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The Mangledwurzels
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Wurzels & The Vinyl Acetate

The Vinyl "Acetate"

An ‘acetate’ disc is cut prior to the cutting of the master disc which is used for mass production of records. They are nothing special to look at, there is no picture sleeve, and no special artwork on the record labels. A 7" single is usually cut on a 10" disc and they are they are almost always single-sided (the other side is totally blank and shiny, with no grooves and no label). When you physically handle an acetate, you'll notice that it's extremely stiff. They are made of an aluminium disc with a thin coating of nitro-cellulose lacquer. The lacquer coating on the disc is very soft and so the sound quality will deteriorate the more you play it.

The acetate is used to allow the producer, engineer, artist and other interested parties to see how well a recording transfers to disc. Trying to transfer some recordings to disc is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and so the cutting engineer must make some adjustments to the sound so that song on the tape fits within the confines of a record groove. This may include adjusting the overall level (volume), adjusting bass/treble, compressing the overall signal, etc so that the record sounds as good as possible when played on a variety of hi-fi systems. For example, if a song is excessively long, the cutting engineer will have to reduce the overall level of the disc. When such changes are necessary, the acetate allows the producer to check and approve these changes before the master disc is cut and sent off to the pressing plant where thousands of copies are pressed.

So if you have an "acetate", you have a disc that was theoretically cut for the producer, engineer and artist to listen to. It should not be overplayed as it is very fragile and only good for five or six listenings before noticeable sound deterioration. So, having an acetate for a song is almost like having the "negatives" for a photo - extremely rare, in some cases, are one-of-a-kind - and certainly very, very collectable!

The photos on the right are of the acetate for Adge Cutler and The Wurzels’ first single Drink Up Thy Zider recorded in November 1966 at the Royal Oak, Nailsea in Somerset.

The Wurzels

Acetate of the single

The Wurzels

Front side of an acetate of the single

The Wurzels

Reverse side of an acetate of the single

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