UK-based high quality RECORD lathe cutting service

3.45 RPM



https://youtu.be/22WZIl4qrko 


3.45RPM is a one man/one machine operation, cutting records in "real time". If a record is 15 mins a side, it'll take 30 mins to cut that record PLUS the extra time involved in changeover and individual requirements, so maybe 40 mins per disc. That's without set-up time at the beginning, and packaging and going to the post office at the end, which is an unspecified amount of hours. It's a time consuming affair, and despite me wanting your business and money, if I'm fully booked for four weeks then that's the way it is. It isn't physically possible to go any faster.


I am prepared to do runs of up to 100, BUT IF YOU WANT MORE THAN 100 x 7" / 50 x 12" then I will have to stagger the production to allow myself a) the possibility of doing other jobs, and b) time to sort out any technical issues and delays should they arise. This means that if you order 50+ x 12" you will need to expect an additional month to be added on to the estimated completion date (though if I can do them faster than that, I will). It may at this point be worth checking whether it would be quicker or cheaper to get the discs pressed conventionally !


Lathe cutting. What's the deal ?

Generally speaking, the vinyl you see in shops and have in your collection has been "pressed" - that is to say that a stamper has stamped the grooves of your record into warm plastic. These can be mass produced at the rate of thousands a day. 

​Lathe cutting takes each individual disc and cuts the sound into the plastic in "real time" i.e. if a side of a disc is 3 minutes long, it'll take three minutes to cut plus set-up and changeover time. If an LP is 30 mins long and you want 75 of them...well, you can do the maths there. It can't be done overnight.

What are the possible timing lengths of each disc ?

There isn't a general fixed possible time. Everything depends on the sounds provided. Louder, noisier sounds require more groove space, so less time is available. Quieter sounds take up less groove space, so more can be fitted on. Either way, remember this - the more groove space used on the disc, the quieter and less dynamic the playback will be. Quantity compromises quality. 25 mins a side on a 12" @ 33rpm may in theory be possible, but you will end up with a very quiet cut. You could then turn up the volume to listen back, but you are also turning up the sound of the record's background noise (which ALL records have), so the fidelity is greatly reduced.
 Even more importantly (for you), the actual dynamics of the recording will be compromised, and turning up the volume on your home hi-fi won't bring back the lost bass and trebles.
 And even more importantly (for me), trying to cram grooves in too tightly puts undue stress on the cutting stylus and greatly reduces it's lifespan. Cutting styluses are expensive to repair. PLEASE don't ask me to try and fit, say, 3+ mins onto a 5" disc...it just isn't worth my while.
 So to recap - too much sound on too little area is a lose/lose for all concerned.

On receiving an order, 3.45rpm will give you an opinion on how the sounds will turn out. If the cut isn't possible due to too much demand on groove space, then it will not be possible to go ahead with the order. Analogue recording onto plastic has it's limitations !

Below is a list of approximate timings. More may be possible, less may be possible, it's an approximate guide. Please check "MASTERING TIPS" for further information and suggestions on this issue.

5" @ 45rpm = approx 2 mins
5" @ 33rpm = approx 2.5mins

7" @ 45rpm = approx 3.5 mins
7" @ 33rpm = approx 5 mins

8" @ 45rpm = approx 5mins
8" @ 33rpm = approx 7mins

10" @ 45rpm = approx 9 mins
10" @ 33rpm = approx 13 mins

12" @ 45rpm = approx 11 mins
12" @ 33rpm = approx 18mins


Does it look and play like a "real" record ?
It is a "real" record ! And yes, it does !


How about labels ?

Each order comes with free blank white adhesive labels. I can attach these if required, or I can leave them unattached for you to print onto at home before applying to the record. Easy enough to apply - place the record on the record deck, place the sticker over the spindle, and lovingly smooth it flat.

You don't offer label printing ?
​Not at the moment I'm afraid. There are a few reasons for this, the main ones being that I have little to no graphic design skills, and my home printer is of average quality only. There is every chance you'll be able to do a better job yourself, for free.

​What's the discs life expectancy ?
Treat it with the decency and respect that you should be treating all vinyl with, and this is a lifetime companion. Change your stylus regularly, keep greasy fingers off the playing surface, replace in sleeve after usage...chuh, you already know all this stuff !


Do you "master" the recordings I send you ?

No - I'm transferring the sounds you give me onto a record. I'll try and replicate your audio as accurately and faithfully as is possible, but it is important to be aware that cds or digital files are able to contain frequencies that are impossible to transfer onto disc. In these cases I can "tweak", but it'll be a much more basic job than a professional mastering set up can achieve. 

 My advice, especially if you are considering having a whole LP cut, would be to have your recording looked at first by a professional mastering service first.

Do you do Locked Grooves ? 


Um...yes.


Do you hear that note of caution there ? That's because locked grooves are an inexact science, and fully expose the frailties of human fallibility. This is to say, they are difficult to get right. Therefore it's important for me to know what your expectations are before I'll agree to an order containing locked grooves, whether it's just the one you want, or multiple on a side.


The process of creating an infinite playing groove relies on the ear, eye and hand all combining to make the perfect lift of the cutting stylus just as the start of the groove comes round to meet the end, and this ideally has to be carried out within about a 0.1 second time span. Yes, a tenth of a second. Wait too long to lift the cutter, and the groove will start to recut the audio already in place, creating harsh distortion. Lift too early, and the groove isn't completed, meaning it's unplayable.


So, assuming that the cutting  stylus completes the groove, then at the point of the groove rejoining itself, there will be an inevitable bump. This may take the form of a flowing, pleasing blip or ​ it may result in a dissonant, distorted crump. The thing is, it's impossible to tell which it has turned out to be until after the discs has been cut. You can see the potential for ruined disc after ruined disc while searching for the perfect loop.


Bearing all this in mind, and the fact I have numerous previous customers who've been fully satisfied with my efforts, 3.45RPM will cut locked grooves, but does not guarantee perfect results, and does not give refunds because "it isn't what I wanted".



Why is lathe cutting so expensive ?
It isn't. If you are comparing the price of a 3.45RPM cut to the price of mass produced pressed records you see in record shops, then you are not comparing like-for-like. Lathe cutting is a specialist and time consuming business, and you're paying not just for the expertly finished product but also for the time it takes to create each disc. What you are ordering is as much a work of art as anything else. 3.45RPM is confident of the quality of product you receive matching the financial outlay, and openly encourage prospective customers to compare 3.45 RPM's prices with other sites to see how competitive our prices are.

If you still feel it's expensive, contact a proper pressing plant and ask how much they will charge you for a run of 5 discs. If you do get a reply, and it doesn't consist of a page of laughter, then you'll find that it'll actually cost you more than getting them lathe cut. And there's liable to be a very, very long wait for your order.

If you still feel it's expensive, remember you can always buy a spindle of 100 CDr's for a fiver and burn them at home for free.


Even so, can you do a discount ?
No.


I need my order in time for Record Store Day ! Can you please do a rush order ?
No. Place your order, wait your turn. You'll be given an estimated time of order turnover when the order is placed, and that will stand. 3.45RPM would also like to encourage people to release records all year round, not just on one single day a year. If you want to be ultra-sure of having your order ready for the second Saturday of April, then why not order in July or August ? Actually, if your order is for RSD, probably best not to mention it at all, otherwise there maybe a sudden RSD-like hike in the manufacturing price. Everyone else does it, so why can't we ?


Can I visit 3.45RPM and watch the cut being done ?
I'm really sorry to say this isn't possible. I get a LOT of requests for this, and have often wondered if I could make a living out of charging admission purely to see the machine, a bit like Longleat House, or something like that. But until that happens, I'm afraid it's just too inconvenient to try and arrange cuts around visits. Sorry again.
 
Ah, that's a shame. Could you take a picture of the cut happening then ?
This is more possible, though bear in mind that I don't actually own a camera or filming device (no, I don't have a mobile phone), so have to rely on the assistance of others. So it's a bit of a pain to be totally frank, but if you ask nicely...

Can I have a demonstration/sample disc ?
There are no demonstration/sample discs available, as the nature of this service doesn't allow for that option. If you are thinking of placing a bulk order but are unsure, buy one disc at the full one disc price and see if it's satisfactory. If you want to then proceed, just get back in contact and we can go from there.

Can I return discs for a refund ?
Unless there is a very clear mistake in the manufacturing process on the part of 3.45 RPM then this is not an option. Discs are microscopically checked during and after manufacture, with random sound checks taken with each order. 3.45 RPM is confident of the quality of product it sells, and generally speaking refunding won't be considered. However, I'm not totally not unreasonable - if you feel a problem has arisen as a result of manufacture then please contact me immediately and maybe it can be sorted out.

Paypal ?
​No, sorry. Paypal is a risky business for a seller, and stacked with nasty fees. Bank transfer is ideal. I'm open to suggestions of other payment possibilities, but never Paypal.