Sticky Shed Help Thread

cjacek

Analogue Enthusiast
Hey Tim,
I don't get email notification of new posts anymore for some reason and I don't visit all that often so I missed your reply to me. Sorry. I know it's been a while but thanks for your answer. I actually saw your post here when I wanted to ask about VHS tapes. Tim, do older VHS tapes typically have sticky shed? Sometimes I find cool titles on VHS, often from the 80's and wonder if they're alright. Most are used not sealed. Anyway, hope you see this post. :D

Sorry I didn't notice this post before. Yeah Jeff nailed it.

Remember the Ampex boxes with the label across the middle of the front the box like in your photo are still from the sticky years. Ampex changed the look so the label is across the bottom front about the time the formula was changed to fix the SSS problem. The box style was changed in late 1994. When Quantegy acquired Ampex magnetic tape division they kept the latest box style from Ampex. Though Quantegy eventally changed the color scheme to black and red, they kept the label along the bottom.
 
B

Beck

Guest
Hey Tim,
I don't get email notification of new posts anymore for some reason and I don't visit all that often so I missed your reply to me. Sorry. I know it's been a while but thanks for your answer. I actually saw your post here when I wanted to ask about VHS tapes. Tim, do older VHS tapes typically have sticky shed? Sometimes I find cool titles on VHS, often from the 80's and wonder if they're alright. Most are used not sealed. Anyway, hope you see this post. :D

Hey Daniel,

No, VHS and beta VCR tapes don't have sticky shed. You will see some people online claiming they have video tape with SSS, but the term has become a catch-all for tape problems in general. Tapes deteriorate over time and can get flaky, but it's not sticky shed and baking wont fix it. Video tape is like a big Philips cassette tape, so they are quite different from reel-to-reel audio tape. I even have 30-year-old beta hi-fi video tapes I used for mastering many moons ago, and they play back perfectly with no issues. It really comes down to the quality of tape one uses. I always spent the extra bucks and got the best. Some cheaper tape brands start falling apart sooner than later. My beta videotape of choice back in the day was Sony Pro-X L-500. As for prerecorded and already used VHS it's a crap shoot. It depends mostly on how often they were played. VHS tapes lose detail and audio clarity if they're played a lot. So it's a matter of how much they've been used more than how old the tapes are. Hope that helps.
 

funkland

New member
Yep, very frustrating to lose a long post. I learned that the hard way long ago. On this site you have to check the box that says, "Remember me" or your session will time out after a while. Now days I usually write anything of length in MS Word or a text file just in case.

As for Zonal, yeah that's all good stuff and no sticky, but Zonal 700 is technically the equivalent to Ampex/Quantegy 456. 675 is more like BASF 468. As for buying used I normally don't because once a tape is open you don't really know what's on the reel. I might make an exception if it's someone I know and trust and he/she bought it new and can assure me it is indeed, "One pass." The term, "One Pass" is thrown around a bit loosely. Is it really one pass? In a perfect world it is, but in a perfect world you could also hand your wallet to a stranger on a street corner and ask him to hold it for you until you get back.

AAAAAAHHHHHH its done it again......F&*%
before i press post reply i will copy it from now on :cursing:
deep breath,,,, start again.

Hi Beck, sorry about the late reply,
I have now had 16 of the tapes and still fine with only one that has static spikes on it that recording wont remove.
They are one pass as the seller got a load i think from the BBC? as they were used for book narration.
as all the tapes have the Author date and book details and are all numbered using the same tape codes
so can safely say they are single pass and then bulk wiped.
Best bet is try one, and post your thoughts.
good output on these as well with no loss of Hi's and great tight bass without the boom, great for what i want then for did all the last bands demos with them all recorded live one take...
ARKADIA - Bio
good luck
 

A Reel Person

It's Too Funky in Here!!!
...

I was dismayed to have some NOS 1/2" 3M 806 that went sticky on me after >10 years in temperate non-humid storage. Some of the tapes were 1 pass w/some tracks I did, but were originally NOS. Did the dehydrator thing. Haven't retested this batch, but the dehydrator did a good job on some 1/4" for me a while ago. Mostly Ampex from the 80s & 90s. I'm onboard with the "baking"/dehydrator method. I have a fair amount of tape that needs it.
:spank::eek:;)
 
B

Beck

Guest
Yeah, 800 series 3M/Scotch is one of the stickies unfortunately. And again just a reminder, baking can't be relied upon to restore tapes for reuse, but only for recovering previously recorded material. ;)
 

A Reel Person

It's Too Funky in Here!!!
...

I'm playing it by ear for a while. If almost all tape will be susceptible or succumb to this condition eventually, and it develops over years, vs. being quick to remedy & restore, I don't see any downside. Especially since a lot of susceptible or marginal tape I have is virgin NOS. Unfortunately, when I was buying tape it was a lot of Ampex, Quantegy & 3M. YMMV.
:spank::eek:;)
 
B

Beck

Guest
The issue is certainly tricky for a lot of people... if not most people. All you have to know is what tape is not prone to sticky Shed syndrome and only buy that. Name a tape and I can tell you off the top of my head if it will have sticky shed or not. It's become very confussing for most. There is more bad info out there than ever before. Wiki is wrong, Richard Hess has some inaccurate info on his tape restoration site, and certain eBay sellers have accidently or on purpose propgated the idea that if you bake tape it's as good as new, which it is not. It's complicated by the fact that people are ending up with tape and reels in boxes they don't belong in. For example, older Ampex 456 in newer boxes. There's some on ebay like that as we speak. It's all used, and I won't buy used tape, so it doesn't effect me personally, but a lot of people are getting taken.

A few simple rules:

- In general only buy NOS (New Old Stock) sealed tape, unless it's from someone you know and trust and he/she bought it new and can tell you the history.

- If sellers are asking an arm and a leg for tape, let them know they're out of line. If all of us clicked on the "Ask a Question" link on eBay listings and politley informed the seller he's asking twice as much as he should and his shipping method and rates are rediculous, eventually the social pressure would have an effect. Most of all DON'T PAY THOSE F-ing PRICES FOR IT. Sellers will sell it for whatever we'll pay for it.

- Only buy tape that never had sticky shed and never will as follows:

-Maxell UD 35-90, LN 35-90, XLI 35-90B, 35-120, 35-180 - All Good
-Ampex 456/457 made 1995 and later, all years of Quantegy through 2005 - All Good
-Ampex/Quantegy 499 - All Good (Even the older box style).
-Quantegy GP9 - All Good
-Ampex 406/407 A little trickier because some older batches are good, but otherwise same rule as 456... 1995 and later to be safe. (I have 407 from 1991 that is good... Ampex was experimenting with different binders)
-Ampex/Quantegy 600 series (632, 642, etc) - All Good
-AGFA PEM 468 - All Good
-BASF/EMTEC SM911, SM468, SM900, LPR-35 - All Good
-3M/Scotch 206/207, 966/967 and 986/987 - All Good
-Zonal 700 (like 456), 999 (like 499) - All Good

The above is not a complete list of good tape, but it covers most of what we're looking for.

Most important thing... once you bake tape it will be good for a while, but no telling how long... maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks, but it will go back to the sticky shed state after baking. And it deteriorates gradually. First you start losing high frequencies and friction becomes greater causing faster head wear. Things happen to make the tape a poor medium long before the sticky shed gets to the point of stopping the machine in its tracks.
 
Last edited:

A Reel Person

It's Too Funky in Here!!!
Thanks again for the helpful & informative post.

Of well over 100 reels of 1/4" & 1/2" tape I have, all but 4 were bought new or NOS from known a reputable media warehouse or outlet. Ampex/Quantegy is sealed, 3M is not sealed,... as you know. I'm not confused & I'm sure of the pedigree of this tape, but I'm invested & committed to a lot of sticky-prone tape, and in turn the dehydrator method. Alternately, I'm not seeking nor in any position to buy any new tape stocks of any kind. I'm heavily entrenched in my situation. I've read the blogs & understand all the information. I'll have to judge the efficacy of "baking" and longevity of the "fix" as I go along, through direct observation. Even if sticky-prone tape tends to revert to it's sticky state, the deterioration process is very slow and manageable.

Alt, I have about 80 known-used 3M 996 reels on 1" that I'll have to deal with at some future time. I've seen the blogs turn over time, first stating that 996 was not sticky-prone, eventually to be included in "all 3M tape is vulnerable" category. So, as per the above, it is what it. I'll deal with what I have & there's no turning back.

It's a shame, though, how an avalanche of SSS tape stocks probably hastened the demise of analog tape in the 90s-2000s' pro studio business, as well as countless classic rock era source/master tapes going into the bin. I can only imagine "Rumours" or "Comes Alive" being spooled off into the trash, and many others, while digital was being hailed as the new "it" thing, & the savior of the industry. [OT]
 
B

Beck

Guest
Even if sticky-prone tape tends to revert to it's sticky state, the deterioration process is very slow and manageable.

Yeah, there is some validity to that, however it's manageability is so unpredictable it's very difficult to trend a number of sticky-shed tapes from the same batch or even the same box. Even if the environment is within an ideal living relative humidity... ideal meaning best for people and pianos, a tape with SSS is going to begin it's return to the bad state shortly after baking. We generally consider tapes good for a week or two after baking for recovering previously recorded material. But for reuse as a recording medium it's a whole different situation. If we start a multitrack project on a baked tape we now have time constraints we don't with a non-sticky formulation... and we can't predict with any certainty how much time we have. You can keep baking it, but baking is not the same as having good non SSS tape. It doesn't restore it to perfect unfortunately.

I hate it too. I threw away a bunch of SSS tape years ago. A lot of 456, but mostly 3M 226. That was one of my favorite tapes. 3M made 226 to be a drop in for Ampex 456 and I actually liked 226 a bit better. But 226 was sticky-shed from hell... the worst I've ever seen. I still see it being sold NOS on eBay and I say a little prayer for the buyer because like a lot of people have over the years he may think he has machine problems and will spend a lot of money on repairs or just chuck the thing altogether. And now that we can't see who buyers are on eBay anymore we can't even warn them. I have done that in the past.

It's a shame, though, how an avalanche of SSS tape stocks probably hastened the demise of analog tape in the 90s-2000s' pro studio business, as well as countless classic rock era source/master tapes going into the bin. I can only imagine "Rumours" or "Comes Alive" being spooled off into the trash, and many others, while digital was being hailed as the new "it" thing, & the savior of the industry. [OT]

Yep, the SSS crisis certainly did speed up the demise of analog, but even before that people that I love and admire were doing stupid things with original analog masters. Some of the best engineers were going through tapes and transferring to early 14-bit digital and then tossing the analog tapes. A lot of the classics were literally filtered through an inferior digital medium by anyone's measure, and we'll never get the full pure original sound of the analog master back. It's gone! And this was happening before SSS was even discovered. But yeah, sticky-shed had a lot to do with finishing it off.

Then again even now here we are in 2015 and ATR and RMGI are still plugging away making tape, albeit way to freaking expensive. Tape is for the elite now. I don't mind at all being part of that crowd. ;)
 

A Reel Person

It's Too Funky in Here!!!
Not to obsess, but...

To correct something I said earlier, the Quantegy tape stocks I bought (~10 years ago) were not actually NOS. They were new stock & Quantegy was actually still in business, as well as being from a reputable "industry" tape house, where coincidentally the actual Quantegy warehouse was located literally next door. Probably a moot point by now, but it was new stock and mag tape was still in active production.

As I'd picked up the 3M reels in the same numerous stops at the time, (I'm pretty sure) 3M had just closed it's tape production. Still new stock tho, & not the same class of tape we refer to as NOS today. However, it didn't preclude this "new" tape from becoming sticky this much later.

I just got banging deals on tape in those days because my work at the time was based in the N. Hollywood/Burbank/Hollywood area, a well known and highly saturated national media center, where you could just drive down the street past many legitimate production related shops and industries. I picked up tape by the case & large stacks for pennies on the dollar. This was all well before RMGI was up & running, probably before it was conceived & I believe Emtec was still in the game too, but closing out at the time.

I'm not in the tape buying game anymore, but I'm still doing some tape recording anew on these old tape stocks. Thank you SnackMaster! ;)

(Enough about me. Carry on & have a nice analog recording day!)
 

TXtaper

New member
Can SSS happen in the span of a couple of days?

I have one that I listened to side A of a few nights ago, (maybe last weekend?) and even transferred a couple of my favorite songs to digital. Sounded great. Last night, I put it on, to transfer the whole thing, and heard the squeal (and transferred the squeal) and noticed many, many long black streaks on the copper colored oxide side.
Low and behold, the black gum was on the heads the 2nd time through. Why was the first pass so clean?

This is a tape recorded in the early 70s, but no markings as to brand on either box or reel.
 
Sticky shed can show up at different levels of decay, so it is entirely possible that a moderate case of it might allow you to get a couple of passes through without obvious signs and then the build up can hit a level where the shedding starts to become glaringly obvious.

If the content on the tape is worth saving, look into baking the tape to make it usable for a longer time and ensure you've spotlessly cleaned the entire tape path to try the transfer again.



Cheers! :)
 

TXtaper

New member
The thought of baking, to me, seems scary and very last-ditch effort (maybe I'm wrong, but...) What about cleaning and re-lubing? What should I use to do that? I've read about the Nu Finish thing, and some other forums mention D5....
I thought isopropyl alcohol was bad, yet numerous places say to clean the tapes w/ it....?!
 

Lt. Bob

Spread the Daf!
The thought of baking, to me, seems scary and very last-ditch effort (maybe I'm wrong, but...) What about cleaning and re-lubing? What should I use to do that? I've read about the Nu Finish thing, and some other forums mention D5....
I thought isopropyl alcohol was bad, yet numerous places say to clean the tapes w/ it....?!
cleaning the tape itself will do nothing.
The problem is NOT that the tape is dirty.
It's that the binding that holds the oxide in place is failing. So cleaning has nothing to do with the problem and therefore, will make no difference.

The baking thing is well researched ... it will work if you follow the directions and keep the temperature right during the process.

Nu-Finish is pretty much ridiculed by most of the analog experts.
For me, since I know baking works, there's no way I'd put what is an abrasive regardless of how fine, anywhere near my tape machine's tape path.
 

TXtaper

New member
Well, by cleaning, I just meant cleaning the backing thats already stuck on the oxide side right now, if I was still exploring the 'not baking' path. :)
Has anyone tried silicone? I think they sell silicone wipes for guns, would seem that would be easier on the heads, and I think it was originally in/on the tapes, so it wouldn't hurt them...

(Just thinking aloud. Want to explore/debunk all options. Most likely it looks like baking is in the future.....)
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
If you put silicone on there...you may screw up the whole transport.

You can spot-clean tape if t has some gunk here and there...but you don't want to wipe down the whole tape with alcohol...not because it will hurt the tape, but because you can while doing it. It's a delicate procedure.

One way (if you can get the tape transport to move the tape with all the SSS going on) is to use a dry, lint-free paper or cloth wipe, and just run the tape while you pinch with the cleaning paper/cloth...but be careful...as the pressure has to be light and even, otherwise you will end up with tape spooling out on you....and again, you can do more damage than good.

Baking s usually the better first step, and them maybe doing a clean dry wipe on a couple of passes...and then re-clean the heads/guides too...and finally then do your playback and transfer the audio.
 

TXtaper

New member
Yeah, it definitely moves the tape, that's not a problem. It's not that far developed. It actually played fine the first couple times, then started to develop the squeal and black gunk on the oxide side. (It's not sticky to the touch though, nor can it be scraped off w/ a fingernail.)

Then, last night, I had another one squeal, a Sony PR-150, but it didn't leave black gunk on the heads. Apparently that tape is known/listed as one of the kinds that does "dry out". In that case, where baking wouldn't really address the problem (I think), how would I best approach that?
 
Yeah, it definitely moves the tape, that's not a problem. It's not that far developed. It actually played fine the first couple times, then started to develop the squeal and black gunk on the oxide side. (It's not sticky to the touch though, nor can it be scraped off w/ a fingernail.)

Then, last night, I had another one squeal, a Sony PR-150, but it didn't leave black gunk on the heads. Apparently that tape is known/listed as one of the kinds that does "dry out". In that case, where baking wouldn't really address the problem (I think), how would I best approach that?

Transfer the material to a different tape if the squealing really bothers you and then archive the tape away for emergency use only.



Cheers! :)
 

RFR

Well-known member
I just re-read this thread and didn't see any mention of it (although I may have missed something)

Just got back some old mutitracks from dry storage done on Scotch 250. This tape is from 1984. I don't want to spool it up as much as I am tempted.

It has valuable stuff I want to transfer.

So the dilema is; I have to try it to find out if it's sticky, but I don't want to find out if its sticky the hard way.

Any ideas on 84 Scotch 3M 250? Sticky prone?
 
Top