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Friday, March 16, 2007 - Sunset Media Corner

The big black building on the southwest corner Sunset Boulevard and Cahuenga in the middle of Hollywood may be CNN's west coast offices and studios, where that old guy, Larry King, tapes his nightly show, but across Cahuenga on the other corner is Amoeba Music. This is their third store. The first opened on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley in 1990, the second, the San Francisco store, opened in 1997 in Haight-Ashbury.  Now they're here, being all independent and counterculture.  They fit. Rolling Stone asked the question in 1998 - "The World's Greatest Record Store?" Who knows? They fit the neighborhood. And they have everything - "a Virgin Megastore might stock 150,000 titles, Amoeba's outposts average more than 300,000, including new and used selections." And you can get Goth Tarot cards, and even obscure Miles Davis albums.  It's not a Larry King kind of place.

Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard

Just across Sunset, and hidden behind the Jack in the Box fast food trap, is Grandmaster Recorders - the main entrance on Cahuenga completely unmarked, but the shared backdoor at the other end, on Ivar, identifies the place.

    Grandmaster Recorders is a vintage recording studio in heart of Hollywood that has been serving the music industry since 1971. Owned by Alan Dickson, Grandmaster has been host to every imaginable client, from Stevie Wonder to Tool to all in between.

    In the heart of the studio lies a vintage Neve 8028 console. The last all Class A console Neve ever built. Along side the Neve is Pro Tools HD3 Accel, a Studer 827 24 track analog tape machine, and a vintage Ampex ATR 102 2 Track 1/2 inch recorder. We also have a standard compliment of microphones (Neuman, AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, etc) and outboard equipment (Fairchild 670, 1176s, LA-2A, 2254s, Red 3, Distressors, EMT tube plate, etc) to make all kinds of great recordings.

    Grandmaster is based around THREE tracking rooms, all with their own personality and style. First there is the wood room. Built with black walnut, the wood room is dry and punchy. Perfect for all instruments, but vocal and guitars excel in this room. Next is the cement room. This is a more reflective room where drums are tracked 90 percent of the time. Also housed in this room is our Yamaha Custom Grand Piano. This piano was built for the legendary Billy Preston in the 1970s and has been featured on hundreds of recordings over the years. Last but not least, there is the Warehouse with Stage. This giant space doubles as our private parking, but is often used for tracking. If you have heard the drums on Foo Fighters "My Hero," you have heard the warehouse space.

Yamaha built a custom grand piano for Billy Preston - the "fifth Beatle" who also played with the Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, and Red Hot Chili Peppers? How odd. (And see a Foo Fighters poster here.) In any event, at the studio link you can ask about the rates and record your next album here - and the there's a private lounge on the top floor with satellite TV, DVD, and your choice of themed bathrooms.  And you can whack away at the famous piano, of course.

This is an insiders' place, obviously. No one outside the industry is supposed to know it's here.  On this particular afternoon they were setting up for a big party in their alley space - catering and lighting trucks everywhere.  You're not invited.

Ah, across from their backdoor, a poster for the other medium out here.

Grandmaster Recorders, Cahuenga at Sunset
Grandmaster Recorders, Cahuenga at Sunset
Los Angeles File School poster, Sunset at Ivar

Need a place to stay when you're in town recording your album or here for your CNN interview?  CNN probably doesn't use this pink residency hotel on Wilcox, just a few feet from their front door.

Pink hotel, Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood

But it is Hollywood. This blond, on Cahuenga, just across the street from Grandmaster Recorders, is classic.

Blond on billboard, Hollywood

And what is hiding in the shadows under the blond? It seems to be a cherry 1955 Oldsmobile.

1955 Oldsmobile
1955 Oldsmobile

But this is now, isn't it?

Stickers in traffic signal, Sunset Boulevard at Ivar

Contrast with the blond -

Blond on billboard, Hollywood

The obligatory palm tree at Grandmaster Recorders -

Palm tree with shadows on gray wall
CNN, Sunset Boulevard
CNN, Sunset Boulevard

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the 'fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site.

Technical Note:

Most of these photographs were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0.  Earlier photography was done with a Sony Mavica digital still camera (MVC-FD-88) with built-in digital zoom.

[Sunset Media Corner]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik

Bye, now -