This is the first of our “Weird Gear” series where we’ll be writing about some of the more interesting and unusual equipment we employ.
“The GA-4RE records music with an electric pen. The recode is made
on a film of oil which also serves to lubricate the revolving disc
which is the platter for the film. The film is constantly replaced and
can never wear out like magnetic tape. Following the electric pen are
two sensors which reproduce the pattern of electrons for the
amplifier. The effect is a multiple choice of echo and reverberant
sound with a quality never before achieved.”
– Gibson Reverb-Echo GA-4RE Instructions
The GA-4RE is a staple sound of The Mesmers. It’s haunting, warbly
echos have made it’s way into numerous songs including “The Model”,
“Neptune City”, “Race The Days” and most notably “Sandy Strange”. It
was manufactured by Tel-Ray, a California electronics company which
eventually become Morley, as a licensed/re-branded version of it’s
“Adineko Memory System”. It was available during the 60′s as an
alternative to high maintenance tape delays and can be found in many
standalone and integrated effects under the brands Fender, Gibson,
Rickenbaker, Acoustic, Univox, Vox, and Standelle.
Oil Can Delay
Oil Can Delay Controls
Interior of Oil Can
Oil Can Delay Controls 2
The delays from the oil can have reduced high and low frequency
content. There is also an audible chorus effect due to the
non-linearities of the oil passing the rotating platters. These
non-linearities are impossible to capture using convolution based
methods, so you’ll just have to break down and buy one.
- The Mesmers, Sandy Strange | Buy CD | Buy on iTunes
- Ry Cooder, Buena Vista Social Club – Buy at Amazon
- Input 1 is for electric guitar.
- Input 2 is for high z inputs like a tape deck or mixer foldback.
- Loudness: this is an input attenuator for input 2 to accommodate a variety of high level signals.
- Direct: this is a volume control for the input (non-echo) signal.
- Reverb: this is a volume control for the echo signal.
- Mode: this controls the echo rate and feedback via 3 presets.
- Position 1: soft delay with quick repeats and short delay time… as close as this thing gets to reverb.
- Position 2: delay with long delay time, great for dub.
- Position 3: delay with short delay time, this is the rockabilly position.
- Power: this, um… turns it on/off.
In addition to the inputs and controls listed above, the GA-4RE also
has a fuse, output jack and footswitch which enables/disables the echo
effect. This unit is all tube and has one 12AU7 possibly used as a
phase inverter and 2 6EU7′s for amplification.
- A-4RE Instructions, http://www.harpamps.com/gibson/
- The unofficial Tel-Ray page, http://www.geocities.com/tel_ray/
- The Technology of Oil Can Delays, http://www.geofex.com/Article_Folders/oil_can_delays.htm