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Thread: another 388 with better pictures: head condition?

  1. #1
    zphillips is offline New Member
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    another 388 with better pictures: head condition?

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    how do these heads look to you?

    anything I should watch out for in picking up a used 388 with ostensibly no issues for $800? any components easy to check on that commonly fail and prove expensive or difficult to repair?

    I have done my research, just trying to get input from knowledgeable people before I make a huge investment into this machine! I am experienced in the ways of cassette multitrack recording and I am really excited to upgrade to a machine with a little more headroom and punch. thank you.IMG_5005.JPGIMG_5006.JPGIMG_5008.JPGIMG_5009.JPGIMG_5010.JPGIMG_5011.JPG

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    wkrbee is offline Senior Member
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    Very Very Very badly worn R/P head.Lifters are also worn which will cause tape edge damage-it's a boat anchor unless you can find a R/P head assy. and lifters assy.I know Tascam Parts does not have heads for that model-don't know about the lifters though...
    $800 is waaaaayyyy too much for it in that condition.

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    zphillips is offline New Member
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    thanks for the input, I really appreciate it.

    I really want one of these! if I could score a 388 and record 3 or 4 albums on it, cleaning and demagnetizing it regularly only, before needing to repair it significantly or replace any components, it would be worth the money to me.

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    Beck's Avatar
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    The heads have some miles on them. They have wear but not terribly worn. The lifters will generally show more wear because the metal is softer on those and a machine gets a lot more FFWD and RWND action than play/record action. The heads could be relapped, but it's very difficult to give a full evaluation by photos alone. It may all be a moot point however because $800.00 is just too much for a 388. There are still 388's out there in better condition for less.

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    sweetbeats is offline Reel deep thoughts...
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    I'm with Beck.

    The lifters show higher than average miles, R/P stack looks consistent with that.

    Still life left, but not what I'd pay $800 for.

    Like implied above this is all "grain of salt" stuff because its impossible to give a head report off of a picture but I think you're getting the...erm...picture.

    I had a 388 stack relapped and the 388 stack has a relatively healthy amount of tip-depth when new (i.e. there's a good amount of "meat" to work with when relapping) so that's good, but there's no way to get even an estimation on remaining tip-depth on that type of headstack without sending it to JRF, Sprague or similar for an evaluation.

    Might be able to get new lifters from Teac, or put sleeves on those ones...or turn them but that's not easy.

    Yep. I sold my 388 for $900 in beautifully restored minty condition, FULLY recapped, low miles on the headstack, fully operational and calibrated/setup. Buyer got a reasonable deal, and I was happy with what I got. Seems the machine you are looking at is a far-cry from that.

    Take THAT with a grain of salt...heheh.
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  6. #6
    zphillips is offline New Member
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    thanks for the input! the more the better... but consensus seems to be this machine is going to be problematic, and given that $800 is a lot of money to me, it sounds like it may not be a wise investment.

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    sweetbeats's Avatar
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    I agree.
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    I agree with the previous posters.
    To my eyes the lifters are more important to replace that the R/P head. The head could be relapped without to much of a problem.
    On the going-price I keep mum, the prices of equipment can vary wildly between Europe and the States.
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    sweetbeats's Avatar
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    Yeah, my experience is that stuff seems to be 1.5~2x the price on your side of the pond depending on the specific gear and the market for it.

    Bottom line is that I still see the going rate state-side for a 388 in average condition to be around $450, and that's for something with less mileage on the tape path.

    Other things to watch out for with the 388 IMO are logic issues.

    I've seen a number of posts over the years I've been a member here on transport/servo logic and or mixer switching logic. The mixer logic stuff is easier to fix (even I, with my phobia of IC logic circuitry) was able to diagnose, locate and repair a mixer logic issue on my aforementioned 388, but the transport/servo logic stuff? Forget it. Not me anyway. What gets complicated is how the power rails are run for the logic. Stuff is intertwined and difficult to isolate and therefore diagnosis is difficult. So the short of it is just make sure the machine you are looking at is 100% functional, or at least the transport functions 100%. Audio issues aren't as big a challenge to diagnose/repair on the 388 IMO.

    I also think it is extra important to look for a 388 that appears free and clear of any trauma. Of course this is important for ANY vintage gear, but because the 388 is a relatively complex and dense package in a sturdy but not bullet-proof chassis, you want to be choosy and stay away from "yeah my buddy dropped it on that corner but its just cosmetic." And this, of course, underscores the value of staying away from buying a 388 that has to be shipped. Yes the 388 is a WAY cool machine, but because there is so much packed into the design I wouldn't rate the 388 as Tascam's most reliable product. This is not to say it is "unreliable", just saying that at 25 years old I think age and minor abuse/neglect may take a heavier toll on the 388 than other products.

    Be choosy.
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  10. #10
    zphillips is offline New Member
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    got it, I will take your advice to heart. I've been looking for one of these for years, man, and one hasn't crossed my path that seems worth the money yet. I guess I'll just keep waiting, or maybe see if the seller will cut me a deal on this one so I can have the money to replace/repair the necessary components when they die on me.

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