January 18, 2009: I have been recording new material on the Tascam 58 for a few weeks now, the first new Viosac recordings in several months given the time consumed by promoting Rusty Pile and reworking older pieces on You are Planning to Enjoy the Apocalypse. The Tascam normally works perfectly, but last week it exhibited two problems:

  1. Depositing significant amounts of oxide on the heads and guides in a reasonably short period of time.
  2. When recording some tracks, others were erased, or kind of washed out, half volume, sputtery.

The first problem, can be dealt with by cleaning the heads, etc. every 1/2 hour, but why is it happening? The store where I bought the tape said that some runs from the factory (RMGI:SM900 tape) were not vacuumed/cleaned along the tape edges after being cut into reels; the solution the offered was to FF and RW the tape, holding a soft cloth along the edge to pick up material. This does pick up bits of oxide, but the problem still occurs, though not always. Very frustrating.

The second problem is even more frustrating: once you’ve recorded one track, the adjacent track is half erased, here and there, randomly. This has only occurred on one tape, so I’m assuming that that tape is defective. (Defective tape?)

All this makes me more cautious and not completely trust the Tascam. To deal with it I’ve been (on each take) running the outputs and new track into the computer and simultaneously recording everything there. At least I have a second copy. The whole situation highlights how important it is to have equipment you trust.

The technical problems have given Ovis Christus (last piece on YAPTETA) a slow start, but the raw form is ready; now I need to find some text for St. Deborah to read. Below are pictures of the Tascam 58 and its heads …

Tascam 58

Tascam 58

The three heads

The three heads

Record head and repro head

Record head and repro head

Erase head

Erase head

Repro head

Repro head

3 Responses to “Tascam 58 problems?/Ovis Christus”

  • Jay Says:

    What brand of tape were you running before the RMG?…Ampex was slit slightly narrower than RMG. So if the 58 had always been running Ampex the guides and lifters wear pattern will be slightly narrower than the RMG tape causing exccessive shedding due to the edge of the tape catcing on the worn edge of the guides…it will gum up pretty quickly and cause drop outs and in some cases complete loss of sound. You can rotate the guides yourself but you will need to relap the lifters with fine grade sandpaper. Run the 58 in fast forward or rewind mode and look at the tape path if you notice excessive sheding on the edges this is most likely the problem and a pretty easy fix. Good luck!

  • Graham Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. This could indeed be the problem. I bought this machine about 2 years ago and have only used the RMG tape on it. I don’t know what was used previously, but Ampex is a pretty safe bet. So, I’ll have a look for some evidence of this.
    I also noticed last week that there’s a slight groove going down the center of the erase hear where the 2 halves join. You can see this in the photo. At the top left of the erase head there’s often some tape residue, so maybe this groove is slightly scraping the tape … also visible in the picture.
    Anyway thanks again and at least I have something to go on now. All this is a bit frustrating, but not enough to make me switch to using a computer for recording …

  • Jeff Says:

    It sounds like you need to have your heads relapped. The heads may have also come out of alignment. You probably want to do a calibration and inspect the heads closer.

    Check out the “Analog Only” forum at homerecording.com (http://homerecording.com/bbs/forumdisplay.php?f=21). It’s a great source of help for Tascam tape machines.

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