How to Fix Squealing Cassettes





Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 8: Troubleshooting

What to do if.... &Bull;Tape is still squealing: That's alright. Just put more oil on a new q-tip (Only a little bit this time) and fast forward starting a little before that part. &Bull;Tape isn't playing any music: This means that there's too much oil on the tape. Wipe it off with a cloth again and put it back in the player. Rewind it. Take a CLEAN q-tip and put it in the hole. Fast forward. When the tape's done, flip it over. Take the other end of the q-tip and put it in the hole. Fast forward. After it's done, test it. If it's still not playing music, go over that one spot multiple times with a new q-tip. &Bull;Cassette and player are still oily: Throw that towel in the wash. Wash your hands. Get an new towel an wipe everything off.

Step 9: The End

Thank you for using my instructable. This is my first! ^-^ Hope you enjoyed it!



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    Nice job, jerkoff. I tried this and it totally ruined my tape. It has no grip and will not play anymore.


    Nice job, jerkoff. I tried this and it totally ruined my tape. It has no grip and will not play anymore.


    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

    Are you sure we're on the same page? I'm talking about when the cassette tape squeals like this: (Watch the whole thing please) or a little bit like this (Mine sounded more like this: 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. ( 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 for lots of info on tape and machines. its a great resource.

    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 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.

    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.

    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: 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.