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Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Repairs

Since 1968 Servicesound have had the pleasure of working on some of the finest tape recorders ever made. Personal favourites are Ferrograph and Brenell but all reel to reel tape recorders have a 'mystique' about them. A combination of precision engineering and brilliant electronics leads to sound that cannot be bettered. Many recording studios are now going over to analogue recorders preferring them to the hard clinic al sound digital recorders produced.Fig.1 Brenell STB2
Brenell STB2 tape recorder.
Reel to reel machines are beginning to become scarce and expensive, perhaps the most important point is that they can almost always be repaired and bought up like new. This is where Servicesound can help. Almost regardless of make and age, so long as it is intact ~ Servicesound can repair your tape recorder.

Brenell Tape Recorders

In 1977 former Brenell directors and development engineers established Soundcraft Magnetics to produce world class advanced multi-track recorders, such as the astonishing "Saturn 1", in direct competition with the market leaders, Studer, Ampex and Otari. They were to be the last British tape deck manufacturer. Arguably these tape recorders are the best machines that have ever been made and was voted best looking tape recorder In the World. All the Brenell photographs used on this site are attributed to Barry Jones whose devotion to these wonderful machines knows no bounds.

Pictured in Fig.1 is a Brenell STB2, like Ferrograph these are superbly made machines and easy to repair. Parts are easy to obtain, as with most European manufactures, they used components that are readily available the shelf. Even the control knobs are still made!

Notes on Ferrograph

The Ferrograph tape recorder is, in my opinion, one of the finest sounding machines ever made. The series 7 generation has had a rather bad press due to the rubber parts melting and on the Seven, the head pressure pads causing problems. All these troubles are easily rectified and once serviced and properly set up the Ferrograph will out perform just about any machine you care to mention. They do have their little idiosyncrasies but this is what comes with a hand made machine and when one gets used to using them they are a joy. Built like a tank and easy to service these machines will go on forever. The electronics are simple and all the parts are easily obtainable. The early, round bodied, heads can be taken apart, finished and micro polished to bring them up like new. The same applies to the older 4, 5 and 6 series. These are valve based machines and have the magic that valves add to the sound.

Makes Serviced Include...

Ferrograph, Teac, Fostex, Grundig, Revox, Nagra, Stellavox, Brenell, Truvox, Aiwa, Akai, Sony, Stellaphone, Reflectograph, EMI, Tanberg, Bang & Olufsen, Pioneer, Uher, Neal, Studer Simon and many many more.

What we do.

Your machine is stripped, inspected and internally cleaned. All controls and switches are checked and cleaned.

The tape transport and all the associated controls, linkages, levers, bearings and operating systems are checked, cleaned and lubricated as required. Brakes are cleaned and if necessary re lined and set up. Any clutches are checked and lubricated and the linings replaced if they are badly worn. Often the clutch pressure needs to be re set as on the Akai 4000 range of machines. On many Tandberg models cork clutch pads are used which disintegrate, these are replaced.

Perished and loose belts are replaced, drum counters cleaned and lubricated, the fast wind torque and speeds are checked as is the play speed.

All the heads and tape guides are checked for wear and micro polished before being degaussed, (demagnetised). If the heads are badly worn, they can often be re faced and polished and you will be notified if this is needed. If the heads are worn beyond use you will be informed and recommendations made as to the best way to proceed.

Pinch rollers, idlers and jockey wheels are cleaned and if they are damaged or irregular, they are reground. If the pinch roller has or is disintegrating you will be notifi ed and a new one fitted if they are obtainable. Often where a replacement pinch roller cannot be sourced, the old one can be rebuilt or a roller from another model can often be adapted. The same applies to rubber idlers and jockey wheels. For instance, most of the Brenell idler wheels can be replaced with those made for Ferrograph. By swapping the centre bearing they will fit and work perfectly.

Electronically, the machine is checked out and any plugs and sockets, connector strips and circuit board connectors are cleaned. Any faults are traced and if serious you will be notifi ed otherwise they will often be corrected under the service. Valve driven machines have all the valves and their sockets cleaned and any leaking capacitors, replaced. The various voltages applied to the valves are checked to make sure they are within accepted values, if not, the problem is corrected. Valves are now easier to buy than ever!

The whole machine is checked for correct operation. The head alignment, playback and recording levels are checked and are adjusted if necessary and the bias optimised. Finally, the tape path is given another clean.

The exterior is thoroughly cleaned and polished including the knobs, trim parts and cabinet, the machine is tested once again and then wrapped in a 'cold cast' plastic film.

It sometimes occurs that parts for very old machines cannot be obtained or rebuilt, but adapted parts from other makes and models can be made work perfectly.

Never give up on a tape recorder that you think cannot be repaired, ingenuity, experience and attention to detail has enabled us to get many machines running perfectly.

There is one exception. Most Philips machines use rubber components that often melt and turn into a black goo. Mostly these Philips machines take so much time to clean that they are simply not worth doing, therefore we no longer handle Philips and their associated marques.

NAGRA and Stellavox machines.
Because spares for these machines can only be obtained from authorised dealers who do not sell to the trade, these machines should be returned to the manufacturer for repair.

Ferrograph & Servicesound

Servicesound specialises in Ferrograph machines. These are perhaps the best made and best sounding reel to reel machines made. Most of the electronic components used are still available "off the shelf" and the known issues with idler and pinch rollers disintegrating have been completely cured. The heads can often be refaced and polished to as good as new. There are some modifications that have been developed by Servicesound that are mostly associated with all Series Seven machines and address mechanical noise and stability issues. The modifi cations are included in all overhauls.

Servicesound offer a fixed price complete overhaul for all FERROGRAPH Series Seven machines including the Super Seven and Logic. The fixed price option assumes the machine is completely intact with no missing parts. Please enquire...

Brenell & Servicesound

Servicesound has a vast amount of experience with these machines. There is one major issue with STB1, STB2 and Mk5 models. Some of these machines use German made BOGEN heads whichhave a habit of going open circuit. The heads are clearly marked BOGEN and seemingly have nowires attached as they go in from underneath. This renders the machine unrepairable unless all the heads are replaced. New replacement heads can be obtained from America but this is expensive.Please make sure your machine plays back and records, at least to some extent, before considering service.

MINI 8 Studio eight track.
We specialise in this model and have a huge amount of experience with them. This is possibly thebest sounding 8 track machine made anywhere by anyone. They are a fairly simple machine butmust be properly overhauled for them to be reliable. The machine must be accompanied by thepower supply unit along with its cables. Additional items that you might have are; counter, remotecontrol, Varispeed control unit.


A belated thank you for your attention to my Akai 4000DS. It was a pleasure meeting you! I enjoyed your vinyl demonstration on your huge valve amp.
The Akai is just perfect, lovely and shiny out of the box and I’ve noticed that it is much quieter when in operation. All works fine, so I’m now in the process of moving recordings from Open Reel to PC and thence to .WAV and MP3. At first I fretted a bit when your invoice mentioned the worn heads, but hey, its over 30 years old and I wont use it as much as previous years.
Best wishes, good luck.
Nicky C

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