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 Post subject: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:01 am 
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I've owned this unit since the mid 80's. I bought it new through a friend of mine who worked directly with Tascam. It's always worked perfectly and when I put it away about 9 years ago, all worked well. Over the years, I have carefully followed ebay on sales prices. The prices have gone as low as a few hundred dollars to as high recently as $1250 USD. So I felt the time was right to put it up for auction. I pulled off the cover, plugged it in, fired it up and pressed play. Nothing. Maybe I shouldn't have kept the tape loaded who knows. In any event, it will rewind and fast forward with no problem. But it won't play. I can press play and spin the reel by hand and it still sounds as amazing and warm as ever. But I'm just not sure what happened from the time I last played it years ago till this week.

I've searched the internet and found a few places with some ideas. One is to replace the fuses. I will do that although I'm not certain that's the issue. There's an interesting hum of a motor revving that happens when I turn it on. Another thought was the belt. It might have dry rotted. That would entail turning the unit upside down, removing the bottom plate and checking the belt. Shouldn't be a problem even though I am equipment illiterate. But I'll certainly take a look.

So I'm wondering if there is anyone here who remembers tape transports and has other thoughts. I don't have to sell it and won't unless it's perfect. I'm checking in to local techs who still work on these type things. Not as many out there as you'd think.

These 388's have a cult following. Many small indy bands are using them to make their albums. I'd sure like to ride the wave since I would most never use this again. Just the constant head cleaning and adjustments would keep me from hitting record/play.

Any ideas? Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:17 am 
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Robbie The Botkiller
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My bet it's the belt. Or one of the belts. Some systems have more belts. They get dry over the years and harden. Combined with the fact that it hasn't moved, it's useless. Lose flexibility and friction over the wheels.

If it's a fuse, the machine won't do anything at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:32 am 
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I would guess a full service would sort the problem. As mentioned before the rubber belts degrade over the years. there will be a belt or friction disc driving the take up reel, also the capstan pinch roller should have enough friction to pull the tape off the supply reel. All these things should be replaced with a good service, also they should check the head alignment and clean out any dust and fluff.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:50 pm 
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the belt is my bet too. I've had the same sort of symptoms with both cassette decks and belt drive turn tables that have sat idle for longer periods.

Of course tape speed is of some importance when producing masters. Is the final mixdown done on the tascam, or did you send the mix to a separate deck?

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:26 pm 
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Byron wrote:
the belt is my bet too. I've had the same sort of symptoms with both cassette decks and belt drive turn tables that have sat idle for longer periods.

Of course tape speed is of some importance when producing masters. Is the final mixdown done on the tascam, or did you send the mix to a separate deck?


Back in the day, the mixdown was done to another deck.



I've been doing some research and this has become a cult piece.

"When it came time to record demos, we laid down a track of SMPTE on the last track of my 8-track Tascam 388 Studio 8 reel-to-reel, which has dbx. Usually we'd put the track down on tracks 1 and 2 in a stereo mix, and then bring Madonna's vocals in on 3 through 7 - a lead, a double lead, the harmonies, and the background parts. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the vocals recorded in my apartment were the keeper vocals, the ones you hear on the album. It took about two or three days to write a song from beginning to end."

Other notables:
The Black Keys
"One of their trademarks is their preference for simple, lo-fi recording techniques. They refuse to use big-name studios, and do most recording, producing, and mixing themselves. Most of Thickfreakness was recorded in about 14 hours in Carney’s basement, using only an early 80’s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Often, their recordings still have background noises (such as an owl hooting)."

2001 "Antique Glow" Kelley Stoltz
"And you won't hear a better sequencing of songs this year than the four that close this record out. Antique Glow was recorded by Stoltz, mostly in the bedroom of his San Francisco apartment on a Tascam 388 1/4" reel to reel with just an SM57. Recording at home allowed Stoltz to capture songs as they were conceived."

2004 Dr. Dog "Easy Beat"
" ‘Easy Beat’ was recorded on a machine that Toby and I bought in 1999 off of Ebay, a Tascam 388. It’s a quarter inch tape machine, and it’s a wonderful tool. The preamps are built right in. It’s basically an inflated looking 4 track with one giant tape window… 8 channels built right into the whole thing. It’s heavy as hell, but not too unmanageable. You can move it around. We recorded on that for years, and so by the time that we got to making ‘Easy Beat’, we had so much experience with it that I feel like we knew exactly what we were doing."

There's many others, but I find it best to stop right here. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:59 pm 
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HamelnStock Survivor and Midi Guru
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Yes, it must be the belt. An old belt has lost elasticity and won't have the right tension anymore which is very important. The pulley is mots likely slipping. You can find belt tension theory in the following link if you are interested :lol:

http://www.ckit.co.za/secure/conveyor/t ... actors.htm

And more importantly replacement belts for vintage gear in the following place.

http://www.vintage-electronics.cc/tascamkits.html

Good luck with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:17 am 
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Hi,
this excellent machine has more belts and 5 fuses, one of them could be a problem like others wrote.
But you say ffw and rw are working but not play? Is it rolling or slipping? Could be bad pinch roller, rubber is hard because of age. You could try to clean it with rubber cleaner (=out of production for more than 15 years at Tascam #-o ).
Whatever it is, I think it is not a big problem, but it's hard to find parts in 2012.
Don't know your situation, but I would keep this machine if it was mine...


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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:09 pm 
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Good luck sorting this out, Ron. I am curious to see the outcome. I have a Tascam 4-track cassette deck that has the same problem (FF/RW just fine, but no play). It's downfall is what led me to purchase the G, but it would be nice to have access to my old tracks if it were an easy fix.


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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:36 pm 
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I have a 1988 or 89 Fostex X26 4 track cassette that was sent in for service (yup, a belt) one time in around 1991 or 92, and hasn't had an issue since--I still use it from time to time and have purchased master quality 10 and 20 minute cassettes to do single songs on when it's just a guitar and vocal, then transfer to the AW to tweak and burn to CD. Works better than dither! =D> 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:03 pm 
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It's been a while since I addressed the 388 beast sitting under blankets in a closet. Today I was browsing ebay and came upon the proper belt for the unit. I did a "buy it now" and should have it before the end of the month. Based on all I've read, removing the bottom plate should reveal the belt area. I'm hoping that when I do remove the plate, I see a cracked or split belt and it's that simple.

Kinda nervous but I'm going to give it a shot. We'll see what happens!

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:16 pm 
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HamelnStock Survivor and Midi Guru
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Hi Ron. I hope you can fix it. Personnaly i would have opened her up allready to see what is wrong. There could be more than one belt and there is also a capstan in tape recorders where the transport of the tape is handled with. I have seen old recorders in which the spring lost tension and because of that the tape slipped. In another case the roller was just a little bit greassy. Cleaning the capstan roller with a alcolhol solution made it work as new. We use Isopropanol as a safe degreasser.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:31 pm 
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Today I pulled the blanket off the Tascam. Natalie and I lugged the unit out of the closet and turned it upside down on the floor. We removed the multitude of screws and removed the bottom plate. Sure enough the old belt had stretched and fallen off. I pulled the old belt and installed the new one. Put it all back together and plugged it in. Worked great.

Listed it on eBay. I doubt there are many original owned Tascam 388s left. Someone is going to score a pretty pristine unit.

Thanks for all the encouragement. Now we'll see what someone is willing to pay.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:34 pm 
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HamelnStock Survivor and Midi Guru
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8) i'm curious ...

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:46 pm 
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Robbie The Botkiller
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Me too!

I wish my house was a looot bigger... as big as yours maybe... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:08 am 
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What are you asking for that machine Ron?

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:25 pm 
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I have it listed for $750. I checked ebay for sold units and average ones sold for $500 - $600. A nice one sold just under a grand USD. I've not seen one listed in the years I've been watching ebay that said original owner, nor in close to pristine condition. So we'll see.

I just got an email asking if I tested the record functions, which I have not. I'm going to repower the unit, find a blank tape, pop in a guitar and see what happens. Can't imagine it not working properly. It was fine some 15 years ago when I made my last recording on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:38 pm 
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Robbie The Botkiller
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Ron, are going to copy the recordings you still have on tape? I bet the information on those tapes have quite some nostalgic value for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:17 am 
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Rob, I got most of it off of there years ago.

Update: tried to record and nothing. I know it's something technical that could be as simple re seating the cards. May be a fuse. But I decided to explain it all on my auction and lowered the price. Now being sold as is.

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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:27 am 
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RZ wrote:
Update: tried to record and nothing. I know it's something technical that could be as simple re seating the cards. May be a fuse. But I decided to explain it all on my auction and lowered the price. Now being sold as is.


Hi,
you're probably right it's something simple...
Is sound going to correct buss in mixer part? Are rec function leds 1-8 On or blinking when you try to record?


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 Post subject: Re: Tascam 388
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:07 am 
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Yes the red light by the input indicator blinks. I'm pretty sure I have things set properly. I may need to look at re seating everything. Or I hope someone just buys the thing.

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