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Updated MAY 2022

SECTION 2

 

Vintage Echo Unit Technical Summary

 

Please note that the timings and amplitudes of the heads quoted here are nominal values only and there is evidence that they varied (sometimes considerably) from these nominal values. This could have been due to varying friction of the heads against the drum/tape and head (mis-) alignment. For example, actual echo timings can vary by a few mSec from one position in a track to another due to wow and flutter, with even wider variations from tune to tune. More dramatically, the last echo from the Echomatic 2 appears around 350 mSec on some tracks and well above 360 mSec on others (of course, there could also have been two different machines?).

 

With regard to levels, Charlie Hall has also commented:Some of these units had presets inside that were not intended to be changed by the user. Dick Denney told me he was often called to the studio to make corrections to these settings, so either someone was messing with them or they went off spec on their own!This could explain why there are a number of variations, especially from the Echomatic 1.

 

Similarly, while the various Binson units had the replay heads spaced equally around the drum, the actual timing between the heads seems to vary quite a lot from one machine to another. For example, of the 5 Binson B2's analysed so far, the delay between the heads varied from about 77 mSec to 87 mSec (possibly a 50Hz machine being used on 60Hz?). The B2 that Hank used seems to have a head spacing of about 77 mSec, essentially the same as the ones used famously by Pink Floyd.

 

Meazzi Echomatic 1

 

6 Replay head...Model J.

 

 

6 replay heads unequally spaced around a drum with a magnetic coating. Factory levels of the heads preset: 1 strongest, 6 weakest, though the echo levels exhibited on most recordings differ from these simple settings.

 

 

 

Switching:

 

 

 

Switching used by Shadows: generally used in Position A: all 6 heads, feedback from head 6

 

5 Replay Head Model F(?).

 

5 replay heads unequally spaced around a drum with a magnetic coating. Factory levels of heads

preset:1 strongest, 5 weakest, though the echo levels exhibited on most recordings differ from these

simple settings. Possibly variable speed, though no evidence of the use of this function on Shadows recordings.

 

 

 

Switching:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, analysis of the echoes for the various tunes that used this machine shows that it had been modified to allow other switching and head level/feedback options. In particular:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60 years of Echoes

Paul Rossiter

   Section 1

Determining which echo unit was used by the Shadows at any stage throughout their 50 years together is quite a challenge. The list below has been ascertained from a number of sources, including photographs, films/videos, books, comments in magazines, comments of the various web sites devoted to Shadows matters, personal correspondence and, most importantly, analysis of the echo patterns and voicing that characterises each of the units just as surely as fingerprints identify a human being. I have also indicated some of the recorded tunes that I believe were done with each particular unit as well as some of the claimed sightings of the units used in performance.

 

Because of the huge number of tracks recorded by The Shadows, I have generally just indicated the first and last tunes (in chronological order) that used any particular echo unit. To complete the list you will need a full discography such as Malcolm Campbell's excellent "A Pocket Guide to Shadow Music" or "The Shadows Recording Catalogue" by Victor Rust.

 

Technical information about each unit (and some others) is given in the second half of this article. Please also note that while I have followed recent practice in distinguishing between the two main different incarnations of the Meazzi drum echo units by the names Echomatic 1 and Echomatic 2, these designations were never in fact used by the factory.

1. 1960 - 1961 Meazzi Echomatic 1

Two models of the Meazzi Echomatic 1 were evidently used by the Shadows during this period: a 5 head model(probably a model F) and a 6 head model J, each having a unique pattern of echoes. There have also been suggestions that the 5 head machine was fitted with variable speed (Alan Jackson in Shadsfax Vol 24, Charlie Hall, private communication), with a speed range of about 1.5:1.

There is evidence of the Shadows using a Meazzi Echomatic 1 on the 19th March 1960 Cliff Richard Show (seen just behind Hank on the floor). However, I can't find any evidence of echoes on Living Doll (other than reverb) or Travelling Light or probably Voice in the Wilderness and songs before that, so I would place its acquisition by Hank at sometime between Jan 1960 and March 1960.

 

The 6 head machine was used on a number of Cliff Richard Shows (e.g. on Nine Times Out of Ten, 16th Feb 1961; Gee Whiz it's You, 23 Feb 1961) while the 5 head machine was used on other occasions (e.g. on FBI played on the Cliff Richard Show on 2nd March 1961).

 

However, with the possible exception of Midnight (that has echoes characteristic of the model J), only the 5 head machine appears to have been used on Shadows recordings and this occurred while the 6 head machine was still being used on the Cliff Richard Shows, i.e. there was a period of overlap between their use. The 6 head machine was used on some Cliff recordings (e.g. Now's the Time to fall in Love).

Echomatic 1 being used by Hank in 1961

Recordings: (all 5 head model F) first used on Apache in June 1960.

Last used on Blue Star in Feb 1961.

I have not found any evidence of the use of variable speed of the model F

on any Shadows recordings as yet.

2. 1961 - 1965 Meazzi/Vox Echomatic 2

 

Recordings: First used on record: Probably Find Me a Golden Street in Jan 1961; subsequently used on all tracks recorded with Fender Strats up to late 1963/early 1964, then Burns guitars on most or all tracks on Dance with The Shadows (May 1964)and then a few tracks on The Sound of The Shadows (July 1965).

Echomatic 2 seen here at Paris Olympia 1962

Cliff and The Shadows with Echomatic 2 seen behind Hank.

As with the period of overlap when the two models of Echomatic 1 were in use, there were

occasions where the Echomatic 2 was seen together with an Echomatic 1.

 

Here an Echomatic 1 is seen on top of an Echomatic 2.

 

Hank using an Echomatic 2 during the early Burns era

 

2a. 1961 Meazzi PA 306 tape echo 3. 1964 - 1965 Vox Long Tom 4. 1961 - 1980 Baby Binson 5. 1969 - 1973 Binson Echorec 6. 1973 - 1978 Maestro Echoplex 7. Mid- 1970's Binson 603? (six head) 8. 1973? Watkins WEM The Shadow Echo 9. 1978 - 1980 Binson EC3 10. 1978? MXR Digital delay 11. 1978 -1980 Roland RE-201 12. 1980 - 1995 Roland RE 301 13. 1980 - 1997 Roland RE-501/SRE 555 14. 1988 Roland RE-3 digital rack unit. 15. 1996 - 1999 Alesis Q2 EFTP 17. 2008 - present TVS3 16. 1999 - 2008 Alesis Q20 EFTP

Seen in this EMI photograph of the

Shadows at Abbey Road,

Hank with Burns guitar (from Vox Amplifiers, Jim Elyea).

Seen at 1962 NME Award (photo from Ben van Zon)

Recordings: Possibly possibly used on The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt, recorded in Feb 1964.

 

Seen at live performances either as backup or in use.

 

Meazzi Echomatic 2 (behind Hank) and Baby Binson in 1962 (at the Eton Mission 59 Youth Club.)

Recordings: Possibly used on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Dec 1968).

 

(4 knob, sometimes called an Echorec 1 or Echorec B2)

 

Seen here at M,W & F concert in Copenhagen, March 1971.

Recordings: Probably used on The Shadows Live in Japan (1969)  and used extensively by Marvin, Welch and Farrer and also by Hank Marvin on solo tracks such as Georgia, Big Country, Love and Occasional Rain and Tokyo Guitar from the 1969 album "Hank Marvin"

 

Use cited in article in Sept 1977 Guitar Player in an interview with Hank.

 

Recordings: Probably first used on Jungle Jam, Turn Around and Touch Me from

Rocking With Curly Leads (1973), and a number of tracks in 1977 including

Return to the Alamo, Another Night and Cricket Bat Boogie.

Used Live: The John Peel Sounds on Sunday Show in 1974.

Supposedly tried for a while but rejected because of high noise level.

Seen used by Marvin and Farrer at Sheffield Baileys Club

Recordings: Not aware that it was used on any Shadows recordings.

Recordings: Comment from Hank to Charlie Hall: used on either Cavatina (March 1979) and/or Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Oct 1978),though neither echo pattern actually matches that of the EC3. Possibly used on Riders in the Sky (if not, the Roland 201 also matched the echo pattern)

Used live on The Shadows 1979 UK tour.

Binson EC-3 on box behind Hank (From The Shadows UK Tour '79 brochure).

Apparently used in a live show at the Palladium to replace the EC-3 that was "rather noisy".

 

In use at London Palladium in 1978

Recordings: Used on tracks from 1978 (possibly Don't Cry for Me Argentina), 1979 (possibly Cavatina, Rodrigo, God Only Knows (remake), Song for Duke, Heart of Glass, Rusk and possibly Riders in the sky (if not EC3)), also in 1980 on Change of Address (Mozart Forte, Outdigo, Just the Way You Are, Temptation, Indigo).

 

Two RE 301's in rack at 1989 Live at Liverpool concert.

Recordings:  Tracks on Live at Abbey Road (1982), Life in the Jungle (1982), Shadows XXV (1983), Moonlight Shadows (1986),

At Their Very Best (1989)

Hank Marvin albums 1990 - 1996, including live performance with Mark Knopfler (1994) and Hank Plays Live DVD (1995)

Used Live:1980 Europe tour, Revesby Working Club (1984), Live at the NEC Birmingham (1986), At Their Very Best video (1989),

Live at Liverpool (1989).

Hank with an RE-501 playing More Than I Can Say, from a 1981 "The Shadows in Scandinavia" TV program

Recordings: Not yet positively identified on any recordings.

 

Apparently used "several times" in the 80's.

Recordings: According to Hank, possibly used on Walking in the Air (recorded late 1987)

Charlie Hall analysed the echoes from many of the early Shadows tracks as well as a number of actual echo

machines and, under the guise of "Echoes From The Past" (EFTP), provided a service programming them as

patches into client's Alesis Q2's. Hank used these as his echoes from 1996 to 1999.

Recordings: Not used on any Shadows recordings (no Shadows activity from Dec 1990 - 2004)  Shadows Live Shows: None held.

Used on Hank Marvin CDs from 1996 to 1999 and Hank Marvin live shows during that period.

The Alesis Q20 offered improved performance over the Q2 and EFTP extended their programmes for this processor. Hank used these units from 1999 to 2008.

Recordings: The Shadows 2004 Final Tour. Live Shows: 2004 The Final Tour

Also used on Hank Marvin CDs from 1999 to 2008 and Hank Marvin live shows during that period.

The TVS3 offers programmability to match the parameters of the different vintage echo units but, unlike the Alesis,  uses a vacuum tube preamplifier and full analogue signal processing emulating the sound of the early Meazzi Echomatics.

Most agree that it has facilitated a return to the vintage sound of the early 1960's (often described as "That Sound") that Shadows fans adore.

 

Recordings: 2008 Royal Variety Performance, 2008 Guitar man (selected tracks), 2009 Cliff and

The Shadows Reunited CD, EP and single Live: 2009 - 2010, Cliff and The Shadows 50th Anniversary 2009 world tour.

Two TVS3's rack mounted at Hank's studio in Perth, Australia.

Hank's current touring case with two TVS3's and Shure radio link sitting above.

Tech sitting in front of twoTVS3's in rack at rehearsals in Ireland for the Cliff and The Shadows 50th Anniversary world tour, 2008 (from 50th Anniversary tour brochure).

Meazzi Echomatic 2

 

 

4 replay heads, unequally spaced around a drum with a magnetic coating, levels of heads 1, 2 & 3 adjustable in relation to head 4: Head 3 level lower than heads 1 & 2, though the echo levels exhibited

on most recordings differ from these simple settings.

 

 

 

*Note: levels of heads 1-3 collectively adjustable downwards relative to head 4. Feedback from head 4: adjustable

 

 Vox Long Tom

 

Magnetic tape unit with 6 replay heads evenly spaced at about 76 mSec, 4 switchable options (same as Meazzi Tape unit) and fixed relative levels. Also rapid/slow switch that switches out heads 1 and 3 for slow.

 

 

Note that the tape speed can vary up or down by a couple of percent with different tape

tensions (i.e. length of tape loop)

Feedback from one of last 3 heads, depending upon switching option. Variable feedback level.

Baby Binson

 

4 heads equally spaced around a drum with a magnetic surface.

Binson B1 mechanism used in the Baby Binson.

 

 

 

 

Switching:

 

 

 

 

The Shadows generally used just a single head plus feedback.Levels: relative levels fixed, only global adjustment.Feedback: from all selected heads, only global adjustment

 

 

Meazzi Echomatic Tape

 

 

 

Echomatic PA 306.

 

Magnetic tape unit with 6 heads, the first 5 evenly spaced about 67 mSec apart and a longer delay from head 6 of about 800 mSec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later Meazzi tape echoes had 7 replay heads, with the first 6 heads spaced 65-66 mSec apart and a long delay from head 7 of about 980 mSec.Note: also has an internal 4 position plug that allows other variations.However, the tape speed can vary up or down by a couple of percent with different tape tensions (i.e. length of tape loop)Feedback from one of last 3 heads, depending upon switching option. Variable feedback level by internal control.These units are often modified to give delays closer to those of the Meazzi drum units. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Binson Echorec B2

 

4 heads equally spaced around a drum with a magnetic surface.

 

Binson B2 mechanism (larger diameter drum than B1 mechanism).

 

 

 

 

Switching:

 

 

 

 

 

The Shadows generally used just a single head plus feedback.

Levels: relative levels fixed, only global adjustment.

Feedback: from all selected heads, only global adjustment.

 

 

Binson Echorec EC3

 

4 heads equally spaced around a drum with a magnetic surface.

 

 

Heads individually selectable for echo and feedback, feedback variable.

Roland 201 ﷯ Magnetic tape unit with 3 echo heads plus 4th (long delay) sound on sound (SoS) head and reverb, variable speed. ﷯ Switching (not including reverb effect): ﷯ Levels: relative levels fixed, only global adjustment Feedback: from all selected heads, only global adjustment

Roland 301

 

Magnetic tape unit with 3 echo heads plus 4th (long delay) sound on sound (SoS) head, variable speed. Also has reverb and chorus effects.

 

Switching (not including SoS, reverb and chorus effects):

 

 

Levels: relative levels fixed, only global adjustment

Feedback: from all selected heads, only global adjustment

 

 

Roland RE-501/SRE-555

 

3 heads plus sound on sound (SoS), similar switching as RE 301 but longer echo delays and shorter SoS delay.

 

Switching (not including reverb and chorus effects, and SoS that is independently switchable):

 

Levels: relative levels fixed, only global adjustment.

Feedback: from all selected heads (except SoS), only global adjustment.

Roland RE-3

Digital echo unit, single delay programmable for level, delay time (10 - 300mSec) and feedback.

 

Maestro Echoplex

1 moveable head 60 - 650 mSec (plus sound on sound head in later models)

 

 

Level: variable

Feedback: variable

 

Watkins WEM The Shadow Echo

 

Two replay heads individually switchable, variable global echo level and feedback.

 

 

MXR Digital Delay

 

Digital echo unit, single delay programmable for level, delay time (10 - 320mSec) and feedback.

 

Klempt Echolette S

 

Not used by the Shadows, included only to be more comprehensive

3 record heads equally spaced, two replay heads spaced equally with the last record head. Two speed.

 

 

Nominal head spacings: 220 mSec between record heads, 110 mSec from last record head to first replay head and also between replay heads.

 

Switching: Replay head 2 or 1 + 2.

Level: each record head individually adjustable. Replay head levels fixed and equal.

Feedback: global

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

 

I would particularly like to thank Charlie Hall (EFTP) who has generously shared much of his valuable knowledge via web chat sites and in personal communications and Alan McKillop who provided a number of pictures. I would also like to thank the many other contributors to the Shadows chat sites who have helped build to this body of knowledge, particularly John Campbell, Alan Jackson, George Geddes, Justin Daish, Stuart Duffy, Bill Bowley, Dave Robinson,  Reg Goodwin and Didier.

 

If I have left others off this list please let me know and I will be happy to add their names.

 

Also, if you have any corrections or additional material you would like me to add, please let me know.

 

 

 

Paul Rossiter

 

NOVEMBER 2020

 

 

 

 

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