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Reel-to-Reel Tape Decks

Started by paul-f, May 04, 2014, 12:10:25 PM

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After finding out that Bruce repairs reel-to-reel tape decks and seeing one of his, let's see if this is another area of common interest among forum members.

I've had many decks over the years.  Here are the two survivors.  The Revox B77 is in the family room and still in use.  The Revox A77 is in the phone display area and currently functions more as a display stand for telephones.
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Paul, what is sticking out of that 302?
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"


Quote from: HarrySmith on May 04, 2014, 03:27:21 PM
Paul, what is sticking out of that 302?

Looks like the Loch Ness Monster! Could it be? Ha
Practice Kindness :)


The thing sticking out of the 302 looks like a Martian Bomber from War of the Worlds (the movie with Gene Barry). I think it's probably an early dial light attachment. A homemade 302P, if you will.

My reel-to-reels are nowhere near as nice as a Revox and I admit I haven't used them much lately. I have a Dokorder I've had since I graduated high school in the living room, bought July 3, 1976 (the day before the Bicentennial) from Lafayette. I have other reel-to-reels--an Akai with an 8-track player and its own amp, and a Sony auto-reverse deck and a Stereo Wollensak that's a mass of brushed aluminum. I only have pictures of the Dokorder, among the clutter on top of my stereo cabinet. Like Paul's, you can tell how much it isn't used by what's in front of it and on it.

What I really hate are all the Ampex and Emerald tapes from the 1970s that now squeal because of bad lubricant. I have a lot of OTR tapes that are unplayable. Also Radio Shack ConcerTapes. They were cheap and I guess I got what I paid for. I've read where you can bake them at a very low temp and re-record them, but I haven't tried it.


Quote from: MagicMo on May 04, 2014, 03:47:45 PM
Quote from: HarrySmith on May 04, 2014, 03:27:21 PM
Paul, what is sticking out of that 302?

Looks like the Loch Ness Monster! Could it be? Ha

It's the "Amazing, New, Automatic Phone Light!" attachment that slips on to a cradle phone.  Battery operated.
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Revox decks are nice ones, but you guys already knew that.

Shameless plug: if anyone ever decides to 'clean house' please don't toss a deck without PM to your's truly.

Even if not working, I'd wager any reel to reel probably pay for another telephone. ; )

BTW, Audio Times did a review of the B77 a while back.  If interested here is cut-n-paste link.


What's in the wooden box on top of the Dokorder deck?  Wager you probably have a really nice cartridge/stylus if came in a box like that.  On my system, one for an old Stanton 681EEE is long gone.

Seen 'hair dryer' + cardboard box approach to tapes but never tried it.  Luckily central Texas is pretty dry climate.

Another fun thing about working on decks is finding old tapes.  Tape itself might be unsalvageable, but if I like the music I'll clean the tape path every two minutes just to dub music I might not be able to find anywhere else.

Nice idea for a topic. 


PS:  What's behind the the 'Loch Ness Monster' light?  Looks like a big coil or resistor or something.  Just curious.


Quote from: Slal on May 04, 2014, 07:16:38 PM
What's in the wooden box on top of the Dokorder deck?  Wager you probably have a really nice cartridge/stylus if came in a box like that.  On my system, one for an old Stanton 681EEE is long gone..  Just curious.

I think that wood box once housed a cartridge but I never owned anything but the box, which came with a yard sale purchase. I think I put the extra headshell and cartridge to my Pioneer turntable in it for safe keeping. The other wooden-looking box behind the red bottle is a Discwasher brush I've never used. I have better results washing records in the bathroom sink with soap and slightly warm water and gently drying them in one direction with a very plush towel. And I'm talking thrift store $1 records here. You never know what's been spilled on them.

Many reel-to-reels have followed me home. I ran out of space to store them all when I added phones to my collecting. I've also bought odd lots of tapes at flea markets and been surprised at what's on them. I even have some paper reel-to-reel tape from the early 1950s. Needless to say the fidelity is not great and they're prone to breakage.


I have a Teac 4010 reel to reel in it's original box and foam packing material from about 1970. Worth anything?

Last time I had it out was 10 years ago and I had to replace a few belts and lub a few points but it worked just fine. Have a lot of Scotch 3M tapes. This is a photo I took off of a google search because I didn't want to unpack mine.

It's in near mint condition, the one I have in a box, that is.

Dennis Markham

I have enjoyed reading this thread about the reel-to-reel tape decks.  It's kind of ironic because recently I've been thinking about them and wishing I had one.  Somewhere in my boxes of "stuff" I have a reel of tape that I made as a kid.  I made the recording on a little kid's tape recorder but I know that on that tape is the voice of my mother that passed away many years ago.  I've been thinking how I'd like to play it (if I ever find it).  Then out of the blue a guy at work brought this heavy portable tape player to work.  He said he found it in the junk and if I wanted it, I could have it.  He had plugged it in and of course it didn't work.   I thought perhaps I could try to refurbish it electrically or find someone to do that.  It's a Voice of Music Model 720 portable tape player.  I did find one You-tube video on line featuring one.

On one site I found it said it was about $225 in 1960.  So it's nothing like the models you other collectors have displayed for listening to music.  I would love to some day have a nice set like that for listening to music but for now I'd like to get this one working.  It has a nice dust cover and is in pretty good shape.

Thanks for posts on your tape players.

Jonathan, I remember very well the Disc Washer system.  It had the little bottle of cleaning fluid tucked inside the wooden handle.  My buddies and I used one of those each time we played an album back in the mid 1970's.


Dennis, that's exactly why I got the deck out of storage 10 or so years ago. My wife's mother had a tape from when they were children, some 50 years ago. It was made at Christmas with her mother doing most of the talking but the 3 kids all got on it for a few minutes each to say what they got for Christmas. I put it on CD for her.

Well, fast forward to today. Her mother is suffering from Alzheimer's. Last Christmas, they played the CD and she recognized all of the 3 kids voices. It made her day, or at least, the half hour or so of listening to it. I made several copies and gave one to each child, now adult, and kept one for myself. One never knows when they will need a reel to reel, even now. There are local companies who professionally transfer audio from tape to CD or DVD. I suspect that is a dying business as well, volume wise at least.


well well well !...... I have 2 reel-to-reel tape.....a Panasonic and a Toschiba.. I had a Sony 20 years a go..




Thanks for the "recent" B77 review, Bruce.

Reading it reminded me that it was originally set up for half-track stereo.  After owing it a few years, I had it converted to quarter track.

I am the original owner of both decks.  When a struggling college student I had the opportunity to upgrade form my Sony 250A to a used Revox, like the F36 in the photos below.  It was vacuum tube based, but sounded fantastic.  Once I was working, I got the A77 and about 10 years later found the B77 while in Geneva Switzerland on business.  I was walking down the street and noticed it in the window when passing an audio store.  I thought "how nice" and walked on.  About a block later, my mind finished the currency conversion and I quickly backtracked and bought it for less than half the price they were charging in the US at the time.  I brought it back on the plane as carry-on, just to make sure it well well treated.  Lots of luck trying that today!

The brown rectangle behind the Phone Light in the photo above is simply a cardboard sleeve that went around the battery compartment for shipping.  The instructions were tucked in.


Your tape flea market story reminds me of three Scotch tapes I bought, mainly to get the 10 1/2" metal reels (see below).  When I got them home, a bunch of papers fell out of one of the boxes.  They were accident reports with letterhead from the Monterey Police Department and California Highway Patrol. The tapes contained loads of interviews from police interrogations.  It's surprising that they made it to a flea market on the east coast.
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Have an Ampex 601 for full track mono,an Otari MX5050Bll,for radio 1/2 track Stereo   and an old Revere for 1/4 track home recordings.I have had the chance to get free Revoxes and Studers but they were such a pain to repair i did not want them.

Dave F

My Sony TC-650 has been packed away in the garage for about 30 years.  Hmmm, I wonder if it still works!