We love Sharpie Markers and have used them for console labeling for years. I haven’t mixed sound in a long time, but there is a Sharpie in my pocket right now. I use it all the time.
We recently came across what may be the best console labeling tool ever. It is a single indelible marker with different tips on its two ends. Genuis!
Quite often, you need to write more info on your console labels than can be easily accommodated with a standard fine point sharpie. The longer you use it, the broader the tip becomes.
With the dual point marker, you can simply switch to the other end if you need to add details to the marking tape.
Dual point markers are considerably more expensive than two separate Sharpies, but the convenience just might make it worth the cost.
Several tape manufacturers have recently introduced console mixing tape in lots of colors. It is seductive to think about using a cool newer color that no one else has, but you should consider this before making the switch.
It is hard to beat the contrast between bright white tape and a black Sharpie for making things stand out in a low light environment.
Some of these new colors will not provide the same level of contrast in a dark auditorium or arena and it may make it more difficult for you to instinctively reach for the right fader every time.
That makes no sense, now does it? Here’s what I’m talking about.
Permchrome is the kind of ink you find in black Sharpie Markers. Flatback is the kind of paper tape that is used for console marking.
Sharpie ink is considered to be permanent, and once it has dried it is almost impossible to get off of the tape (or your clothes). That means that once your console labeling dries, no matter now sweaty your hands get or how much beer you spill on the mixer, your labels won’t smudge or rub off.
Flatback is the type of tape that is used for the best console tape. It has a smooth coating to make it easy to write on and is able to prevent permchrome ink from bleeding through the tape and getting on the surface of the equipment you are labeling.
If you are labeling expensive equipment with a Sharpie, make sure that the tape you are using is flatback.
Shurtape 724 is pro’s choice for this kind of labeling.
People who create temporary labels for sound consoles focus, rightly so, on “the horizontal”. By that, I mean that the primary purpose of the label is to indicate what microphone is represented by each input on the mixing desk. Normally the labels go directly under the mix fader and include information like “vocal”, “bass”, “kick drum”, etc.
Since most mixers are a long row of identical control strips, the labels make sure that the tech doing the mixing is moving the correct fader to make the changes they want.
The use of half-inch wide console tape allows you to expand this labeling to mark additional information about every control knob for each individual console input. Using tape that will fit between the fader strips means that you can also make notes and marks about equalization, aux sends, monitor mixes etc. It dramatically improves your ability to retain detailed information when you have dialed in a mix that you need to recreate later.
Add a roll of half-inch label tape and a fine point Sharpie to your tool kit if you regularly find yourself sharing a console with other acts. It’s essential during festival season.
Rolls of tape on sets and stages have a way of sprouting legs and walking away. A request to “borrow” a little tape quickly turns into a permanent borrowing. The borrower had good intentions regarding returning the tape, but it just never happened. At the end of the day it wound up in somebody else’s tool box, someone who had managed to convince themselves that the tape was theirs.
You’ve got a roll of console labeling tape and you’ve got a Sharpie Marker in your pocket. Time to solve this problem.
Write your name on the inner hub of the tape roll so that whomever borrows it will be sure that it s never theirs. Better yet, write “stolen from )your name)”.
That roll of tape will magically find its way back to you, or most of it anyway.
Sanford, the company that makes Sharpie Markers, says that Sharpie ink is “non-toxic”. That may be true, but there are things in the ink that are definitely not good for you.
Questions of black lips and tongue aside, Sharpies contain alcohols and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. That can’t be good for the skin.
The Sharpie Fine Tip marker is, by far the most popular version of this iconic marker, but there are multiple tip styles, all of which can play an important role in console labeling.
Ultra Fine Point-Get more info on your label with a very narrow tip
Extra Fine Point-Useful for detail, but hard to read in the dark
Brush Tip-Great for making labels for equipment cases-Easy to read at a distance
Chisel Tip-Makes large, broad strokes that last for a long time
Retractable Tip-Solves that “Where did I put that cap” problem
One of the descriptive phrases used for console tape is “flatback”. There are a number of different types of paper tape that are described as flatback, and that phrase can mean different things, based on how the tape is to be used.
When it comes to consolet tape, flatback lets the user know that the tape provides a smooth surface which can easily be written on. For other users, flatback might mean that the tape can be printed on with a special type of printing press or can be used with specific kinds of ink.
For the sound or lighting tech with a Sharpie Marker in his or her pocket, it just means that writing on flatback tape is like writing on paper. That’s because it is paper.
One of the great features of using a Sharpie Marker for console labeling is that, once it has dried, you can rub your hands across the label strip all night long and it never smudges.
That feature is not so great when the cap on the marker in your pocket comes off without you knowing it.
I can’t count the number of times I have ruined a pair of pants by having Sharpie ink leak through the pocket.
Here are some tips from the Marker manufacturer for removing Sharpie stains.
Clothes-Use hand sanitizer
Wood-Use rubbing alcohol
Carpet-Use white vinegar
Glass-Use 1 part toothpaste and 1 part baking soda
Most Sharpie Markers die an early death because you forget to cap them. Without the cap in place, the ink in the felt tip of the marker dries out, preventing the ink still in the barrel from flowing to the tip.
You can bring that marker back to life by dipping it into a dish of warm water. Remove it as soon as it is thoroughly saturated and then blot it on a dry rag or paper towel.
Continue to blot and massage the tip until the water has flowed into the fibers of the tip which will allow the ink to begin to flow back into the dried out tip.
Once the ink is flowing again, make sure to put the tip back on securely.