How to Repair Music Cassette Tapes

Written by patrickb
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How to Repair Music Cassette Tapes
Cassette tape. (cassette/tape. abstract, balance,black and white image by L. Shat from

The cassette tape is a much younger technology than some might think--it was patented only in 1964, which means that there are plenty of cassette tapes still around. Thanks to the cassette tape recorder, some of these tapes contain valuable and irreplaceable personal memories--weddings, the voices of children long grown up or other nostalgic material. This makes it that much more devastating when a tape is destroyed or begins to lose its quality. These simple steps suggest a few ways to restore your cassette tape to playability.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    If you have a mylar or polyester tape (these are normally opaque), try baking it first. Place it in the oven at about 54.4 degrees Cor several hours. In many cases, this will reactivate the glue in your cassette tape. However, if you have an acetate tape (these are usually translucent), avoid baking it. That can melt your tape.

  2. 2

    Clean the head of your tape with a cotton ball dipped in isopropyl alcohol, then dry it with a dry cotton ball. You can also use a cotton ball with alcohol to clean the spin capstan (the metal spindle to the right of the tape head), non-moving metal guideposts, and underneath the reel hub(s).

  3. 3

    Demagnetise your tape with a tape deck demagnetiser by moving the demagnetiser slowly back and forth in front of the tape head. Be careful not to actually touch the tape head with the demagnetiser.

  4. 4

    Replace the cassette shell. Buy a new cassette shell. Disassemble the old cassette shell by either removing its screws (usually four or five), or if it is sealed shut, you will have to destroy the old shell by prying it apart to access the tape. Remove the spools from the new shell and replace them with the spools from the old shell. Close the shell.

  5. 5

    If the tape has become detached from the spool, reattach it by following the directions in Step 4 to open the cassette shell. Then reattach the tape to the spool using Krazy Glue or a small piece of Sellotape.

  6. 6

    If none of these steps help or you are uncomfortable trying them on your own, there are many companies that will repair your tape for you. Find one that works for your needs and price range by searching "cassette tape repair" in a search engine.

Tips and warnings

  • Some stores sell cassette tape repair kits fairly cheaply. If you want to do-it-yourself but would like a bit of guidance, these can be helpful.
  • If you undertake this project, be aware that trying to fix a tape yourself always runs the risk of making the problem worse or ruining the tape altogether. If you're not sure what you're doing and it's information you absolutely can't afford to lose, it's best to take your tape to a professional.

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