For some reason or other, I’ve recently decided to pursue an education in the almost extinct craft of cutting vinyl. I found a record cutting machine at vinylrecorder.com and phoned the company. The designer of the vinylrecorder, Mr. Ulrich Sourisseau, politely told me,

“I cannot sell you this machine unless you come to Germany for training.”

“Oh.”

Fast forward 4 months… it turned out I had 3 days off between gigs on my last tour in Europe so I made arrangements to visit vinylrecorder HQ which is somewhere in the middle of the German countryside.

Mr. Sourisseau has been cutting vinyl records for over 40 years. The vinylrecorder is his life’s work. The machine looks simple enough but is in fact quite a complicated beast… and I don’t know how he could have possibly explained how to use this thing over the phone. So… yes… the training session is recommended.

here is a pic of the cutting head.

this is Mr. Sourisseau looking through the microscope to make sure the grooves are good.

Mr. Sourisseau and his vinylrecorder.

Some pages from a notebook that I filled with record cutting jargon during my 18 hour crash course in vinyl cutting. I just looked through some of these pages and realized that I don’t remember what half of these notes mean. I wrote “microscope” and then drew some lines underneath it… um… apparently it struck me as important at the time. Oh well, it will take me a few months (if not years) to figure out how to cut records consistently. Wish me luck. When I finally figure this machine out I’ll be cutting special records for every show! Imagine a double sided chicken clucking 12″ vinyl… I’m sure you’re looking forward to that gig…. oh the possibilities.

I am such a nerd.

14 Responses

  1. rogerM

    awesome! saw you live in bergen at Lost Weekend 2006. Hope to see you again soon. Went to see Mr Scruff last nite at matter. Was good, but not nearly as fun as watching you and your guys spin them records!

    keep it up!



  2. trav

    Ha. Great picture of the guy. Can’t wait to hear some of the stuff you come up with with this.



  3. DJ Sentinel 1

    So, you bought the thing then, I take it. Have you mastered the art of ‘cutting’ wax (for trax)?



  4. mex

    stop by at our place in europe, and we’ll do some more cutting…



  5. rolaz

    My first reaction reading this, was “cool” until I read the nerd part. It has just dawned on me that I also must be a nerd.

    When did that happen?



  6. kathy hoff

    i have a record cutting machine for sale.please contact me. thank you kathy



  7. Tony

    Have you cut a 78? I have a victrola and would love to hear some modern music out of it.



  8. Benjamin

    Yo kid, I am about to recieve a vinylrecorder from souri this week! I convinced him to send a good friend of his, who has been using his machine for like 8 years now, over to teach me how to use it and set it all up! The guy is staying for a week, he is from germany and is the same age as me! I am an avid turntablist and friend to alot of dj,s artists and producers! I live in Oakland CA. and broker like 7 painters work, they do all of their paintings live at shows and parties! Souri told me you had gotten one, and then the next day I realized I had missed your show in SF at yoshis just like last month! Would loved to had been able to have a chance to chat with you about it! I really feel called to learn this skill! I dont produce beats, but I love to dj on my tecnics at home in my party gallery, I ve never dj out side of my place but have had up to like 30 people in there! I just love to mix and beat match, some minor scratching. I mainly got the vinylrecorder to serve my producer/dj community and to satisfy my inner desire to learn to cut! I hope to be able to master and cut exclusively for like 3-5 djs so they can rock the clubs with their own material on durable long lasting plates. Without having to send away to get it done or having to go through a full pressing process!Keeping vinyl alive! I cant stand laptop, cdj, serato, tractor djs and the sound! Call me oldschool! Hope it works out for both of us! Would love to exchange knowledge or learning tips!
    PS. I had to wait to get my lathe an extra like 4 months (on top of other waits) for you to get yours!



  9. Benjamin

    Yo kid, so I was looking at your notebook, and I havent taken the class yet! But I have been researching for months about cutting and…What your notes are saying is this…Pretty much a warning page! Dont cut bass frequencies in stereo, or beyond the other parameters listed, because the movement of the cutter head will be too extreme up and down as well as side to side. Side to side mono bass is good, and will include up and down movement. Extreme up and down movement will cause the cutter head styli to actually come out of the vinyl and disrupt the groove. Which is what the lines under your microscope in the notes is representing, the middle line is dots not connected and the outer lines are congruant lines (grooves). The middle dotted line represents what would happen if cut in stereo. Too much up and down and the styli jumps out of groove and no usable groove!
    If you look at it again you will understand! Your notes are good and complete you just need to put it all back togther!



  10. soundwalk

    kathy hoff- can you contact me if you still have your machine for sale?
    kamran(at)soundwalk(dot)com

    thanks!



  11. Ayrex

    Just found this page and wanted to say that it’s really great what you are doing. What a cool skill to not only have knowledge of, but possess the equip. to make some wiggity wax come to life!! Inspiring read and big up! Best of luck with it and hope to see you doin a show in Denver/Boulder area soon bustin a turntablgasm!! Peace!



  12. A-Trak : Fat-free since 1982!

    […] here is Koala’s own blog post about his vinyl cutter. Tags: Kid Koala, Radiohead, vinyl press Posted in Trizzy Likes, […]



  13. darren lovibond

    hi there…..i came accross your page as i have been to stuttgart myself and bought one of these T560 machines …and like yourself came back with lots of notes that didnt seem to make sense….(a lot of info in such a short lesson) anyway i thought id leave a message as ive worked out a lot of the stuff now and am cutting pretty regular….if you wanna maill me feel free maybe we could share some info etc etc….



  14. kidk

    yeah these record cutting machines have personalities, don’t they? right now the record cutter is behaving. I’ll let you know when it starts mystifying me!



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