Because we understand how precious these recordings are to their owners, every precaution is taken to ensure their safe transfer and return. Even with those precautions, there can be unforeseen problems.
What could go wrong?
Well, beyond losing a wire in the mail (which we've never had happen), there is always the possibility that a wire will break either during playback or more commonly during rewind causing the wire to tangle. This is usually caused by a loose knot or a kink catching on the wire as it passes. Because it's difficult to know when or if a knot or kink is present, we can not predict whether this will happen to your wire. Sometimes the wire loosens causing it to become tangled even during playback. Because of the diameter of recording wire it is very difficult to untangle it. Though every effort is made to recover as much of the tangled wire as possible, there are times when the damage is beyond repair.
What precautions do you take?
First, there is a visual inspection. This doesn't always give us a clue to potential problems. It does let us know whether the wire was last rewound evenly on the spool or if it seems loose. In these cases, the wire is manually (by hand) wound and rewound before playing. If all "appears" fine, the wire is played back through our system into the studio computer. Sometimes this is done a second time if the wire was wound out of sync with the winding action of the head.
Is there anything I can do to prevent these things?
Yes! Loose wire often means tangled wire. Wire can easily become loose during shipping. The best thing you can do is to secure the end of the wire or string leader to the outside of the spool with a piece of tape. If your spool has a plastic or paper leader, wrap a rubber band around it before shipping. Securing the wire will keep it tightly wound during shipping. Be sure you tape to the non-label side otherwise the tape may take some of the label with it when removed.
I can tell by looking at it that my wire is tangled. Can it still be transferred?
Please do send the wire to us anyway. Though there are no guarantees, there is a chance it can be untangled. The one exception is a wire that is no longer on the spool. Don't send it if it is one big pile of wire. Unfortunately, it is too late in that instance. If there is no distinguishable "end" showing, or there are many "ends", we may not even attempt to untangle it. But we are happy to take a look to see what is possible.
We do charge $20 for the first labor hour for untangling. If it takes more than an hour though, expect $15 per hour after that. However, it is very difficult for us to give an estimate.
The wire pictured which was in very bad shape took us 25 1/2 hours to untangle.
Untangling a wire is very tedious work. Please don't expect us to work on your wire for many hours straight. It can take many days for us to get back to it once we start. However, you are only charged for the time we are actually working on untangling your wire.
What happens after it's transferred to the computer?
Gain adjustments are made, in some cases, hiss and hum are reduced, track IDs are placed and then the CD is made.
I have no idea what or how much is on this wire I have. Can you let me know what is on it first?
We sure can. There is a charge of $20 per spool for this service which is applied to the transfer price should you decide to have the transfer done. There is no charge if your wire turns out to be blank.
Can I get the finished recording on cassette instead of CD?
Due to quality issues, we only provide the finished recording on CD. If you don't own a CD player, we recommend you have a friend make a cassette copy for you. Do remember these are your family heirlooms. CD will last longer than cassette tape and can not be accidentally erased.
Can I get extra CD copies?
Of course. However, we do recommend that you not order extras until you've had a chance to listen to the original CD first. Often what has been written on the box or what someone told you would be on the wire is not. Re-recording on a wire can happen and that information may be wrong. Just give us a call to order copies. We will have them out to you in no time.
Will you edit out sections for me?
We can do any editing you'd like. Standard hourly studio rates apply.
How do I get the wire to you?
Secure the wire on the spool as recommended above and pack it well. Do not use a padded envelope for wires. The weight of the spools will easily rip a padded envelope open. It's best to ship in a box. You can ship it to us using your favorite shipping company. We recommend U.S. Priority Mail with a Delivery Confirmation or Signature Confirmation receipt. All return shipments are made via Priority Mail unless otherwise specified.
How much is my old wire recorder worth?
A similar question appeared in Leslie Hindman's "What's it Worth" column in the May 21, 2000 Chicago Tribune. In this case, the recorder in question was an early Webster-Chicago model and was appraised at $60, $80 with the original microphone.
Do you repair wire recorders?
No, we don't. But Darren Hoffman rebuilds wire recorders and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you transfer GE and Pierce wires?
The answer is yes, however... there is an extra charge of $15 per spool. And...The players we use are the more common post-war variety. Because of this, the spools that fit on our machines are much smaller than those used by GE and Pierce. In these cases, the wire must be moved to the smaller spools for playback. Once that is done, the recording is easily transferred to CD. Unfortunately, we have no way at this time to return the wire to its original spool. The wire is returned to you on two of the smaller spools.
Reel, Cassette and 8-track Cartridge Tape FAQ
Determining the length of a cassette or 8-track Cartridge is as simple as looking at the label in most cases. Tape is rarely added or edited from a cartridge type tape. And the machines ran at a fixed speed.
Reel-to-reel tapes are another story. Not only can these tapes vary in length from what the box might say, they can also be recorded at different speeds (sometimes on the same tape) and have different track configurations. The chart below is meant only as a guide for determining the length of reel tape. Only after playback can exact lengths be determined.
APPROX RUN TIME PER TRACK - ONE DIRECTION
|| Speed (ips)
| (225 Ft)
| (600 Ft)
| (1200 Ft)
| (1800 Ft)
| (2400 Ft)
| (3600 Ft)
Multiply by number of mono or stereo tracks for exact recording times.
Other tape formats
Though we tranfer a great number of consumer reel, cassette and 8-track tapes, we handle other analog and digital consumer and professional tape formats as well. Contact us for more information.
When shipping reel tapes, be sure to secure the end of the tape to the reel to keep the tape from unraveling during transit. 8-track cartridge and cassettes should be well cushioned to prevent crushing.
What is meant by tape baking?
Tape can suffer from what's called "sticky shed syndrome". There is much debate as to why this happens, but the current thought is that over time moisture absorbed by the bonding adhesive can cause the tape oxide(the part that records) to separate from the plastic backing. Subjecting the tape to low heat for several hours dries out the adhesive long enough to play the tape. If this is not done, the tape will shed off the backing and the adhesive will gum up the tape machine. This is mainly a problem with tape manufactured in the 70's and 80's. Another more common problem with tape from all eras is that the tape lubricant dries out causing screeching during playback which can damage the recording. Because baking a tape would make this worse, we only bake tape when it shows signs of sticky shed.
How It Works
You will want to contact us first for current pricing. Print out our contact form and fill it out completely. Then mail it along with your recordings. The address is on the form. It is also helpful to shoot us an email when you've shipped the recordings so we know to watch for them. When the box arrives, we immediately notify you so that you know it got here safely. Once we've evaluated the recordings, we let you know what the total cost will be and at completion, email you an invoice. We ship as soon as we receive payment.
Rates for all restoration and transfers to CD or other digital formats are based on the length of the actual recording with minimum flat fees. There are additional rates for untangling wire, transfer from the larger GE wires and tape "baking".
Return shipping is based on actual weight via US Priority Mail.
Call 800-246-3811 or us for our current rates.