A Sticky (tape) subject

Discussion in 'Tape' started by rollei35guy, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. rollei35guy

    rollei35guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    885
    I had my first experience with the 'sticky shred syndrome' last night. This has been covered in some other posts on AK but not, to my knowledge, in a dedicated thread on the subject.

    There were certain tape formulations made by Ampex and a few others with a back coating that over time would turn to goo. The tape will literally stick together causing slow playback and generally gumming up the tape path on the recorder.

    When I dug out my Tandberg TD20a se I had some old Ampex 456 and 406 from years gone by. After playing some samples of older, non-back coated, with excellent results i tried the 456.

    Big mistake. It coated the heads in just a few minutes of play and started leaving goo on the capstan and elsewhere. Also the tape began do drag. Would not rewind either. So I cut the tape and pulled it off the reel by hand.

    The original reel was a 10.5" with removable hub so I was able to take the sides off. The tape was 'clumped' together in bands that are nearly solid. I can bang them on the wall or table! The reel of 406 was in similar condition and I just took the reel apart and pulled the tape off in clumps.

    Moral of the story is if you are new to the world of tape or a 'born again' R2R'er, be careful out there. That thrift store find or eBay score might end up slimeing your prized tape deck! As best I can tell this was not limited to the 406/456 Ampex tapes and affected some others as well. It is also not an issue with back coating per-se.

    An internet search for 'sticky shred syndrome' or 'Ampex 456' yields many results. Additionally there is a forum called tapeproject.com that has good information.

    Here are a few links I have found:

    http://richardhess.com/notes/2009/1...es-of-ampex-456-a-guest-article-by-gary-galo/
    http://www.tapeproject.com/smf/index.php/topic,595.15.html
    http://www.audioasylum.com/scripts/t.pl?f=tape&m=5985

    (Edit added 1/16/2010)
    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=247520
    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/sho....php?p=2976967
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2010

     

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  2. packrat

    packrat Super Member

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    2,039
    Location:
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    Good advice. I recently bought 10 7" reels of 3 tape bands at a thrift store - and it wasn't cheap either at $3 per reel (and they had over 100 7" reels). I got them because I have an Akai 4000D with one reel of tape, and I wanted to record more stuff. I picked out 3 brands of tape: Memorex, TDK, and Ampex. The TDK have the nicest reels to load, the tape was 2400 feet long, and it turned out to not be sticky either. But it's pretty plain tape that's OK for recording off the radio. 2 of the 3 rolls of Ampex tape were very sticky, with the magnetic material falling off the tape when I pulled it out by hand - I didn't even run it in the machine, I just pulled all that tape off the reels. 1 roll of Ampex seems OK, and the Memorex seems OK too but I'm not sure how good the tape really is. In the end I have 5 reels of OK but not great tape, 3 reels are suspect, and 2 were bad. If I threw out all the tape I'd at least have 10 good plastic reels I can load up in the future with new tape from 10.5" pancakes. In the end it hasn't been great value for my money so I've learned to not bother with any used tape. But it is cool to have reels that say 'Ampex' or 'TDK' on them, even plastic ones. :D (oh, and the music on them was recorded at 3.75 ips, and was really bad (elevator music!) so they all got bulk erased.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  3. rollei35guy

    rollei35guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    885
    Both my 10.5" Ampex reels look smashing! So it was not a complete loss.

    I have an old reel of Maxell UD XlI. It's fine.

    I also picked up some old reels of tape off of 'that auction site'. It's older Scotch tape, just plain brown tape. Used by Voice Of America. I bought it for generic stock for my older mono and portable players. And good metal reels.
     
  4. DougMac

    DougMac Super Member

    Messages:
    3,876
    Location:
    Juliette, GA
    When they decided to remaster "Hotel California" from the original master tapes, they were found to suffer from sticky shed syndrome. The engineers decided to bake the tapes, knowing they'd probably have only one shot at transferring. Luckily they recovered all the audio.

    I pretty much missed the sticky shed problem. My interest in RTR preceeded and succeeded that period. I only have one tape that has a problem.
     
  5. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard!

    Messages:
    18,582
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    TDK and Maxell tapes do not have this problem. Scotch 206 and 207 have been ok as long as they were stored in climate controlled conditions. If you see mold or mildew on the edge of 206 or 207 it may have decomposed. Use at your own risk.
     
  6. Numistrek09

    Numistrek09 Super Member

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    In my house
    Rollei35guy:

    This thread may offer what you seek.

    http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=2976967

    You don't have to avoid all used tapes. Maxell has, so far as i've ever found, never had an issue with any of their tapes. Granted i wouldn't be useing their early acetate versions anymore, but that's just because of age. TDK's LX and GX series have had no complaints i know of either.
     

     

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  7. packrat

    packrat Super Member

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  8. rollei35guy

    rollei35guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    885
    Yes that's a lot of what I have found. Problem is this is found after the fact for many of us. The new and 're-born' tapers.

    When I dug out the Tandberg I didn't expect to find issues with tapes. And did not know to look for them in the first place.

    In hindsight a 'sticky' thread (for the sticky tape) would have been helpful and helpful for future users. Perhaps the excellent thread you linked to: http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=2976967
     
  9. goldear

    goldear Certifiable Audio Junkie

    Messages:
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    Baking helps a great deal. But it only does so temporarily. However, I have discovered from personal experience that you get moare than one shot at it. I've baked some ampex tapes multiple times now, and never had bad experience yet.

    But I wish that people would listen to all of the thousands of posts from people on this forum to avoid Ampex 456/7 406/7 at all costs. Quantegy's forumations of the same tapes are superb and don't suffer from this same problem, and are highly recommended though.
     
  10. rollei35guy

    rollei35guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    885
    I agree, however, first you have to find those posts. I actually discovered the issue while looking something for an old mono tape recorder.

    I truly appreciate all the knowledge and wisdom from those on the boards. But if someone does not know the problem exists, how do you find out?

    I think it's a subject as worthy as cleaning the pinch rollers. Which you will do if you happen to use some of these tapes.
     
  11. jayk

    jayk Super Member

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    yep. was there and did that.
    last summer i 'won', off 'that' auction place, several 10" reels of mixed brand tape in 3 different lots.
    some ampex g.m., scotch 226, and audiotape form. 15; all sounded great!

    and shed like HE((!

    luckily, i had heard of the 'ss syndrome' and tested all tapes before committing to use.

    what really bummed me was the audiotape form. 15 shedding. i used it as far back as '73 and even at 3 3/4 ips it sounded phenominal, better even than the maxell i also used.

    now, for used tapes, i now just stick with maxell. or tdk if i run across any.
     

     

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  12. FAB1

    FAB1 playing with the big toys

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    If you need/want to bake tapes get one of the big round food dehydrators

    The better ones have digital temp. controls - the round baskets are perfect to hold 10.5" metal reels. Use caution if the reel has a plastic hub, tho even they can stand pretty high temps without going soft.

    Now you can bake tapes and also make tasty dried fruit snacks :yes:

    Just don't do them both at once. :nono:
     
  13. rollei35guy

    rollei35guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    885
    This company in Switzerland can treat sticky tapes.
     
  14. AAA3330

    AAA3330 Super Member

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    1,820
    Location:
    Northern Illinois
    The worst tape that I came across was Radio Shack Concertape. It stuck to my Teac A-6300 while recording and ruined my pinch roller.

    I must be lucky as I don't have many problem tapes. I do have several reels of later Radio Shack tape labeled "Studio Quality" and some have minor problems. Sometimes they start squealing at the heads. Usually, I can just clean the heads and go on. Otherwise, they seem to record really well. I don't know who made them.

    Recently some prerecorded cassette tapes have been showing up with this problem as well. I had some that I scrapped because of it, and have read some posts of others having this problem.
     
  15. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard!

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    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Concertape is reject Ampex tape. Some of it is 8 track tape and has the lubricant on the back. If you were to look at a new reel you'd see the sticker on the end of the tape that holds the tape down, matches the Ampex stickers.
     
  16. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard!

    Messages:
    18,582
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Ampex 631 and 641 is a brown low noise tape with no anti - static backing. It's an older tape and does not have the sticky shed syndrome. It's great tape if you can get it. Do NOT use 642. That junk got sticky within the first 5 years of life.
     

     

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  17. FAB1

    FAB1 playing with the big toys

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    Ah, Yes the "Rolex" of tape restoration :D

    but the Food Dehydrator is a more economical solution.

    Your kitchen stove is really the cheapest, but you get finer control over the temp with the dehydrator - AND don't forget... it makes great dried apple chips :thmbsp:
     
  18. 4343

    4343 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,113
    Bad Cassettes...

    I've been transferring all my cassettes to my PC as .WAV files and found about 20 that would not play. Either squealing or simply would not rotate. Rather than dump them, I decided it would be better if I tried lubricating them...

    As an aside, I used to buy a little bottle of "Head Lubricant" at the shack. I used it in tape echo boxes. The original tape was heavily lubricated, but when it wore out the replacement loops were very expensive, and eventually not available. My solution was to load the box with Maxell after dousing it in the head lube. Worked OK until the heads wore out, years later...

    Back to the cassettes. I have a boombox that plays tapes upside down and the piano keys allow you to "scan" FF or REW with the heads in contact with the tape. Soo, I found some spray lube (LPS "Greaseless") and filled the shell, then put it in the boombox and did a fast scan forwards and reverse to distribute the lube all down the length of the tape. Then I connected the boombox headphone out to my soundcard and pressed play... I was able to recover the music from 7 tapes this way. The next day though, I discovered that the lube had softened the adhesive on the splicing tape, making the treated cassettes pretty much useless. Of course, that's what they were before, so no big loss.

    To improve the process, I'd like to find a lube that does not render the tapes useless afterwards, and also one that does not run out of the shell when played upright so I can play the treated tapes in my $10 Denon rather than my $5 boombox...
     
  19. Edriz

    Edriz AK Member

    Messages:
    3,942
    Location:
    Homer,NY
    These are all reasons I never buy used tapes. I learned my lesson years ago. Even way before there was such a thing as an Internet. Fortunetly, I didn't ruin my deck. I also learned a long time ago that when you find a brand of tape that works good for you,in my case TDK, stay with it. I only use TDK, for cassette and Open Reel and will only use maxell if TDK isn't available when I'm buying. If there's any way I can wait though, I will.

    Heads, etc are an expensive lesson to learn over a $3,$4 used tape. Not worth the price to pay is it?
     
  20. spaceman

    spaceman Registered Lunatic

    Messages:
    14,841
    Location:
    Seattle
    Well, I have a long ways to go, sorting through boxes of tape I aquired awhile back, but thanks to this thread, I figured out these oughta be keepers. :thmbsp: I'm pretty sure I never saw an RCA Red Seal before, but heard of them. Kinda cool to see one here. :smoke: What about Knight, I have a few of those too? :scratch2: EDIT: And what about Scotch & Sony, I have a LOT of those.
     

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