Monday, July 26, 2010

Bob Ludwig

Bob Ludwig is a famous American mastering engineer, best known for his work at Masterdisk Corporation in New York. On the vinyl records that he cut, he is identified in the runout area by the initals "RL".

Bob started his long career at A&R Recording with Phil Ramone. The two did sessions for 1960's musical artists such as The Band, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Neil Diamond, and Frank Sinatra.

After a few years at A&R, Bob Ludwig moved on to Sterling Sound in around 1969, where he was famous for mastering records such as Led Zeppelin II, "Houses of the Holy" also by Led Zeppelin, "There's a Riot Goin' On" by Sly and the Family Stone, and others. One of the only two records that I have that were mastered by Bob Ludwig during his tenure at Sterling Sound is "I Am Somebody" by Jimmy James. And I can tell that because it says "Sterling RL" in the runout groove. Also, I have a copy of The Band's "Stage Fright" which also says "Sterling RL" in the runout groove.

In the late seventies, Bob Ludwig began work at Masterdisk, where he spent most of his career mastering records. Here is a complete list of the records that I have that say "Masterdisk RL" in the runout groove:

Donald Fagen - The Nightfly (1982)
Boston - Third Stage (1986)
Phil Collins - No Jacket Required (1985)
Arcadia - So Red the Rose (1985)
Spyro Gyra - Morning Dance (1979)
Spyro Gyra - Catching the Sun (1980)
Spyro Gyra - Incognito (1982)
Sting - The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985)
Pat Metheney and Lyle Mays - As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (1981)
Nazareth - Play 'n' the Game (1976)
Yes - 90125 (1983)
Roger Daltry - Best Bits (1982)
Mick Jagger - She's the Boss (1985)
City Boy - Young Men Gone West (1977)

Bob Ludwig also mastered some records for Canadian artists in the 1980's. Here is a list of all my records that were by Canadian bands and say "Masterdisk RL" in the runout groove at the same time:

Stephan Nesrallah - Transition (1984)
Headpins - Turn It Loud (1982)
Glass Tiger - Thin Red Line (1986)
Glass Tiger - Diamond Sun (1988)
Spoons - Talkback (1982)
Jenson Interceptor - Jenson Interceptor (1980)

In 1986, Bob Ludwig took advantage of direct metal mastering, and so, most of the records that he mastered from that year on are direct metal mastered. However, during the DMM era, the "RL" initials rarely appear, but "MASTERDISK" is still there and sometmes, it can even say "MASTERDISK DMM". Here is my Bob Ludwig DMM collection:

Corey Hart - Fields of Fire (1986)
Bruce Springsteen - Live/1975-85 (1986)
Pat Metheney - Still Life (Talking) (1987)
Paul Young - Between Two Fires (1986)
Robbie Robertson - Robbie Robertson (1987)
Genesis - Invisible Touch (1986)

In 1993 Bob Ludwig left Masterdisk and he would form Gateway Mastering at Portland, Maine. He has been a member of that mastering facility ever since.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about Masterdisk employees in the future!

Ryan AKA OldMusicOnVinyl1


  1. The 1981 release "Space Traveller" by Canadian artist Stephan Nesrallah was mastered by Bob Ludwig as well, at the Masterdisk Studio in New York. The "Masterdisk RL" can be found in the run out groves on both the A and B sides. The album was engineered by the legendary Dixon Van Winkle. Contact me if you would like a sealed copy of the album. My e-mail address is:

  2. Hey Stephan!

    I own a copy of your album too, but mine says "MASTERDISK BK" (Bill Kipper) in the deadwax, so it must vary along pressing to pressing.

  3. Interesting. I was at Masterdisk when Bob mastered my album. I can send you a copy that he did. Let me know. Also I have never seen a copy mastered by Bill Kipper. Thanks for the info.