Which Reel to Reel

It has been many years since I owned a reel to reel recorder/player. However, I ran across some 50 plus reel to reel tapes at a yard sale that go back to the 50’s and 60’s. Would like to get a reel to reel with which to check these out but don’t want to spend too much to do it. Anyone know what would be good buy on a reel to reel unit? I had a Revere in the 60’s when I was overseas in the military, but it wasn’t all that great even then. Looking for some guidance here as I have a person who would sell me a realistic T-3000 for about $70.00. Also found a Technics RS740 for about the same in a pawn shop, and it works.



The two makes I lusted after when I was a callow youth were Revox and Ferrograph, in particular Ferrograph.

We had one at school in the music room - but we were never allowed to touch it (shame as it was built like a tank and would have withstood most abuse …)

Question: do you know the speed at which the tapes were recorded at? Typical speeds were 3.75ips 7.5ips and 15ips - so you may need a recorder that handles a range of speeds,

If you do buy a secondhand one (I guess they’re all secondhand now) I would recommend as minimimum degaussing the heads and cleaning the capstan and pinch roller. Pay close attention to the pinch roller when you buy as the rubber can become hard and very brittle with age.


Also check out the tape heads - they should be completely smooth across the playing/recording surface. If there is a 1/4" groove in the tape head, then that is a sign of many years of use, and he wear will have a detrimental effect on the sound quality. I have 2 Sony machines - one has a groove in the tape heads that can be felt by gently brushing a fingernail across the surface. The other (which I got for the price of a bottle of single malt) has perfectly smooth heads and the sound quality is very noticeably better (better high frequency response).

Belts perish much faster than tape heads wear out, but you may be able to get replacement belts. Replacement heads will now be very rare, and even if you can find them, they will probably cost a fortune.

Better quality tape machines usually had 3 heads (recording, playback and erase) - cheaper machines tend to use the same head for recording and playback.

As already said the Revox and Ferrographs are professional machines.
The heads on the Revox tend to wear a bit faster as they are made of a softer material, and are very expensive to replace.

Good and reliable machines are Akai GX 620, GX 646 and Sony TC 730.
These are all 3 motor machines and I have great experience with these at home.

All machines now these days are second hand and some points to check are listed below.

The heads, tapeguides and rubber pich roller all give you a good guide if the recorder has high mileage.
check for excessive wear on them.
Sometimes internal switches SOURCE-TAPE etc can give problems. a bit of isopropyl alcohol will fix most of the problems here.
Then electrolytic capacitors can give some troubles as well in older machines and need to be replaced.

Cheers, Raymond

hi, i have a akia reel to reel with no tape only the reels can u buy the tape?? and the other question is im looking at buying a Grundig tk 2488 what are these like ? germany made whats the recording quaility like comared to computa recording?

Grundig used to have a good reputation - they were made in Germany so should be well-screwed-together.

A quick bit of Googling shows that there are people around selling R2R tapes.


<<<can u buy the tape?>>>

You want to make reel to reel tapes? You started out the question with wanting to play some old tapes in a box. Recording new tapes involves machine setup for each tape type and oxide layer. That’s a lot harder.


there are a number of places selling used tape decks
and some that will repair an old one

a company in maryland (near annapolis junction? saw their ad in a pretentious audio magazine [stereophile buyers guide??]) sells new ones but they are pricey - more than I would pay just to play some old tapes.

you can buy tape from at least one source, but it is very expensive now

didn’t save the locations, but google turned these companies up for me late last year
you may find more info on audio gear forums and home recording forums