Backstage Pass Tours at Studio Bell

Calling all musicphiles and culture lovers! Studio Bell is now offering behind-the-scenes tours every Sunday. The Backstage Pass tour is a great complement to the exhibits you’ll find in the main museum. Crossing over to the other side of the National Music Centre space, the tour will take you through the King Eddy building where you’ll see even more items that the public doesn’t usually get access to. There’s a little bit of everything including a visit inside the recording studios, hearing the stories behind some cool artifacts and seeing a sample of the vast music collection on hand in Studio Bell. The hour-long tour is jam-packed with music history and demonstrations so there’s a ton to learn and see!

I don’t want to spoil too much about the tour, but here a few highlights and stories that you can look forward to at the Backstage Pass Tour at Studio Bell.

Bricks of the King Eddy
The original bricks of the King Eddy.

During the construction of Studio Bell, the King Eddy had to be torn down, but the original bricks were saved and put back up in the building. You’ll see some commemorative engravings on some of the bricks on the main floor.

The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio

The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio was built in 1968 and it does exactly what the name says – act as a mobile studio.  Back then, recording studios worked in a more corporate nine-to-five schedule which was not very conducive for the high-rolling Stones. This custom-made vehicle allowed the band to roam around Europe and record whenever and where the mood struck them. The truck ended up with a couple of other owners over the decades and eventually ended up in New Jersey before the National Music Centre purchased it.

Neat fact: The room the mobile studio is stored in had to be built around the vehicle during the construction of Studio Bell!

A glimpse inside The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio with their trademark tongue and lips logo on the door.

One of the most interesting things to learn on the tour is the wide variety of instruments that have come and gone over the ages. To the left is the polyphonic synthesizer – there are only six of these instruments left in the world, with three of them right here in Calgary. To the right is a Mellotron that uses a looping magnetic tape to record. Watch the video above to hear what a polyphonic synthesizer sounds like!


Construction artifact from 1912 found in Studio Bell
A cool construction artifact from 1910!

During the construction of the building, a signed item was found from the construction workers who helped build the original King Eddy.


Many types of synthesizers at Studio Bell
So many synthesizers can be found at Studio Bell from ARPs to moog. You’ll have heard an ARP synthesizer from the sounds R2-D2 makes in Star Wars.


Tonto, the mother of all synthesizers!

The Original New Timbral Orchestra known as TONTO was a revolutionary system that brought together many different types of synthesizers that normally wouldn’t work together. It was created by producers Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff in 1968 and is known for being used on albums such as Stevie Wonder and The Isley Brothers.

So this is just a small fraction of what the tour has to offer! Tickets for the Backstage Pass Tour must be purchased in advance and gets you access to both the private tour at the regular exhibitions at Studio Bell so you can make a whole day of it. Tours are available on Sundays only at noon and 1:30 pm – get your tix early as space is limited and is filling up fast. Learn more at


Irene Seto is a Calgary lifestyle influencer supporting local from all angles.

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