SSS versus factory pre-recorded tapes

Discussion in 'Tape' started by OldSubSailor, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. OldSubSailor

    OldSubSailor New Member

    Messages:
    42
    Thanks to this really helpful group, I am now learning all about SSS and that I'll probably have to ditch most of my old Scotch and (maybe) TDK tapes after recovering any irreplaceable programming from them. Fortunately a great deal of what's on those old tapes are copies of the records I bought back then and I still have many (but not all) of those and I'll be setting up a refurbished turntable soon.

    Something I've not heard or found yet is a list, if one exists, of what studios used what types of tape for the pre-recorded 7" reels. I have a number of those and there are at least some that I'd like to keep & use if possible.

    I have a bad feeling that a lot of studios like Capital etc. may have used tape from Ampex and from what I've read, they were one of the worst offenders in the use of binder that breaks down.

    Is there any way to know what tape was used for a given recording ?
     

     

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  2. Wilhem

    Wilhem Active Member

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    Although 3M may have used the problem polyurethane in some of its products, most 3M product was not susceptible to the binder breakdown. TDK had some problems with fatty acids migrating to the surface of some tapes; but they, too, did not use the hygroscopic polyurethane. Most reels of music recorded by duplicators preceded the "advance" of the new binder formulation, and even contemporaneous duplication used a lesser grade of Ampex tape stock that did not incorporate the more expensive formulation. Agfa and Ampex were the two manufacturers who switched to the problem binder, and both used it in their premium tapes. Capitol Records was unlikely to use any premium tape stock in their duplication facilities.

    Check your tapes before trying to copy from any of them. If most of your tape is 3M and TDK, you may only find problems typical of old tape but not the catastrophe that befell Agfa and Ampex.
     
  3. D_Zoot

    D_Zoot Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    Bangor, Maine
    To further expand on Wilhem's excellent reply, don't assume all of your Scotch tape is bad. Sticky Shed in Scotch only occurs in back coated tapes using a specific formulation. Scotch/3M 226, 227, 806, 807, 808, 809, “Classic”, and “Master” all suffer from Sticky Shed. Some reports of SSS in 250, 908, 966/986, 967, and 996 exist and edge shedding in 201, 206 and 207 has occurred, but many examples are just fine at this point in time.

    Commercially recorded tapes were virtually never made using expensive back coated tape stock and therefore aren't impacted by Sticky Shed specifically.

    Some confusion seems to come from the use of the term "Sticky Shed" being applied to all sorts of tape failure types, when in fact Sticky Shed is a very specific type of failure limited to very specific tapes. TDK is not a known Sticky Shed offender as TDK used a different binder formulation. TDK has been known to exhibit a suspected binder issue that causes a "white powder" substance to appear, usually visible along the sides of the tape pack. However it isn't sticky, won't gum up your machine and won't be an impediment to recovering the contents of the tape.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  4. mcgjohn

    mcgjohn Active Member

    Messages:
    158
    Location:
    Chicago area
    OldSubSailor,

    you should be fine with your pre-recorded tapes. As noted by Wilhem, the sticky shead was only on back coated tapes; not general oxide tapes.
    back in the days when Ampex, and others were mass producing pre-recorded tape, cost was a primary concern, so only normal bias non-backcoated mylar tapes were used. All of these less expensive tapes happen to be quite stable over time, so should not prevent much of an issue. You can still buy new old stock Ampex 632 and it will perform fine.

    The earliest pre recorded tapes from RCA etc, were done on Acetate, so will snap if handled roughly by a tape deck. but that is a whole different issue.
     
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  5. oldvinyldude

    oldvinyldude AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
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    I have not heard of any confirmed cases of SSS on a factory duplicated consumer tape.
     
  6. RobRoy

    RobRoy It's just stuff - but fun

    Messages:
    2,909
    Location:
    Central Kentucky
    Thanks to SSS I dumped the open reel hobby. Sold three decks and a couple hundred tapes and never looked back.
     

     

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  7. jlb2

    jlb2 Well-Known Member

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    That's pity, SSS only affects a small, well-identified portion of the tapes :)
     
  8. RobRoy

    RobRoy It's just stuff - but fun

    Messages:
    2,909
    Location:
    Central Kentucky
    Yes. A lot of mine were unaffected, probably only 25% were affected. I just used it as an excuse to move on from that particular leg of the hobby. I sold all my 8-track stuff too, and I had a lot, even though I was a cassette man when 8 track was popular.

    I just decided to focus more on specific stuff. For me it's vinyl and cassette, and I'm considering selling my CT-F1250 and all my cassettes as well.

    BTW, a cool thing about my open reel tape collection was that I originally got into it back in the early 90's when a guy GAVE me a teac deck from the mid-70's that was owned by his dad. The main belt was shot but there was a spare belt in the unit, which I replaced it with.

    The key, though, is that his dad was in vietnam at the base radio station. Every album they received he would record to tape. There were a LOT of them. This was all late 60's and early 70's stuff. An interesting quirk was that, being on a military base, there were all sorts of sophisticated electronics there and it interfered with the heads on the recording deck. Every song had a very, very faint bzzz that would come on for about a quarter of a second in a rock solid pattern. I seem to remember it was about every 15 seconds or so. You could only hear it between songs, and it was very faint. Figured it was some sort of rotating radar array or something...
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  9. titanstats

    titanstats Go Habs Go!

    Messages:
    4,413
    Location:
    Vancouver
    I have a bunch of 10" TDK reels, they are all perfect. Never heard of TDK on the SSS list, great tapes.
     
  10. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus! Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Athens, TN
    SSS is not a problem with commercial pre-recorded tapes. Soft Binder Syndrome sometimes is. Or tape damage from being cupped.
     
  11. kfalls

    kfalls Super Member

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    1,171
    Location:
    Dennison, Illinois

     

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