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A brief history of my work experiences with Solid State Logic, Focusrite and others.
Created: 21 October 2011: Updated 12 June 12. STILL TO BE COMPLETED! Recent info in blue and new info in red.
A brief record of my wiring history with Solid State Logic, Focusrite (both versions) and others. Bear with me on this as it is quite long and captures some 7 years with SSL and some 5 years working with both Focusrite companies yet alone other experiences in the Pro-Audio industry.
1978: After leaving college in 1978, I was playing in three bands and began to take an interest in PA systems. In 1979, I co-formed a Rock band, Gibralter, with Tony Miles, a guitarist friend. We needed a PA system and, between us all, the band bought an RSD desk, some older versions of the Turbosound TMS-3 speakers (with bullets as tweeters!!!), JBL horns (to replace the rubbish tweeters), Turner B302, RSD 800C amps for the FOH and Quad 405 amps for foldback along with various wedge monitors and all the other gear required.
The trouble was, it needed wiring up so guess who had to investigate and do that? Yup, me. Somehow, I met Malcolm, a chap based in Archway, London who was working on PA systems and had managed to modify Quad 405 amps with a 2u breakout panel and volume controls. I learned some basics about audio wiring and XLR pinouts (why are they still different throughout the world?).
Armed with that knowledge, I was just about able to wire the band's newly acquired PA system so, armed with various cables, it got connected and being a bit of a sad case, I ended up making a flightcase for the amps on the evening of my 21st birthday in my parent's garage. Armed with a sheet of flightcase material from Bulldog flightcases, a gob load of rivets and a manual rivet gun, I received arm fatigue from fitting a few hundred rivets constructing a 12u flightcase that night.
1979: This whole experience of constructing a PA system was to prove useful a year or so later as I left Gibralter and London and started a new life in Oxfordshire playing with some Georgie musicians in High Wycombe. We were all on the dole and getting about £35 per week. We spent every day rehearsing but soon ran out of money.
1980: Someone mentioned that Solid State Logic in a nearby village needed more wiring help so I went along and saw John East, the test engineer. I looked at a 4K console there and wondered how much it would cost. I thought of a figure (£15K) and doubled it. I was way out! I applied for the job to build the 651 centre section but didn't get it and went back to London in a sulk as I owed my parents about £200 (roughly 2 weeks good wages in those days).
About two weeks later John East called me in London and mentioned that one of their staff, Roy Rivett, had fallen down an unfinished lift shaft in the new building at Stonesfield (the lift got cancelled in the end). Therefore, there was a vacancy involving wiring work. I popped back up to Oxfordfordshire and got the temporary job filling in for Roy while he recovered.
I was initially based at the old Acorn studiio complex where SSL began and I remember being in a small room (roughly 15 square metres) with Sarah Long doing PCB's and me trying to construct cables and panels. I say "trying" because I didn't really have much help at the time. George Gilbert was also there designing and testing one of the new 5u 661 power supplies, Colin Sanders was in the next room and John East was in the studio live area finishing off and testing consoles.
In those early days, we made one small (24-32, maybe even a 40 channel) console (Colin didn't like the word, desk) every 6 weeks and we all almost forgot how they were made in between the production schedules. Colin Bateman, a close friend of Colin Sanders, looked after the studio and demo side of things. He also did some building work at the time as well as looking after his dog, Trampas (?).
All the SSL stores were located in the loft at the studio and when they needed to be moved about 1000 metres down the road (10 minutes walk) to the custom built premises (with the liftshaft), I took the whole lot down there in my Bedford CF van in two trips!
So, SSL gradually shifted to the new building designed by an Architect called Eric. For a time, he lived in a double decker bus which eventually ended up in Charlbury on land owned by the Gomm family. Joe Gomm did car repairs and, for a time, I also lived in this bus with others after moving to the area whilst working at SSL.
When I was first sub-contracted to SSL (later to be properly employed), I lived in Charlbury, in a place owned by Mr Burchit. We had to be careful saying his name as it sounded like birdshit!
At that time, I had moved from London and was playing drums with Derek Hobbs (later to be production Director with SSL), his brother, Gordon (on guitar and vox) plus Mick Gardner on guitar (he also played drums and sadly passed away in 2011) in a band called Movie Stars. We did 2 gigs after loads of rehearsals every day and then split whilst three of us were still living in the same place in Charlbury after which, I stayed in the bus in the same village for a while.
Downstairs at the new SSL building, it had a reception area, toilets and 4 rooms. The new stores was situated in about 20 sq metres leading to a production room where we did some of the PCB's, 651, hardware and cables. A smaller metalwork room and coffee machine area separated this from the main test area and finally the final test room where John East did his stuff. This room had double doors leading out onto the car park for the finished consoles to be loaded into vans, trailers or small lorries.
To be continued when I have the time!