RCA Studio B is a recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Originally known simply as RCA Studios, it became famous in the 1960s for being a part of what many refer to as the Nashville Sound. 

RCA Studio B 
A sophisticated style characterized by background vocals and strings, the Nashville Sound both revived the popularity of country music and helped establish Nashville as an international recording center

How It Got Started

Built by Dan Maddox in 1956, it was constructed at the request of Chet Atkins and Steve Sholes to facilitate the needs of RCA Victor Records and other record labels. According to Atkins, the plans for the studio were drawn up on a napkin by Bill Miltenburg, RCA's chief engineer and recording manager. 

 

Construction took four months, and the studio was opened at the cost of $37,515. The recording studio is a single-story building with offices occupying the front but the area of the studio and control room has a second story that contains an echo chamber. The studio itself measures 42.5 by 27 by 13 feet. In 1960 and 1961 an addition was built to provide office space and rooms for tape mastering and a lacquer mastering lab. A larger studio was built on 17th Avenue in 1964 that became known as Studio A; the existing studio was referred to as Studio B from that point on.  

The first chief engineer was Bob Ferris, a man who managed to make Atkins angry enough to have him moved elsewhere. Bill Porter replaced him at the end of March 1959, and by June had mixed a number one hit: "The Three Bells" by The Browns. Porter considered the studio's acoustics problematic, with resonant room modes creating an uneven frequency response. To lessen the problem, he took some $60 from the studio's petty cash and bought fiberglass acoustic ceiling panels which he cut into triangles and hung from the ceiling at varying heights; these were dubbed "Porter Pyramids". Porter also marked "X"es on the floor where he discovered, by careful experimentation, the resonant modes to be minimal. Porter positioned lead vocalists, background vocalists and acoustic guitarists at microphones placed directly over his marks. After these improvements, Don Gibson recorded his album Girls, Guitars and Gibson in the studio. Porter later told an interviewer: "Everybody said, 'God, what a different sound!'"

 

In her 1994 memoir, My Life And Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton recounted how she was rushing to her first recording session at Studio B in September 1967 (shortly after having signed with RCA Victor) and, in her haste to make the session on time, drove her car through the side wall of the building. She noted that the spot where her car impacted the building is still visible.

In 1977 the studio was made available to the Country Music Hall of Fame for tours, and in 1992 it was donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame by the late Dan Maddox. Until 2001, it was operated as an attraction when the new home for the Hall of Fame was built in downtown Nashville. 

Now the studio is co-operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business program. Students use the facilities for classes learning the basic techniques of analog recording. Daily tours of the studio are offered by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

A Note From Editor of Country Music Today

'I am Stephen Betts, the editor of Country Music Today. I had the distinct pleasure of

meeting Redd Stewart when I was a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame in

the 1990s. He even played 'Tennessee Waltz' on the piano in Studio B for a group of

tourists I was taking through, and we all felt very honored!'

Pictured Right: Redd Stewart

Recordings of RCA Studio B

(1967)

Waylon Jennings records the Mel Tillis-written 'Mental Revenge' at Nashville's RCA Studio B during an evening session.

(April 18, 1963)

Bobby Bare records 'Detroit City' in Nashville during an afternoon session at RCA Studio B. He also cuts 'She Called Me Baby,' destined to become a hit more than 10 years later for Charlie Rich.

(August 30, 1962)

Porter Wagoner records 'I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand' during the afternoon at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(December 27, 1972)

Tommy Overstreet records '(Jeannie Marie) You Were A Lady' at RCA Studio B in Nashville.

(May 4, 1970)

Dolly Parton records the Jimmie Rodgers classic 'Mule Skinner Blues' at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(1967)

Jerry Reed sits in on electric guitar as Elvis Presley records 'Guitar Man' at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(October 15, 1959)

Jim Reeves records 'He'll Have To Go' during an a.m. session at RCA Studio B in Nashville, then records 'Snow Flake' during the afternoon.

(February 9, 1972)

Johnny Bush records the Harlan Howard song 'These Lips Don't Know How To Say Goodbye' shortly after midnight at Nashville's RCA Studio B. It's nearly 20 more years before the song becomes a hit, for Doug Stone.

(October 18, 1972)

Fourteen-year-old Marty Stuart makes his recording debut as a member of Lester Flatt's band at Nashville's RCA Studio B. The session includes a performance of 'Don't Get Above Your Raisin.'

(November 9, 1966)

Jim Ed Brown records 'Pop A Top' at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(May 21, 1974)

Mickey Gilley records 'Bouquet Of Roses' and 'I Overlooked An Orchid' during an evening session at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(February 9, 1972)

Johnny Bush records the Harlan Howard song 'These Lips Don't Know How To Say Goodbye' shortly after midnight at Nashville's RCA Studio B. It's nearly 20 more years before the song becomes a hit, for Doug Stone.

(1960)

Floyd Cramer records - 'Last Date' at RCA Studio B in Nashville.

(December 3, 1957)

Don Gibson records 'I Can't Stop Loving You' and 'Oh Lonesome Me' in a morning session at RCA Studio B in Nashville.

(October 14, 1965)

Connie Smith records 'Nobody But A Fool (Would Love You)' in an afternoon at RCA Studio B in Nashville.

(January 5, 1960)

Hank Locklin records 'Please Help Me, I'm Falling' at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The session marks the development of Floyd Cramer's 'slip-note' style of playing piano.

(November 8, 1973)

Narvel Felts records 'When Your Good Love Was Mine' in the evening at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(June 8, 1962)

Skeeter Davis records 'The End Of The World' at RCA Studio B in Nashville.

(April 16,1968)

Waylon Jennings records - 'Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line' and 'Yours Love' during an afternoon session at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

The Jordanaires, who sang on so many hits of Elvis, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson, etc... 1000's of hits! Most recorded at RCA Studio B in Nashville TN.

Bob Wills recording session for Kapp Records held in RCA Studio B September 1967. (Copyrighted by its original owners - used under Creative Commons)

Porter was recordin' and makin' an album, 'A Slice of Life' at RCA Victor Studio B in 1962.

(April 27, 1967)

Waylon Jennings records 'The Chokin' Kind' during an afternoon session at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

(April 8, 1969)

Waylon Jennings records 'MacArthur Park' with The Kimberlys at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The performance earns a Grammy award.

The Browns, in RCA Studio B. (Left to Right - Maxine, Bonnie & Jim Ed.)

Jim Reeves session, RCA Studio B.

Porter Wagoner at RCA Victor Studio B. (in 1966) - Porter is on Pete Drake's steel guitar.

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