A head assessment? Comments invited

62vauxhall

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#1
All the reel to reel talk made me post this.

A few years ago I bought a Pioneer RT-707 from a local guy who fixes and sells R2R's. When I bought it, the heads were said to have some wear but were not bad. Just hauled the deck off the shelf to check the reverse sensing switch and clean the heads. I read on TH that Pioneer heads withstood wear better than say Teac heads.

When I bought it, I was told it "was flat to 20K" and it does record and play fine but I was hoping Sam might catch this and offer an opinion whether the wear on these heads is condition Yellow, Orange or Red.

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#2
Ya know..... If you were to use the magical silicon goo and a wood rasp..... you could have those heads ready for another 1000 or so years.. :)
As long as you don't have the sticky sak syndrome. LOL!


I have a brand new set of heads still in the package (for my Tascam 42NB). I'll take a pic and post it tomorrow. They are 2 channel heads. The flat on them (my new set doesn't look as wide as your's but I'll take a gander. Of course, the RT707 (1977-1984) predates the 42 by possibly a decade or more so being a 40 year old machine it may have a bit of wear.

Here is a pic of a head off a 707. The wear face doesn't look as wide.

RT-707 rec head 2.JPG
 

62vauxhall

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#3
Mine definitely looks more worn than your example. And thanks, a close-up look at a brand head would be informative.

When I was looking for info, I came across a pic that Sam commented on estimating about 60% wear. Looked somewhat similar but the head had tilt so wear was not even bottom to top.
 

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#4
Sometimes it's hard to tell. I thought the heads on my Sony were shot... They are the weirdest I have seen. 2 heads built into one so they have a big valley in the middle of a head set.... Turns out they were in great shape. After I cleaned and lubed the whole deck and inquired about the heads... All is good.
 

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#5
Here is a pic of brand new "out of the wrapper" heads for a Tascam 42 (and a few other models). They are probably a bit different but it may or may not help. They have no flat spot on them and I don't believe I've seen a new set of heads for your rig so i don't know if there should be a flat on yours or not...




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62vauxhall

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#6
Thanks for posting - it confirms what you thought about new heads not having a flat surface. I suspected the same. No new or low hours head that I've seen in the past has had that.

That Sony head(s) you mentioned, if it was from the reel to reel you had/have, I've not seen that either - just with 3 head cassette decks. My first 3 head was a Hitachi and they designated theirs RP combination.

I just put the RT-707 back on the rolling cart with my Teac. Neither sees a whole lotta use so it's heads will probably last longer than I will.
 

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I know it well. It's macro mode is stellar !
Heck yeah, I use it on Macro for a lot of my pics here on Phoenix. My new phone takes awesome pics but the Canon is my goto... She's been to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and all shit holes in between. Me and my buddy each bought one and every time I see him (he's in town for 2 weeks now) we always say to each other, my camera is better than yours....
 

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#11
I see the TapeHeads dudes pretty much agreed that your heads are hatched....... Too bad the Tascam 42 heads won't fit. They are wollensac and are hard as cheneeze arithmetic... I found a guy who has them for $125 each so I bought a spare set just in case. They are $250 each on the bay. I guess you CAN USE THEM TILL THEY PUKE AS LONG AS THEY DON'T DAMAGE YOUR TAPE...... :)
 

62vauxhall

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#13
I got a PM from Sam and at this point, that deck does not see enough use for me to consider the expense of new heads. Pretty sure I'll puke before they do.

It splits duty with a Teac A3300 and its heads were re-lapped two or three years ago by some one in Canada Sam recommended. Theoretically, I can do all recording on that one and use the Pioneer strictly for playback. Since it auto-reverses and that is a playback feature, there is really no need for me to record on it other than to make sure it still can.
 

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#14
I got a PM from Sam and at this point, that deck does not see enough use for me to consider the expense of new heads. Pretty sure I'll puke before they do.

It splits duty with a Teac A3300 and its heads were re-lapped two or three years ago by some one in Canada Sam recommended. Theoretically, I can do all recording on that one and use the Pioneer strictly for playback. Since it auto-reverses and that is a playback feature, there is really no need for me to record on it other than to make sure it still can.
Yep, it's nice having 2 machines for that reason. As long as they are set up correctly, you can listen to tapes recorded on the A3300 on the 707 but listening to prerecorded stuff could be an issue if you have the 707 set to listen to tapes from another machine. It all depends on what tape they set it up for (the 3300).
I set mine up for the SM911 tape and may not sound the best listening to different tape/prerecorded tape. But I'm just going to monkeying around and recording some of my new albums. Besides, the last tape my buddy brought over for me, got tape dust and shit ll over it so I recleaned it and threw the tape into the dumpster... so, I probably wont be listening to much pre-recorded stuff except my own tapes which are brand new.
 

62vauxhall

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#16
He estimated them to be on the good side of 60% worn and explained he had "turned decks out" with heads in similar condition. Sounds like they will still be OK for a while at least.

I went gung-ho finding and buying used tapes before I even had a functioning deck I Intended to keep. After I got the Teac 3300 mechanically working (and it did seem to record & play satisfactorily), it went back east to get tweaked and have the heads relapped.

I did not foresee myself buying new tape and I sent a spool of TDK Audua so the Teac could be calibrated for it. However it's set also seems to be within range for whatever Maxell and BASF that I've used. I could be wrong but I'm assuming the Pioneer has not been touched in that regard since day one and as Sam mentioned, is likely in need of adjusting. But, it too seems to be dialed in for the tapes that I have recorded on it.

If anyone shows up at your place for a listen to something on a reel of Sony PR-150 (red & black box) - do not play it.
 

orange

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#17
Not Pretty Ratty 150....o_O That's like human rights abuse or something.
 

Skywavebe

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#18
The Tascam Woelke heads are of a different grade than the Pioneer heads. If you do not want them I know a Technician who can use them.
The Pioneer heads have a deep gap and can last into the 5mm wide wear mark area. Once they hit 6mm then you are on shaky ground as the response can still be squeaked out of them but at higher distortion levels. I had some 6mm wide wear marks here and I got 20 K out of them but the distortion was in the area of 5%. I then changed them out with heads from JRF that were Nortronics. This was before Roman came up to order the new Pioneer heads. I put a set into a RT-909 the other day and have a set to put in today as well. They are going fast if I did not have all the dead Otari capstan motors plaguing me. The good news is that The Pioneer, Technics and Otari decks can still get new heads put on if you know where to find them. Funny thing is they are all coming out of Chicago due to a Technician who has the ability to order them in the needed order size. I think this guy deserves a lot of credit as no one else has stepped up to get new heads made for us regular people.
 

62vauxhall

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#19
I'm driving across the line tomorrow to pick up a used RT-707 head block and a pair of pinch rollers. Someone on AK was parting out an RT-707 and my thought was that since I've not seen parts for these decks offered up much, I'd take advantage of the opportunity. May have wasted $100US but I'm pretty sure they are less worn than those on my deck. Comparing the vendor's photo with mine was inconclusive but his did appear less worn than those already on the thing. Will likely just hold them on standby for when the time comes to pass the deck on to some one else - with a spare set of heads and spare pinch rollers.

Since I last posted, a Teac A2300SX was given back to me. A few years ago it was one of two R2R's I bought for $10. It recorded and played acceptably well after I got the mechanism working and upped the capacitors in the power supply. So I gave it to a friend who made noises about the R2R he used to have. He never used it, not even once and I even included a mixed tape recorded on that very deck which I thought he and his wife would both like. He passed on, the wife's selling the house and she told me to haul it away.

It may not come to pass, but I am considering an Akai GX-400D if I can buy it cheap enough. Why, God only knows other than I did have one decades ago until it atrophied in an unheated storage locker for a few years.
 

62vauxhall

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#20
I think I'm pleased with the used heads I picked up today. They show fairly little wear. Don't know what the figures should be but resistances through the record heads very closely match on both channels and each other. Same with playback head, both channels nearly identical.

The deck the heads were on must have spent some time with humidity. A bit of rust on screw heads and a cloudiness on some metal surfaces. Some oxide was well and truly caked on the heads but isopropyl soaked strips of paper towel laid along the surfaces then a couple of hours undisturbed in a ziplock bag softened it up.

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