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Studio Expresso
Book of the Month
Sept/Oct 2020
A Vintage Odyssey with Dan Alexander

Your best source for vintage gear, audio guru, musician, songwriter, studio owner and now author, Dan Alexander has a new book on the subject of what he knows best: Vintage Gear.

“As a player and dealer of vintage guitars since 18, once Allen Sides showed me an m49 and a km54, it was no leap to ‘oh, old gear is better,'” says Alexander. In his quest for acquiring prized quality gear he traveled to all corners of the world – England, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong,Thailand,Taiwan,The Philippines,Indonesia, Singapore, Canada …

In A Vintage Odyssey Alexander reveals the origins and history of vintage recording gear, told by the man who literally coined the term.

In the book, Dan discusses products from 22 manufacturers, illustrated with over 450 never-before-published photographs in full-color and reprints of original manufacturers’ sales brochures from his personal collection. The book contains complete list of microphone types distributed by Telefunken from 1928 until 1980, including technical information on mics by Neumann, Akg, Schoeps, Rft, and Geffel.

For those of you who don’t already know, Dan Alexander (r) has been a staple in California music scene since the 70s. He outfitted many legendary studios with vintage gear like Ocean Way, Prince’s Paisley Park, Shelley Yakus’ A&M (now Hensen), The Power Station, Village Recorders, Susan and Buddy Brundo’s Conway and Jay Baumgardner’s NRG studios in LA and even at his own studio at Hyde St in San Francisco.

Love of music and audio began early in Dan’s life. Legend has it that he worked for the original Leo’s music in Oakland, for a wage of $10 per day for an equal credit towards the purchase of a Fender Twin Reverb. He must have gotten the gear and practiced since he ended up playing with many guitar greats to include John Lee Hooker and the Rockets (lead singer, better known as Eddie Money).

The songwriter Dan Alexander also contributed to Eddie Money’s first two albums, one titled “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down.” And no one could keep Dan Alexander down, since passion for music and gear has consumed his life. He opened vintage guitar stores in Berkeley and Hollywood. He took over Coast Recorders (on Mission Street) from Bill Putnam in 1988 and installed his first Neve, a modified 8026, in 1990. Through it all Dan became really good at buying and selling recording equipment like his sought after Pultecs.

He practically made vintage hip for studio owners and gear connoisseurs and producers like Sylvia Massy, Eric Prestidge, Matt Wallace, Jack Joseph Puig, Frank Zappa, Bob Clearmountain, Tchad Blake, Bill Schnee, to name a few. The studios developed an appetite and Danny boy was glad to feed them with thousands of tube mics, dozens of Neve consoles, from his world travels. “Arguably the rarest tube mic in the world, the Telefunken Ela M270 stereo microphone (serial number 101) now in the collection of Blackbird Studios,” says Alexander who, by the way, got my studio gig at Ocean Way when I moved to Los Angeles. Dan knew me from my days at Mark “Mooka” Rennick’s studio Prairie Sun (he must have put in a good word for Jay Kaufman who hired me at Ocean Way). Thank you Dan!

“I still collect and play old guitars and write songs. My last royalty check was for $71,” says Alexander with a chuckle. And finally, why “old school” or vintage still rules with modern engineers? Dan simply says: “It sounds better.”

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Buy my book: "Dan Alexander Audio: A Vintage Odyssey"