Tapes in the attic.

A catch up with a friend led to the retrieval of some reel to reel tapes from his loft.

Loft tapes
Loft tapes

He hasn’t got anything to play them on. The plan is for me to investigate and, if I found anything worthwhile, digitise it.

So we have half a dozen 7″ tapes. They are unbranded, though one is on an Ampex reel. Quite worrying that none of them have leader tape. This is not necessary to try them out, but I will splice some on if the tapes are otherwise OK.

Old tapes are always a risky proposition because of the potential for sticky tape syndrome. This is a condition where the adhesive that holds the magnetic stuff on the plastic tape deteriorates over time. An effected tape will shed crud all over your machine and ruin your day if you don’t spot it quick. I’ll be particularly vigilant when I try the “Ampex” tape, because they have a poor reputation in this regard.

Taken them in no particular order:

Tape 1

Recorded at 3 3/4 ips. The recordings are mono, but recorded separately onto each of the stereo tracks.

Contents include:

  • Pink Floyd. Album recording
  • Emerson lake Palmer album recording
  • Some miscellaneous radio recordings from a rock show. Premiering tomato yes. Lots of chopping and changing.

Nowt worth saving, so I did a brief recording test at 7.5 ips. It recorded and played back well. Worth adding leader.

Tape 2

Again recorded at just 3 3/4 ips and in Mono.

  • Dark side of the moon. A pretty ropy recording
  • two Beatles albums. Again a bit crap.

Tape 3

This time recorded at 7 1/2 ips. A selection of late 70’s and early 80’s synth pop. Mono again.

Loft tape wrapped around capstan
Loft tape wrapped around capstan

I didn’t get to hear the whole tape because this happened. What you see here is the tape wrapped around the capstan on my Sony TC-377. It’s well and┬átruly stuck. The machine is going to have to come apart to free this up. I also noticed some sticky tape residue on the shelf under the machine. Definitely time to give up on this tape and move on ..

Tape 4, 5 & 6

Mouldy loft tape
Mouldy loft tape

Hmm. Maybe not. That’s mould you see there. The other tapes are not this bad, but bad enough for me to declare them unfit for purpose. Having done a google on mouldy tapes I’m not letting them near the machine.

Loft tapes
Loft tapes

So, experiment over. Unfortunately didn’t find anything useful here. I’m sure my friend will be disappointed. We were pushing our luck though with tapes over 40 years old out of the loft. I did enjoy the investigation though.

Now, where did I put that screwdriver?

Post Script:
Took me over an hour to clean up the machine. Sticky crud everywhere.