Reel to Reel Tape Decks: Techniques and Tricks



this could be a fun aleph scene i guess…



I’ve read that some people have done pretty long tape loops. Anyone care to share their experiences? Any tips?
I am preparing a series of performances with long loops and it’s all relatively new to me…:neutral_face:


Make sure your machine has a pinch roller that is in good shape. Because your entire loop will be driven by that little guy.
the longest I’ve done was two ~35’ long ones.
It worked great


Suspended by balloons? That’s awesome. Love that record, too Marcus!


Anybody have some recommendations for good reel to reel models/brands for getting into tape looping? Specifically looking for something with the most amount of options that also has a built-in speaker and is semi-portable (i.e. a Nagra III but I don’t have that kind of money right now).


In my experience, Teac and Akai make good solid machines. The main thing really is that any machine needs maintenance and upkeep. There are lot of good cheap machines out there that are non-functioning and only need a belt change to get back in action.
I would avoid buying reel to reel equipment on eBay or the like. Shipping can be very expensive and you really want to be able to try them out in person to make sure they will work for your needs.


Sage advice. In what kind of places have you found them in the past? Is there a tape machine emporium in Portland?


I recently bought a Teac A-6300 reel to reel and I’m trying to record some loops with it. The machine functions perfectly fine when I’m using normal reels but once I put a tape loop on there the reels start spinning at crazy fast speeds. Way faster than usual. It’s really loud and distracting and I’m also worried it’s harming the machine. Why would a tape loop cause a machine to function this way? Here’s a quick video in case that helps (The “Low” speed was engaged during this video):


it’s normal.
the tape is transported by the capstan, the reels motors provide tape tension.


Interesting. I guess the trick is to not even use the reels at all? I’ve noticed in a few videos by @marcus_fischer and others that they have the tape just feeding through the capstan and wrapped around other objects and not spooled through the reels at all.


Actually that has nothing to do with it. I just tried it without the reels attached and the reel holders still spin like mad. Just loaded regular tape back in and it plays at normal speed. How can I achieve the same kind of tape tension I have with regular reels to the tape loops? I’ve tried pulling the tape as tight as possible but it doesn’t change anything.


again, it is normal.
when you load a tape the motors can’t spin like mad bcs the tape prevents it.
just don’t use the reels.


Thanks! I appreciate the help… I actually did stop using the reels but the reel holders still spin extremely fast. This is also normal? Is there a way to apply the same kind of tension with a loop?


i think “don’t use the reels” actually means “disengage the reel motors”, as many tape machines have this option (on the A77 a large “REEL MOTORS OFF” button does this). I can’t seem to find such an option in the A6300 manual.


I have an Otari MX5050-Bii2 1/4" half track that is in excellent condition (it was used in a commercial studio for many years). However, the pinch roller isn’t engaging at all – I tried gently helping along by hand but it doesn’t budge.

I just ordered a metric allen wrench set to open the head cover. After that I’ll take a look to see if I can figure out why it’s frozen. Hopefully it’s just a lubrication issue and not a bad solenoid, etc. Has anyone else experienced something like this?