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Thread: Tascam 388 help!

  1. #1
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    Tascam 388 help!

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    I'm reposting here as suggested by someone and also, it makes sense

    New to the site but have been reading it for the last 4 years. More recently I've been reading old threads that have been helpful regarding my new nightmare...the Tascam388. Guys out there like ''A Reel Person'' and ''Ghosts of FM'' have been very helpful regarding me reading and learning about this machine and my passion (maybe reel players) in general. Anyway, I hope you guys are still out there and willing to help a friend in need.

    A Brief History:

    Got a deal on my 388 which was shipped (heavy, don't do it unless...) from a friend out west for nothing...well a bottle of wild turkey. The guy I got it from from was helpful but one of these ''collectors'' and not much into dusting or using. Upon receiving it I cleaned the chit out of it as I like my gear clean. Did the heads, demag, rubber cleaned the pinch roller, replaced the capstan belt...all minor maintenance. So...and I know you're dying to hear the gist of my problem...

    Well, I have read about this problem of calibration of the tension arms and buying a tentelo meter($)...even trying to find a TEAC ''Test Reel'' appears to be futile at this point. Is it as easy as taking it all apart again and adjusting this with a screwdriver from the apparent ''factory settings'' or is this a bigger problem that needs more accurate attention? Also I ain't getting playback on Recording which has led to the tension problem..as tape gets heavier on the arms it stopped the functioning controls...with the record problem, could anyone recommend a good procedure of checking the record path that would determine if it's the head or some other menace lurking beneath the surface? ...the head looks okay.

    I live close to a vintage audio repair shop but unless they make house calls or have a T2-H20-1 or T2-H15-UM should I even bother contacting them? They have however done a good job on my Sony TC-630 but that is portable...they have a small shop and I wouldn't want to burden them with the hours plus labour ($) it takes to take this thing apart from the top end down...plus the weight and the stairs on my part. Although, I am desperate to get going.

    I like this thing and apologies for the long ass post but solving headaches and such is I guess what we're all here for. I don't want to sell it for twice what I payed (current epay) just to give my problem to someone else who wants that reel sound reel bad. If I had read half of these posts on this site prior to my purchase I may not be here but hindsight is...oh chit I got something in my eye.

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    p.s Can I change my avatar to to something I made?...not on a reel.

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    Ok, so I found an old thread from 2000 where ''a reel person'' says you can reset the tension problem by hand without a tension meter. I'm trying that and before he gets on here... it's not sticky tape (read a recent thread). As for the record problem I'll get back when I fix the first problem if it's still a problem. Thanks for reading all that crap up there if you did...hey I'm a newbie.

    P

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    Arrow Yes, thank you! I'm still here!

    Ghost of FM seems to have taken a sabbatical off this board, for a while now.

    Shipping of the 388 is a difficult issue, but is not impossible. Being large and heavy it's more prone to damage in shipment, but it's not inevitable. Packing always plays a major role in whether something is damaged or not. Admittedly, it's difficult and expensive! Local pickup is always better, but it sounds like you got this unit nearly free, so it's all good!

    I can't determine the exact gist of your problem, but the Reel/Servo card has tension arm position adjusments which greatly affect the tape handling characteristics.

    I'll try not to repeat myself endlessly, but...

    With tape distributed evenly on both reels, and when in Play mode,...
    the proper tension arm position is when the centers of the tension arm pulleys are intersecting a line that's even with the bottoms of the idler and tach roller, Left and Right respectively.

    If the tension arm position is out of whack, the servos and therefore the tensions are incorrect, which directly affect tape motion, be it Play or RW/FF function. The 388 is a servo driven machine, which is why the characteristics change when you manually "force" the tension arm into another position by hand.

    You have to be a little careful when adjusting,.. a little at a time, but it's relatively easy and doable for the average DIY'er without a tentelometer./DA

    PS: There is something else to consider when looking at transport functions, which is whether the hub brakes are releasing fully when tape motion is engaged. A good indication would be the relative condition of the pinch roller and the capstan belt. If the belt and pinch roller are deteriorated and sticky, it would indicate that the solenoid driven functions of tape-load and brake-release may not be fully engaging when triggered. You could eyeball the tape load function, that the tape lifter goes all the way up, along with the pinch roller to move up to fully engage with the capstan (shaft), The catch is that these are both inspected directly by removing the deck-plate cover of the reel/reel transport section.

    Before getting technical or going in deep, you must be absolutely sure you don't have a "sticky" tape, which is quite common. Although you opened your original post saying that your tape is new and you're "sure", but it's always something that should be verified to an absolute determination. Any sticky tape would present the symptoms you're describing, and it would be futile and counter productive to mess with the electronics if the tape was an issue. Just a word that you can't be too sure or overlook the issue of sticky tape.

    The 388 is a really nice package when it's working properly.

    Good luck!

    /pls catch my edits!/
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails im003103b-jpg  
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 02-10-2009 at 21:58.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    Ok, here's the update...

    I've got boxes of tape, some used and some brand new shrinked wrapped Ampex 1 mil studio mastering tape. I took your advice and have tried plenty of reels with the same results...I suppose stickyness is still possible after all that, Q Is sticky tape easily visible leaving the reel? Are there easy ways to determine if tape is actually sticky? I'm sure you've answered this somewhere else...I'll have a look around. I do however have no problems playing this same tape on my sony TC-630. In the mean time I'll try plan B. I learn something everytime I take the 388 apart anyway.

    So far everything seems to check out (new belt, good conditioned rubber on the pinch roller) except the tension arms. I'll remove the plate and have a look at the hub brakes and go from there with the servo card adjustment.

    Thanks for the indepth response Dave. I'll keep you posted Sorry to hear Ghost of FM is missing, maybe he was a ghost after all!

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    Arrow ...

    A sticky tape would leave lots of oxide on the heads and tape path. It would be obvious. The tension arm positions can be adjusted, and should look like those in the photo when in use. Any other positions and the tension would be wrong, with the accompanying problems handling tape.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    So I finally got the courage again to take it apart and try this servo adjustment. I'm looking in the manual and I assume I'm looking for ''ref. no. 3-14 reel servo pcb assbly'' I'm starting to feel like this again as I'm looking for that servo cards whereabouts. The poor photocopy of my downloaded manual is not really of much help. It looks like all the cards are at the back of the 388 behind the rear plate that looks rather fun to take off , but I just want to make sure before I do something unnecessarily. I first thought it was attached directly to the tension arms as in one diagram it has a picture of where to test with a tentelometer. Anyway, I'll try and keep this short for now until I get further along.

    I am determined but I have found a store/service shop that is local. They have many parts for 388's. I'm taking a friend up there with his fostex E16 for what they said to be one of the last ''new'' record heads in north america. This shop seems like my best backup plan for servicing if I run into further problems. So if anyone reads this far, could anyone recommend that this option is indeed a good starting point for a first timer with an old machine who might be ambitious but doesn't feel too comfortable about getting in too deep. Anyway, thanks again for any input.

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