Watkins, Copicat MK2, 1961 - Dan Hawkins (The Darkness)

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The Story Behind

The most famous Tape-Echo Unit in Britain, and possibly in the World, the Copicat also happens to be the first repeat-echo machine manufactured as one compact unit. It was designed by Charlie Watkins in 1958, apparently after he heard a similar sound effect generated by two linked studio quality tape recorders for the Italian singer Marino Marini. Following its introduction, the tape-echo sound revolutionised pop music during the late 1950's and early 1960's, being behind the guitar sound of the top British bands including The Shadows. It also served a secondary purpose after being adopted for providing echo on vocals - the two volume controls acted as a rudimentary microphone mixer. These little machines sold by the thousand!!

What is perhaps most incredible about the Copicat is that it is still in production after 50 years!

The  MK2 version featured a record head, three replay heads with individual push-buttons, and a permanent magnet mounted on the tape tension arm to wipe the tape clean on every cycle. In addition it had anEcho signal record volume control (ECHO), plus the facility for returning the playback signal back to the record head (REPEAT), and two inputs with individual volume gain control. It also had a switch for turning the tape-loop motor on/off and a footswitch for killing the record head. All this powered by two ECC83's and one 6BR8 valves.

Here we have the finest example of a Watkins MK2 Copicat tape echo unit circa 1961. This unit was owned by Dan Hawkins of legendary British rock band The Darkness and used in their studio to record.

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