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Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016?

 
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0wl
studio intern


Joined: 14 Jan 2016
Posts: 29
Location: Detroit, MI (Okay, I live in the Suburbs)

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:54 am    Post subject: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

I used to have a Tascam 238 (8-track rackmount cassette recorder) and I made a few recordings on it. But then my old Fostex mixer started having issues, and the repair quote was insane. With the mixer kaput, I could no longer record anything to the 238. SO when I got the opportunity to sell the 238 for a good price I jumped on it. Now I'm thinking about taking the $$ and downsizing to a Tascam 488 (which is a standalone 8-track with a built-in mixer). I know it's a lower quality machine, but the simplicity and small size are big pluses for me.

POTENTIAL ISSUE THOUGH: Can you still find parts for these machines? There's both a 488 and a 488mk2 listed locally, but I'm hesitant to buy because if they have mechanical issues I'm not sure how easily they can be fixed. I called a repair center and the dude said to do some research regarding the availability of the capstan motor. I have no idea where to look! I'm starting to regret selling my 238, which apparently has higher quality parts and is more easily serviceable.

BUT I'd be very happy with a working 488I think it's really all I need to have fun making music. BUT how safe of a purchase is this in 2016?

Any and all info is appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

0wl
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2168

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:19 am    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Always a risk buying old stuff like that, but you can buy some parts from Tascam, at least belts..I haven't seen the list but I have to imagine that the big ticket parts are unobtainium except on eBay. I think a lot of people that depend on these machines may ultimately own more than one machine for parts..because parts on eBay can easily add up to a spare machine. This is how I've managed to end up with (3) 388s...because you can't really find parts but every once in awhile a machine shows up for sale.

I wouldn't hesitate at buying one for a couple hundred bucks if I thought I needed one... as long as I could test its functionality beforehand...any more than that might be a little risky for me. At least you have 2 to choose from locally...you can give them a good look and see if one works better than the other, or if cheap, buy both...

Btw I own a 688, have had no issues so far...but I don't use it every day.
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Teacher's Pet
gimme a little kick & snare


Joined: 09 Apr 2008
Posts: 90
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Luckily we have Russ @ NJ Factory Service who is a wizard of TEAC / Tascams.

I'd check with Russ first, then buy a cheap machine and send it straight to him.
When you get it back it will be clean, calibrated, and up to factory spec.
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A.David.MacKinnon
mixes from purgatory


Joined: 07 May 2003
Posts: 2912
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:03 am    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

0wl wrote:
I used to have a Tascam 238
BUT I'd be very happy with a working 488I think it's really all I need to have fun making music. BUT how safe of a purchase is this in 2016?


0wl


I just traded some broken synths for a 488. I'm loving it. Belts and head wear are likely your biggest issue. Try before you buy
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0wl
studio intern


Joined: 14 Jan 2016
Posts: 29
Location: Detroit, MI (Okay, I live in the Suburbs)

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

What sort of things should I be looking for when I "try before I buy"?

I do realize that I'll need to give the thing a thorough test before I make an offer, but I admit I'm pretty clueless as to how to go about that. I plan to bring a cassette and a small portable keyboard, record on a couple tracks, and make sure it plays back properly.

But what exactly should I be listening for? Will any faults be obvious in the recording or are there some visual checks I should be doing? How would I check for wear on the heads?
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floid
re-cappin' neve


Joined: 03 Jan 2006
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Location: in exile

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Grooves/scratches/flat spots on the heads, dropouts and warbles in playback, engage varispeed and see if it ramps up and down smoothly, listen to the motor for anything weird, confirm signals at ins and outs, type things.
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A.David.MacKinnon
mixes from purgatory


Joined: 07 May 2003
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Record a test tone for the length of a cassette then listen back. You don't have to listen to the whole thing but check the beginning, middle and end. If it sounds wobbly at the start or end of the cassette then the belt is likely stretched/worn out and is having problems maintaining speed.
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Rigsby
mixes from purgatory


Joined: 23 Mar 2004
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Location: London, England

PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Yeah, exactly. A drone from your keyboard and a drum machine beat will tell you a lot about any inconsistencies when you playback.

I'd try also bouncing tracks as I've had four tracks develop problems there.

Also, honestly, take a look at the guy's place and other gear, does he look like he looks after stuff? Find out where he got it from, try to get a picture of how well it's been looked after and if he looks uncomfortable about anything.
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0wl
studio intern


Joined: 14 Jan 2016
Posts: 29
Location: Detroit, MI (Okay, I live in the Suburbs)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Thanks for all the help! I checked out the MKII today and I felt a little bit less foolish having a few things to go on.

Unfortunately though the thing was very obviously in need of service. The tape would not reliably play or record, sound was cutting in and out, the inputs were noisy, etc. I had to pass. I'm thinking about offering him something really low and trying to get it fixed somewhere. But with issues that serious I'm not sure how easily somebody could get it up to speed, or how much it would cost.

The saga continues, I guess! One lesson I've definitely learned is that once you've got a working tape machine, hold onto it! It seems buying another mixer would have been a much easier task than finding another working recorder.

Wish me luck on my search!
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Rigsby
mixes from purgatory


Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 2908
Location: London, England

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 2:25 am    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Don't know if you saw this.. http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?t=88103
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Jim Williams
tinnitus


Joined: 03 Jun 2006
Posts: 1130
Location: beautiful Carlsbad, CA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:03 am    Post subject: Re: Tascam 488 Maintenance - A Risky Purchase in 2016? Reply with quote

Tascam was bought by Gibson. They fired all the old people that worked there, Jim Finch, the long time service manager retired.

Then they threw out most all the old parts stock. If you want to buy anything Tascam, buy a couple extra for spares.
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