Duane Eddy's House of Twang

The Water Tank Reverb

1

Taffy's earlier post recognizing Rebel Rouser on the Billboard Top 100 got me to thinking. The water tank tone was unique, and I can sense that now. When I was a youngster, I didn't dwell that much on tone. I had quite a few of Duane's early 45's, but they have since gone by the wayside, but I was wondering, were there any other recordings with Duane using the water tank, or was Rebel Rouser a one and done so to speak? I remember reading that the neighbors around the studio weren't very fond of it because they tank was outside, which allowed the whole neighborhood to enjoy the music, but apparently some weren't so appreciative.

So, I am wondering how much more the water tank was used after Rebel Rouser?

2

From what I recall reading, it was a short lived era, but what a sound!

3

Maybe you would like to see what it looked like.

4

Speaker on one end and microphone on the other end?

5

Maybe you would like to see what it looked like.

– Richard Hudson

Is this really the one? Where is this picture from? Thanks for posting -- I've often wondered.

6

Speaker on one end and microphone on the other end?

– Gasmoney

Our theater had similar. Speaker on one end, mike on the other, but they took it farther. First one was a thick wall cardboard Sonotube that was nearly 100' long. 15" Altec in one end and holes for mikes every five feet so you could adjust the reverb time.

The second was a L shaped room with a pair of speakers and two mikes. It worked fine except for one problem. They'd built it in the basement under the large ladies' rest room. It was fine until the first show, then, in the middle of a classical piece---FLUSH!!!. It wound up as a store room.

The third and final room was an oddly shaped W, two stories tall, with three speaker and mike setups---left, center, and right. It had adjustable curtains to help control the sound. It was used until 1981, and was taken out of service just as I started on staff.

They also did echo using reel to reel tape recorders---Ampex 350s. Many of the apocryphal tales you hear actually are true.

7

How exquisitely ironic the sound produced , with improvised basic equipment and materials . Beats modernity with its highly sophisticated space age technology , computerisation and electronics ! - Back to the water tank in all its glory - Back to basics with the sound that still makes the earth move !!

8

Is this really the one? Where is this picture from? Thanks for posting -- I've often wondered.

– lx

Now, I'm wondering too. It seems that I remember seeing something that was about the museum in Arizona that had a little more detail about the water tank. I haven't found what I remember yet, but, I'll look some more. Maybe someone else will beat me to it.

9

Now, I'm wondering too. It seems that I remember seeing something that was about the museum in Arizona that had a little more detail about the water tank. I haven't found what I remember yet, but, I'll look some more. Maybe someone else will beat me to it.

– Richard Hudson

That's the one.

10

The Musical Instrument Museum Phoenix, Arizona.

11

The one in the black & white picture maybe, but that red one is more like Spinal Tap’s Stone Henge.

12

The one in the black & white picture maybe, but that red one is more like Spinal Tap’s Stone Henge.

– Deke Martin

The red one is a replica.

13

Makes sense...

I love the fact that both pictures are taken from what looks like almost exactly the same angle.

14

Sorry I have only just noticed this conversation. The black & white photos show the tank in situ in the back lot of Floyd Ramsey's studio in the late 1950s and are from Bear Family. When the new Audio Recorders studio was built in the early 1960s it was essentially constructed around the tank. By 1981, when we visited the studio, it had been essentially abandoned and tape boxes were stacked up on it, going back to the Rev days. Jack Miller said that he thought that once the 1960s studio had closed, the tank had been cut up as there was no other way to get it out: I'd prefer to dream that it is still there but if it had survived I think that the MIM would have found a way to salvage it. It seems a sad ending for such an important piece of music history.

15

Tanks for the memories

16

What synergy ( stretching the word a bit ) , bring back the tank and introduce it to Duane's Gretsch 6 string base ! What a sound that would be !! ---- The most famous tank since my Dad and his regiment went up to Liverpool Docks , prior to ' D ' Day to collect the Sherman Tanks . Shipped from the USA ! - For both types of tanks , thankyou America !!

17

“The second was a L shaped room with a pair of speakers and two mikes.” “The third and final room was an oddly shaped W, two stories tall” -Wabash Slim

How big were these rooms?

There are a few theatres around here, but most were converted to movie theatres.

When would the theatres have to have been active to have these chambers?

18

Echo chambers vary, but most are somewhere between your bathroom & your bedroom in size. You don't stick the mic at one end and the speaker at the other. You want the mic to pick up only reflected sound and no direct sound. You never point them at each other.

22

I've used a couple dozen of them. A good chamber is a wonderful thing. Most were replaced by Echo Plates, and ended up as storage space. Many have been torn down. Goldstar burned, as did Tape Recorders Inc on Highland. There are still several under the parking lot of the Capital Record building. There's actually one a few doors up from my shop, left over from a 60's studio, now just a weirdly shaped storage space. They're hard to design & tune. It's a lost art, but could be a fun project if you have the space. The columns in the Abby Road chambers are upright clay sewer pipes used as polycylindrical diffusers. The also use a series of helmholtz resonators to tune the room.

23

“The second was a L shaped room with a pair of speakers and two mikes.” “The third and final room was an oddly shaped W, two stories tall” -Wabash Slim

How big were these rooms?

There are a few theatres around here, but most were converted to movie theatres.

When would the theatres have to have been active to have these chambers?

– hammerhands

The Elliot Hall of Music was opened on My 5th, 1940. Still in use today---80th anniversary next year. It's a like a sister to Radio City Music Hall. Elliot even seats more than Radio City---6,080 when built, same as the Albert Hall. The first reverb room went in the '50s. It was about 30' on a side, 12' wide and one story. After the fiasco, they reused the scene shop, two stories tall, 50' or more on a side, and the arms are about 20' wide. It's a wide wedge shaped room. They used it until the mid '70s when electronic digital reverb came around. Apparently 1950/60's era piezo based spring reverbs weren't of good enough quality. The rooms have been converted to other uses, the smaller one is dead storage, the other one is a video production suite.


Earliest use of a specialized room for reverb I've heard of was 1939's "War of the Worlds" radio program by Orson Wells. They used a hard tiled rest room. When the Martian ship opened up after landing on Earth, it'd door unscrewed to open. Wells had a sound FX guy open a rusty Mason jar in the room with a single mike to create the effect.

24

Goldstar

– Billy Zoom

Nice Altec A-7-800 cabs. Our chambers had movable curtains to vary the reverberation as needed. Hard surfaces reflect sound differently, heavy velour curtains absorb it. You could tailor the sound to whatever you needed. You're right that the mikes weren't directly pointed at the speakers. With a setup like this, there were tons of variables. You're also right in that they weren't pretty. Didn't need to be.

25

I've never seen any absorption material in a chamber. They're all hard surfaced and covered in shellac. Movable curtains is something you might do in the tracking room.


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