J. M. Pressley
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Instructional Sample
Maintaining a Cassette Tape Player

Necessary Materials:

  • Cotton Swabs
  • Cassette Head Cleaner
  • Rubber Cleaner
  • Demagnetizer Kit (commercially available)
Boom Box

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:

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 often.

Cleaning the Tape Path

  1. Open the cassette door(s), ejecting any cassettes that are in the deck.
  2. Apply head cleaner to a cotton swab. Don't use too much—just enough to liberally moisten the head of the swab.
  3. Gently apply the swab to any metal portions of the tape path:
    1. Record/Play Head
    2. Tape Guides
    3. Capstan
  4. If necessary, use a fresh, dry swab to remove any excess fluid left on the parts.

Cleaning the Pinch Roller

  1. Open the cassette door(s) and press the Play button.
  2. Apply rubber cleaner to a cotton swab.
  3. 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).
  4. If necessary, use a fresh, dry swab to remove any excess fluid left on the roller.

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