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Thread: Tascam 388 help needed!

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    Tascam 388 help needed!

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    Hi everyone, new member here. I just bought my first reel-to-reel, a Tascam 388. It's not working (I knew this when I bought it and I bought it for cheap). It appears to be in immaculate condition, very clean, powers up fine, I checked the inputs, they're fine. The problem? The tape won't turn. When I hit fast forward, play, rewind, or load, it goes forward (or backward, appropriately) for about 0.1 second and then stops. The capstan motor appears to be working fine. The belt is not super tight, but everything is turning fine in there. I have not cleaned anything yet, but nothing seems gunked up to me (though I have zero experience with these things and yes, I will be cleaning it ASAP). In my tinkering I pushed up the tension rollers a bit with no tape in and hit play and got the reels to spin fine. Anyone have any ideas? I am clueless here. Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by armadillofarm View Post
    Hi everyone, new member here. I just bought my first reel-to-reel, a Tascam 388. It's not working (I knew this when I bought it and I bought it for cheap). It appears to be in immaculate condition, very clean, powers up fine, I checked the inputs, they're fine. The problem? The tape won't turn. When I hit fast forward, play, rewind, or load, it goes forward (or backward, appropriately) for about 0.1 second and then stops. The capstan motor appears to be working fine. The belt is not super tight, but everything is turning fine in there. I have not cleaned anything yet, but nothing seems gunked up to me (though I have zero experience with these things and yes, I will be cleaning it ASAP). In my tinkering I pushed up the tension rollers a bit with no tape in and hit play and got the reels to spin fine. Anyone have any ideas? I am clueless here. Thanks!
    Could be bad tape. What brand and model tape are you using? Was the tape new or used when you got it?

    There are a lot of little things that can work together to cause this type of problem, but checking the tape is the first step.

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    Thanks for replying. There was tape in there when I picked it up. It's Maxell, though not sure about which type. However, I also bought a brand new reel of RMGI LPR-35. I tried that and had the same problem.

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    So the transport works without tape loaded, but not when tape is loaded? You need to adjust the tension of the belts that drive the reel hubs.

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    Hmmm, there doesn't seem to be any other belts, just the one capstan belt. Could it be too loose? I'm not sure how tight they are supposed to be; it doesn't seem super tight, but it's staying in place. Thanks for your responses!

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    Quote Originally Posted by armadillofarm View Post
    Hmmm, there doesn't seem to be any other belts, just the one capstan belt. Could it be too loose? I'm not sure how tight they are supposed to be; it doesn't seem super tight, but it's staying in place. Thanks for your responses!
    The tapes you're using should be okay, I think. The only belt in the Tascam units is the capstan belt. While it might be loose, that wouldn't affect the fast wind modes.

    I'm not 100% sure how the 388 works, but if it's like the TSR-8 and probably most of the other microprocessor-controlled transports, there is probably a tach roller. Apparently this is the one to the right of the captstan and pinch-roller. If it is microprocessor-controlled, it will use the tach roller to tell the CPU how fast and in which direction the tape is moving. If this roller is not working, or if the tape isn't threaded properly you would have rather interesting effects when the transport is engaged.

    Does the tape counter change at all, if you rock the reels manually or something? It may only change when the right-hand tension arm is lifted or something...

    I believe this is a properly-threaded 388:
    https://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d...0/DSC00469.jpg

    In this thread:
    https://homerecording.com/bbs/showpo...0&postcount=11
    ...the tach roller was upside-down. If it's like the TSR-8, it will have a pattern that is read by a photosensor underneath it. If the pattern isn't readable or is physically missing (this has happened!) it's not going to be a happy bunny.

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    armadillofarm, did your 388 come with a manual?

    If not, PM me.

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    Yes, sweetbeats, I've got the manual, thank you. It's helped me in taking the machine apart, but hasn't really helped me solve this problem yet.

    Tape appears to be threaded properly, thanks for the photo jpmorris. I checked the tach roller and there is a pattern on the bottom, so I guess it's not upside down. The tape counter does change when I move the reels manually.

    I've deconstructed and reconstructed this thing about four times now. Running out of ideas here.

    I'll probably wait a bit before giving up and taking it to a professional, so if anyone else has any ideas, I'm all ears! Thanks everyone who has replied so far!

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    Arrow There are 4 drive transistors that drive the reel motors, 2 each L/R

    If one drive transistor failed in either pair, (F/I), it would neither drive under load or maintain tension, but it may spin feebley under no load. I've had a 388 transport problem that turned out to be the R. reel motor drive transistor, with that symptom.

    First though, the capstan belt should be replaced. It may be slipping under load. What you describe as belt tension has me wondering if it's loose. You can test belt slippage by hand by raising the R tension arm and grabbing the capstan, while feeling for drive torque and/or try to make it stop/feel for slippage.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    Yeah, I I'll be ordering a new belt. It definitely needs it because it's fallen off a few times. I'll post back once the new belt is on. Thanks for your help, everyone!

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