Blue Note Lacquers, Mothers, & Stampers
I'm in the process of researching the existence of various "original" Plastylite Blue Note pressings for a website I'm working on. I'm interested in drilling all the way down to the "lacquer/mother/stamper" level of distinguishing various pressings of a particular title from each other.
I read a great thread here (http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/a-nice-simple-explanation-of-beatles-parlophone-stampers-mothers-matrix-etc.124102/) explaining that companies like Parlophone provided information in the runout groove explaining which lacquer, mother, and stamper was used for a particular copy of a title. Unfortunately, it appears that Blue Note did not make all of these distinctions. I have several Plastylite Blue Notes. The only markings in the runout grooves I know of are the following:
1. Catalog number, side A/B (ex. BN-LP-4079-A, or BN-LP-4110-B-1)
2. Rudy Van Gelder indicator (ex. RVG etched or stamped)
3. Plastylite "P" (ear)
4. "9M" (seems rare, dunno if it means anything)
Question: In the case of my example "BN-LP-4110-B-1" in 1 above, most of my copies don't have a number after the A or B. Does anyone know if this "1" is an indication of this copy being from a different lacquer? If Rudy Van Gelder himself inscribed the catalog number upon mastering, this would make sense, right?
The only other tell-tale distinction between various copies of a particular title appears to be the positioning of the "P", and I'm guessing its positioning is related to the mother or stamper...?
Although I'm curious about these differences in pressings, I'm not convinced that earlier pressings necessarily indicate higher fidelity for Blue Notes released during the Plastylite era 1955-1966.
Would Van Gelder have created multiple lacquers at the time of mastering based on the label's sales predictions for that title? If all of the lacquers were made at the same time, there shouldn't be a noticeable difference in fidelity between lacquers. If lacquers were created over the years, though--even over the course of five or ten years--I would imagine this could cause a minimal loss in fidelity because of the age of the tape, though this still may not be noticeable to most.
I also can't imagine much of a loss in fidelity in the sequential creation of mothers from the same metal master. So it seems that, provided lacquers were made at the same time, the dominating factor determining the fidelity of a particular pressing is when it was made in a particular stamper's run, and further, if the stampers were pulled before they were worn enough to cause a loss in fidelity, there doesn't seem to be any factor that would cause a major difference in fidelity in this time period.
My hypothesis, then, is that the fidelity of a mid-60s copy of Blue Train with the Plastylite "P" and New York USA labels should be comparable with an original 1957 pressing with NY23/West 63 labels...?