I love facts like this. Mainly because they reframe concepts of what is “real” – something many musicians obsess over. There’s a popular idea that old recordings are more real, that modern recordings are full of tricks and cheats and it’s-all-done-with-computers to make them sound better. But of course; there’s nothing new about the thinking, only the technological means…
“Drums and upright basses posed a big problem for these recording devices. The intermittent low frequencies that they produce made wider or deeper grooves (in the case of the Edison machines), which make the needles jump and skip during playback. So those instruments were also shoved to the rear, and in most cases were intentionally rendered almost inaudible. Blankets were thrown over drums, especially the kick and snares. Drummers were sometimes required to play bells, wood blocks, and the sides of their drums instead of the snares and kick drums—those thinner sounds didn’t make the needles jump, but could still be heard. The double bass was often swapped with a tuba because its low end was less punchy. So early recording technology was limiting not only in terms of what frequencies one heard, but also in terms of which instruments were actually recorded. The music was already being edited and shaped to fit the new medium.”
― from “How Music Works”
It’s a fantastic book, by the way.