The Les Paul Console


Les Paul was famous for his “sound-on-sound” (overdub) recordings. In the early 1950s, he did these with one, or later two, Ampex Model 300 ¼-inch, full-track recorders, in his “home studio” in Rahway, NJ. During this time, he employed Rein Narma to design and construct special audio equipment.

In 1956, Ross Snyder, at Ampex, conceived an 8-track, 1-inch, tape recorder with “Sel-Sync”, and David Sarser sold one to Les Paul . To be of any practical use, this of course required an 8-channel mixing console. For this, he turned to Rein Narma Audio Engineering, which, at the time, consisted of Rein, the chief designer; Bob Flint, electronics fabricator; Richard Schulze, mechanical designer and draftsman; and me, assistant designer of the equalizers.

In 1958 October I was living in California again, and visited New York for the AES Convention. Rein took me out to Les’ studio to see the finished system, and I took the following photographs.



Fig. 1 Les Paul sitting at his Console. Two Ampex Model 300, ¼-inch mono recorders at the left.





Fig. 2 The 8-input, 3-output custom console, made by Rein Narma Audio Engineering. The electronics are modules mounted below the gain controls. There's a good color picture of the inside of the console, and one of the plug-in electronics modules, here, from Preservation Sound.





Fig 3 Les Paul’s recording room: (left-to-right) back of turntable; back of Ampex mono Model 300; Console; Ampex Model 300-8 transport and rack of other electronics; equipment rack, with Narma Compressor at top.

JAY MCKNIGHT,  (jay.mck

Magnetic Reference Laboratory, San Jose, CA


AES - Audio Engineering Society