A few years ago, we splurged on a P-touch labeler for Jackpot!-a PT-1900/1910 for about $60. As anyone who freelances knows, labeling is important in the studio. Stumbling around in a barely-lit room trying to read labels written in someone's nasty scrawl that are about to smudge into oblivion-no thanks. After getting the P-touch, changes to our patchbay were suddenly legible and had a nice plastic coating to protect them. We began to label everything-clarifying gear settings; identifying racked electronics; marking content of mic drawers; and identifying cables, mic clips, hooks, storage spots, XLR wall panels, and more. You can even put the studio name and phone number on stompboxes and such in case gear walks off (though this only works with honest musicians for some reason). I even wanted to label the coffee maker and toilet but Kendra wisely stopped me. Make sure to buy some clear, black, and white tapes (the most common), and get a mid-priced unit that can handle both 1/2" and 1/4" tapes. Flexible ID tape can also be handy for cable labels. Some newer P-touch devices hook up to USB; that way you can store settings. Another hint is to buy the TZ (or M) tapes online and you can save a lot of money over retail stores. I'd recommend sticking with the P-touch brand instead of some imitator; they cornered a majority of the market and won't shut down overnight. Plus, finding their tapes will always be easier than the competitors' (though 1/4" tape is usually hard to find on shelves). I even bought a little PT-70 to use at home for only $19. Now go label everything! (www.brother-usa.com/ptouch)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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