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I have distortion of playing tapes.

I have had a Tandberg 3000x deck since it was new in 1972. I recently started playing my tapes again, and found some (or all) tapes produced distortion. I replaced the drive belt with a new one, but still have some distortion. What could cause this other than the drive belt? Thanks.

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  • Charles Zink
    Charles Zink Apr 20, 2009

    It is not dirty or fuzzy, but the "wow" sound, as if the tape were being intermittenly impeded in playing. Thanks for your help. I'll try your solutions.


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Degraded tape, dirty heads (clean with acetone and Q tip but don't get on plastic), dry coupling capacitors.This assumes that the distortion that you refer to is dirty or fuzzy sounding audio.
If a new tape, recorded and played back, sounds ok then your electronics are in good shape. That means your tapes are junk. If cleaning heads takes care of it, well that's pretty obvious. If your capacitors are dried out you will need to bring it in to a repair shop.

Posted on Apr 20, 2009

  • rjivaro Apr 20, 2009

    A wow sound is because the tape is being pulled at an inconsistent speed across the playback head. Replacing the belt was a good guess. Other possible causes are:
    Faulty capstan drive motor, inadequate pinch roller tension on the tape, inadequate lubrication on the drive motor and/or capstan shaft.

    The first thing to do is clean the capstan shaft and pinch roller (with acetone). Pull the plastic washer on the capstan shaft away from the bearing. Install a small drop of 3 in 1 oil on the shaft and push the washer back where it was. If you can get to it also put a drop on the drive motor shaft. It will take a minute or two to work in, but that should do it.

    Testing the tension of the pinch roller, well, approximately, involves removing the cassette door, holding the switches that detect tape presence in the active position (there might not be any on a deck of that age), put it in play and see if you can easily stop the pinch roller from spinning. If you can, typically this will be because of a worn cam, a dry (unlubricated) mechanism or a completely dried and shrunk pinch roller (replace).


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