Saturday, July 20, 2013

8-track Repair 1001: Sensing Foil

A piece of sensing foil from a vintage, early 70's 8-track tape
Whenever I buy an 8-track (used or new) my first task is to see if the thing even plays. If the tape does indeed play, I'll let it play out to the end of a track, making sure to pull the cartridge out of the player before the sensing foil passes over the tape head. This sensing foil is what tells your 8-track machine to switch to the next track, but more importantly it serves as the adhesive that holds the whole tape together. 8-tracks are now decades old, and over time the adhesive on the sensing foil dries up, much like the Scotch tape was once used to hold photographs onto pages of old photo albums. The purpose of locating the sensing foil on a newly acquired 8-track is to either replace or reinforce it (which I do by adhering a second piece of foil to the backside of the tape).

This may sound complicated or confusing, but it's actually very simple. The risk in not replacing sensing foil is that the tape comes apart, resulting in half of the tape disappearing into the tape cartridge. The sensing foil pictured above (actual size is a little less than an inch in length) fell off of an 8-track I was playing just this morning. I then had to perform "surgery" on the tape to carefully re-connect the two ends of tape with new sensing foil (which, in case you're wondering, can be purchased relatively cheaply on eBay). 8-track surgery can be complicated and frustrating, hence why it's best to proactively replace the foil upon first play.

Thus concludes today's lesson in keeping your 8-tracks happy and healthy. I hope you found this helpful. Class dismissed!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Deck: The Monkees (RCA/Laurie House)

I got this tape brand new on eBay a number of years ago. I originally bought the vinyl via a TV mail-order offer when I was a kid, watching after-school reruns of The Monkees in syndication. This album was my first exposure to latter-era songs such as "Oh My My", "Porpoise Song", "It's Nice To Be With You", "D.W. Washburn", and the fantastic "Someday Man".

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On deck: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (8-track)

Listening to Pet Sounds (1966) on 8-track is a trip. This particular tape (which I found unopened on eBay about 10 years ago) is probably one of the best sounding 8-tracks I own. I compare the 8-track experience in general to that of compact discs; The music doesn't necessarily sound better than vinyl, but it does sound different. There's a 'fat-ness' to the 8-track sound that I like. Of course there's also the nostalgia factor every time the player switches tracks, that Ka-CHUNK sound that kids of the 70's have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
Pet Sounds/Carl & The Passions - So Tough (1972)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Top 10 Fave LPs of 2013 (so far)

All are vinyl, with the exception of #4, which so far is CD/digital only.