How to Fix a Cassette Tape
If you’re like us you love a great mix tape. Sometimes our mixes are so great that our tape player feasts on the cassette tape! Have you ever had a tape eaten by your deck? Well fortunately for you, you’re not the only one this has happened to and we’re going to give you some tips on how to fix a cassette tape that’s had it’s guts pulled out in your tape deck.
Why Cassettes Get Eaten
To understand how to fix a cassette tape worth understanding why cassettes get eaten in the first place. Cassette tapes can get eaten for a few different reasons but usually it’s one of two. One, there could be a defect on the actual tape film that caused the mechanism to pull it out. This could be something like a wrinkle or other damage from a previously chewed up tape. The fix here is to either smooth out the wrinkle, or chop out a section of the damaged tape.
The other reason a tape might get eaten is that there likely wasn’t enough tension in your tape during playback and as a result it was fed out the bottom and your tape deck ate it. A low tension problem could be due to your tape deck having an issue with playback, if this is the case we’re not talking about cassette tape repair anymore but player or deck repair which is out of scope for this article. The other cause of a low tension problem is that it could be that the tape you were playing was wound too loosely on the spools.
Wound Too Loose
If it was wound too loosely, you can hand wind it to fix this by adding some tension with your hands and fingers. Hold the cassette in your hands, and pinch your fingers over the two spool holes, and while turning and winding one side, pinch a little bit of pressure on the other spool. Allow it to still turn through your fingers, you want tension but not so much that the tape might be stretching.
Stuck in the Deck – Bend Don’t Break
If your cassette tape is stuck in the deck you’ll want to calmly and carefully look things over to assess the best solution. If it’s at all possible, you want to carefully remove your tape from the tape deck without stretching or breaking any of the plastic film / tape. This will make the fix much easier. Pull slowly and make sure you don’t feel any tension. If there is some tension, enough to start stretching the tape, stop pulling. You’ll need to look inside the tape deck and see where the tension is building up from. This will give you a hint at what’s grabbing your tape.
Locate where the tape is stuck. Sometimes it’s possible to reach in and slide the stuck piece of tape off of the playback mechanism. You may need to give some slack to move it around the player heads. If it is possible to do this, use something soft and sturdy like a q-tip. Whatever you do, don’t pull against tension. Once the tape is out assess whether you need to fix it by smoothing out some wrinkles, or cropping out a piece of the tape.
If you are unable to remove the tape still, you could try and disassemble the cassette player / deck. This is a last resort to removing a stuck tape and can be more work than it’s worth depending on how attached you are to your mix tape…