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Confessions of a Reel to Reel Newbie.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by PB Point, Oct 28, 2020.

  1. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    I have this forum to blame for taking me down this...I have no idea how to label it...But that is the actually the Rub.

    Of course I can’t blame anyone but myself, my boredom at that point of time (fair warning, there’s no going back without surface wounds, maybe a scar,) a malaise that needed to be knocked...at least it’s not a other women...or is it? Bonus is the wife think it looks cool. Of course if there is a women involved, I think it’s cool. Sexxxyyy.

    So here I am with my cigar box. No cigar’s in sight. It houses the necessities of a reel. A reel toolbox. Such a parallel with other things that come to mind...or the procedure.

    The cedar box houses two razor blades, a cutting block, a small spool of red leader tape, its cousin, a spool of green leader tape, a large reel of white leader tape that gets the most use, a pair of scissors, an unused No.2 yellow pencil with a perfect eraser top, a few Q-tips, a .05 mechanical pencil, a small sample of yellow Post-It’s, and some electric blue splicing tape which has become my nemesis. It also houses the most important tape, a semi-stick deep green, Reel End tape to keep it all together.

    Your asking WTF! It’s music. Yes it is, but it is my “Library.”

    To the point, this “stuff” hasn’t been produced in over 40+years. To boot, it’s all second to twelve hand, with a history that to be honest, is quite sleepy and probably has more in common with Silverfish than it’s audiophiliac owner.

    But It’s All Mine Now! I’m going to treat her right...I’m a lover, and for christs sake, I have a cigar box.

    Some Women hiss, some wobble in their heels, some women have seen better days, some still aren’t completely honest, others you can still hear their past sides, some are complete flakes. Most, unfortunately have been battered, their ends got rattled.

    Then sometimes all the effort makes a lovely romance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
    jpelg, UTP and Swann36 like this.
  2. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    "Hands on editing" tape is more fun and satisfying than clicking software.
    What reel to reel do you own?
     
  3. Swann36

    Swann36 A widower finding solace in music

    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    I'm so looking to reading the further escapades in your Reel "love affair" ....
     
  4. Bananajack

    Bananajack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    Well, a bit of masochism is involved when it comes to Reel to Reel
    I remember my father cursing and swearing at times in front of his Revox A77
    And I remember his face when I proved to him that my (quite high end) tape deck sounded better
    That was an Alpage AL80 (later the company renamed to Alpine ;)
     
  5. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I was quite proficient in splicing tape years ago in analogue studios. Maybe I'm looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses.
     
    forthlin and Hagstrom like this.
  6. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    I almost completely broke down last night.

    I recent got a “lot” of pre-recorded tapes, was only after two to three titles out of the 20. One that I was interested in was Marianne Faithfull’s Greatest Hits. Not really sure why, but I have bid on it before and always lost.

    So I first put about three feet of leader tape on her, reel her up, and press play on my Technics RS-1500.

    The first song on these old tapes really can tell the tale on how it’s been stored. Just a tad of momentarily crosstalk and we were off to the races. “As Tears Go By” was quite nice. Then had to hit the restroom during the next song, “This Little Bird.”

    Upon exiting the banos, I knew something was up, it was the sound. Upon entering the room where the stereo is, I went into straight terror. There was tape all over the reels and head like spaghetti and the spools were still trying to turn. I ran to hit stop immediately. Meirda!

    Man I was so bummed. But my main concern was the Technics. They are on the side of delicate, and so few people repair them, and it could months and months.

    After unwinding the tape, I noticed that caused the disaster. There was a splice in the tape during the song and the tape/splice had adhered to the capstan. The tape then wound around the capstan until it no longer had any clearance. That took about five minutes unwinding.

    After going to the trash and putting a screwdriver through the two reals to dump the tape, I cleaned the tape path with Qtips and Iso diligently. The moment of truth. I reel’d up a good tape and pressed play. The Technics started making a clicking sound. I was devastated. Blown the motors? Could it be as easy as the counter? I have no idea. I rewound, FF, still the clicking.

    I have been defeated!

    So I just let the tape play knowing I’m back at another junction...the clicking then went away.

    Never again will I use suspect tape on that machine...Looks like I need a “Beater” player to do that...problem is, where do I put it?
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  7. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    I was once listening to a CD through headphones, with the player set to "repeat" and left the room to attend to something. I got distracted and got involved in something else. Went to bed that night and woke up the next day thinking that I really needed a vacation. So I logged-on to Last Minute Deals and booked a round-the-world cruise that was departing that evening. When I got back six months later I discovered that my parakeet had died of starvation. Shook up about it I went in to the listening room with the intention of playing Elton's Funeral for a Friend off the Yellow Brick Road CD. It was then that I discovered that the CD I was playing before my vacation was still playing. So I listened to it instead.

    Jeff
     
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  8. LBC_Jet

    LBC_Jet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Welcome to the sickness. I can't seem to kick my obsession with acquiring way-too-expensive 2-Track pre-recorded tapes. RCA's, Columbia's, Concert Hall Society's, Concertapes. Also a smattering of 4-track stuff, DGG, etc. I bought into the "best analog sound quality you've ever experienced" hype. In truth my PS Audio DAC and Sansui tuner beats it most times. It's due to the tapes I figure because every now and then there is a truly great one. Sounds simply beautiful through the deck. And there are many very good ones. And I love the tapes themselves. Their age, durability. I'm sure they have stories of some dude like me but 60 years ago who loved them too. Fun hobby. But yeah, I cross my fingers every time I power up the deck (TEAC A-6100).
     
    Pacha and PB Point like this.
  9. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Funny; when I was in radio and working with reel tapes all the time, I had a cigar box as well.

    Oddly, that wasn't what I kept in there...:whistle:
     
  10. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Let me share something with you that cut my splicing/editing time down to oh, about, zilch:
    (sorry for the huge images) This is the "Cat" Automatic audio tape splicer. It's just like your hobbyist "guillotine" film splicer, that lets you make even on-angle cuts in a wink of an eye. Then you position the two pieces together, and bring down that soft-edged little thingie on top, right down onto it to press it tight. Lift up, and you've got a perfect splice, in seconds. Now, you can't see it in the picture, but the splicetabs, unlike the picture below, were on a feeder roll, which you loaded into the Cat splicer, so, each time you slam down that thingie, it would lay the splice tab right into he exact place. Simplest thing I ever encountered, and I'm the only Production Director I've met who had one of these of his own. Seriously, no matter how fast and accurate you were with your standard splice block, razor and a piece of tape affixed to the nail on your pinky, this was the s**t. Second-best piece of equipment I ever used at work, next to an Otari.

    You may still be able to purchase one of these in England, but I couldn't say. MAN, it made my work trouble-free!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    There's a couple of reasons tapes are stored tails out. You experienced both of them; crosstalk and running the tape through your deck's guides. You also get to hear the splices.
     
    PB Point likes this.
  12. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I remember leaving the room for a couple of minutes while my A77 was playing a tape. One time I came back witness the horror of a sticky tape which had wrapped itself around the capstan. Another time I cam back to find about 100 feet of tape on the floor with the tape continuing to spew from the machine in front of my eyes!

    From those experiences I learned that machines which rarely eat tapes always have their tape sensors on the takeup reel side rather than on the supply reel side.
     
    PB Point likes this.
  13. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    Oh man, we’ve probably bid against each other for some of those 2 track tapes.

    There was a collection in the fall/winter of last year that was stellar...out of Sacto. I only nabbed a few of those, apparently there were some out of country high rollers that were bidding strong for them. The seller gave me the lowdown, it was a massive collection from a recording studio owner/exec in LA and most had never been played.

    That splicer looks perfect. I don’t mind the block, it’s the splicing tape that is the Pita. That blue tape end always sticks back it’s spool after I cut it have to hunt for the beginning. I need to devise a dispenser of some sort for it.

    On the splicing block, I use a pencil eraser to slide out the top overlap cut on the splice. Works great. Qtip is used to push any air bubbles out of the splice. I do 90 degree cuts for leaders.

    I still haven't perfected getting the tape/take up reel to be a smooth motion. Especially having the end of the tape wrap in that little seashell hole. I lose the grip and have to start over.

    Still, a fun side hobby. Of course I still play records, cassettes, and stream Internet Radio (my favorite).
     
  14. LBC_Jet

    LBC_Jet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    I grabbed a few of those tapes too, but many went for stupid money. They were in great shape and the guy shipped them in bulletproof packaging. The prices seem to have jumped since COVID in general.

    My secret to easy threading on the take-up reel is two-fold. I generally use thick paper leader about 5 feet long. With paper you can simply crease it where it goes into the slot and you only need like a quarter inch of it in the slot. Then wind the reel until a couple of layers thick and it will grip itself after that. If the tapes have plastic leader I lick the side that will be against the take-up reel and just lay it on the hub. Then as before wind it a couple of revolutions and it holds itself. Both of these methods also make the end of the rewinding much less dramatic.
     
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  15. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    Thanks for the tips. The paper leader is interesting. I had a few old tapes that had paper leader but they broke instantly, albeit that paper was circa 1958 to the late 60’s.

    I too have noticed that pre-recorded reels and old blanks have gone up considerably in the last year+. Luckily I accumulated my blank stash early when the reel bug bit and should be set for quite some time. My 7” blanks are primarily Maxell UD’s with a handful of XLI’s, a bunch of Scotch 207’s, TDK audua’s, and of course a mixed bag of others. My 10’s are primarily TDK Audua’s, a couple TDK GX and S, then the rest Maxell UD’s.

    I would really like to come across come metal 7” take-up reels, just for looks of course, but that’s not happening on the auction site. The prices for those are insane right now. It’s going to have to be some of those serendipitous moments.

    Anyone belong to a local reel to reel club? That could be interesting. Sorta like a being back in the Deadhead days of tape swapping.
     
  16. Pacha

    Pacha Active Member

    Location:
    ABQ
    You have been afflicted with the same disease I've been burdened with since the late 1950s. It can be frustrating, as you mentioned, since most R2R decks are 40 or more years old and all of them require some amount of restoration or at least maintenance to perform at their best level. But when you get them to that level you can experience the absolute best in analog performance. Enjoy your journey into this fabulous area of music reproduction.
     
  17. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    I bought a comforter for my Technics RS-1500. :)

    Gratuitous Ratdog throw blanket on top.

    It’s from a company out of Colorado, their standard pre-fit size for the Technics is just a little narrow, but works.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. regore beltomes

    regore beltomes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Helenville, WI
    After playing a R2R tape always do a ff or rew so you get a loose wrap before storing.
    Eliminates a lot of potential problems.
     
  19. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    I see what you’re getting at but I’ll reword it for clarity.

    I like all my tapes to be stored as if they were completely played to the end and stopped. No FF, or Rew at the end, or any parts in between.

    On 2 Track tapes and Quad tapes, I have the music reel on the right side or take-up reel side, put an empty reel on the left side, rewind the tape, then play it completely to the end so it’s now back on it’s original reel. Then I take some hold down tape and attach it to the end so it doesn’t unravel in the box. Referred to as Tails Out.

    On 4 track tapes, there are more options, but I never finish putting the tape back in the box after a Rew or FF. I’ll let it play to the end. Maybe I’ll throw on a CD, etc, and just let the reels go round until the end. The Source/Tape button is pretty handy, and yes that means potential more wear on the heads, but oh well. 4 track tape ends also get held down with hold down tape at the end before going back in the box.

    I probably should treat 4 track tapes, especially old ones, as tails out. Probably will start doing that going forward.
     
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  20. Abbagold

    Abbagold Working class hero

    Location:
    New Orleans
    I recently retired my A77. Picked up a Pioneer 707 and settled. It does what it needs to, no belts to worry about. Only drag is I can’t play my 10” reels. But I’ve only got 3 of them, so not a big deal. I’ve reached the age of just wanting to put on a tape and enjoy it. I clean the heads about every 3 or 4 tapes, demagnetize it once a month, depending on the amount of play, and that’s pretty much it.
     
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  21. regore beltomes

    regore beltomes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Helenville, WI
    Storing tapes wound tight is an excellent way to get print-through !
     
  22. PB Point

    PB Point Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Diego
    ?, I guess I don’t understand something or have it wrong.

    If stored after Rew/FF = super tight
    If stored after play = less tight than Rew/FF

    How do you get a reel to be even less tighter to go into storage?

    Or are you taking about using hold down tape before going into the box?
     
  23. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Rewinding a tape after playback, rather than before playback, creates a less even tape pack. But I'm not sure if it is tighter.

    Storing tapes in a "tales-out" state means that print-through tends to manifest as echoes on the tape. But Rewinding tapes after playback encourages the print-through to manifest as pre-echoes, which is far less desirable.
     
  24. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I used to have that exact same mask hanging on my wall.
     
    PB Point likes this.
  25. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    Tails out. Unless you’re talking stories here.
     

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