I have an old 1/4" tape demo I recorded in 1988

Patrick_L

New member
Someone told me that it needs some kind of treatment in order to recover the sound, that it might not be playable.
It's been sitting in the box since then, I never played it, just put it in the closet and forgot about. I thought it would be
cool to hear me when I was younger. Does anyone have any idea what that treatment entails?
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
Google "sticky tape shed" to find out what tape formulations are prone to the problem. The tape is "baked" for a while to re-bind the materials. I believe some people are using food dehydrators.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The danger of the sticky tape syndrome is that trying to play a tape often ruins it beyond recovery - but - it was only a few brands and individual formations. If you load the tape up and manually wind it from spool to spool, if it unspools without the layers showing any kind of stickiness, then it's probably fine. Old tape is always brittle and any old edits might come unstuck - so get some splicing tape and have a block ready.

I'd estimate more than 95% of old tapes play perfectly well, but ever playing lowers the odds - so just clean your machine between plays, get the levels set up, and go for it. Most tiny errors can be fixed in a DAW anyway nowadays. Just be gentle and you should have few problems. I was very lucky - I didn't have any sticky tapes at all in my collection when I transferred them. The trouble was we all had our favourites - Scotch and BASF were mine, and luckily not one of the often talked about ones! The only snag was the poor quality of the performances, something memory had lied to me about.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
The only snag was the poor quality of the performances, something memory had lied to me about.
This has been a common reaction over the years to tapes I digitized for people. I just recently retired all the old analog gear and even the digital. Last number of years, most of the requests for archival material I have stored is for artists who have passed on. Last one was a few months ago for the family of a musician that died of cancer. Been getting to the point where I'm thinking "I mix music for dead people" should be on my business card. Had tapes going back to the 70's.
 

Chilljam

transitional phase
This has been a common reaction over the years to tapes I digitized for people. I just recently retired all the old analog gear and even the digital. Last number of years, most of the requests for archival material I have stored is for artists who have passed on. Last one was a few months ago for the family of a musician that died of cancer. Been getting to the point where I'm thinking "I mix music for dead people" should be on my business card. Had tapes going back to the 70's.
Eddie Kramer has been constantly doing new mixes of the music he recorded with Jimi Hendrix for the last 40 years.
 

seankerns

Member
I would not recommend just loading up the tape and giving it a shot, if you don't know what you've got. The great majority of tapes I get need some kind of remediation before they can be played. Certain formulations, I don't even risk winding before I bake it.
It's not difficult to bake a tape, but it does require something that will hold a steady temperature and circulate air. Lots of people use the little food dehydrators, and they work okay. I got a larger commercial dehydrator, because I frequently do ten or more at a time. I'd be happy to answer any questions I can on the process. I stole my methodology from Eddie Ciletti, and the guidelines are pretty easy to find online.
 
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