John Vanderslice

We meet John Vanderslice. The musician and record producer helped put out groundbreaking records from indie bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon and The Mountain Goats. His San Francisco recording studio Tiny Telephone focuses on analog production techniques, and aims to keep the cost of production affordable for up-and-coming bands.

John Vanderslice, songwriter, musician and producer who owns studios collectively known as Tiny Telephone, one in San Francisco, and a new one being built in Oakland

  • Robert Thomas

    Every time I put on Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’, which was produced by Tom Wilson in 1963 and engineered by some genius whose name I wish I knew, I’m startled by the clarity of the presentation as much as I am by the artist.

    When I put on a Mercury Living Presence recording made in the 1950s by Wilma Cozart Fine, I hear past the moderate tape hiss to an experience more vivid than I hear from most modern decks. Bert Whyte’s recordings for Everest do the same for me.

    When I listen to Keith Richards’s recordings through his Norelco cassette player, I’m equally thrilled.

    How does Mr Vanderslice explain this?

  • Robert Thomas

    How can I fail to be disappointed by the HUGE number of BAD digital transcriptions that were made in the 1980s of the catalog of the previous thirty years, when I can recall reading an interview with the legendary Doug Sax of The Mastering Lab in which the great man warned (seriously!) that the frequency response of digital recording tape was important to consider because of the danger that the “least significant bits will be lost” by constrained bandwidth?

    The world lost countless fine analog recordings through the rush to transcribe them to red book by engineers who were well-meaning but devastatingly inexperienced with the technology.

  • Dave

    The cost of breaking into music production has decreased dramatically over the last decade. Still, the space in accessible areas remains an expensive component. What do you think of co-ownership and cooperative use as a viable way to get started?

    • Robert Thomas

      The cost of good quality microphones has gone up.

  • Robert Thomas

    A shout to Reference Recordings and K.O. Johnson!


  • Jack Forman

    After 10 albums of digital recording, JV helped my band break through the digital divide and head back to 2″ tape. TT is the greatest recording experience we’ve ever had. Thanks, JV!

  • Randy Brawley

    My wife has a local band called The Bootcuts with 2 albums. I have found that Bay Area residents are lucky because there is a great music scene and they can see excellent live acts for under $20 any night of the week.

  • Jim West

    John Vanderslice made some comments about Avid that I’d like to speak to. I am an Avid engineering manager, musician, and KQED member in the Bay Area. I have been working on the Pro Tools development team for sixteen years now.

    I have an issue with him implying that you shouldn’t use Pro Tools because Avid is somehow a bad company, as somehow evidenced by Avid being delisted from NASDAQ. Avid was delisted for accounting reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of its products — or employees. I can assure you that the PT team is just as passionate about audio production as John.

    I’m happy John has found music production tools and techniques that work for him and his clients. He made some interesting comments about how using a nonlinear DAW like PT can influence the behavior of how a band makes records. Use whatever tools work for you and your music, whether they’re analog, analog + digital, or fully digital.

    (Avid will return to NASDAQ next week –

    Jim West
    Pro Tools Delivery Manager, Avid

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