Little known outside the realms of music production engineers or serious audiophiles, record lathes used to be the premier instruments involved in music production. Big, hulking pieces of metal and machinery, these complex pieces of equipment were the birthplace of countless records released from the 1930s onward.
Going the way the way of other complex mechanical systems of an earlier time, these machines too became outdated. Vinyl lathes were stowed away to make room cassette tapes, which gave way to compact disks, which gave way to MP3 players, which gave way to today’s largely digital and streaming landscape, where an infinite universe of songs can be streamed at the click of a button.
But just as vinyl has seen a resurgence, so too have the machines used to produce vinyl masters. And not all machines, but just one in particular. Levi Seitz owns the only vinyl lathe in Washington state, and he considers himself not just the owner of the machine, but its steward.
The 50-plus-year-old piece of equipment is a rare Scully Lathe, and is just one of 400 of its type still in existence. It has lived many lives, and will probably continue to live many more, but for now its home is under the watchful eye of Seitz and his recording studio, Black Belt Mastering.
See the lathe in action below, and then check out the full profile on Seitz, Black Belt Mastering and of course, the Scully Lathe, here.