Joining the Tascam 388 party... am I crazy?

flyingace

Active member
Found a great looking unit locally for $2k. Heads look new, new capstan belt, all VUs working and lit (only #7's plastic is broken out!), watched video of it working, recording and playback. Comes with owners blank tape, unsure what brand. I have some 1800ft 7" reels of unopened Scotch 1/4" tape, unsure of quality and some other 1/4" pre-recorded 2-track tapes that I found at a flea market... likely not in good shape, but i'll try, then clean the machine, right? ha ha

Wishing for the best as I am building my music shed now, as soon as I'm done, I hope to have the 388 as my centerpiece for project fun, nothing serious.

As said, am I crazy? is it a hole in the ground to throw money into? or am I joining a select brotherhood of people that absolutely love these machines? I do, I used one back in 1993 when I was working at a recording studio. We had a big 2" MCI 24 track recorder and board for the big projects, but we had the 388 for voice over work and small freebies we'd give bands for demos. Our main engineer would relegate those smaller jobs to me. Loved working on it!

Thanks all!
 

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famous beagle

Well-known member
Welcome to the club! Just about all analog machines are always a bit of a gamble these days, but if you get your hands on a good one, they can be solid as a rock with minimal maintenance. There are several members here that are really knowledgeable and generous, so it's a great community for sure. Sweetbeats, in particular, went above and beyond in helping me get my 388 fully up and running.

By the way, I love your user name and avatar. My studio's a bit of a mess right now (we're in the process of moving across the country), but you can see a few of the decorations here. :)
 

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flyingace

Active member
Welcome to the club! Just about all analog machines are always a bit of a gamble these days, but if you get your hands on a good one, they can be solid as a rock with minimal maintenance. There are several members here that are really knowledgeable and generous, so it's a great community for sure. Sweetbeats, in particular, went above and beyond in helping me get my 388 fully up and running.

By the way, I love your user name and avatar. My studio's a bit of a mess right now (we're in the process of moving across the country), but you can see a few of the decorations here. :)
Thanks. I've been away from this forum for a while, I'm hoping with building my studio I'll soon be back to finding help and helping others again! I've seen Sweetbeats posts and they look very helpful!

Yes love me some snoopy, been a fan all my life, I'm 50 now and still collect!
 

famous beagle

Well-known member
Thanks. I've been away from this forum for a while, I'm hoping with building my studio I'll soon be back to finding help and helping others again! I've seen Sweetbeats posts and they look very helpful!

Yes love me some snoopy, been a fan all my life, I'm 50 now and still collect!
Heheh ... I'll be 50 next March. :)
 

Chilljam

transitional phase
Just test it thoroughly before handing over the money. Great machine though, hopefully you get a lot of use out of it.
 

38869420

Member
Hell yeah, they're the best and probably one of the more supported units as to being used and maintained these days. I love mine.
 

coolio

New member
Just as long as the tape heads aren’t too worn down....not easy to find replacement heads, but I think you said the heads were new so you should be good. Enjoy!
 

flyingace

Active member
Tape heads look new! The whole unit in good condition, only a few cosmetic issues. I fixed the tape cover hinge, got new m3x8 screws for the transport cover, new knobs for the EQ, it has a new capstan belt and all the other rubber is in good shape. just the broKen face plate of #7 VU to fix… but the VU still works. it records on all channels great so far, seems very consistent and reliable. Can’t wait to put it into production soon! Thanks everyone for your advice and tips!
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
People are not likely to agree with me but then they don't always anyway. Mr Scott said it perfectly when he said the more they take up the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain. What this means is when Technology allows one to do crazy things like put 8 tracks on 1/4" tape, it might work when new very well but as the heads age and the tape does the tiny little tracks that should be on 1/2" tape like the Tascam 38, get hard to read and then levels become inconsistent and edge track might have problems. Then everyone and his brother thinks they can work on these but how well they get them to work is anyone's guess. Adrian used to work on them in California but he has retired I am told. I have no room on my bench for such a large item so I can not work on them. Tom in Nashville is now out so that leaves Russ in New Jersey. He might be tired of them too.
Know that sooner or later they will need service and they are large heavy items to ship and so if you don't have a guy who can fix them locally then you might be better off with a Tascam 238 or a Tascam 38,48 or 58 types deck that will have much better longevity in use. Bob Shuster did work on some in the New York area but I don't know his current status with those.
 

Papanate

Active member
Wishing for the best as I am building my music shed now, as soon as I'm done, I hope to have the 388 as my centerpiece for project fun, nothing serious.
As said, am I crazy?
If you ask me yes - cassette technology is a dated crap format that offers little in the way of fidelity.
 

flyingace

Active member
So far, with new ATR MDS-36 tape, it has amazing quality and warmth and SO much more fun to record on than a computer. Sure, if I was trying to do pro work and record a million parts/tracks, I’d use my iMac, Logic Pro X and my 20 input interface… but for simple stuff and for quick idea creation, it’s perfect and so fun!
 

38869420

Member
Its pretty fun seeing how far you can take ideas too and the limitation on options. Forces you to write better I find
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
Hey not everyone like the same quality as I do and we all have different expectations. I am not a musician so I look at things with the repair type direction but if MDS36 does it for you and I would suggest that tape, then full speed ahead. That was what the Porta Studios were made for is to record the idea you have not a finished product. My negativity on the 388 is because I have had to repair them and they are not easy to work on and that was at Teac when they had a metal frame to turn them around on.. If you get a good one then it might serve you well.

As to the cassette format comment, I have used cassette deck for many years and they do a wonderful job if you know how to record on them and that means not at +8dB meter level. I have not had a bad cassette deck in many years but I do buy or obtain TOTL type older stuff like Z6000, V900X and before that C-3RX. A Nakamich deck can take you even further in performance. If you make your evaluation with a thrift shop worn out deck then you are not going to get a good recording. Try a good BX300 (Nak) deck. They usually work very well.
 
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