Pal Recording Studio

Pal Recording Studio

Pal Recording Studio (1957–1964) was an independent recording studio that operated in Cucamonga, California (now known as Rancho Cucamonga.) The studio was started by engineer/innovator Paul Buff. The studio is known for its instrumental Surf music recordings like "Wipeout" and the original demo recording of "Pipeline". The original location was at 8020 North Archibald Avenue. The studio later moved down the street to 8040 North Archibald Avenue.

Pal was also the training ground for a young Frank Zappa who worked at the studio starting in 1961. Zappa learned basic recording techniques at Pal. He recorded his first rock n' roll record, "Breaktime", by The Masters, which consisted of himself, Paul Buff, and Ronnie Williams. In 1964, Zappa bought the studio and renamed it Studio Z. Zappa lived at the studio building for a few months before it was closed in 1965. The building had to be torn down in order to widen North Archibald Avenue.

Zappa made many other recordings at the studio. Some were released on small Los Angeles based record companies, such as Original Sound. Other recordings were kept in his vault and released later on albums such as Lumpy Gravy (1968), Mystery Disc (1985), The Lost Episodes (1996), and Cucamonga (1998).

Paul Buff engineered the original demo recording of "Pipeline" by The Chantays and "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris using his unique custom built recording machine, which recorded 5 tracks on 1/2 inch recording tape. Buff went on to invent the Kepex, an acronym for KEyable Program EXpander (the opposite of an audio compressor). Paul Buff's Alison Research studio products became common on pop recordings (Alan Parsons would use a Kepexed drum sound to create the 'heartbeat' heard on Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.)

Other notable musicians/bands that recorded at Pal Recording Studio:

  • The Tornadoes
  • Dino Dupree and the Pharaohs
  • Conrad and the Hurricane Strings

Notable songs: