Labeling your mixer with masking tape is pretty much the same as putting a sign on your back that says “I have no idea what I’m doing“.
You only have to do this important job with masking tape once to understand what I am talking about.
One reason that utility grade masking tape is so inexpensive is that it uses a very low quality adhesive. This rubber resin based adhesive has good holding power when it is fresh, but dries out very quickly. When this happens, the adhesive separates (de-laminates) from the paper backing. The paper can be lifted off, but the dried out adhesive stays behind.
We love Sharpie Markers and have used them for console labeling for years. I haven’t mixed sound in a long time, but there is a Sharpie in my pocket right now. I use it all the time.
We recently came across what may be the best console labeling tool ever. It is a single indelible marker with different tips on its two ends. Genuis!
Quite often, you need to write more info on your console labels than can be easily accommodated with a standard fine point sharpie. The longer you use it, the broader the tip becomes.
With the dual point marker, you can simply switch to the other end if you need to add details to the marking tape.
Dual point markers are considerably more expensive than two separate Sharpies, but the convenience just might make it worth the cost.
Several tape manufacturers have recently introduced console mixing tape in lots of colors. It is seductive to think about using a cool newer color that no one else has, but you should consider this before making the switch.
It is hard to beat the contrast between bright white tape and a black Sharpie for making things stand out in a low light environment.
Some of these new colors will not provide the same level of contrast in a dark auditorium or arena and it may make it more difficult for you to instinctively reach for the right fader every time.
That makes no sense, now does it? Here’s what I’m talking about.
Permchrome is the kind of ink you find in black Sharpie Markers. Flatback is the kind of paper tape that is used for console marking.
Sharpie ink is considered to be permanent, and once it has dried it is almost impossible to get off of the tape (or your clothes). That means that once your console labeling dries, no matter now sweaty your hands get or how much beer you spill on the mixer, your labels won’t smudge or rub off.
Flatback is the type of tape that is used for the best console tape. It has a smooth coating to make it easy to write on and is able to prevent permchrome ink from bleeding through the tape and getting on the surface of the equipment you are labeling.
If you are labeling expensive equipment with a Sharpie, make sure that the tape you are using is flatback.
Shurtape 724 is pro’s choice for this kind of labeling.
People who create temporary labels for sound consoles focus, rightly so, on “the horizontal”. By that, I mean that the primary purpose of the label is to indicate what microphone is represented by each input on the mixing desk. Normally the labels go directly under the mix fader and include information like “vocal”, “bass”, “kick drum”, etc.
Since most mixers are a long row of identical control strips, the labels make sure that the tech doing the mixing is moving the correct fader to make the changes they want.
The use of half-inch wide console tape allows you to expand this labeling to mark additional information about every control knob for each individual console input. Using tape that will fit between the fader strips means that you can also make notes and marks about equalization, aux sends, monitor mixes etc. It dramatically improves your ability to retain detailed information when you have dialed in a mix that you need to recreate later.
Add a roll of half-inch label tape and a fine point Sharpie to your tool kit if you regularly find yourself sharing a console with other acts. It’s essential during festival season.
Bored with the usual white console tape? Time to bust out the good stuff!
Pro Tapes and specialties now offers console tape in lots of colors.
You can get it in standard colors like red, yellow and blue and also in neon, glow in the dark colors like orange, green and pink.
All have the same quality non-residue adhesive like the white stuff and there is no Sharpie Marker print through.
The repositionable adhesive on Shurtape 724 console labeling tape is subject to curling when exposed to high heat. If the surface you apply the tape to is very warm, the tape will slowly release from the console surface and start to curl up on its ends. As long as the tape and the mixer are both hot, no matter how many times you press the tape down, it will curl up again.
If you have options on where you apply tape labels, use the surface area on the console that is coolest to the touch.
We’ve wriiten about console tape specs before, explaining why terms like “adhesion to steel” and “flatback” matter when evaluating a console tape.
Another specification that deserves attention is the term “elongation”.
Elongation is a fancy word to describe, in quantifiable terms, how “stretchy” a tape is. Does it stay the same length and width when force is applied to the ends or the sides.
This is particularly important in a festival or other multi-act performance where the sound person will create a separate strip of console tape for each act during sound checks and then put the appropriate tape back on the console when that act is set to perform. Not only will the tape have the name of what each console channel is used for, but it may well have lots of other information like levels, eq and limiter settings and notes that are relevant only to that performer.
Tape that stretches may well not line up correctly below the console faders, leading the sound person who is quite often working in semi-darkness to apply the information on the tape to the wrong console input.
Shurtape 724 has an elongation spec of 2.5%, meaining that, at maximum, before tearing it will only stretch (elongate) 2.5 %, making it easy to line up on the console without confusion.
Shurtape 724 console tape is made from a paper that is formed thru a chemical pulping process. This is where pulped wood (cellulose) is mixed with an acid to create a pulp that can make a stronger paper than other forms of wood pulp.
While the most common type of kraft paper is the one used for making brown paper grocery bags, it can be bleached in order to make it white.
The chemical pulping makes for a stronger and more flexible product which is also more resistant to yellowing.
Unlike “raw” kraft papers, which can be coarse to the touch, 724 is coated so that it is smooth and will not let inks like those used in Sharpie Markers bleed through the tape.
The paper tape that sound techs use for console labeling is used for lots of other purposes. The market for console labeling is not really large enough to justify the manufacturing of a dedicated product for this task, so the best console labeling tape is adapted from a product intended for a mor general use.
Major manufactures market a flat back paper tape with repositionable adhesive as “Artist Tape”, because the user base for tape used for layout and masking is much larger than what is used by sound technicians.
If you are unable to locate a product called console tape, check with an arts supply store. You might find what is essentially a tape for console labeling there.