388 Reel to Reel , circa 1985???


New member
I am fairly new to recording...did some on a tascam 4-track porta studio some years back. However I am getting back into it and I really dont want to start at the bottom and work my way up.

Came across an older tascam...reel to reel set into a board...I think it was 16 tracks and I think it was a 388, but everything on the net about a 388 seems to mention 8 tracks and I cant seem to find a picture of a 388 to confirm what this is. Is a 388 a 16 track reel to reel set into a board?

Next; do I want this? I want to move up to better performance than a portastudio, but I still like the idea of analog recording. Will I get much better performance out of this unit than the porta? Since it is from 85, has todays technology made it obsolete( meaning, could I get a modern peice of equip for the same price or cheaper, and achieve the same or better results?).its going for $1200 and looks in great condition ...hows that price?

Since it is 15 years old and reel to reel, how can I tell if everything is in good shape (It looked good..couple knobs off kilter, but thats not the important stuff..)?
Do I have to worry about motors failing or heads or what?

Thansk for your time.
I'm a proud owner of a 388. And just so you know, it is 8 tracks, not 16.

First of all, this is an exceptional piece of gear! It will put any, and I mean ANY analog "porta" studio to shame. In my opinion, the learning curve was too high with regard to this unit; when it came out, it was a step UP from the 4 trk unit in a serious way, but the complexity of this machine can't be appreciated from someone upgrading from a 4 trk cassette without a lot of research.

$1200 is too much for this machine. Granted, back in '86 (with the finance charges) I paid about $5,000 for it, today a $1200 hundred investment can get you a lot further than a 388. Analog was awesome, but it is time to give way to digital...

I can't believe I just said that!

Anyway, I see the 388 selling for just under $700 ususally, and that is because most music stores don't even know the capabilities of it. $1200 is too much, though.

Thanks for the info Brad... upon further research I did find a few 388s for sale, and yes, they were all at least $300 cheaper.

Couple more quick one... I have seen some of these that list ips and I am assumeing that the Higher the ips # the better the sound quality?

Ok, heres the sitch; I got $1000 to spend...will I do better to get a good 8 track digital ( even with an analog recorder I do plan to mix to dat.) or too spend it on a exc condition 388? If I ge the 388 with I be spending half my life trouble shooting and breaking out the screw driver?
IMHO (in my humble opinion), I'd suggest that you invest in the tascam 488 MkII since it'll give you 8 analog tracks, like the 388 you're looking at. I bought mine from Musician's Friend last May for about $900 (it was on sale), and feel that it is an excellent machine. I originally bought a Roland digital 8-track with a 100 MB Zip drive and found that too limiting. An aver-age album (12 songs) requires about 3 GIGA-BITS(!) for all the info that makes it up (an average of 250-300 MB's per finished track!). Also, again IMHO, unless you know something (or know someone who does) about old reel to reels, I believe you'll find the 388 you looked at as a liability, not an asset. I hope this has beeen of help.

I think if you found an 8-track digital, even a minidisc, you'd be happier in the long run. If you really wanted the quality inherent in a "big tape" analog system, I think you might be disappointed with 8-track cassette.