1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

tape looping

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Oneirogenic, Jul 30, 2012.


  1. Oneirogenic

    Oneirogenic

    Nov 10, 2009
    Shot in the dark here...anyone know how to put together a simple, inexpensive, functional for live performance tape looping system? I would be making loop based ambient music with it and the whole tape aesthetic seems like a logical step for how I've been making music lately. Emphasis on simple and inexpensive... I found ways of doing it on old 4-track units but I was also wondering if smaller Dictaphones would work. I saw pics of Grouper(ambient artist) using a bunch of little Dictaphone tape players and a big mixer but I have no idea what or how she was doing it. Anything would help, thanks guys and gals.
     
  2. Swift713

    Swift713

    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    There are a number of digital looping pedals available. Some of them are pretty affordable. If you want real tape mojo you can either splice loops on a 1/4" reel to reel or run a single reel of tape through two machines like Brian Eno. Those are the methods I'm familiar with.
     
  3. Oneirogenic

    Oneirogenic

    Nov 10, 2009
    I've already got digital looping capabilities. Tape has its own sounds and quirks that seem appealing to me.
     
  4. Oneirogenic

    Oneirogenic

    Nov 10, 2009
    Cassettes seem more practical and affordable for this also...any resources or ideas?
     
  5. Swift713

    Swift713

    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    I've heard tell of folks using cassettes from old timely answering machines that had outgoing messages on a loop. Aside from that, I really think reel to reel is easier. I made some spliced loops many moons ago but the splices added noise. The two reel to reel set up is really ideal, IMO. You can adjust the loop time by moving the machines farther from each other, you get a hard copy of your performance at the end, and it's easier to work with open reel tape.
    There is also the Echoplex. I've played with one a bit but the tape cartridge was insanely long, like several minutes. I'm sure it can't be too hard to shorten it, or get a shorter one. There are a number of places to get them.
     
  6. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Buy an old Tascam or Fostex 4 track recorder ala porta studio etc.

    Then find old answer machine cassettes and that will give you a 30 second or 1 minute loop (obviously this will depend on the tape you find)

    Certainly not hard to do and with the cost of these units now pfft I mean it's like £20-£30.

    Hardest part is finding the tapes.

    Alternatively spend a lot on a reel to reel solution
     
  7. Oneirogenic

    Oneirogenic

    Nov 10, 2009
    My local CL had several old tascam and fostex units. Now I gotta find tapes....30 seconds or less would be perfect. I could also make my own but it looks messy and potentially frustrating.
     
  8. 7T9

    7T9

    Mar 24, 2011
    Paris, France
    It is not cheap, but you should have look at this
     
  9. Damascus

    Damascus

    Aug 9, 2008
    You could get a similar character with more control in addition to a reduction in maintance and setup concerns with a Strymon El Capistan, which has an awesome "sound on sound" tape loop mode, with conrol over tape warble, crinkle, age and bias.

    Yeah, it is a totally different approach and you don't get the same old-repurposed-gadget-asthetic, but someone is going to make the recommendation so it might as well be me. :bag:
     
  10. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Yeah oddly enough it was a popular looping technique back when those units were $200+

    Answer machine tapes you might be worth going to a Good Will or something, it's more likely you'll find the tape in a machine than a collection of them outside of it. I do recall a few people welling them on ebay as well.

    It's definitely Ghetto cool :p, try and find broken tascam/fostex machines as well, like where the motor slows down randomly for more glitchy pitch shifting fun.

    Dammit now I want one :D
     
  11. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
  12. Oneirogenic

    Oneirogenic

    Nov 10, 2009
    For sure. It could be a few weeks or more before I can splurge on a tape setup but at least I have a good idea for how to do it without too much hassle. I will definitely make recordings when I get it. I can probably get extra cool points for using tape loops live too.
     
  13. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    It's the hipster way to loop, personally I use an iPad :D
     
  14. I had a couple bands back in the 90's where we use tape loops. I would just pick up some random tapes from a thrift store (making sure to get the kind with the shell that screws together). I'd take them apart and then cut out a small length of tape, about 6", and splice it together with regular scotch tape.
    The fun part was using old consumer cassette decks to play them back, and rewiring the headphone jack to the motor. That way I could use a standard footswitch to stop and start the tape.

    The plusses to using a cassette based loop setup;
    cheap. $20 should do it.
    easy.
    nobody will steal it.
    changing loops is as simple as changing tapes.

    Minuses
    bulky.
    unreliable.
    if you want sound-on-sound looping you will need a 3 head cassette deck
    a lot of used tape decks are in dreadful condition.
    you will need to clean the heads regularly.
     
  15. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    three-head cassette deck with Vari-Speed, disable the Erase head, profit.

    But if you want any usable variety as far as delay time, you'll bite the bullet and go with reel-to-reel.
     
  16. there are also various dictation machines out there. These will be anything from a microcassette recorder with a built in mic to a desk unit with footpedals. Most have varispeed feature. Some later models had pitch correction, so you can change speed but maintain pitch.
     

Share This Page