What is “deadwax” or the run-out groove?

Deadwax

Deadwax, sometimes called matrix, or run-out groove, is the area of a record between the end of the last track and the label. The record groove ends in this area. Usually, there is no sound information in the groove, the distance between the grooves is increased, resulting in a smooth, high-gloss section that is ideal for additional information about the pressing

The deadwax will give you information about the pressing

Deadwax by Elvis Costello - This Year's Model: "Ƨ-16 RAD 3 B1", translated "Radar Publication No.3, Side B, Die 1"
Deadwax by Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model: “Ƨ-16 RAD 3 B1”, translated “Radar Publication No.3, Side B, Die 1”

In most cases the catalog number of a record and the number of the stamper used are engraved or stamped on the press die in the area of the run-out groove. Further information can often be found in the deadwax:

  • The name of the audio engineer who cut the laquer
  • The used procedure (e.g. “/2” for Half-Speed Mastering)
  • Price codes
  • The name of the press factory
Sometimes the audio engineer who cut the matrix also immortalizes himself. In this case it was George "Porky" Peckham, who liked to sign his matrices "A Porky Prime Cut". (Elvis Costello - This Year's Model)
Sometimes the audio engineer who cut the matrix also immortalizes himself. In this case it was George “Porky” Peckham, who liked to sign his stampers “A Porky Prime Cut”. (Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model)

Which information can actually be found varies greatly from disk to disk. An extensive database with information that can be found in the deadwax range of millions of records via search. The entries can be found at Discogs on the description pages of a release “Runout/Matrix”.

What can be learned from the information in the deadwax?

The meaning of the numerical codes varies as well. For example, there is the assumption among collectors that the codes “A1” and “B1” usually denote the first pressing. In real life, however, several press stampers of the same acetate were often produced for the first edition and given designations such as “A1”, “A2”, “A3”. This procedure was and is particularly useful for publications with large print runs, as it allowed simultaneous pressing on multiple presses.

Depending on how tightly the grooves were cut, the run-out area can be different for two different presses of the same LP.

Secret messages are hidden in the run-out groove

However, the Deadwax can also be used to do all sorts of curious things. The Beatles used the run-out groove of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for a 15kHz whistling sound to attract the attention of dogs, followed by an approximately two-second sound collage, which, continues to run in a continuous loop on turntables without a limit stop until someone lifts the tone arm.

The first UK pressing of Elvis Costello’s second album This Years Model (photos) contained the hand-engraved message: “RING, MOIRA ON 434 3232 FOR YOUR SPECIAL PRIZE.” “Moira” was an employee of the label who could be reached at the office at the number listed. The first 1.000 callers were presented a free badge.

On the UK first pressing of Elvis Costello - This Year's Model you can also find a hidden message in the run out groove: "RING, MOIRA ON 434 3232 FOR YOUR SPECIAL PRIZE". Difficult to photograph, but with a bit of effort it can be recognized somehow. The first 1000 callers to Moira, an employee of the radar label at the time, received a free badge.
On the UK first pressing of Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model you can also find a hidden message: “RING, MOIRA ON 434 3232 FOR YOUR SPECIAL PRIZE”. Difficult to photograph, but with a bit of effort it can be recognized somehow. The first 1000 callers to Moira, an employee of the radar label at the time, received a free badge.

More information on deadwax

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.