John Eberle, a mastering engineer of the highest order in Nashville, died April 12 at at Dickson Health and Rehab in Dickson, TN. He was 79 years of age.
It would be impossible to overstate Eberle’s importance in music industry circles. For more than 30 years at Nashville Record Productions (NRP), he mastered recordings of every kind, well before such tasks could be accomplished using software. His credits appear on nearly 450 recordings, including many popular bluegrass albums.
Mastering is the final process in audio recording, after the music has been captured to tape (or disc), and mixed down to a two-track master recording. This is what is delivered to the mastering engineer, whose job is to assure overall volume and tonal balance, and color the sound of the recording to suit the desire of the producer and label. It is a job that requires precise attention to detail, and the ability to hear and discern the tiniest variations in tone.
After his time at NRP, he launched his own business, Americana Mastering, which he ran on his own. Bluegrass artists especially appreciated John’s work for its sonic transparency, and his meticulous efforts to make sure that the acoustic instruments came through the speakers just as they would sound in your lap.
John had a special fondness for bluegrass, and his work can be heard on projects from Larry Sparks, Jimmy Martin, Special Consensus, Mac Wiseman, David Parmley, Larry Stephenson, Bobby Osborne, Missy Raines, Scott Vestal, Blue Highway, Larry Cordle, Tom T Hall, Kristin Scott Benson, Huber Banjos, Big Country Bluegrass, Randy Howard, and many others. He had also mastered tracks and albums for The Everly Brothers, Lenny Breau, Ray Price, Ronnie Milsap, Al Green, and Faron Young outside of the bluegrass world.
In 2014 Eberle completely retired from mastering as his health declined, and in 2017 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Audio Engineering Society in Nashville. He is held in the highest esteem by his fellow engineers, and it wouldn’t be too much to describe him as a legend.
John is also remembered for his kindness and affable personality, and his abiding Catholic faith.
A funeral Mass was said on April 16 at St. Christopher Catholic Church, with entombment following in the Chapel of Prayer Mausoleum at Dickson County Memorial Gardens.
R.I.P., John Eberle.