There Are Now Fewer Repairing Decks That Know What They Are Doing!

skywaveTDR

Active member
I make this warning as Tom in Nashville retires, the unit I saw from a so called Technician from BC was nothing but a total mess so he can not be rated as a real Tech. He puts all kinds of pictures on his FB page but when you check the work he has done it was very minimal and also what he did do was wrong. There are now about three or four Technicians that have any idea what they are doing left and I myself am overloaded. I am training new guys but it is very slow going. As I hear many complaints about other technicians and some what I call boneheads, there is sometimes the only option to send it to an expert.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
You are so right. I cringe at the options I had. Do Not Go to FOX for vintage amps, go to Deltronics. Per Chicago Music exchange.

Most of my gear is from 20-25+ years ago. Just recently needing services beyond my level. I love my ADA, Fender, Marshall , and roland stuff. Before my Apollo nothing was made in China. I think everything after like 94' is garbage anyways. Cherish those who repair them properly. They are hard to find and the gear is impossible to replace.
 

halljack

New member
Yea even Adrian is retiring at Adrian Pro Audio in Los Angles
Got this news from Tinman over at TAPEHEADS.
I'm trying to learn myself just to keep my
own Tape decks going.

Jack :-):-)
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Nobody has the skills any longer to repair 1940s radios, as the people who do, die! Same with old fashioned TV sets - colleges have not been teaching repairs to legacy equipment for years now, only current kit - and current changes far too fast for many to keep up. Old skills will be lost. However, is there an actual demand to keep the old stuff going? Some is collectors stuff, most most is really junk - and hourly rates can mean a simple repair is ten times the value of the unit being worked on.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
I got out of the repair game ages ago. Every year it seems you worked longer hours for less money. My shop offered authorized warranty repairs for nearly every major brand and the costs to maintain those service agreements grew higher every year while warranty rates never increased. Even in a state like MA where you had to be licensed, the economics just didn't make sense and the exodus from the industry as us old timers closed up shop. I worked less and made a lot more going into the corporate world as an engineer. Why anyone would stay in the repair business is a mystery to me.
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
Yes, I have known for many years that companies take advantage of the service shops just so they can be authorized to get parts. Most of these manufactures are gone so there is no more a reason to have a warranty station. Most good old stuff can be fixed but there are still challenges such as many Electrolytics that must be changed and then some parts that have to be cross referenced if possible. A smart Tech can fix a unit even with new parts but a complete understanding of how to do that is a must- no flash light grade technicians will do. Gerhard whom I have trained to work on deck has no more room to take in more units- I told him this would happen. He is in FL. I am still trying to get 180 down to a lesser number but my recent Covid infection did not help as I lost about two weeks of work.
Deltronics does not know tape decks as I have had many broken decks here from their customers and I asked did they fix it and the answer was always NO.
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
I am working with a pile of guys but to say they are all ready is not true.
Jeff in SC, Mathis in VA, Bru in SF CA, Mike in CA .
They are working on decks now but still learning.
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
There are some guys that are progressing to the stage that they can take in equipment and have done repairs already. Jeff in SC and Gerhard in FL with Dan in northern IL. I got other guys like Dean in Canada but I don't hear from him often. Apparently he is working on cassette decks, amps and rebuilding cheap speakers designs to make them better. I guess he is having fun but just did not tell me about this until yesterday 8/16.
 
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skywaveTDR

Active member
Chicago Music Exchange may have contacted me but after that I never heard from them. There are a lot of hacks out there and you would be surprised what they do to machines. Some of them make it worse like the A3440 deck I got in. He says the heads look good- they were 500 hours past worn out- I guess he is going to use them up to open gaps. Must be an Akai Technician as they only use 1KHz to check their decks and do nothing else.

A place that sells equipment are basically glorified flippers. This does not mean their decks are correctly adjusted or to specs- I bet if they are checked for real that they are far out of specs still they have a large price tag on them. There was a guy on E bay (Houston area) selling a lot of Teac units- I saw some pretty high prices and these were suppose to be working units. Then HIS customers started to call me and ask questions. Is the pinch roller suppose to go up by itself? I said push it up by hand- Is it hard or easy? He said it is hard and I told him the deck did not get even first level maintenance so he sent it back.
Another restored A6600 was examined by me from E bay from a NY vendor. It was suppose to be completely restored at $1300. It had original belt, no caps changed in it and dirt on the tension arms from 30 years use not to mention the heads were 90% worn out- This was a clear case of fraud and I said send it back. The client bough a machine from me for less money and he has no trouble with that one. Mine have a 6 month warranty.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The trouble I think is that modern trained people don't realise the mechanical work that needs doing, and linear recording systems of every kind suffer from this because young people are trained now by slightly older people who also have no history and memory. I used to be rather good with Ferrograph series 7 and Super 7, but I stopped dealing with them then, so the really clever ones passed me by. Equally, the old series 4 onwards machines and early Grundigs/Philips that I used, but never had the covers off I would not be competent with. Look at the pinch roller comment again - The expert flips it and discovers normal easy movement or resistance that should not be there. If you have never known a good one, you cannot speculate. The Ferrographs were not easy to trick and some functions were interlocked so unless you know that the Dolby unit will NOT engage if the speed control is set to 15IPS, it's not your skill at fault, it's memory and experience. Heads again. Some brands had by design flatter faces that could be mistaken for wear, and others have (or should have) perfect curvature with no flat spots. Head gaps again - I've seen people assume a head is worn when it's meant to have a wider gap than the record or replay. There will be people who don't subscribe to the cap replacement plan. Especially those with capacitor testers, which often say 'good' when the expert knows about borrowed time. A modern trained engineer might be really competent with a quad trace storage scope and have the ability to cope with leading edge distortion on digital systems but be totally at sea with servo speed control.

I'm not defending rubbish repairers, but my feeling nowadays is that if you want vintage equipment, then you need to learn these skills for yourself - like the vintage car people do. Audio repair skills can be picked up with effort, and many old books and manuals are still available. Expecting skilled service, even at a distance is going to be impossible soon.
 

halljack

New member
That's why reel to reel people need someone like skywave to learn how to repair these vintage things.
Anyone can be a parts changer.
I know a man in LA whose very competent but about to retire
plus I've learned about a man whose retiring in Springfield Oregon
who was in the business for a long time and really good.
I'm trying to learn myself but i'm still an amateur and
much more of a musician with a few Teac Tascam reel to reels
 

skywaveTDR

Active member
Well you can become a trainee by E mail and phone. I have a retired Dentist in CO. A retired Navy Hovercraft pilot, and all kinds of people with other kinds of jobs.
It just take some dedication and equipment and the learning how is then the rest of the journey. I have about 15 trainees now.
 

zavco

New member
I make this warning as Tom in Nashville retires, the unit I saw from a so called Technician from BC was nothing but a total mess so he can not be rated as a real Tech. He puts all kinds of pictures on his FB page but when you check the work he has done it was very minimal and also what he did do was wrong. There are now about three or four Technicians that have any idea what they are doing left and I myself am overloaded. I am training new guys but it is very slow going. As I hear many complaints about other technicians and some what I call boneheads, there is sometimes the only option to send it to an expert.
Skywave, Do you have any updated contact info for Mikey Ghee? Unfortunately, I had bought a machine from him, prepaid. Now, no machine and no return calls. A very expensive lesson!! Any information would be appreciated.
 
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