Beatles – Shes Leaving Home

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    After many years of giving it a break, I’ve been revisiting the Beatles recordings. I’ve always loved the arrangement on this one but listened to it for the first time today with harpist ears.

    I don’t get it, how are the first four bars being played? Is it some kind of slapback echo trick or is the player just superhumanly good?

    Yes, you are correct – it’s slapback echo – back when these were recorded, there were very few separate slapback devices that were portable and they did not have very good fidelity – as I remember, the Beatles did this album on a 4 track Ampex which was state of the art at the time and got their overdubbing by “ping ponging” tracks – at 15ips which was a standard for mastering at the time, a very good slapback could be achieved by plugging the playback head through to the record head – you could vary the amount of echo by how much you fed back to the record head, but you were stuck with the repeat time by the speed used for recording – hmmm, maybe that’s tmi, but I loved fooling with slapback ever since Les Paul used it on “Little Rock Getaway” back in 1950 – nowadays, there are all kinds of slapback and reverb pedals out there –
    for a really fun harp “listen” with early slapback effects try Robert (known as “Bobby Maxwell and his Swingin’ Harps for these recordings) Maxwells recordings of “Bubble, Bubble, Pink Champagne”, “Hindustan” or “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” – great fun and technically quite impressive for 1951 when they were done

    Awesome post, thanks John for your knowledge. I should have thought about the tape head thing, I have a Revox B77 sitting next to the computer staring me right in the face. Amazing what they did with virtually no equipment, kids today got it easy.

    Will check out the recordings.


    It’s been a harp day’s night
    11:00am Tuesday 3rd May 2011


    Thanks Ann – really interesting!



    Great article Ann, thanks for getting this. Coincidence it should come out around the same time I’m asking about it eh? Probably in those days orchestral players wouldn’t have been used to working with rock guys and vice versa.

    She sounds pretty fresh and on the ball on the take though. You wouldn’t have known from listening to it that she was probably thinking, I wish I was home in bed or anywhere else except here.

    Kristan Toczko

    I took a class this semester about studio recording and for my final project I actually put together a string quartet and used

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