Vintage Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorders
Before tape cassettes and compact discs, reel-to-reel recorders were used by professionals and enthusiasts alike to record sound. The better reel-to-reel tape recorders ran tape at high speed which meant fewer drop-outs and less background noise and even today these machines are used by those who appreciate sound quality and want near perfect recording.
Buying Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorders
Vintage reel-to-reel tape recorders are older models which means that parts may be worn or nearing a breaking point. With no major manufacturer making reel-to-reel tape recorders today, spares are becoming increasingly rare and expensive. That said, there are some excellent vintage reel-to-reel tape recorders available at prices to meet the needs of collectors on even the most limited of budgets.
Tape and Parts
When choosing a reel-to-reel tape recorder, it pays to check whether tape is available for it. In addition, parts such as motor bearings, tape guides and rollers, pinch wheels, brakes and tape heads are basically consumables and will inevitably have to be sourced at some point. Some canny buyers purchase a working tape recorder along with an identical model sold for spares and repairs, with the obvious advantage of cost savings in the long run.
Don't Forget the Manual
Reel-to-reel tape recorders are complex machines requiring all kinds of calibrations, both electronic and mechanical. What's more, especially with professional reel-to-reel tape recorders, their use can be especially complicated. If the machine is unfamiliar it is highly recommended to insist it comes with its original manual, or that it has a manual that can be downloaded from the internet.
Due to the age of some vintage reel-to-reel tape recorders, some modifications to the power system may need to be made in order for the machine to work. Additionally, a close inspection should always be undertaken to ensure there is no damage to the recording heads, wiring or other key parts.