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Thread: SCORE! Ampex tape machine.. some questions

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    SCORE! Ampex tape machine.. some questions

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    Repost from "Other Gear" forum...

    I just got an Ampex ag-440 2 track 1/4" tape machine for free from a recording studio liquidation. It powers up and spins and turns, all the usual suspects, however...

    The line/mic preamps are gone (probably went with a separate lot at the auction) and I am unsure of the wiring. Do I need these preamps, or should there be a way to wire it up to use different preamps?

    Thanks all in advance!

    (Also got a couple of Grommes amps, a few equipment racks, about a million feet of Belden cable, a couple wall mounted patch bays, and a few other things.)

    Pete

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    I'm pretty sure the channel amps are proprietary to the operation of the deck and could not be replaced with generic preamps. They would have calibration and bias setting inside of them as well as hookups for all three heads. A straight preamp doesn't cover those bases.

    Best keep your eyes open for someone selling their's or someone selling an entire deck with them which is always cool anyway for having spare parts.

    Here's some info on the 440 series.

    http://recordist.com/ampex/docs/apxb...440/ag-440.pdf

    Cheers!

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    I owned and worked on the 440 series. They’re big but reliable.
    When you say the line/mic preamps are gone, do you mean the complete individual RECORD / PLAYBACK electronics with the VU meter, or the three printed circuit boards that plug in the front of the electronic chassis or the octal plug pre-amp that goes in the INPUT ACCES socket on back? Do you know if you have the AG-440, AG-440B or AG-440C? Depending on what you’re missing, the heads have to be matched to the appropriate electronics series. Inovonics 380 Tape Electronics are good R/P replacements if you need them. If you just need the boards, Ebay always has someone selling them and the same goes for the R/P electronics & pre-amp. There are other options but I’ll keep this short.
    Let me know what you find out.

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    Hopefully I can respond with some semblance of understanding...

    Unfortunately the machine says AG-440 and includes no reference to a/b/c, but looking at the manual in the link above it is missing the "2" parts of the AG-440 2 console. The two chassis/VU/rack mounted units are absent from the console itself, they look like they should be these:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Ampex-mic-line-p...QQcmdZViewItem

    The console itself has two cables and plugs that snake back to inputs marked "1701" and "1702" and the other jacks, "1703/1704" are emty. There are also 6 plugs (3 per unit) similar to xlr style with one, two or three female pins. These were obviously marked by the recording studio as "CH 1" or "CH 2" and I would assume these wil connect into whatever units I am missing.

    Any more direction or input would be great, thanks for all your help everyone!

    Pete

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    The 440 A/B/C use different electronics bays. The one on the Ebay link is either an A or B. Wont work on a C model. You must match the preamps to the transport, or sh** doesnt work.
    You can determine what you have if the serial number data label is still on the back of your machine. The number can be decoded to tell the series and configuration of the original machine. I have a pair of 440 C machines, and the transport electronics and the preamp bays are different than the A or B units. Get the number and maybe I can tell you what it is

    Parts for these beasts are PRICEY, and some maniacs on EBAY have been buying up parts at Hyper inflated prices recently. Unless you really have the hots for a 440, you may find the price to restore it to be higher than the cost to buy a nice reel to reel.

    Upside: the 440 is a tank. All of the hardware is oversized and built to last, and EVERYTHING is servicable. .

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    Thanks for the help!

    It seems every component has a serial number, but there are two that are seemingly unnatatched to anything but the main body of the unit. The "System Serial No." is 277554 and a smaller stamped ser. no. in the same vicinity is 113373.

    Pete

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    Hmmm.. ought to be on a small silver foil tag on the back of the faceplate maybe, not on a specific component. I will have to look at my machines when i get home. Seem to recall a number in the format of "4010311-20" ..like a seven or so digit number with a dash and then two numbers.

    I am not real familiar with the -A and -B machines, so i could not quote component differences. There is a lot of info out on the web in various places however. More difficult since the preamps are the most visible differences.

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    http://recordist.com/ampex/docs/hist....id.guide.html

    Check this out. might help you tell what you have

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    All right, now we're getting somewhere! It's funny, I have been to that site 20 times in the past couple of days, and I never realized what "rugby guides" were... now I know mine are glass guides, which tell me it is an "a" or "b" model, not a "c".

    Finally, I found that in figures 2-3 of both "a" and "b" you can see printing on the tape transport connector panel, and they are slightly different. "A" seems to have writing under each 24v relay, and "B" has writing under 3 of the 4, and a rivet or input or something under the rewind relay. Mine has printing under all of them, and no rivet/

    Thus, I think I have a genuine Ampex AG-440 "a" model, in need of two record/repro units.

    Is this going to be a tough/expensive/unworthy search or is this machine worth the endeavor? I figure, I got it for free, I can work on it myself and I have a 70+ year old tube/tape/electronics guru friend that can help me when I need it.

    Comments? Is it worth it? If so, point me in the direction of a couple of record/repro heads!

    Pete

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    I was just noticing that on some "b" and "c" models, they say "b" or "c." Maybe they didn't put the "a" on because they didn't know yet they would have any other models.

    So will the "b" models work in my "a" machine?

    Pete

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