----- Original Message -----
From: "David Seubert" <[log in to unmask]>
> James, George Dick et al.
> Thanks for your help here. Every company is different, but I'm always
> skeptical that I'm misinterpreting the data if I find too many alternate
> takes (except Edison). Above about 10% in a given run of 78s like Emerson
> where I don't know the system used for designating takes, I usually
> question if what I think are take numbers are stamper numbers or
> I've never really relied on aural comparison (though it is obvious in
> some cases, see:
> http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/search.php?queryType=@attr%201=1020&query=cylinder4373&num=1&start=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=id) .
> I don't trust my ears enough to detect the often slight variations
> between takes. In the acoustic era it's not exactly like different
> versions of The Dead doing Dark Star (though many would say these all
> sound the same too, I suppose), but aural memory is notoriously
> My method is usually to lay the edge of a piece of paper across the
> center hole of the disc and mark the beginning and end of the grooves.
> Then I lay this paper on the other disc and see if they match. Even if
> one take is only a few seconds shorter or longer it will be obviously
> different as even a couple of grooves difference is noticable.
> I'm sure George's method works too, but the paper and pencil method is
> very quick and we are essentially measuring the same thing in different
Another method, which the late Jeff Healey used to use, was to play the
two recordings simultaneously. This requires two turntables which run at
an EXACT same speed (most modern 78-capable tt's will suffice)...and
the patience needed to manipulate the two so that the records play
EXACTLY simultaneously! (acquired through practice!).
There is usually an audible difference in two takes...usually so obscure
that only this direct comparison makes it evident!
OTOH, I have a set of three alternate takes issued on a Harmony-group
record...each of the three contains one audible mistake! I can only assume
they tried three times to cut the tune...and when each attempt produced
an error, they finally decide "Well, issue all three takes; we can always
tell buyers that the "other version" doesn't contain the error!"
Which, of course, it didn't...even if it contained a DIFFERENT error...?!
Steven C. Barr