Tape Deck Repair Questions I Get

I am often asked what book do I read to tell me how to take this mechanism apart in order to fix it like a Technician?

The answer is there is no such book. Decks of different models are built in different ways and if you are an expert in Teac decks this does not make you an expert in Pioneer decks or Otari. They are all designed with a like need and function but using different parts and structures.

So a person asked me how to take a X1000R pinch roller linkage apart. I basically told him the basic steps. It does not mean that every detail is included in that small list of instructions. Where does all the detail come from then? It is a thing called experience. Experience and know-how is developed over time on a bench when you work on 20-50 decks of different types. Once you work on 100 to 200 you will have a higher confidence level than a beginner as you know something about the subject but not all. Then there is reliance on other Technicians. If I after 45 years come across a deck I have never worked on like a Revox or Technics, I contact one of the guys that work on them all the time. Leon or Marc will then tell me what they know and maybe some things they have come across that I might encounter. People contact me all the time about Teac and Tascam decks and I help them. To become proficient in tape deck repair as I tell people I am training or helping to start out, is that you take in everything you can and use those to sharpen your mind as to what you will need to repair decks. The issue is that if you take in some real junk then you will work through all the problems which could take a long time but when done you will have gone through the first course of deck repair and will have accomplished something. Even if the deck has Idlers and goofy design if you are able to make it work at least somewhat well you will have overcome many obstacles in that mechanism and then when you work on a better and more properly designed product then you will appreciate how well some things are made. At a later time you can define what you want to work on and then get away from junk like Akai decks that have no heads possible for replacements. This is why I don’t take them in anymore.

There is no magic wand to fix these- or what the magic wand actually is- is hard work and applying yourself to the task at hand and learn what you need to know as you make your journey from startup to seasoned Technician. No one starts out at the Admiral level you need to start out at seaman level first and make your way up the ladder to higher levels- ask questions and use logic in your decision as well as some common sense. Do NOT think that changing boards is the magic answer as most the time it results in further problems to solve rather than an easy fix. If you have questions I can answer some here.

3 thoughts on “Tape Deck Repair Questions I Get”

  1. Thanks for the wise words about repair of cassette decks. Most of my friends would think I’m crazy for even playing old tapes, let alone trying to repair an old cassette deck.
    I have what I think is a decently built Fisher DD-450, I guess from around ’83. I think it’s worth attempting repair, but I would appreciate your input if possible. When powered on the capstan drum/wheel wont start turning. If I move it by hand, it will turn and continue for as long as I want, sometimes even doing so after powering off/on right away after it’s been running. Capstan motor assy. on the way out? Lubrication? I do notice the drum (part that spins) has a little movement in it when pressure is applied.
    Anyway, whatever you’re able to add would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I could not find a DD-450 on the internet to download the service manual. I would suspect that lubrication is required on anything these days and I use a Motor oil called AMS Signature Synthetic 0W30 that works great- you need to take the flywheel out to get good oil into the bearing. The deck is suppose to be direct drive so it it does not start up it could be due to weak power supply or too much friction on the bearing. Front to back play is normal in any motor. Power supply caps being replaced in something from 1982-82 is normal as they might not be any good anymore.

  2. I work on Teac/ Tascam decks most now- the thing is with age these decks are suffering from decaying power supplies where the Electrolytic Capacitors are no longer a value they are suppose to be. Also keep in mind they made these for profit so the selected parts were minimal parts to make the deck run not a robust selection. In filter supply caps I have found that increasing the value from present to 50% more is the correct way to make you equipment work better and more reliable going forward. The voltage can stay the same but the capacity values is changed. I put some 3300uFd 25V caps where 2200uFd were the other day and it improved the voltage ripple. This is no secret, in Electronics it is common sense.

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