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The Tascam 388
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jimjazzdad
ass engineer


Joined: 19 Jan 2012
Posts: 45
Location: Halifax, NS, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:16 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Make sure you use the Deoxit F5 for faders and pots, the D5 is for switches.
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Jim Legere
Halifax, NS
Canada
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:59 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

This thread is truly a wealth of information.

I have picked up a Tascam 388. It was in need of a little TLC when I got it but one problem is evading me and I can not get it figured out. I'm hoping someone here can point me in the right direction of what to look for next. I'll try to be detailed without rambling...

When I got the unit some of the channels had scratchy pots and the panning didn't work on some channels (more specifically some channels were only all-left or all-right, the other speaker would get some signal but it was faint and distorted, if the pot was set just right and maybe pushed in a little it would work fine until you touched the pan knob again). This also affected the "assign" function. I decided to just give it a good cleaning to fix the scratchy pots and hopefully the panning. I made the mistake of taking off the faceplate to access the mixer section guts. I got everything cleaned up with some deoxit/q-tips/brush and when I went to reassemble I realized my mistake- it's impossible to put it back together from the front. So I had to take the mixer section completely apart to get it back together from the rear. I posses only the most basic electronic knowledge but luckily this thing is pretty easy to get back together.

So I got the unit back together and 3 of the 4 problem channels where working. HOWEVER, track 5 has a very low and distorted recorded signal. Before I took it apart I was able to record to track 5 and I can still hear material recorded previously on track 5. I contacted the dude I got it from because he had a spare unit and I wanted to get another channel strip "card" from him to see if that did the trick. Long story short, the guy felt bad about sending me off with a not 100% working unit so he just gave me his spare 388.

So I have another unit (with a bad transport and no capstan belt) to hack apart to make one fully functioning unit.

This is what I have tried thus far:

1. Swapping channel strip boards. I was counting on this doing the trick but I tried 3 or 4 of the strips from the spare unit and track 5 is still not getting to tape.

2. Reseating/swapping the play/rec cards by the meters. I was sure this would do it to but I've tried replacing/swapping/moving in multiple combinations of the 8 cards available and it's always track 5 that is the problem.

3. Replacing the long buss PCB that connects all the channels.

4. Replacing the furthest right board in the mixer section that has the red "record" buttons. Not really sure why I decided to try this other than it was easy enough and I'm getting desperate.

When I assign a mic to track 5 I get signal and I hear it through mains/headphone but not from the PGM Buss out. I'm not by the unit at the moment but I'm almost positive that I can assign a mic plugged into channel 5 to another PGM buss and I can hear it from the PGM out, so long as it isn't PGM 5.

I heard of someone else having a similar problem, if they applied some pressure to the tape while recording they would get a stronger signal. This is not the case for me. There's no difference in recorded signal if I push the tape closer to the heads.

I'm not really sure what to try next. I have cleaned the heads so I don't think the problem lies there. I must have just knocked something loose when I was putting it back together but I'm just not sure where to look.

One more thing to note: after I reassembled the unit the right tension arm began to wobble while playing. About 1/2" back and forth while it's playing. It doesn't seem to affect the speed or pitch but it is happening and not normal. Trying to tackle one thing at a time but I thought it would be worth mentioning in case it's related.

Anyone have some advice on what to try next?

Thanks!
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2158

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:44 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

As far as the tension adjustment/wobbly-ness goes, that is very simple, there is a guide on how to do it in the service manual as well as the first page of the Tascam 388 maintenance thread. It's just a few trimmers to play with, they are all kind of interrelated but once you get the feel for it it's simple to dial in.

Track 8 on one of mine was similar to your track 5...I could record to track 8 but I could only barely hear playback...and nothing fixed it...until I looked at the fader pcb and found it cracked! I pulled another fader off one of my spare units (very easy to swap!) and it fixed it. That probably isn't your problem, but worth checking?

Barring any other further advice..and you have 2 388s.. my next step would be maybe trying to get the second unit going instead of this one. A capstan belt is easy enough to change on the second unit, but you'll have to get one on eBay as Tascam is totally out (I called them last week!).
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:58 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Thanks for the response, I will check the fader when I get home. When I dissembled I took off all the faders and cleaned them. Maybe I messed something up in one of them in the process.

The fader does work when I'm just running a signal in or when I'm listening back to previously recorded material.

I'll dig into the tension adjustment.

The second unit has not been operational for many years. That will be my last ditch attempt as I imagine there are some problems hiding in there other than the obvious missing belt and busted transport.

Down the road I'd like to get the other unit totally functional but I'm ready to start actually making music with this thing!
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:28 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Dang it, fader swap doesn't fix the problem.
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2158

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:08 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

vicshat wrote:
Dang it, fader swap doesn't fix the problem.


Yeah thought that would be too easy...


So, working backwards here so I better understand...


If you plug a mic into channel 5, route that to track 5, panned hard left, arm track 5...you get appropriate signal on your meter and can hear it? You record some test noise...rewind and switch to rmx, you still get signal on the meter and can hear it, or not?

And if not, what if you route that through the aux/effect buss...do you hear it normally?

Likewise, what happens if you plug into channel 1, and route that to track 5...etc?

What if you plug into channel 5, and route that to track 1...etc?
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:28 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Quote:
If you plug a mic into channel 5, route that to track 5, panned hard left, arm track 5...you get appropriate signal on your meter and can hear it? You record some test noise...rewind and switch to rmx, you still get signal on the meter and can hear it, or not?


When I plug in a mic into channel 5 I can hear it. Route to track 5 and I see it on the meter. I record some sound for a second, rewind, switch to rmx and I can just barely hear it. It's very faint and distorted. I don't believe the meter registers on playback. I will check.

Quote:
And if not, what if you route that through the aux/effect buss...do you hear it normally?


No change when routing through a buss.

Quote:

Likewise, what happens if you plug into channel 1, and route that to track 5...etc?

What if you plug into channel 5, and route that to track 1...etc?


Plugging into 1 (or any other track) and routing to 5 leads to the same problem.

Plugging into 5 and assigning to any other track (besides 5) works fine.

Like I mentioned earlier, I can hear stuff that was previously recorded to track 5 so it isn't playback related.

I've also just tried swapping the monitor/effect return boards on the mixer to no avail. At this point I've basically swapped most of the mixer guts (besides a couple channel strips and all the faders) from the spare unit.
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2158

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:44 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

vicshat wrote:
Quote:
If you plug a mic into channel 5, route that to track 5, panned hard left, arm track 5...you get appropriate signal on your meter and can hear it? You record some test noise...rewind and switch to rmx, you still get signal on the meter and can hear it, or not?


When I plug in a mic into channel 5 I can hear it. Route to track 5 and I see it on the meter. I record some sound for a second, rewind, switch to rmx and I can just barely hear it. It's very faint and distorted. I don't believe the meter registers on playback. I will check.

Quote:
And if not, what if you route that through the aux/effect buss...do you hear it normally?


No change when routing through a buss.

Quote:

Likewise, what happens if you plug into channel 1, and route that to track 5...etc?

What if you plug into channel 5, and route that to track 1...etc?


Plugging into 1 (or any other track) and routing to 5 leads to the same problem.

Plugging into 5 and assigning to any other track (besides 5) works fine.

Like I mentioned earlier, I can hear stuff that was previously recorded to track 5 so it isn't playback related.

I've also just tried swapping the monitor/effect return boards on the mixer to no avail. At this point I've basically swapped most of the mixer guts (besides a couple channel strips and all the faders) from the spare unit.


Bear with me here if I seem to be asking a question you've already answered, I'm just trying to go through the steps as I look at my machines so we can maybe narrow down exactly where the problem is.

So with my above processes...how does it sound when you use the "tape out" jack on channel 5 instead of the pgm out?
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:57 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

No problem at all, I appreciate the help and am happy to answer anything.

Just checked the tape out it's the same problem. Also no meter reading on playback.
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2158

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:18 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

vicshat wrote:
No problem at all, I appreciate the help and am happy to answer anything.

Just checked the tape out it's the same problem. Also no meter reading on playback.



Same with or without dbx?

With your mic plugged into channel 5, I'm guessing while listening to the "access send" port on back the sound is still normal at that point prior to recording?
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:30 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Quote:


Same with or without dbx?


Just tried recording with DBX off. Not even a faint signal this time, just silence. Other channels record fine with DBX off.

Quote:
With your mic plugged into channel 5, I'm guessing while listening to the "access send" port on back the sound is still normal at that point prior to recording?


Yes, still getting a good signal out of access send prior to recording.
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:15 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Just swapped DBX cards and that didn't do it.

Starting to think I'd be better off robbing the belt and transport from this one to see how functional the spare unit is. It's like 40% of the working unit parts at this point Laughing
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2158

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:40 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

Chasing through the diagram in the manual, given what you've said I'm thinking got to be somewhere between the assign switches and the pgm masters? Just guessing, I don't know exactly what you would swap without looking inside.


Did you try manually plugging something (tape out from channel 1 maybe if that has signal) into pgm in 5 and recording that? That would rule out everything before that point at least.
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vicshat
audio school graduate


Joined: 29 Jun 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:52 pm    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

This was my first time using the pgm ins but I was able to record from tape out 1 to buss 7 in with no problem.

When I tried it from 1 out to 5 in I could hear track 1 by monitoring 5. When I record it I get no sound on playback, BUT the channel 5 meter did move upon playback this time.
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:44 am    Post subject: Re: The Tascam 388 Reply with quote

vicshat wrote:
This was my first time using the pgm ins but I was able to record from tape out 1 to buss 7 in with no problem.

When I tried it from 1 out to 5 in I could hear track 1 by monitoring 5. When I record it I get no sound on playback, BUT the channel 5 meter did move upon playback this time.


Out of curiosity, is the sound any better now when you go off of channel 5's tape out and pgm out 5?
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