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Thread: At The Tascam 388 "Trailhead"...

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    At The Tascam 388 "Trailhead"...

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    Howdy Folks, Very first post here. Just scored a silly deal on a 388 (well, just how silly remains to be seen, I guess), it was included as part of what I would call sort of an estate sale. Paid $375 for a bunch of 80's rack gear, 2 combo amps, a WEM Copicat tape echo, Tascam 234 Syncaset and the 388. The 388 is in very good cosmetic shape. Hasn't been used since 2013. The previous owner seems to have taken very good care of his gear, as he had a Heath Spectral Analyzer (which I also now have), oscilloscope and other tools of the trade. It came with 6 reels, of which about 2 appear unused. I'm speculating that the other 4 reels represent the sum total of the deck's usage, but no way to know for sure. He bought it new in the 80's and from what his Wife said, he used it perhaps a handful of times each year, maybe less. After he passed, his Wife took less than good care of his "toys," and the 388 was being stored on its side in a walk-in closet. Even tho' it was in a basement, it seems to have avoided a lot of dampness/humidity, something that some of the other gear did not. It has collected some dust and grime, tho'.

    20170925_230754-jpg

    I'm sure I'll be posting some questions, but I've got more testing to do...It powers up and all the meters and lights work. The tape transport is not behaving (i.e. ff/rw moving slowly, and sometimes not at all, play button lights but doesn't seem to be working properly, etc., etc.). I've ordered a new belt (haven't looked at the current one yet). I've also tested the mic-level xlr inputs, and on every channel the OL lights up when the trim is turned up all the way, but no VU meter activity and only the faintest hint of distorted sound in the headphones. I've pulled and reseated all the cards behind the vu meters. No discernable change. Fuses all tested good for continuity. Next up, test line inputs. UPDATE: Reading through Tom Brennan's blog, where he mentions "...Since pressing on the top mixer plate seemed to help with the problems, that gives me the impression that we simply need to reseat some connections..." so I tried it and it worked!! All channels. Secondly, thru a further search I've just learned how/when/why the vu meters work, and yes, all of mine are working (except I haven't yet tested the main Stereo L/Aux & Stereo/R Effect, I assume those are playback). So at this point, indications are good. I'll crack open the bottom panel, firm up the channel cards, if not reseat them (maybe I'll pull them and blow off the dust) and have a look at what's going on with the capstan belt. Very excited to have figured out that the mixer section appears to be good-to-go!

    I seem to be on a roll lately....picked up the 388 on Monday, Tuesday night I scored a pair of Yamaha MSP5's on CL for $50, total!

    Regards,
    -Clyde

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    Wow, that's a hell of a score for all that stuff! Congratulations.

    Also, your 388 seems to have a few custom mods. The two clearly visible ones are the talkback mic and the lighted panel at the bottom ("Track assignment legend"). It looks as though the lamps in there are controlled by two knobs on the front too.

    Makes me wonder if anything else has been done to it, as those two mods don't seem suitable for the faint-hearted!
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    Wow, that's a hell of a score for all that stuff! Congratulations.
    Thanks! I want to make it clear that I explained to the woman that she could get much more for these items if she sold them online, herself. And that the gear was pretty much untested and most of it, quite dirty. So I knew that it would be a time commitment to clean everything, test, repair, list items for sale, meet with buyers, etc. I told her what I could offer, and she accepted. Frankly, she was very happy to clear out her storage space. There were a few other items as well, including 2 Korg synth keyboards and 2 Korg synth modules.

    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    Also, your 388 seems to have a few custom mods. The two clearly visible ones are the talkback mic and the lighted panel at the bottom ("Track assignment legend"). It looks as though the lamps in there are controlled by two knobs on the front too. Makes me wonder if anything else has been done to it, as those two mods don't seem suitable for the faint-hearted!
    She said he had added the light up track assignment strip. And yes, the 2 knobs control the strip lighting and the gooseneck lamp. I don't actually see what you're referring to with regards to the talkback mic, tho'.

    I wonder if there are any references about common or possible mods to the 388?

    Thanks for your comment.

    -Clyde

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    Quote Originally Posted by clydebisbee View Post
    Thanks! I want to make it clear that I explained to the woman that she could get much more for these items if she sold them online, herself. And that the gear was pretty much untested and most of it, quite dirty. So I knew that it would be a time commitment to clean everything, test, repair, list items for sale, meet with buyers, etc. I told her what I could offer, and she accepted. Frankly, she was very happy to clear out her storage space. There were a few other items as well, including 2 Korg synth keyboards and 2 Korg synth modules.



    She said he had added the light up track assignment strip. And yes, the 2 knobs control the strip lighting and the gooseneck lamp. I don't actually see what you're referring to with regards to the talkback mic, tho'.

    I wonder if there are any references about common or possible mods to the 388?

    Thanks for your comment.

    -Clyde
    Oh, that's a gooseneck lamp. I see that now. For some reason, when I first looked at the picture, I wasn't seeing the rest of the lamp, and it looked like a talkback to me. Regardless, it's a cool mod. I know I have seen some pages on modding a 388, but I've never felt the need to do so to mine.
    famous beagle

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    Hey, welcome and thanks for the interesting post...and congratulations!

    That's a pretty neat 388!

    Regarding your sluggish transport functions, what tape type are you using?

    What Tascam rack gear did you get with it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Regarding your sluggish transport functions, what tape type are you using?
    I have one of the reels that came with it loaded, Ampex 456. It appears unused, but not sure, since I haven't been able to play back.

    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    What Tascam rack gear did you get with it?
    Nothing too, too exciting....a Tascam 234 4-track (also seems to have issues), a Sony TC-WE675 dual cassette deck, a Korg keyboard mixer KMX-62, a Korg SDD-2000 sampling digital delay, an Ibanez SDR-1000 effects unit, a Carver TFM-25 power amp, Teac 2A mixer, a Heath AD-1308 spectrum analyzer, sabine rack tuner and a stereo dbx 166.

    -Clyde

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    Clyde, I bet dollars to donuts your transport trouble is the tape. Ampex 456 is notorious for sticky shed. Buy some fresh tape and try again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Clyde, I bet dollars to donuts your transport trouble is the tape. Ampex 456 is notorious for sticky shed. Buy some fresh tape and try again.
    Are we talkin' Krispy Kreme here?

    Is "sticky shed" visible to the naked eye? Can I test the transport functionality without any tape loaded?

    Regards,
    -Clyde
    Last edited by clydebisbee; 09-29-2017 at 22:10.

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    That's the problem with sticky shed...you don't know the tape has it until you load it on the transport and mess things up. That's why there's a great "sticky" thread at the top of the forum discussing sticky-shed-prone tape to avoid (you just don't do there) and Ampex 456 is at the or near the top of the list.

    You can raise the tension arms and actuate the transport functions, but it will only tell you basics. To really know you need to load some fresh tape...or used tape of certain verifiable types, like LPR35. Used Quantegy branded 457 is proper too. But you have to be able to verify what the reel or box says is actually what's spooled.

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