Author Topic: Updates on the 388  (Read 307 times)

dbo514

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Updates on the 388
« on: January 24, 2019, 05:33:19 PM »
So it's been several months (creeping in on a year) since I bought the 388. It's mostly just been sitting there as I've had a rough time health wise for more than a year now.

That being said, I opened it up the other day to change the belt and spent 4 hours removing the black gooey mess that was the previous belt. (using q-tips, alcohol and lots of patience)

Now the belt is back on, but the capstan motor doesn't turn. It could be fried. But seeing as all my VU meters don't work either, it could be a power supply problem. I've tested the fuses with a multimeter, and they're good.

The next step is to take out the Power Supply PCB card and test its components to see if there's anything wrong.

This video will prove useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_cgYdhoxvU

Cheers,

David
- David B. -

Main tape gear: Tascam 388 (Work in progress), Fostex A-2 (Stereo deck), Fostex x-28h (4-track cassette)

Stefan Paul psychboy86

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Re: Updates on the 388
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 09:41:10 AM »
Sorry to hear of the condition of the 388. I'm seriously interested in getting one, but the prices are outrageous! There was one for sale near me in West Palm Beach a few months ago for $2,000, but I don't see it listed anymore, so I suppose it sold. These old machines are fun when they work well, but the ones that work are getting more expensive by the day. I'd be willing to pay $500 for a working 388, and I'd heard that just a few years ago they were that cheap! But now they've skyrocketed! How much more headroom does that 1/4-inch tape have over the 1/8-inch cassettes used in the 424?

I'm stilling dialing in the 424 and 414. The 424 is a superior machine for sure, with its four XLR inputs. I play in two bands now and I'm going to try to record them on tape. I recorded a song with the 414 over the weekend with my newest band but the vocals (coming directly off the PA) were way too hot! I can't adjust any of the instrument levels after the fact... I'm guessing this is because the loudness of each instrument bleeds onto the other three tracks of this thin tape.... pretty annoying... but the overall vibe and sound are magical and capture that "lightning in a bottle" thing. It was this drummer's second time playing the song and the bassist has played it maybe 5 times. This band already rocks! I may post it so y'all can hear it, but I'm a little afraid to release it as it is very raw. I put a little teaser on my Instagram page.

I'll take the 414 to my other band's practice this week, but I really need 7 tracks to record everything live (drums, bass, keys, ukulele, lead vocals, two BG vocals).

The other day I drove about two hours (each way, in the pouring rain, no joke! -- which it made it more like 6 hours round trip) to look at a 688, but when I stuck my tape in the transport it wouldn't play or record. It would only FF and RW. I also couldn't get a line level signal off the mic. The guy selling it had obviously never used it and had no idea how it should work. It's made me think seriously about going back to the DAW or trying a digital Portastudio so I can record 7 or 8 inputs live without all the cross-talk between tracks. I kind of wish there was a digital version of the 424 or the 488 that would also work as an interface into a DAW.


dbo514

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Re: Updates on the 388
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 02:06:37 PM »
Yeah I paid 1000$ for mine last year. 5 years ago it would've been between 300-500$. Not too worried it's in great condition especially the heads and the aesthetics.
Changing the belt is easy, fixing problems with the electronics is also quite normal, but I am not that good so it takes time to diagnose the problem.

As far as DAWs, I would 100% get one if I were you. I myself use my DAW (Reaper) all the time. Tape machines are an interesting aside for me, but they don't make much sense as a main recording medium.

There's nothing wrong with digital recording, and it's a lot easier to edit. I use my tape machines as a way to color the tracks really. Reaper is super fast
and simple (contrary to some other bloated DAWs), and recording is literally at the touch of a button (I press R on my keyboard).

David
- David B. -

Main tape gear: Tascam 388 (Work in progress), Fostex A-2 (Stereo deck), Fostex x-28h (4-track cassette)

Stefan Paul psychboy86

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Re: Updates on the 388
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 08:01:10 PM »
Thanks David! I recorded a few tracks on the 414 and 424 and I really like the workflow... great tool as a solo artist, but to record an entire band I just don't think it'll meet my needs. I'd love to see some videos on that topic though!

I have used Garage Band quite a bit, but I don't love it. I hate the way the effects work and that when an effect is used it can only be applied to the entire track rather than just a few seconds.... love the knobs and effects sends on the 424.

I've tried Reaper and all I got was feedback! So I had to turn it off and went crawling back to Garage Band. It seems like the 388 would be the way to go! It has twice the size tape of the 424 and twice as many tracks. I really don't think I'd ever need more than 8 tracks, but I do like to adjust the levels as each instrument is added, and as well know, once you ping pong on the 424 there ain't no going back! I'm considering getting a Zoom R16 -- it seems like a digital version of a 16-track Portastudio where I could record 8 live tracks at once -- should be enough, especially if I sub-mix the drum kit on its own mixer. And it works as an 8-channel interface, which on its own would cost as much as a Zoom R16!

What I've also done is record a song in Garage Band with about 10 tracks (doing it by myself I had to put the tambourines and hand-claps on their own tracks) and run that into stereo tracks 1 and 2 of the 424 and then did a double-tracked lead vocal on tracks 3 and 4 of the 424. I only did that because I had already built that track over a few weeks in Garage Band before I even discovered the 424 channel, which just got me super excited about being able to learn how to use the machine thanks to Mike's practical advice and explanations that I can comprehend.

I let my electronics wizard co-worker take my 424 to his home bench, but he can't find replacement parts for the fader on channel 4 which is really wonky and only records and plays back when it wants to or when I mash my finger on the fader. So I may have to send it off to a repair center.




dbo514

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Re: Updates on the 388
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 08:40:32 PM »
Yeah I would revisit Reaper.

If you get feedback, it's only because you were monitoring your inputs without headphones (in this case mics).

You just have to turn off input monitoring. In my case I don't use headphones. I listen to speakers that run from my audio interface.
So I always leave input monitoring off when recording through a mic, that way you can't get feedback.

Honestly, once I repair my 388 I might sell it to cash in on this wave of crazy prices.
There are no heads left for it anywhere, there's about a million wires, capacitors and things that can go wrong in there.
If it's something major or you can't find what it is you're left with a huge 80lbs mixer that doesn't work.

It is very cool and all, but recording well through a good DAW sounds just as good.

David
- David B. -

Main tape gear: Tascam 388 (Work in progress), Fostex A-2 (Stereo deck), Fostex x-28h (4-track cassette)