Surrey Sound Studios

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Surrey Sound Studios
the building in 2019 - photo by Pablo Schime
1978 ad
Location: 70 Kingston Road, Leatherhead, UK
Years in operation: 1974 - YYYY

The Police recorded their first two albums at Surrey Sound Studios.


In 1974 Nigel Gray (cheaply) rented the rooms of a vacant village hall to create Surrey Sound Studios. He installed a 16-track Alice desk and an Ampex MM1000 16-track tape machine. The stage of the former village hall became the control room, the emptied auditorium became the recording space for the bands.

Microphones Nigel used in the early days were a Valve Neumann U-67, a couple of C-451s as overhads, an AKG D-12 for the bass drum and some Beyer Dynamic microphones for the toms.

The Police did their backing tracks with basically a live version of each song: guitar, bass and drums - with a guide vocal by Sting. Sting was in the monitoring room with Nigel, his bass DI'd into the desk - with a microphone going through a wall into his amp. The right bass sound was done with a mix of these two tracks.

Andy Summers had two amps, one of them an old Ampeg. He'd put his guitar into one of the two amps. Nigel would then put a microphone in front of each amp and place one farther away to record them in stereo. The microphones close to the amps were put left and right in the mix - the microphone further away would be in the center.

The drums were usually put on eight tracks: bass, hi-hat, snare, three toms and two overheads. Together with one or two vocal tracks and two for the guitar there were about 12 tracks - occasionally they made place for more tracks - like vocal harmonies.

For Outlandos d'Amour those harmonies were also done by Stewart and Andy - although not too loud in the vocal mix.

For Reggatta de Blanc the studio had a new MCI JH-400B console linked to an MCI 24-track tape machine - this was already in place in June 1978 (as it's already advertised like this in an ad in Music Week on June 10, 1978).

On Bring On The Night Nigel added an unusual lot of reverb from an EMT plate on the bass drum. Another new piece of equipment was an AMS digital delay. Andy's Echoplex was used with a noise gate.

Sting's vocals were done with the Valve Neumann U-67 all the time. Another SM-57 was an alternative for vocal recordings.

When The Police did overdubs "funny" noises like shuffling, clicks and pops were kept in to make it more interesting.

Recording history

The following Police and related albums or songs were recorded at this studio:

Album (or song) title Artist or band Producer Release year
Outlandos d'Amour The Police The Police 1978
Reggatta de Blanc The Police The Police and Nigel Gray 1979
Help Me Andy Bown (with Stewart Copeland) Nigel Gray 1983

See also

This section needs more information.

External links

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sources: the book "Behind The Boards II" features a chapter about Nigel Gray's work with The Police, where he talks about setting up the studio and the equipment that was used; Music Week - June 10, 1978; Studio Sound - August 1978