the "stack of reels" and whatever tape from which the disc was actually cut?

Michael Fremer's picture
He assembled them physically by splicing together the tapes and inserting the appropriate amount of leader tape between the tracks. That's how it's always done. BTW: all of Johnny Cash's epic American Records LPs were cut to tape and could be likewise assembled for all analog cutting by no one wants to spend the money to it, so every LP edition is cut from a digital source and they sound great. Imagine how much better though, were they cut from tape!
Ortofan's picture

...the original master tapes by cutting and splicing them in order to assemble the tracks for each side of an LP? It's been my understanding that each track was typically dubbed from the master tape onto another tape in the desired order (and with the necessary inter-track spacing). In turn, that (second generation "master") tape was used to cut the LP.

infohou's picture

Hey Folks,

Anybody know where it will be pressed? Haven't seen it mentioned and that makes me worry.

I ordered it from SoundStage with the code from the ad on this site. I am an even bigger fan of Mr. Clapton than I was in the 70's. He is bluesier than earlier and supports other artist to perhaps an even greater degree.

Y'all take care,

dobyblue's picture

According to posters at SHTV it was pressed at MPO who do an excellent job, very nice quiet vinyl compound and always dead centred

Bob Levin's picture

Just got the 2X 45 version of "Bags & Trane" in the mail on Wednesday.
There's a sound at the end of "Late, Late Blues" that has confounded me for aeons. Was there an earthquake? Somebody drop their luggage??
Turns out to be Paul Chambers adding a nice little touch of strummed bass.
Who knew? It sure as hell wasn't me, until I picked up this 'new' version.

Martin's picture

Straight analogue Clapton, no Pro Tools nastiness to the sound.
I'll get it.

LesT73's picture

...on Amazon UK as distributed by Polydor. Does anyone have any idea if the mastering and pressing used on this will be the same as the Bushbranch / Surfdog pressing?

JEB-42's picture

I find that I receive very few warped records as in the 70's and 80's. However when there is a problem they are usually bowl shaped now or dished. My Clapton, picked up locally here in Toronto at Sonic Boom was Dished! So badly in fact that i could not clean it on the Keith Monks! The vacuum pressure was too much for the small contact point just by the spinal. With the Furutech record flattener 1 hour heat cycle puts them dead flat. Regardless It would be nice to get flat records more often from the plants than what they are currently churning out.

Jesper Jelse's picture

I jumped from Jean Michel Jarre Equinoxe & Magnetic Fields to this album and the sound was boxed in, in a familiar digital way. Album was surely tracked analogue but I suspect they edited the files digitally, then made an analogue master. It sounds ok but not all the way like Dylans "Time out of mind" that I also played directly after to compare. Sure, those records I compared with have a airy transparency sound but also the computer screens photographed on the Clapton vinyl inner sleeve behind the tape machine is the give a way apart from the sound.