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Who scratches words into vinyl records?
May 23, 2012 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Who the heck is it who scratches words into the centers of vinyl LP's?

I've been buying a lot of new vinyl LP's this past year. Almost all (or all?) of them have letters and words scratched, seemingly by hand, into the narrow band of smooth vinyl between the record label and the inner groove. In particular, quite a few have the side designation (A, B, C etc.) scratched into them. Who the heck does this? Is it a person, or is it done by machine? All of these characters look like they've been scratched in freehand with an awl or a dremel or something.
posted by facetious to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've wondered this too, and I think there's a person who does this to distinguish the vinyl as each one is made. I presume lots of different albums are produced at a given facility so I guess this is a way to make sure someone isn't putting two Side As on a given LP.
Side note: I love it when they write little personalized messages! My 7" of Goodnight and Go by Imogen Heap has little drawings of bunnies and hearts in the inner groove.
posted by hellomina at 9:22 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've noticed them on older LP's too and always assumed they were lot numbers or production run coding.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:23 PM on May 23, 2012


The words are scratched into the "positive" that is used to mold the pressing master. This makes it a lot easier to tell all of the masters apart. I've seen this on mass produced LPs from the 1950s.
posted by monotreme at 9:26 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The specific term you want is "runout groove" etchings. Often it will vary based on who mastered the record. The website Vinyl Remarks collects (as I meant to many years ago) clever messages found in the runout grooves.
posted by jeudi at 9:27 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's called the "dead wax". A lot of time it's the initials of whoever mastered the record, or a code for the record label.
posted by hwyengr at 9:27 PM on May 23, 2012


You can see firsthand a how a technician etches this into a master disc at about 4:08 into this video.
posted by churl at 9:42 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


jeudi and monotreme got it, but as another data point when I used to put out records all the bands (my own included) used to put all kinds of fun dumb stuff in there along with the important ID stuff (usually catalog number and side).
posted by teishu at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2012


but as another data point when I used to put out records all the bands (my own included) used to put all kinds of fun dumb stuff in there along with the important ID stuff

I think it's certain pressings of Led Zeppelin III where Jimmy Page had them put the Aleister Crowley slogan "So mote be it" on there.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:58 PM on May 23, 2012


Previously, on the blue.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2012


great thread - thanks guys
posted by facetious at 10:46 PM on May 23, 2012


A porky prime cut
posted by bifter at 1:49 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


another fun fact, lots of bootleg LPs will have all this information crossed out, as not to track down the creators of the illicit discs.
posted by tremspeed at 2:32 PM on May 25, 2012


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