making records part 2

The making of …….. Vinyl Records continued


Cry Of Love US along with the EU and EU colour issue.


Atlanta Pop was next up in 2015 which again saw both EU and US issue. Another title that was pro tooled, though in this instance the sticker claims for both US and EU remain the same [bar vinyl weight] and claim “MASTERED BY BERNIE GRUNDMAN”. No analogue mastering claims which is a clear indication as to the recording being at some point in the digital domain. Clearly both mastered from the same HiRez files by different cutting engineers. US shown first.


A note of importance as we have reached 2015, is the use of the dating reference system utilised at Optimal, Germany. The use of letters for format and date shows BG for 2015 pressings, this is a not a Bernie Grundman reference. More and fuller details on this later as we review the run out groove details in closer, microscopic inspection!

2016 Saw re-release of the popular Smash Hits set, the US version with an alternate cover. This was issued in the US and EU along with a re- issue in the US in 2017 on coloured vinyl. Once again the sticker claims remain the same with “REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL 2 TRACK MASTER TAPES” “ALL ANALOGUE MASTERING BY BERNIE GRUNDMAN”. Again, this appears across both continents pressings, shown here in US, US colour (2) and EU order.


2017 simply brought us re-issues of records. Smash Hits and a couple of Electric Ladyland [shown above] issues, all on coloured vinyl. Ladyland had a German red [FYE] vinyl issue and a US [B&N] purple pressing. Smash Hits saw a US swirl coloured issue.


To bring us up to date, we have the Electric Ladyland 50th anniversary set. This too had release across two continents as two differing cuts. While I only have the US set to reference directly I do have the [correct] information supplied from the EU set. Both sticker wrappers made the same claims.



Both Sides of the Sky also saw issue in 2018, US, US colour and EU shown here.


Here's a couple for general reference, both Experience Hendrix with association with Sony. The first is the wrapper sticker from :Blues, a Sony Music [EU] issue and First Rays Of The New Rising Sun to follow, a Sony Legacy [US] issue. Note that both of these titles were compiled in pro-tools for original release when licencing sat with Universal / MCA [and Classic Records for :Blues]

Phew! Confused by the array of differing claims and perplexed as to why the same sticker claims appear across two continents? Looking at the comments and run out groove detail [which we will get to soon enough] it is clear that there is an attempt to pass the US and EU records off as the same thing [bar the clear and stated weight differences]. For me it all reads like this, including my own continuing confusion;
All Analogue, this is what it is, a record that attains AAA. At no point has the record [supposedly] been in the digital domain at any point. Recorded in analogue and that analogue chain has never been inclusive of digital at any point.

All Analogue Mastering is again clear, a record cut from an analogue [tape] source on a lathe that has not been adapted for the digital era. That gives problems when the claim is made on an EU cut record as all of the lathes utilised for Hendrix cuts in the EU have a digital step via the digital pre-reader. Here’s a link to an interesting read,

The key comment for us from this site is this, “We have three in-house mastering rooms, all fully equipped to perform top of the line mastering services. Our mastering rooms are equipped with Neumann VMS cutting lathes, we can cut on both lacquer and DMM. All lathes are customised with digital high resolution delay to provide you with the finest cut achievable.”

I will add that my search across EU cutting suites failed to turn up any lathes / suites that did not have the digital delay modification so it is not just Record Industry.

Where no claim is made regard Analogue Mastering we are clear that the record is cut from a digital file but it must be noted that despite the wrapper claims on many EU stickers that proclaim it is a Bernie Grundman master, they [the EU pressings] are not Grundman cut records.

200 Gram Analogue Audiophile Vinyl. Quite frankly this is nonsense as it fails to inform us of anything specific or even presents a vague claim! The combination of words like this is a concern to the English language. It comes across as someone pulling words that can be related to records and dropping them into a confused order and omitting anything to tie them together. Yes, I admit my grammar can and does leave a lot to be desired but I’m not selling you anything!

Re-Mastered from the Original 2 Track Master Tapes! I’m going to be honest here, I have no idea what that means, where ever it appears. I could simply assume the US utilises those very tapes prepared in the early seventies [in the case of Rainbow Bridge and Cry of Love, 2014 or 1968 in the instance of the Smash Hits 2016], which would make the US pressings All Analogue, especially as this claim is supported with an “All Analogue Mastering” claim. If so, why not make that clear with the same claims made for the core albums in 2010? The EU cuts clearly are not analogue masters as the sticker comment alludes to on those 2014/16 pressings! These records make for interesting listening from both continents but my findings are too subjective from that listening perspective to be included here.

As stated earlier, I made a huge mistake in believing what was etched into the run out [dead wax] of a record. After all, whoever masters and more importantly cuts a lacquer is often noted in this run out. Though that is not always the case of course, Bernie Grundman almost always does. But I got confused by seeing BG in the run out of a number of EU cuts that he clearly did not do.

Firstly, Optimal in Germany as they bring the following reference system to their vinyl;

Optimal Matrix scheme

(Single letter format identifier, followed by single character year identifier, followed by a 5 digit numeral code, followed by an appended two digit disc numbering).

X is the format identifier:
"A" = CDs
"B" = Vinyl records
"D" = DVDs
"E" = Blu-ray Discs

Y is the manufacturing year identifier, since 2010 a single letter (A to Z):
A = 2010
B = 2011
C = 2012
D = 2013
E = 2014
F = 2015
G = 2016

After the 5 digit numeral code, the 2 digit disc numbering (ZZ) can be found, which starts at "01".
On multi disc releases the last digit usually incrementally rises by 1 for each disc. (Example: Disc 1 = 01, Disc 2 = 02, etc.).

For our concern here would be any Hendrix records from Optimal in 2016 as these would clearly have BG contained in the run out grooves, B= VINYL RECORD and G= 2016.

Optimal were behind the EU copy of Freedom, though that is from 2015 so should contain BF, here’s the highlighted example to support that;

Freedom. Atlanta Pop Festival [2015]


A: BF96488-01 A1 BG 8887509781-A/OPTIMAL V1

B: BF96488-01 B1 BG VX 88875099781-B/OPTIMAL

C: BF96488-02 C1 BG 88875099781-C/OPTIMAL

D: BF96488-02 D1 BG 88875099781-D/OPTIMAL

While from the following year, 2016 we have this;


A: 88985354171 BG42728-01 A1 MK

B: 88985354171 BG42728-01 B1 MK

C: 88985354171 BG42728-02 C1 MK

D: 88985354171 BG42728-02 D1 MK


Again, my highlights [BOLD/ITALICS] here. Interestingly the 2015 also has BG while it is missing from the 2016 outside of its Optimal coding. Adding another BG rather than the MK would have made things both a little odd and warranted unwanted attention!

So much for Optimal, a number of the titles issued across both continents contain BG in the run out grooves. While Monterey and Berkeley are the notable exceptions here [plus the above shown Machine Gun], the Berkeley US cut having CB / BG [Chris Bellman / Berne Grundman, actually etched by Bellman not Grundman] while the following all clearly claim a BG cut in both of the US and EU pressings and that BG is added as the mastering / lacquer cutting engineer;

 Freedom. Atlanta Pop Festival
Miami Pop Festival
Smash Hits
Cry of Love
Rainbow Bridge
Electric Ladyland 50th anniversary box set
*Are You Experienced mono [2013]
*Axis. Bold As Love mono [2013]

*I did not pick the EU copies up but did at time of release inspect copies of both EU pressings and they clearly displayed BG in the run out. Both clearly carried the MOV sticker on the front of each record wrapper.

As more and more EU copies were issued with BG in the run out the more I became a little suspicious of things. Pre 2011 we did have the metal parts shared so the detail as previously noted, would be the same. By same I not only mean the same numbers and letters and even other distinguishing marks but the same as in identical letters, numbers and other distinguishing marks. A direct copy of the same plates.

Once the US pressing operation was switched to QRP in 2011 the sharing appears to have stopped as none of the listed pressings show anything like the same run out detail. Yes, they may well and do present the same numbers, letters and distinguishing marks but that is where it ends as they clearly are not identical and clearly etched by a different hand.

To try and attempt to make this clear [though the following is simply a demonstration to give an adaptation of those differences], Here’s how things come across when inspecting this detail across two continents pressings.

8 and 8

0 and O


B and b

G and ​g

 Utilising both a 2x magnifier and a 10x magnifier, over 23 titles and over 146 sides of vinyl from issues since 1997 through to the present were inspected. It was clear just how each person making these marks actually etched them. That’s how wide the subject matter and close this detail was inspected. Of the six records shown above in the list of eight that I have copies of from both continents, they all clearly demonstrated that Bernie Grundman did not etch this detail into the lacquers of the EU pressings. I now feel confident to apply the findings across all Hendrix titles that have duplicated titles from the EU and US if both demonstrate BG.

Unfortunately there are buyers who are convinced of the fact that as their EU copy has BG in the run out it is a mastered / cut Grundman record. Clearly, QRP do not share the required parts with the EU so the EU records are not the same despite the attempt to make us think otherwise with that rogue “BG” added to the run out and sticker claims, for whatever end aim.

First two images are US 2010 Axis. Bold as Love [RTI] dead 


Followed by the identical detail as above, this time from the “We Are Vinyl” EU pressing.

Next, detail scratched into, in this instance EU, metal. Clearly different to etching into soft lacquer. 


The Atlanta performance was featured on the Freedom release from 2015. Both the EU and US pressings display BG in the run out grooves.  Checking the US [shown first here] it is obvious that none of the detail matches that of its EU counterpart, different hands etched the detail between these pair! Note that the "optimal" detail is etched into lacquer and not scratched into the plate.