Maintaining a Cassette Tape Player
- Cotton Swabs
- Cassette Head Cleaner
- Rubber Cleaner
- Demagnetizer Kit (commercially available)
The Importance of Maintenance
You'll want to keep your cassette player maintained in order to avoid future
performance degradation. Without proper upkeep, you're shortening the life of your
player and reducing the quality of your sound experience. Cleaning your cassette
deck is a relatively easy task for the potential problems it reduces:
- Your player's tape heads accumulate dirt, dust, and oxide as tapes are played.
This forces the cassette tape away from the heads as it plays and results in performance
degradation. Even the smallest build-up on the heads can lead to a noticeable
reduction in sound quality. While you can easily pick up a cassette cleaning
cartridge at any record store, mechanized cleaning cartridges are less effective than
doing it by hand. Take the extra time and do it rightyour system will be better
- The effect of tape and oxide passing over the heads after a while produces wear on the
heads. This effect is magnified when the tape heads are dirty. Over time, the
heads wear down the tapes, which further wears down the heads. You could even find
yourself having to replace the tape headsmuch more expensive than a bottle of cleaner
and a few swabs.
- A dirty pinch roller can feasibly mangle a cassette tape. All it takes is a split
second for a tape to get snagged in the tape path, and you can ruin your favorite
- Residual magnetism can distort the sound response of your system.
Inspecting your Cassette Deck
Open the cassette door(s) and use a small penlight to look over the entire tape path
assembly. Look for dust or other particles, noticeable smudging, residues, or
anything else that looks out of place. Depending on how serious you are about your
music and how often you use your player, you'll probably want to do this sort of
inspection of the player every two to six weeks. Just remember that the idea is to
catch potential problems before they become problems. It doesn't take a lot
of time, and it will increase the life expectancy of the cassette deck.
Tape recording works on a principle of using an electromagnet (the record/play head) to
store and retrieve the sound. Sometimes the player will build up a level of residual
magnetism; this also results in sound degradation. If there seems to be excessive
noise or hiss when you play your cassettes, or if the high frequencies are washing out,
you should consider using a demagnetizing kit. This is available at a number of
retail stores, and it's fairly inexpensive. You shouldn't have to do this very
Cleaning the Tape Path
- Open the cassette door(s), ejecting any cassettes that are in the deck.
- Apply head cleaner to a cotton swab. Don't use too muchjust enough to liberally
moisten the head of the swab.
- Gently apply the swab to any metal portions of the tape path:
- Record/Play Head
- Tape Guides
- If necessary, use a fresh, dry swab to remove any excess fluid left on the parts.
Cleaning the Pinch Roller
- Open the cassette door(s) and press the Play button.
- Apply rubber cleaner to a cotton swab.
- Gently apply the swab to the RIGHT side of the pinch roller (this avoids getting the
swab tangled in the capstan and causing other problems).
- If necessary, use a fresh, dry swab to remove any excess fluid left on the roller.
J. M. Pressley Home