Asking For Advice

Asking For Advice The Ampex list is a treasure-trove of information. There's people here who worked on the design projects of many of the Ampex machines. There's people who have used and maintained them across the years, and there's people like yourself who have undertaken a restoration on a vintage machine. There are people who make or made hit records. There are bona-fide experts here. That's a lot of accumulated knowledge and experience. People here are happy to give that information, but you can make things quicker and easier for all by providing the right information up front, and asking questions that have reasonable limits. The list is the world repository of Real Knowledge of analog tape recording.


The span of list member's knowledge and education spans a wide range, from degreed engineers to rank amateurs. If you're a new poster, then tell us a bit about yourself, which helps responders write in language that you understand. Tell us about yourself and your situation:

Test Equipment

Tell us what test gear you have (or don't have). Some tests or adjustments are best made with some sort of test equipment. Many things can be done using the machine's VU meter. Do you know how to use it? If you don't have test equipment, sometimes there are workarounds.
Useful Test Gear
Digital Multimeter (DMM) Needed for measuring circuit voltages and continuity thru wiring.
Signal Generator Doesn't need to be fancy; a function generator would do here, but you do need a stable (constant amplitude vs frequency) source of sine wave signals in order to perform the record alignment. You could use your DAW to do this. It could have switched frequencies. It is helpful, though, if there is a rotary dial (sweep) kind of frequency selection.
Oscilloscope A single trace scope is fine, although a dual trace scope could be useful. You need this for azimuth alignment and for troubleshooting. A scope can tell you much more than a DMM does.
Alignment Tape You really do need an alignment tape. It's a piece of test equipment. Buy it new, because you don't know how a used one has been (mis)treated. It is the calibration standard for your machine, and it's the way that you ensure that tapes you make can play on other machines as you recorded it.

Your Machine

Your Problem

Try to clearly state what your problem or question is. It could be as simple as, "351 doesn't go into record," or as complex as "ATR100 thinks it's always in fast wind mode."

Put boundaries around it so that it doesn't require writing a book in order to answer it. You'll get way more replies that way.

Tell what you've tried to do to understand it better. Try to be organized in your writing. Don't use abbreviations or acronyms unless you're sure that everyone reading your post will understand it.

The list doesn't accept attachments, so if you have pictures (remember that a picture is worth 1k words!), then it helps to have a place to host them, so others can see them.