Welcome to the most visited website about analogue reel to reel recorders and magnetic tapes
S E R V I C I N G
DIY servicing - DIY replace pinch roller - DIY demagnetizing - don't do this - professional servicing - rubber parts - upgrade - manuals
At first don't worry: professional or high quality reel to reel recorders in domestic use are strong enough to maintain constant performances over years. You can do by yourself the ordinary servicing: it is more simple than the right alignment of a turntable arm i.e. !
A tape recorder needs full servicing and alignment after some years of domestic use only. On the other way servicing is done at periodical deadline (as for the cars) and before every important master recording in professional use.
WHAT YOU CAN DO BY YOURSELF.Periodical cleaning of every surface in contact with the magnetic tape: heads, tape guides, capstan shaft and rubber pinch roller. Reel to reel recorder performances decrease dramatically when too much dust and oxide deposits are on these surfaces.
S A F E T Y I N F O R M A T I O N : BEFORE CLEANING AND/OR SERVICING TURN OFF YOUR OPEN REEL RECORDER AND UNPLUG THE MAINS CABLE TO AVOID INJURIES TO YOUR HEALTH AND DAMAGES TO THE RECORDER.
The picture below, from a Revox owner's manual, shows in black the parts need periodical cleaning. Usually you can reach them in easy way without dismounting any part of the recorder than the heads cover.
When clean the parts.
How clean the parts.
REPLACE PINCH ROLLER.
This is another servicing you can do by yourself in many reel to reel recorders (but not in everyones).
When replace it.
How replace it.
This is a very important procedure because a tape recorder with magnetized parts can damage or destroy a pre recorded tape. You have to degauss all the metallic parts in contact with the magnetic tape with special care to the heads.
Don't abuse of this procedure but use when strictly necessary.
When you have to do it.
You need a device called "demagnetizer" (or "degausser") which generates a strong magnetic filed in opposite to the magnetic field affects the metallic parts. This is why you must pay attention using this device to avoid the adverse. There are still many "vintage" devices on the used marked today but not everyone is good enough and do the same work. AVOID all that have about the size of a big Cuban cigar and Sony Head Demagnetizer HE-4, Nakamichi Head Demagnetizer DM-10, Radio Shack models 44-211 and 44-207, MCM Tape Head Demagnetizer Model 720880 and so on. They could work for cassette deck but are not strong enough for reel machines.
WHAT YOU CAN'T DO BY YOURSELFAlthough you are not a professional in electronic please read the following: you will find other interesting news.
Unless you are a professional or semi professional in electronic with a well equipped laboratory the servicing you can do by yourself on a tape recorder stops at the last paragraph. If your reel to reel recorder doesn't work just fine after the above ordinary maintenance call an official servicing center or a qualified electronic laboratory.
! BEWARE!Avoid absolutely to handle the heads and tape guide calibration screws! Usually they don't need any modification from their original setting. If you change their position don't think bringing them back resolve the situation. At this point you need an expensive full alignment of the recorder by a qualified servicing center.
The main thing in reel to reel recorder is the perfect mechanical contact of tape with magnetic heads surface. It has to be perfect to have a clear and high level output signal. The electronic circuits downstream have less importance than the upstream right mechanical aspect. This is why BEFORE any electronic alignment they have to check the right tape path, tension and speed, the brakes and heads azimuth and zenith angles.
Often this fact is underrated. On the market you will find many seller claiming the recorder is electronic perfectly aligned, but none words about mechanical! :-(
What to check. They can find on the market two reel to reel recorders same model, firm and aged: one is looking as brand new and the other one as taken out from a garbage dump! And good looking doesn't necessary mean best working.
Always I do these check step by step:
What to do. It depends on the different problems I found before.
Rubber parts as belt, pulley, transfer, etc. are the Achille's heel of every electronic vintage device. Every people in love with old turntable as Garrard, Thorens and EMT, knows very well the problem. Year passing by the rubber part self destroy especially if in contact with lubricate oil of the mechanical parts. These rubber part usually today are not disposable. Many good reel to reel recorders which could still work today are stopped due to a 10 dollars rubber part missing. This is why I love Revox, Studer and Telefunken recorders: they are bullet proof built with none rubber part inside!
To repair and/or align every electronic device you need the servicing book. Is not simply today find these booklets for vintage device. Ebay and the web can help you but if you are searching something "special" it will take many time to find it around.
All rights reserved. © 2007 - 2015 Cesare Marchesini. Legal statement, sources, contents reproduction: please refer to the home page