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Roland Space Echo - techinical question

I have the oportunity to pick up a Space Echo RE-201 for a pretty decent price, but there is a problem with it and I thought I'd try to get some input here before I buy it.

The echo works, but it is very faint and weak. The guy selling it to me hasn't played it in about 4 years but said that it was working perfectly then. The tape is the original tape from 1975 and has never been removed.

Could it be that the tape is just worn out and the heads need to be demagnetized? Or is it likely that there could be other more serious problems with the unit?

I don't know a thing about analog equipment, so I need your help! Thanks!


Kapt.Krunch Wed, 10/25/2006 - 03:46
Yep, 30 year-old tape could be the culprit, and just be worn out. It never, ever hurts to clean the heads and then demagnetize them when buying something, and periodically afterwards.

I assume you have played around with it, and have tried all possible settings? You're sure you have enough signal going in, and have the proper level coming out? Could be worn out parts that don't allow the tape to contact the heads securely enough to record or playback. Could be seriously mis-aligned heads. Could be the heads are simply bad for some reason. Maybe someone zapped them with a demagnitizer or something. When demagnetizing, you have to start with the demagnetizer turned on at a distance from the heads, move it in slowly over the heads, then back away slowly before turning it off. If you turn it on or off close to the heads, you can permanently damage them.

Clean and demagnetize first. Don't use alcohol on the any rubber pinch will dry them up and make them slick and brittle. I think they make solution for the rubber, but I just use warm water. Go ahead and use alcohol on the heads and metal capstans. (I use 91% Isopropyl, the lesser percentage rubbing alcohol has oilier stuff in it). If that doesn't help, get new tape. (Get new tape anyway).
If it still doesn't work, you may investigate how well the tape is contacting the heads. I don't remember how an EchoPlex does this, but if it has felt pads, they may simply be too worn to push the tape against the heads.
Check to see if the heads are actually secure, and not flopping around loosely in their mounts.
Could be a circuit problem. Maybe a component is bad, or a pot isn't working properly.

Just have to start with the easiest to check stuff, and the easiest to remedy, first, and keep working toward the more difficult, and disappointing, stuff as you go.

Troubleshooting is eliminating what it can't possibly be, which leaves fewer things that it can be.

Good luck,


moonbaby Wed, 10/25/2006 - 06:58
I have a Space Echo 555, this behemouth rack unit with the same basic tape loop system as yours. The Kapt. is right about cleaning and de-magnetizing the heads, and you should definitely change the tape. You can get the tapes from Fuzz-A-Rama in California. They do great repairs on 'em, too. As for the pinch roller treatment, keep the alcohol away from the rubber (rubber and alcohol NEVER should be mixed!). I get a special rubber cleaner from a local rubber products dealer. I used to get it from VCR repair shops, but they were gouging me, but that might be the way to go in your area.
I am curious, in what capacity do you use the Roland: guitar rig, live, studio, how?

CombatWombat Wed, 10/25/2006 - 08:30
Thanks so much for the great advice! I'll be picking up the unit today. I had a chance to play around with it for about an hour the other day.

Moonbaby, it will be used primarily as a guitar effect, but may find some use as a background vocal effect as well. Honestly though, I'm buying it more as a small-scale investment.

Decided to go for it after I just missed out on picking up a leslie 145 for $150! :shock: