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Teac 80-8 Advice!

Hey Ya'all! Man, one minute you decry the 21st century for cellphones, 5 blade razors and stupid politicians, and then you realize a website like this is only possible in this day and age. I've been reading some increedible info, and just wish I could intern with some of you. OK, to the point. I recently purchased a used Teac 80-8 and it came with the original manuals, cords, test tape and dbx unit. The unit powers up, and the capstan motor works but neither the rewind or play/ff do. When I opened the back I noticed that there are two red wires coming from a bundle that are cut clean. I can read a schematic, and understand basic electronics, but this kind of unit is way too complex for me to work on without some advise. The tape break sensor works, I believe, in that here is what happens- if you queue it up, and the tape is taut (meaning the lever is activated), the capstan motor starts rolling. When you hit play, for a second the capstan rollor engages and starts to feed the tape but it immediately stops since the takeup reel does not run and so the lever drops down turning off the capstan. So I am pretty sure the break sensor is working. I would think that the chances of both motors being out would be slim, so I thought that maybe it's a switch, relay, etc. In the box came a separate little ziplock with handwritten on it "Play, RR and FF driver xistors." I assume that he meant resistor, as there is a 3 prong resistor in the bag, as well as a little plastic piece about 1 inch by half inch that looks to be a sort of manual switch (no electrical hookups). I have no idea where these would go though. Mean anything to anybody? Are there any tests I can do to zero in on the problem- maybe a series of process of elimination type thing? Does anyone out there do their own maintenance and could you tell me what you think? I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. If the consensus is that it's too complex, could anybody recommend a tech near Tallahassee, FL.? I would prefer to drive it to be repaired instead of shipping. I will also need to have basic maintenance done- (bias adjustment, demagnetizing, check heads, etc.), unless I can read about it and learn. I am extremely good with my hands, e.g., I build custom guitars, etc. Thanks so much! (discount on custom guitar for anybody solving it!)- Kevin


Boswell Wed, 02/28/2007 - 02:01
From your stated level of expertise, don't attempt to repair this yourself. You need to find a tech who has experience in servicing reel-to-reel recorders. The "3 prong resistors" are probably power transistors.

A Google search turned up several outfits in Florida that might be able to help, but it depends how far you want to drive! The name that came up most often was Kevin Kaas in Tampa.

moonbaby Wed, 02/28/2007 - 06:28
Hi, Lennono, and welcome to RO ! I live in Jacksonville and have had similar issues getting recording gear, especially analog tape decks, repaired. Doesn't FSU have a broadcast station there? I would start there. I have used various techs from the radio station in Gator Country (!)
at U of Fl. I used to have Ampex, Otari, Tascam, and MCI recorders at various times here, but the dudes who could fix them...died! Anyway, start off with the local radio stations, as they know who can fix that stuff..

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 02/28/2007 - 13:21
Boswell- they are transistors. My bad. I found several guys in Florida too, but didn't see Kevin Kaas's info on Google. I'll definitely try him. I also tried Teac's website. Most of the ones I've called don't handle it, or they're on the west coast. Moonbaby, my sister and brother in law live in Jacksonville (in fact I just did a refret on his '68 Jazzmaster- he plays in Baystreet) and it was my first choice since I go there all the time. I heard the same thing about the two guys that were experts passing away! But I didn't think about the radio station. I'll ask them. Who are the tecchs you used near U. of FL.?

JoeH Wed, 02/28/2007 - 23:41
Lennono, first let me ask you: Do you want to become a vintage equipment repair tech, or do you want to record stuff? (it's a trick question, no need to respond here...)

No offense meant here, but from the level of electronics you are at, it's clear you don't (yet) know the difference between a resistor and a transistor. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but at your level of expertise (or lack of), you're in no spot (yet) to be messing around with this thing. It's a great machine, and will do wonders when/if it's working properly, but it's not a toaster, and the good techs have decades of experience with both the circuitry and the alingment.

First thing I'd suggest is get your hands on this month's issue of Electronic Musician Magazine. (March 2007) Read, devour and internalize the article titled: "Joining the Reel World" by Eddie Ciletti. Don't do another thing with your machine until you do so. (I'm serious.)

If at that point you are ready to move forward, you have to decide if you want to pay someone to trouble shoot it for you, or spend perhaps more time than you have for learning to repair it. Trust me, from your description of the machine, and what I know about it (having owned one for two decades until recently), it's nothing to take lightly in terms of a new project. There is a lot going on under the hood with those machines, including logic circuitry and reel motors, etc. From the sound of it, it could be a lot more than just blown driver transistors. (Seized motor might be one, dried up caps could be another... power supply needs to be checked, as well)

For the overeall aggravation involved, I'd get it in to a shop for repair and calibration. The 80-8 is one VERY HEAVY mo-fo, as I'm sure you know, and although shipping is going to cost a bundle, you can save a lot by sending it ground (a la' slow-boat to china) rather than air-freight or overnight. If you use the slowest option, it's probably a lot less than you think.

Anyway, read the article, and when you're done, go to Eddie Ciletti's website ( and read the rest of his articles on this whole thing. Then contact him (tell him I sent you) and ask about getting it serviced, either by yourself (with his help) or by him directly. His advice is not free, and he's not cheap, but he is the BEST, HANDS-DOWN. Quite honestly, there's no one better than him or more experienced than he is for exactly this type of work. (we're both old dogs at 51, and have seen a LOT over the years. ;-) )

Good luck! (Oh, and break those long posts up into paragraphs, willya? It's tough to read one solid BRICK of postings like that....)

moonbaby Thu, 03/01/2007 - 07:00
The techs at UF were interns at the public radio stations' engineering staff. This was back in the 90's when I had several Otari pieces. The guy's name was William ("Don't Call Me Bill!") Wilson. He isn't there anymore. As to the Baystreet band, I do some live sound with their ex-guitarist, JT Brown.
Small world, eh?
I have to ask this: why are you so up on dealing with an older "semi-pro" analog machine in this day and age? Like Joe eluded to, using/maintaining that gear may very well take up more of your time than making/recording music.

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/01/2007 - 22:08
Wow, that's a lot of info ya'all and thanks. I am not at all offended. Now I would never dream of working on this myself. Just thought I could help diagnose it.

I have to say, you guys are slightly freaking me out- like I just bought a dalmation I've always wanted and all I hear is "Oh my God, they're insane, you have no idea what you're in for!" I am a musician first, but I have an 8-track digital recorder and an old cassette four track I bought the year they came out. The first two albums I cut were on 24 track 2" tape at Sounds Unreel Studios in Memphis, and I have friends that are still in the pro arena so I get to hear diffferent stuff. Some of the best stuff I hear is recorded on analog and then mastered sometimes on analog, sometimes digital.

I bought the 80-8 for three reasons- it was there and cheap (unknown condition though), it's totally vintage and I am sorry but I dig vintage (I prefer a lot of my albums to my CD's), and I am building a studio at my house the end of the summer so I finally can get out of the spare bedroom and make some noise and I really want to have the ability to do analog.

What I'm trying to do is maybe determine a ballpark estimate on what is up with this unit before shipping it off- I can't right now afford $800 in repairs. $250, yeah. So if I could drive it to someone to diagnose it it would help. Then if it was really serious I'd ship in a couple months when I can handle the cost.

I will definitely read the article as soon as it comes (I had to order it). Listen, from what I've read over the last few months on these postings, I have TOTAL respect for everyone's knowledge from decades of being in this business. But when Moonbaby said "semi-pro" what did you mean? Listen, if you guys think this machine is a piece of crap tell me, but I have heard nothing but good about it. I know, I know, I'm in for a wild ride. But I think in the end it'll be worth it. Any other places to look for info on this, much appreciated!! P.S. I just emailed Jim Brown asking about whether he knew who to send this to! It is a small world.

moonbaby Fri, 03/02/2007 - 08:02
No, the machine is not a "piece of crap", but Tascam products at that time were engineered with certain compromises. The electronics ran at a lower "-10dBm" level, unbalanced. The tape widths were cut in half, and there were other technical shortcuts that kept their gear on a budget.
Many great recordings were made on Tascam gear in its' "heyday".
I guess the major difference was that it wasn't meant to be "driven hard" all day the way an Ampex 1200 or an Otari MTR-100 was.
That Jazzmaster you refretted-was it a metallic blue one with a tortoise shell pickguard?

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 03/02/2007 - 14:04
Interesting. It may work well for me then because I am going to be using it primarily for my own recording.

No, the Jazzmaster is a black body with a natural maple neck, white pickguard. The problem with it was that it probably hasn't been used for 15 years, and the whole neck has that crackled laquer which frankly hutrts it's playability. Since there are a couple other things that are not original, like the bridge and one of the pots, and there are deep scars in thee fretboard, I suggested since he wants to play it live, and never wants to sell it, he should level the fretboard a little when it was refretted and let me refinish the neck.

With the aged laquer technics these days, even a pro repairist would have a tough time seeing it was refinished. But he didn't want to do that, so leveling the frets were very difficult since I put new frets onto an uneven surface!

The toughest thing was the electronics. There was a bad 60 cycle hum that was a pot or grounding problem, but somebody had been in there before me, and I wasn't sure if it was wired right. It took me 100 emails to track down someone with the right schematic, but I eventually got some guy who worked at Fender in the sixties to send me a schematic he had from his original manuals, and now it sounds awesome. I can't wait for John to play it. They are way cooler guitars than I ever thought.

moonbaby Mon, 03/05/2007 - 07:31
My first "pro" electric guitar was an early 60's Jazzmaster with a rosewood fingerboard and clay dots. It was in 1969, I was 14. It, too had a 60-Hz hum when I plugged it in at the pawnshop. They wanted $90 for it, and I used the hum to work them down to $70! I took it home, and in 15 minutes had the pickguard off and the ground wire to the bridge reconnected. Pulling apart Japanese
electrics since I was 12 had its' benefits !