Vocalion probably used a spring driven cutter, and they were
less reliable than the weight driven ones (according to Ralph
Peer). If we knew Johnson tuned his guitar perfectly (re:
'A' 440), it would be a piece of cake. He probably didn't,
but still it was probably not too far off, especially if he
played with other musicians (e.g., harmonicas).
> Date: Mon, 25 May 2009 11:18:13 -1000
> From: Malcolm Rockwell <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Robert Johnson RPM debate
> James -
> I've read the arguments and heard the pitch shifted samples and say
> possible the recordings are pitched high. This would mean one of three
> things: 1) Robert really sang that way; 2) the material was
> recorded too
> slow; and/or 3) the final pitch was modified by dubbing prior to
> I tend to go with #1, mostly because I've always heard him the way he
> has been presented on LPs and CDs and my ear is used to that. The
> samples are interesting food for thought, though!
> #2 is possible mostly because machines do run slow (there's very
> homogenity of 78rpm recording speeds company to company, and
> session to
> session within the same company. Add that to playback speed variations
> and, well...). What was the power source in Dallas? 110 VAC? 120
> VAC? Or
> was it DC voltage? If AC, was the frequency (usually 60 Hz) solid, or
> did it wander? What kind of motor did the portable recording lathe
> use... AC, DC or counter-weighted (mechanical)? There are just too
> variables here.
> #3 requires forethought and since there was seemingly so little of
> it in
> #2, I doubt this scenario. Producers are not going to agonize about
> kind of thing; to them Robert was just another blues picker. But who
> knew what he'd become 60 years later or that any of this would matter?
> Good luck with your research!
> Mal Rockwell
> james mendenhall wrote:
>> Hi, Arsclist
>> I am doing research about the rpm debate of the Robert Johnson
>> Does anyone have any information for me?
>> And, is this all speculation or has there been proof found that they
>> are indeed too fast?