I’ve created a method to reuse mixer console (artist) tape for cheap ($6 or so) and anyone can do it. It involves using three things; console / artist tape, printer paper and Elmer’s “Tac ‘N Stik” (or a competing brand, white preferably). I also have a system for managing the strips, focused on music producing. This method is much more preferable as, when switching between songs, you can stack the scribble strips without having to worry about them getting stuck together, ruined, losing their adhesiveness or simply making your area look tacky with scribble strips stuck everywhere.
Cut paper into strips
We’re going to use the paper as an inner-material for the strips. A paper’s 8.5″ width is nearly perfect for eight channels. Take a pen and make little notch marks along the length (height) of the paper that matches the size of the console tape. Then, cut the paper into strips.
Wrap paper with console / artist tape
Now simply wrap the paper with console tape, wrapping the tape around to cover both sides. We’re doing this because using normal paper to write on directly without console tape isn’t durable and bleeds through with a sharpie pen. We’re using paper inside because it helps in wrapping the console / artist tape (to give more smooth edges) and because it gives the strips more rigidity (making it easier to apply and looks nicer applied to the mixer).
Place Tac ‘N Stik on the mixer
The last step is to use scissors and cut little pieces of the Tac ‘N Stik, like it’s shown in the photos, and place it on the mixer.
Using this method
You simply press the scribble strip on (gently, sticks pretty well without mushing the Tac ‘N Stik). When done, lift the scribble strip off.
How many rows of scribble strips you plan on using is how many rows of Tac ‘N Stik you apply. Since this is just one mixer with no digital scribble strips, three rows are typically needed for my songs and that’s what I’m doing currently. (In some of the photos, I hadn’t added the third row on yet.)
My advice is to create a printer page or two worth of blank scribble strips as you don’t want to have to mess with taping scribble strips while you’re in the music moment.
Writing on the strips
The thing you’ll first notice is that the scribble strips rise up slightly (cool lookin’). This doesn’t make it the easiest to write on, so the best approach is to write on the scribble strips when they’re off.
To know where each channel is, I find it useful to first place the scribble strips against the mixer and make little notch marks where each channel is (keeping in mind the first and last channel will be slightly shorter than the rest of the channels when lined up center).
After the notch marks are made, simply lay the scribble strip on the table and write out your channels (the strips can be written while attached to the mixer, but it’s just easier this way).
The pen used should only be a sharpie with a pen-like tip. This is because console / artist tape has a wax-like coating that repels most ink. This is why it looks like my scribble strips were written with a pen when, in reality, they were with this sharpie.
Remember how we taped the back of the scribble strips? We did that, not only for added rigidity but so we can label what channel banks and song the scribble strip belongs to.
On the back of the scribble strip, you can write down whatever you want, but you must write down two things: the song’s name (“Bayshore Gardens”) and what channel bank / mixer they belong to (“9-16”). If you use two mixers, don’t bother writing “slave” or “master”, just do “1-8”, “9-16”, because you’ll know what they mean and if you ever change up your hardware, such as getting a single 16 channel mixer that lacks digital scribble strips, “9-16” is still relevant while “slave” isn’t.
The cool thing about this is that the scribble strips can be stacked on top of each other and don’t take up that much space. In the photo you see, I’m holding 17 unreleased songs, each doing anywhere between 2 to 3 scribble strips per song (about 34 scribble strips in my hand).
So, right on, this is a pretty neat method of applying and reapplying scribble strips between songs. However, you’ll still need to come up with your own way of effectively “recalling” the scribble strips on your own (feel free to comment if you have tips for this). It could be by album, the strips can be stored in a little index box thing, organized by alphabetical divider tabs by song name, etc.
The reason I don’t have a method to share is because I simply don’t have the real estate space to employ a system like this and I’ve just been keeping them in various places (behind the mixer consoles or other studio hardware on or near the desk).
I can share one piece of advice… it slows you down if scribble strips get out of order so recalling scribble strips will go a lot quicker with some recall method.
You don’t have to use one scribble strip for a single channel, you can do what a lot of people do and use the top “line” of the scribble strip for the first channel bank and the second line for the second bank (seen even some crazy SOB’s who squeezed three lines of channel banks on one single scribble strip).
It’s up to you, this method works fine either way. And, if you’re already starting to truncating your mixer channels like I am (preparing for a digital channel strip setup, more on that below), the method of doubling or even tripling down may be completely reasonable.
When to use DIY reuseable scribble scrips?
If you’re just recording bands for sessions or gigs, this may not be for you.
But if you have a project that you go back to, like people who produce music, this should be for you.
Both reusable and traditional scribble strips aren’t the best when rearranging tracks as you have to create a new scribble strip (or trim and retape over an existing one). A new piece of tape can simply be placed over a reusable scribble strip. Both methods have the same pros and cons when it comes to rearranging tracks, so it really just comes down to eliminating the pain of redoing or reapplying normal scribble strips.
From my own experience, reusable scribble strips are far better to use compared to traditional scribble strips.
I only use this method for mixer channel text, but I’m sure there’s tons of other uses for this. In fact, printed strips can work about as well (I prefer this method as writing out scribble strips by hand gives you a connection to the musical past).
I’ve looked into other methods for doing this, magnets, dry erase stuff, you name it. I’ve found this method checks off the most positives and is the best thing besides getting a mixer with a digital scribble strip.
A note on digital scribble strip mixers
I highly recommend using a mixer with digital scribble strips. But keep in mind the text is limited to only 7 characters on the digital scribble strip display. Not letters, characters. The mix channel “Acid Rhodes”, as seen in the photos, would only display “Acid Rh”. You can try to abbreviate, change it to “ARhodes”, but what about a parallel channel to it? And a bus channel for it? You see the issue.
I’m transitioning to a mixer with a digital scribble strip myself and I’ve already converted my channel strip names in Reason to crazy short things, like “9RhdBus”, many of the channels using almost codes to decipher their meaning.
The interesting names I give to channels simply lose all their character with this naming scheme with digital scribble strips (as well as useful information). This is not something you face with physical scribble strips.
Some may prefer physical over digital
Now you can understand digital scribble strips may not be for everyone and some may prefer doing scribble strips the “old fashioned” way. So this is a method of mine for reusing scribble scrips can really come in handy, even for those working in guest studios. Put some blanks in your pocket with some pre-cut pieces of Tac ‘N Stik wrapped in Saran Wrap and get to work. Once done, remove the Tac ‘N Stik and place the text-filled scribble strips in your pocket, ready to be used for tomorrow’s session (not worrying about the person after you throwing it away or taping over it).
This should hopefully help those of you who found this page via whatever keywords Google or someone you know sent you here for.
Later. – MJ