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Tascam 388 Transport Question
Old 7th August 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Tascam 388 Transport Question

Hey There,


I have the opportunity to purchase a Tascam 388 for a fair price ($700) from the original owner. It's in, as described, *mostly* working condition. I asked the seller to throw on a reel of tape and send a video going through the transport functions, and when he did a couple of things came up. Wanted to get some advice from someone out there who may know more about these machines.

I have not yet seen this machine in person or gone through it at all, so my knowledge is just from what he's told me. When he threw the tape on, the Load, FFWD and RWD functions all worked somewhat reliably, however RWD and FFWD were occasionally slow, and the Load function doesn't work "every time.". The machine will not go into Play or Record. Tape does not seem to be sticky, and rollers are clean, etc.

At one point earlier in the day, "everything was working" - the machine did go into play and record according to the seller. The capstan now seems sluggish/will not engage. It will start moving but then stops. When there is no tape in the tape path, he demonstrated pushing the right reel meter up a little bit (affecting tensions), and them machine did go into play.

Videos attached for reference, as you can see the motor sort of stutters when going into play, which is what worries me. It could be something simple like pinch roller adjust and tension adjust. I do know that the capstan belts need to be replaced as a common issue - anyone know what to look out for there/ how to know when it's time to do so?

I do have more videos if anyone has time to reply and wants to see more.
Old 7th August 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
Check with these guys. http://www.njfactoryservice.com/
Old 8th August 2019
  #3
Deleted 9e29a36
Guest
There is a solenoid adjustment that can be made to address this issue. The tension bar nudge that you mention almost assures me that this is the problem. The only other thing that I can think of is that the drive belt has lost its elasticity. I have two of the machines, and, being that the last ones rolled off of the assembly line in 1986, they need constant attention, but they are worth it. When you get the deck in front of you, I can tell you how to go about making the solenoid adjustment. It isn't difficult.

Last edited by Deleted 9e29a36; 8th August 2019 at 02:41 AM.. Reason: Have you ever known me NOT to?
Old 8th August 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by katesadilla ➡️
Hey There,


I have the opportunity to purchase a Tascam 388 for a fair price ($700) from the original owner. It's in, as described, *mostly* working condition. I asked the seller to throw on a reel of tape and send a video going through the transport functions, and when he did a couple of things came up. Wanted to get some advice from someone out there who may know more about these machines.

I have not yet seen this machine in person or gone through it at all, so my knowledge is just from what he's told me. When he threw the tape on, the Load, FFWD and RWD functions all worked somewhat reliably, however RWD and FFWD were occasionally slow, and the Load function doesn't work "every time.". The machine will not go into Play or Record. Tape does not seem to be sticky, and rollers are clean, etc.

At one point earlier in the day, "everything was working" - the machine did go into play and record according to the seller. The capstan now seems sluggish/will not engage. It will start moving but then stops. When there is no tape in the tape path, he demonstrated pushing the right reel meter up a little bit (affecting tensions), and them machine did go into play.

Videos attached for reference, as you can see the motor sort of stutters when going into play, which is what worries me. It could be something simple like pinch roller adjust and tension adjust. I do know that the capstan belts need to be replaced as a common issue - anyone know what to look out for there/ how to know when it's time to do so?

I do have more videos if anyone has time to reply and wants to see more.
I didn’t see any videos, also not sure if I can 100% diagnose anything for you over the Internet anyway, this is a common symptom to a multitude of common problems.

I have owned and restored 4 388s, currently own 2, here is what I would do to start.

Old tape can easily cause sluggish performance, the first step should always be to put on a brand new reel of modern manufacture (not any NOS or whatever that can be bought on eBay).

Capstan belts are inexpensive and easy to replace, and they don’t last forever. Any more than 5-10 years old is immediately suspect..throw it out.

There is a tensioner and speed adjustment outlined in the manual...it is pretty easy to do and requires a little trial and error, as all adjustments are related.


Those are just 3 common fixes that I’ve had to do with all of the machines I’ve had because most people I’ve bought from haven’t touched their 388 in decades. However, one machine still had transport issues...this one ended up having some logic issues and a bad motor. I diagnosed it as far as I could but I had to take it to a tech to get it going. Lucky to have a competent tech in the area, who could rebuild the motors but it wasn’t cheap.

So 3 out of 4 machines with transport issues (every machine I’ve bought had them) were solved just with adjustments.


Keep in mind that while $700 seems like an attractive price, there is a bit of educated gambling going on...depending on how much you know yourself. I wouldn’t buy any machine for that price if I couldn’t try it out thoroughly. Be prepared for a visit to a tech, which a complex repair could easily cost as much as you bought it for. Add a more thorough restore (calibration and head relap) on top of repairs and you’re talking about close to $2000 for a 388. If that is a problem you might think twice about reel to reels.

Of course there’s always the chance that a $10 capstan belt could fix it, and some basic adjustment is usually required.
Old 8th August 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
 
After reading gearsluts for years I just joined up when I read this. I’ve owned a 388 for over 20 years and have had similar issues. Both times I fixed with a new capstan belt. You can order one off eBay for cheap. You can check before ordering, open the machine up and you will probably be able to see if the belt is stretched out. Once after storing my unit for a few years I found the capstan nearly reduced to goo.
Old 9th August 2019 | Show parent
  #6
Deleted 9e29a36
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smylar ➡️
After reading gearsluts for years I just joined up when I read this. I’ve owned a 388 for over 20 years and have had similar issues. Both times I fixed with a new capstan belt. You can order one off eBay for cheap. You can check before ordering, open the machine up and you will probably be able to see if the belt is stretched out. Once after storing my unit for a few years I found the capstan nearly reduced to goo.
Lmao. I know right? I have two of the machines, but one has been reduced to a parts deck i.e. the hard to find stuff. They're like having a 57 Chevy. If you ain't got two, better hope something doesn't break.
Old 9th August 2019
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I appreciate all these replies. I had an issue uploading the videos, sorry about that. Going to try again. I know it's a long shot with limited description but was hoping for some solid advice before I made the purchase. I do anticipate realistically sinking another $400-500 into the machine, which still seems like a decent deal all things considered. I do recognize that the 388 is a hot commodity on the gear market right now, but it seems like it won't depreciate in value.

I have serviced tape machines before (MCI JH series) and know how troublesome they can be... yet, still, here I am, debating adding one to my collection. I am comfortable with basic troubleshooting and aligning, but any major issues I will need a tech.

My hope is that after tension adjust and replacing the belt the transport will be good to go.
Old 9th August 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
I enjoy using a Tascam M320 in my room. Same console design i believe. Love the mic pre's. Also the routing on the board is crazy flexible.
Old 10th August 2019
  #9
Its very likely that the tape suffers from sticky shed syndrome. Ask the seller if its Ampex 456/457/406/407, if so there's a 90% chance thats the root of the issue. Many Scotch has the issue too.

Wouldnt say that it HAS to be new tape although it rules out the wrong tape on the wrong reel. Ive used around a hundred BASF SM911 without any serious problem. SM911 might be too heavy for the machine to pull though, I don't know. I used to be a Fostex guy before I upgraded to a 2".
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 9e29a36 ➡️
There is a solenoid adjustment that can be made to address this issue. The tension bar nudge that you mention almost assures me that this is the problem. The only other thing that I can think of is that the drive belt has lost its elasticity. I have two of the machines, and, being that the last ones rolled off of the assembly line in 1986, they need constant attention, but they are worth it. When you get the deck in front of you, I can tell you how to go about making the solenoid adjustment. It isn't difficult.
Hi since you've owned a couple I was just wondering - what do you think the issue is with a 388 that can't really fastforward. It's too weak. It can play, rewind, but no fastforward? thanks! Open to anyone with ideas!
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