Instructables
Picture of How to fix squealing cassettes
The squealing on cassettes is caused when the lubricant in the tape evaporates or rubs off from excessive use. When there is little to no lubricant on the tape, it causes a high pitch wailing noise when played. (Sort of like a kettle) It's very annoying, so I will teach you how to fix this problem easily.
 
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Step 1: What you will need

Picture of What you will need
&Bull;A squealing cassette &Bull;A portable cassette player (particularly one that opens while you're playing the tape) &Bull;Vegetable oil &Bull;Q-tips &Bull;A clean cloth &Bull;A cup (optional)

Step 2: Step One

Picture of Step One
Rewind the tape all the way back so that it's just about to play side one. (or A) When it's done, push stop and open the player.

Step 3: Step two

Picture of Step two
Find a spot in the player where you can access the tape. On my Walkman, there is a single hole in front of the cassette where the actual tape is visible. Check to see if that opening's big enough for a q-tip. If not, see if you can find something smaller.

Step 4: Step Three

Picture of Step Three
Tip back the vegetable oil bottle just enough to where you can get it to soak one end of the q-tip. (Or you can put it in a cup.) Let the tip soak for a few seconds. You want it to look big and fat. Put the q-tip in that little hole. Press fast forward.

Step 5: Step four

Picture of Step four
Hold the q-tip in that spot while it fastforwards. If you can feel slight vibrations from the tape on your q-tip, that means it's working. You may want to hold the top of the tape do that the tape is closer to the q-tip.

Step 6: Step Five

Picture of Step Five
When the tape is done, hit stop. (if it doesn't stop for you.) Flip the tape over. Put it back in the player. Get a new q-tip and soak it in oil. Put the oil in the hole and hit fastforward again.

Step 7: Step six

Picture of Step six
When the tape is done, take it out of the player. Wipe everything off with a clean towel. Play the tape to see if I works. If it does, than hooray you're done! :D
chrisC37 days ago

Amazing !! Thanks for the info - in fact just a spot of veg oil at the start of tape & short ff and rewind did the trick !! greetings from Edinburgh. Chris

hmmfomtgal (author) 1 year ago
Are you sure we're on the same page? I'm talking about when the cassette tape squeals like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7RX19IVQpE (Watch the whole thing please) or a little bit like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_JPkCUMMb0. (Mine sounded more like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiHWrP4xvWA) Not when the rollers make a little squeaking noise as you play the tape, that's not that big of a problem for me. When your tape squeals, it means that during normal playback, it makes this really loud squealing noise like a kettle. (I don't really know how else to describe it, sorry. You'd have to hear one to know.) According to tapeheads, (The link I sent you in my last comment) the tape needs a lubricant. They used car wax, which worked the same but left some sediment. I figured that vegetable oil would be a better lubricant, because you can use it to make ferrofluid. (http://instructables.com/id/Creating-your-own-ferrofluid-without-chemicals/) After going over the tape with a dry q-tip several times, I've played the tape several times so far with no problem.
cassettes have 3 possible ways to squeal, rollers, slip sheets, tape to head. rollers tend to squeal on FFWD or RWD operations. slipsheets can be on wind or play. the tape itself can squeal on play but its not always the tapes fault.

a dirty machine can cause the tape to squeal. the heads, pinchroller, and capstan should be clean. gunk that's built up on the heads will cause tape squeal AND really poor playback audio. its documented that people have used NuFinish to treat tapes but for problems common to reel to reel tapes, not cassettes.

check tapeheads.net for lots of info on tape and machines. its a great resource.
hmmfomtgal (author)  ke4mcl1 year ago
It's not the player, because I bothered to check. I also have two players, a stereo and my walkman, which makes the cassettes sound garbled. On my stereo it's a kettle like squeal, and on my walkman it's garbled, but still a squeal. I've played other tapes, and they have no issue. It doesn't squeak on rewind or fastforward, we're talking about two different issues here. It's got nothing to do with the rollers, and all rollers would do is squeak. (squealing and squeaking are different) Reel tapes and cassettes are the same medium, they're both tapes and the one in the video had the same issue. (I could only find two videos on this. I would film a video, but I already fixed my tape.) It can't be the slip-sheet, since this solution worked anyway. Weren't you paying attention? The first link I gave you was from tapeheads.net on the subject matter. I do believe we are talking about different issues. If you've had this problem before, you would know what I was talking about. (Which means you store your tapes in a nice spot. Good for you!) I bought my tape off of eBay, and it's the only tape with this problem. I've only got 11 tapes (2 are blanks) and they have no issues. If I see any problem that pops up over time from using this solution, I will let you know in the guide, but as for now my tape's running smoothly. Thank you for your concern though.
Wow great attitude. Keep up the good work. Im out.
ke4mcl1 year ago
This solution will work but its not a good solution. Tapes are lubricated with a silicone or other sythetic lubricant that is dry. Vegetable oil will gum up the tape in short time and gum up the mechanism. As an analog tape enthusiast i wouldnt do this to my tapes.
hmmfomtgal (author)  ke4mcl1 year ago
Thank you for telling me, I didn't know. I haven't been collecting tapes for very long, and it's only happened to one tape. I figured since it worked and didn't leave any stuff behind, (unlike this: http://www.tapeheads.net/showthread.php?t=17640 I didn't try it though, I don't have car wax) What do you think would be a better lubricant?
the squeaking is generally caused by two things.
1) cheap or worn out slip sheets. the slip sheets are two thin plastic sheets that lay inside the cassette keeping the tape from directly contacting the shell.
2) cheap or worn out rollers in the shell.

the best fix really is to find a screwed together donor shell of a name brand tape like TDK, sony, or maxell, and carefully move the tape and hubs from the bad shell to the donor shell. use the slip sheets from your new donor shell, not the ones from the squeaky tape.

this is easy on cassettes that are screwed together but the ones that are welded shut must be carefully cracked open. a vise is an easy way to do this. by squeezing the tape in the vise from end to end, you can split the case seams enough to get a welded tape broken open. be careful doing this. its easy to launch the tape all over the floor.

be sure that any tools you use are NOT magnetized. a magnetized screwdriver will mess up your tape causing dropouts in audio.
hmmfomtgal (author)  ke4mcl1 year ago
I just found this (very short) conversation http://www.tapeproject.com/smf/index.php?topic=763.0 . I think this is the same thing. You might be able to use tape head lubricant in substitute for the vegetable oil. That may be better since the oil takes a while to go over.
e5frog1 year ago
Seems like a very bad idea, you'll get oil on the rollers that are supposed to have enough friction to draw the tape... Every little dust particle will get stuck to that as well and mess everything up.
Digitize it and put it in your iPod instead or one of those mp3-cassettes that plays back mp3:s in a regular tape recorder from a memory card. Possibly record to a new tape... if you can still find one.
hmmfomtgal (author)  e5frog1 year ago
The point of this is to keep the origional tape and not use modern technology. After you're done if it stops playing the music (where there is no friction) you go over it with a q-tip several times. As for the dust, idk. If you've got a squealing tape and a blank one, you can try to record it. I'm not sure if the squealing will follow through to the copy though. I'm sorry I can't do it, I don't have anymore squealing tapes.
The money I could have saved back in the 80's is mind boggling!
Bah that is what the volume knob is for, just crank it up over the squeak!
hmmfomtgal (author)  pfred21 year ago
No that's not the problem. I think you're talking about when the reel squeaks. I'm talking about something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_JPkCUMMb0 (although mine was playing during the whole song and sounded more like a kettle) I have changed squeak to squeal to prevent confusion.
Back in the day I had a Dual C830 tape deck and used to use Denon metal tapes in it. I made a tape for a friend of mine and he came back and said, I don't know how you do it but this might sound better than the album! Those prerecorded tapes were garbage. I never really went in for them myself.
Yeah. I have milk crates full of cassettes, all from the 80's, and all of them developed the squeek. I think I might use this instructable and then feed those cassettes into my PC and from there onto optical media. I never had the heart to throw them out.