Analog Machine Problems... help please

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Member Since: Dec 23, 2003

I have a Tascam 38 eight track reel to reel. Last night I was trying to lay down a click track for a song we are recording. The metronome has a kind of doot, doot, high kind of pitch to it. The first problem I had was I couldn't get enough singnal on the VU on the reel. The signal to the board was hot enough.... reading quit nice on the meter bridge. I tried laying it down. On playback it didn't have a nice high doot, doot,... It sounded like a muddy kick with no click in it. I tried it on another track and just recorded a small section. It had a doot, doot, sound to it so I layed it down on that track. On play back I had the same muddy sound. I keep the thing very clean. I clean the WHOLE tape path before, and after each secion. If we take a break I rewind the tape and clean it then as well. I degmagnitize the whole tape path regularly. I rewound the tape to clean the heads again just to be on the safe side. They were clean enough to lick. I cleaned the whole tape path. I pulled up the one tesion roller that spins the capstan for cleaning of the capstan. It was turning my swabs black. Very strange indeed. Swab, after swab it just wouldn't come clean. I noticed that I was dripping some cleaner on the pinch roller. When I touched the pinch roller it was a sticky goo. I have another pinch roller but didn't have it there. Needless to say that ended the sesion for the night. The one thing that left me puzzled is my lack of input to the VU meter on an idle machine. I did a demo for a band a few months ago on the machine and it came out beautiful. I did some small recording stuff in between with no probems. Now this, I'm not sure what's going on.

That was one problem. To begin the night I hit the play button and some previously recorded music started playing. The machine started slowing down to the point I thought it was going to stop. I reached up to turn it a little by hand to make sure there wasn't any unusual drag on it. It felt fine and spun freely. I stopped it before anything bad happened. I let it sit idle for a while and then tried it again. It worked after that, but did repeat this again. With a rewind and a FF it seemed fine after that. I listened to a piece of the previously recorded material and it sounded fine. I don't have a sesion again until Tuesday. I think I'm going to pick it up and bring back to my shop.... tear the thing apart and give it a good cleaning inside. Any help on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

BTW.... please spare me the "Buy digital and you won't have this problem" commentary.... Thank You...hehehe

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Dub head
Since: May 03, 2004

Sep 09, 2004 12:30 pm

"BTW.... please spare me the "Buy digital and you won't have this problem" commentary.... Thank You...hehehe"

I enjoyed that comment :) Wish I could give you an answer, but I can tell you I'm jealous of that reel to reel. Digital is "easier" and cleaner, but i LOVE the sound of tape. So warm and delicious sounding... mmmm...tape. ;)

Freeleance Producer/Engineer/Gtr
Since: Aug 11, 2002

Sep 09, 2004 12:47 pm

that sucks. I use an otari mtr-90 and a studer 2" almost daily, but unfortunately, my experience is limited as far as troubleshooting tape machines.

The black you're gettin is normal though, the metal that is used will oxidize when being cleaned and it will never seem clean... you just want to make sure that you clean it until the brown residue is gone, which is the oxide from the tape.

Do U Beleev in D-Flo?
Since: Jun 15, 2004

Sep 09, 2004 02:35 pm

If you're VU and mixer signal strengths seem to be that out of wack with each other run a test tone and re-calibrate the two together. That would at least help rule out any signal path issues, and isolate the problem to the tape machine itself.

If the machine seems to be slowing down, perhaps the bearings in the reel motors are going out, or some other mechanical problem may be developing. My tascam 32 has a tendency to do this but only when up-right. If I lay the machine on its back it is fine. I'd take it to a pro for service beyond a cleaning. They may tell you, you need a new head stack. Even if you clean it all the time, the heads will wear down just form the tape dragging across it, this is normal.

It may get expensive, but this is really par for the course on old machines with lost of moving parts like a reel to reel.

I don't use digital a software engineer I spend far to much time dealing with btis, bytes, and bugs. Analog is my escape, long live the reel to reel, hehe.

Since: Dec 23, 2003

Sep 09, 2004 04:17 pm

And here I was beginning to believe I was the only Analoger left.... It's good to know I'm not alone. Thanks much for the input.

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Sep 09, 2004 06:48 pm

Well if you buy digital you wouldn't have this problem... you'd have different problems :)

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