Vinyl Guru Donny Eastland Builds Record Pressing Machines

Cutting Engineer Headley “Studdart” Haslam, and Installation Engineer Donny Eastland working on the machines at SunPress Vinyl in Opa-locka, FL – the newest record pressing plant in the U.S. – ©Jacob Katel

The new SunPress Vinyl plant in Opa-locka was once the manufacturing headquarters of Jamaican producer King Joe Gibbs. After that, it spent thirty years in the name of his Majesty Sir Coxsone Dodd. Then it went out of business and shut down for a while.

Today, the factory is alive and running again with music producer, engineer, and DJ Dan Yashiv at the helm of the ship, and Donny Eastland, who installed the first machines in the facility in 1978 is back in Miami to make sure they’re still firing on all cylinders, as well as replacing parts, re-wiring everything, and installing new machines as needed.

Here’s what Eastland had to say about pressing records, analog sound, and making new machines.

“I started with Southern Machine and Cooling out of Nashville in 1975. And I put a machine from them in this place in 1978 for Joe Gibbs. I was the installation engineer.

Records are the only way you could buy music for a long time; and analog music has got everything on it. Digital music has missing pixels. It’s not the same. Analog has undertone, reverberation. You don’t get that on digital.

I was just in Japan a couple of weeks ago installing. I’ve got a customer in Dallas. There’s Gottagroove in Cleveland. There are probably about 15 pressing plants in the U.S. right now.

People say that nobody makes new record pressing equipment, but that’s a lie. I do.

I just installed a new press in Cleveland in December 2016. It has a touch screen control system and all.

My company is called Record Pressing Machines LLC. I specialize in automation, modern extrusion, and electric heating instead of steam.

Major labels don’t have their own manufacturing operations. They’re afraid. They lost so much money when tapes came in.

The new generation in Nashville is Jack White. He convinced Loretta Lynn to go into the studio and cut her straight to acetate. He’s a mover and shaker. Lots of artists live in Nashville. I live in Memphis.

Here’s something I want to say: I made the first record at Memphis Record Pressing. I made the first LP at United Record Pressing. I made the first record at Josey Record MFG. I made the first record at Brooklyn Vinyl Works.

If you need a record pressing machine, I can build it.”

Article ©Jacob Katel 2017. All Rights Reserved

READ MORE: Final Vinyl Record Pressing Engineer Headley “Studdart” Haslam On Record Pressing in Miami


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