Tascam 388 Story...

Oh I get it...okay. No pic needed. The little sockets that go in that connector housing slide in and click into place. It's possible they can dislodge and get pushed back. The wire that goes into position 5...can you pull it or push it to see if the metal socket is just sliding around in there?

If so see if you can pull it all the way out of the connector housing. If you can you'll see a little metal prong/tab on it that's supposed to protrude so when you push the socket into the connector housing it clicks into place. If that little prong/tab is smushed down it won't lock the socket into place. You can take a pocketknife blade or similar and pry the prong/tab out a little so it locks again.

If I'm totally off-base and the socket is missing or too damaged to be any good ignore the above and swap the assembly out. If we were close to each other I could replace that socket.
I owned & used this machine from around 1985 through 1990 and I LOVED IT! I made some great recordings with it that you can hear on youtube today. I will provide link(s) at the end. My story is that I began with a 144 PortaStudio in 1981, moved up to a 246 in 1983, then graduated to the 388. Just like the guy that started this thread, the first time I saw it I had to have one. I remember I bought mine used from a local hole-in-the-wall music store in Steger Illinois (a South suburb of Chicago where I used to live), I believe it was called Steger Music on the corner of Chicago Rd. (Rt. US 1) and Steger Rd. I think I paid about $2,400 for it, but it was money well spent because the quality of the recordings I was getting blew me away! Plus I loved the fact that Tascam included DBX II on these products. In my opinion DBX II totally blew away Dolby NR.

Here is the link to the EP I recorded entirely on the 388, Marko Nadsworth | Universal EP | CD Baby Music Store This was actually recorded after I moved to So. CA around Sept. 1988 after I quit touring with the Tammy Thomas (HE Dance & House) Group on Playhouse Records. I used a Roland TR626 drum machine, Roland Octapad & a Korg DW8000 synth. The StarTrek samples & breaking glass in Warp Factor One were done from WAV files played on a Radio Shack TRS80 Color Computer III. Below are all the tracks for your listening (and dancing) pleasure!

PS: I was just surprised to find all the tracks on youtube. For some strange reason last November, cdbaby took the liberty of posting the whole album which I believe was never authorized. I will need to have them take it down as I do not get paid when they do this. In the mean time enjoy it while you can for free, until it comes down, then you'll have to buy it, sorry :o(

The Marko Nadsworth Universal EP

Girl You Make My Body Move, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOBFXrUf9sQ
Wichita Lineman (J. Webb cover), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0ix7hHKBC4
We Can Make It All Work Out, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdvvJ-BsOSg
Warp Factor One, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NliXamjNc7o
She's A Man-O-War, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IED1Y_cLLN4
Overpopulation (with real drum set & elect. guitar), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CgeXbJYoNw
WFO Reprise, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmGBhfS6Cuk
I got careless when hooking up the send rcv snake to the patchbay and got a couple crossed and got things all confused. Annoying and embarrassing mistake but at least an easy fix. :facepalm:

Case in point, Vicshat...I was resurrecting my Tascam mixer last night to test that 8-track cassette multitrack machine...one of the line inputs on channel 8 of the mixer wasn't working, like at all. I was bummed because I know I've tested it in the past and it was fine; pulled module out of the mixer frame today, pulled the backplane apart and I discover this:


You see about 9 solder pads with little to no solder on them there? Chalk it up to stupidity...years ago I swapped in a replacement jack set because one of the RCA jacks was torn up when I acquired the mixer. There are a total of 10 RCA jacks per module, a set of 6 and a set of 4. I've barely used the mixer in all the years I've owned so I guess that explains why it hasn't really been a problem, but it looks like I tacked the replacement jack set in place...then must have gotten distracted and didn't even notice when I reassembled. Wow. I think if we were competing I just completely trumped your patchbay mishap. :drunk:

That does make me feel a little better.

I'll be escaping the Texas heat for the mountains of Colorado later this week but I'm going to try to get in there and take a closer look at the connector before I take off. Maybe even have time to swap the assembly if it comes to it. I will let you know how it works out!
I spent about 6 hours yesterday tracking with the 388. It was only my second time using it in a session but I already feel like I have a pretty good feel for operating it. It really is a delightful machine to work with. I need to look into the pinch roller, it sometimes sticks a little and slows down the count. RTZ currently functions at RT 10-20 seconds after Z. Probably just a matter of lubricating the roller shaft.
Is the rubber tacky at all?

Focus first on cleaning the pinch roller shaft and bore. It shouldn't need lubrication...it uses a bronze oillite bushing. Sometimes people think it needs lubed and grease is applied which is unnecessary and ends up hardening anyway, so clean it up and see how it goes. If you really think lubrication is needed use oil sparingly and the best oil would be Turbine Oil.

---------- Update ----------

Keep me posted regarding the PGM 5 output jack problem and I'll take a look at next steps for the issue with the other branch of the PGM 5 signal path.
Next step to figuring out why PGM 5 signal isn't making it to tape, and you're going to have to inform me how difficult or possible this is, but:

• you can leave the machine off and unplugged for this.
• make sure the yellow connector J101 is connected to the BUSS A PCB from the BUSS B PCB
• set your multimeter to continuity
• find where the wire to pin 5 of the yellow connector J101 is connected to the BUSS B PCB
• now find U111 on the BUSS A PCB...it will be a 12-pin chip...and there's 4 of them, but you want the one labeled U111 on the PC board
• probe between the BUSS B PCB solder joint for the wire that goes to pin 5 of the yellow connector J101, and pin 1 of U111 on the BUSS A PCB

Report back or ask any questions.
Just got back in town this evening and had a chance try this. I am getting a continuity reading between pin 5 wire and pin 1 of U111.

I should have asked this before...when you assign signal to PGM 5, do you see normal activity/level on the PGM 5 VU meter or no?
I will confirm when I get home but I'm 99.9% sure the VU meter works normally. IIRC you need to arm the track in addition to assigning the signal to PGM to see meter movement.
Okay. Let me know.

It looks like the signal from the BUSS B PCB, which has the PGM group amps on it, gets to the tape tracks *through* the jack PCB. The jack PCB should have four 2-pin connectors on it that go to one of the motherboards. Signal then goes to the dbx PCBs and then on to the record/play amp boards. So your problem with the #5 socket where the PGM out jacks connect to the BUSS B PCB would cause both problems. So repair that and see if you're in business.
Alright! That did it. The little metal piece was completely broken off inside the connector but I was able to transplant one from the busted transport from the other unit. What a relief!

I cleaned up the pinch roller core and shaft with just a dry Q-tip. It wasn't especially gunky or anything but it does seem to be running smoothly now.

I can not thank you enough. I don't think I've ever encountered someone so helpful and patient online. Can I treat you (and family?) to a pizza night or something?

I'm going to enjoy making some music with this unit for now but soon I want to crack into the second unit and get it up and running. I replaced the transport and the capstan belt which were the main problems that I knew about going in. The mixer section seems good to go. I got as far as pushing play and and it just stops as soon as it starts. I didn't have the energy or desire to investigate further but hopefully it's just a matter of calibrating the tension rollers.
Yes, but to be clear I'm talking about the second unit.

The primary unit is 100% functional after the connector pin swap.

The second unit needed capstan belt and a transport (something spilled on the original and toasted a lot of the components). I picked up a transport control for $30 on eBay and got it installed and the belt replaced. When I loaded a tape and hit play it stopped pretty much instantly. Maybe moves an inch or two of tape. I didn't really mess with it further because I was more concerned with fixing the primary unit. I wasn't sure if I was going to need to rob parts from the spare so I didn't want to put too much into it at the time.
Ah. Got it. Thanks for the clarity...I need an extra helping sometimes. :D

I think you'd be better off just considering that spare unit as a parts machine.

One of the struggles I have with the 388 is the way the logic and logic power was parsed among the different boards. If something liquid and conductive in any significant quantity made its way down into the right-hand side of the card bay, and you are having transport logic issues, it's usually not just one board that has a problem, and the failure state of other components in other areas may cause a replacement board to fail. Back to tail-chasing when employing the shotgun approach. This kind of problem is not typically plug and play. And the first place to start is ALWAYS checking the power supply. But on the 388 you have to have an extender card to really check that power supply. I recall I made a set of extender cables once. Checking the power supply does NOT mean just checking to see if there's voltage there...it means checking for proper voltage, presence of unwanted artifacts with a scope (AC components in a DC supply or DC components in an AC supply), and doing both those things with the supply unloaded AND under load. Once you have a good working supply then it's time to start tracing through the logic circuit to find the problem(s). I'm not trying to be discouraging...I just think it's fair to suggest you be realistic and maybe let go of the idea of two machines and enjoy your one good working unit that has a healthy pile of spares to back it up. Troubleshooting audio problems is painting by numbers to me. Troubleshooting complex electromechanical logic issues? Sistine Chapel. In other words if I was in your shoes I wouldn't be trying to get that parts unit going. And it's beyond both of us to try together.

I'm excited your good unit is working and really glad I could help. I've pretty much spent the last 8 years troubleshooting and fixing and tweaking and not making any music. Make some music okay?
Yeah...I don't even understand some of that so I think you are correct to say it's beyond my abilities. :D

I intended to keep it as a parts machine but when I saw the cheap transport pop up on ebay I decided to give a go. Oh well, I don't need 2 and now I have some parts for when something goes wrong.

I enjoy the music making much more than the tinkering but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy digging in and getting this thing running. I actually shouted/laughed quite loudly when I hit play and heard the test tone on track 5. My wife thinks I've lost my mind but I was very excited.
Hey guys! i recently bought this beauty

for 500 euro , had a minor problem with the left swing arm when rewinding , which i solved by turning the swing arm pots , but now i have another problem..

When i record on channel 1 , i get a periodical volume variance , also my tascam lays tape awfully from one reel to the other, so azimuth? alignment? what can i do to fix this ?

thanks guys!
I'm having some issues with my tascam. I recorded some demo tracks to figure it out but on playback it plays back at a very low volume. Is there any thing I could be doing wrong, the tape is threaded correctly, and I'm pretty sure the send switches are turned on correctly.