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Some Tape Head Cleaning Tips from Jonathan Horwich

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  • Some Tape Head Cleaning Tips from Jonathan Horwich

    Tape Tech Tip:

    In cleaning heads use a light touch on first swipe. If there is dirt on the heads or guides of your deck, you want to gently wipe it away onto the cotton Q-tip. If too much pressure is applied to a dirty head or guide, the movement of the dirt can scratch the head or guide. Once cleaned of any debris, throw the Q-tip out and apply a new, fresh Q-tip with a bit more pressure.

    It is important to not only swipe gently as above, but horizontally left to right, not vertically. This is because if you do cause any small scratch (god forbid) it will only affect one track of the head and not any other on the head. And going vertically you’re going against the left to right flow of the tape across the heads.

    Note: dirty heads and guides attract more dirt. So keeping them clean is essential if you don’t to want scratch your heads or guides. Dirt will scratch heads so always wipe left to right and gently. Once you scratch a head, you have to either replace it or repair it (called re-lapping) and few technical people can do this and it is expensive. Best to avoid such a mistake.

    To clean heads use Q-tips (gently) or some kind of pure cotton swab. You never, ever clean a head dry, that is, just with a Q-tip. One uses a wet solvent, alcohol. Most alcohol has water content and this is what you don’t want in a tape head cleaner. You want the highest percentage of alcohol and the lowest percentage of water. The best I know is SR-Audio THC-2 Audio Video Head Capstan cleaner or ForPro Professional Collection (which is 99% alcohol) or Head, Red and Roll Cleaner (from Precision Motor Works).

    Do not put a lot of alcohol on the Q-tip or it will drip down into the machine, which can damage parts. Shake out the Q-Tip of alcohol away from the machine and then begin cleaning the guides and heads. The minute the Q-tip appears to have any dirt or blackened smudge on it do not use that surface to clean again. Use the other end of the Q-tip that is clean or get a new Q-tip, dip in alcohol, shake it out, clean gently.

    Follow the same guidelines for the posts and guides over which the tape moves. You should be cleaning heads as above, tape guides, capstan shaft and rubber pinch roller (see below).

    Clean your heads and guides regularly and do not let dirt build up. Yes, it takes some effort and a small amount of time, but it’s what tape deck ownership requires.

    Every so often you can clean rubber parts. Especially if you see any brown tape residue on the rubber. Using alcohol on rubber is not a good idea as it can adversely affect the rubber. Use a dedicated rubber cleaner. The best I know of is SR-Audio Pinch Roller Cleaner or Techspray Roller Rejuvenator. Use this from time to time to keep the rollers on your machine clean. Using alcohol on rubber is not a good idea as it can adversely affect the rubber.

    Note: if your rubber parts look very shiny get them checked by a tech as they may have reached their life span and will need to be replaced. The rubber should be dull.

    Any comments?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    Good to confirm the proper way to clean. thanks.
    Christian
    System Gear

    Comment


    • #3
      Nice refresher data Myles as that's exactly how I used to clean the heads on my cassette decks when they were a popular component. I remember them getting dirty fairly rapidly, a lot of which had to do with substantial playback, but I suppose it could have been due to the tape composition used for cassettes. That I do not know. How often to you clean the heads?
      Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
        Nice refresher data Myles as that's exactly how I used to clean the heads on my cassette decks when they were a popular component. I remember them getting dirty fairly rapidly, a lot of which had to do with substantial playback, but I suppose it could have been due to the tape composition used for cassettes. That I do not know. How often to you clean the heads?
        I think the suggested interval is 8-10 hours but I do it each day before playing. Of course a lot will depend upon the tapes being played. Older tapes may tend to shed more than newer tape. Studio guys and know Bruce can attest to this, often have fits with older tapes' shedding issues clogging the heads.
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
        -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

          I think the suggested interval is 8-10 hours but I do it each day before playing. Of course a lot will depend upon the tapes being played. Older tapes may tend to shed more than newer tape. Studio guys and know Bruce can attest to this, often have fits with older tapes' shedding issues clogging the heads.
          That seems like a good habit/routine to get into and one I will certainly take up once I start getting into playing with my R2R.
          Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

          Comment


          • #6
            Another tape tip from Jonathan especially pertinent this time of the year!

            "I was reminded by one of you today, and the outrageous cold in Chicago, that when you get a tape in the mail from me or anyone, ideally don’t open it for 24 hours. Let it sit unopened at room temperature. Or 48 hours if you’re not desperate.

            Tapes and audio equipment can get condensation from weather changes (from outdoors to indoors) and you want to avoid that."
            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
            -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
            -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
            -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
            -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
            -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
            -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
            -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
            -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
            -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

            Comment

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