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Thread: Old tape from the '50s and '60s

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    Old tape from the '50s and '60s

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    My grandfather recorded my mother and my aunts on a reel to reel machine back in the '50s and '60s. If I were to play this tape back, is there anything I need to know first, such as worrying about sticky shed? Or does this not occur on really old tape?

    Thanks,
    -MD

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    I have a lot of older family tapes from the 60's and all of them play fine with no shedding issues so, with any luck, you should be OK.

    Most of the sticky shed stuff comes from Ampex 456 tapes from the mid 70's to the mid 90's...most other brands seem to have avoided this issue to a larger degree then 456 did.

    Put up a reel and give it a shot. So long as you don't hear any bad squeaking or see visible shed immediately, you should be fine.

    Cheers!

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    I did a tape last year of my dads band from the early 50,s and it was in great shape. The tape also had been through the mail to Korea a couple of times to record my uncle playing guitar and harmonica when he was in the service so the tape had been around.

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    if it's that old,

    If the tape's THAT old, it may very well be acetate-based tape. Hold it up to a light, and if the glare off of the tape packing is lustorous and "bronzy", and shiny, it's acetate. if not, it's standard Mylar/polyester.
    Acetate tapes are very resistant to stretching, but are more brittle than mylar/polyester tapes. They don't suffer from sticky shed, so don't bake them, there's no need to.
    If the tape is fringed or warped along the edges, you may have to increase tape tension just a hair to get good head contact. but don't over do it, or the tape will break right in half. (Nice part about that is that if it does break, a splice will repair it pretty accurateley as it stretches very little. It shears right off.)
    At least that's what I hear about acetate. Good luck w/ that.
    Might also want to make a backup copy, just incase you can never play the tapes back again.

    -callie-

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    Quote Originally Posted by themaddog
    My grandfather recorded my mother and my aunts on a reel to reel machine back in the '50s and '60s. If I were to play this tape back, is there anything I need to know first, such as worrying about sticky shed? Or does this not occur on really old tape?
    I'm doing the same thing with dad's tapes recorded in the 60's and 70's on a Ferrograph model 2, Sony of some description (which he hated) and Akai 4000DB.

    I've had no problems with sticky shed on these old tapes - from what I've read only back coated tape has this problem, and of the tapes I've looked at only two reels of 80's Ampex had shed problems.

    Watch for acetate tape - there's another post here on the topic. It can break easily. As far as I can tell it became less common during the early-mid 60's (fortunately all of my dad's stuff is from about 1964 on and mostly polyester - although the BASF 'triple play' is just scarey - man that stuff is thin).

    If you have acetate tape warping at the edges and/or smelling of vinegar it is starting to break down. Copy it to something else *fast* before it becomes unplayable. The same goes for old film - if it smells of vinegar google "vinegar syndrome" and follow the advice. One important piece of advice is to keep any acetate tape or film with vinegar syndrome away from good tape or film.

    Hope this helps!

    Cya
    Andrew

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    Thanks everyone!

    -MD

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