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Tape Splicing Block

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Tape Splicing Block

Postby Dan LB » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:58 am

Anyone know of a source for 1/4” splicing blocks? I’m having difficulty tracking one down at a reasonable price in the UK / Ireland..

Perhaps my understanding of ‘reasonable’ needs to change :headbang:

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:16 pm

They come up occasionally on ebay, but prices vary enormously. I'm not aware of anyone still making them or selling new stock.

You could try these people: http://www.taperecorder.co.uk/accessories.htm ... although their website says they don't have any currently in stock.

There are Editall type blocks screwed to the front of most BBC tape recorders, and there's a lot of those for sale still on the auction sites... ;-)

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby James Perrett » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:51 pm

I was going to say try Tape City as I thought I'd seen one on there but their accessories page at

http://www.tapecity.co.uk/acatalog/Open ... ories.html

shows everything you need apart from the actual splicing block.

Splicit in the USA have them

http://www.splicit.com/1-8-1-4-1-2-Pro- ... s-p/sb.htm

Splicing blocks aren't quite as simple as they may appear at first. Not only do the slots have to be precisely the right width but the channel bottom is often also slightly curved.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:07 pm

IIRC the slot is slightly narrower than the tape so when it is placed in the slot the curved bottom conforms to the actual width of the tape and holds it firmly (ish) in the slot while you cut and splice it.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:41 pm

Yes, that's it -- a very clever design!

There's a lovely pdf of the Editall manual here:

https://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/Miscellaneous-Manufacturers/Edit-All-Tape-Splicer-Manual.pdf
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby blinddrew » Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:43 pm

For the record (pun intended) I am glad that I have never had, nor ever will have, to do this! :)
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby paul tha other » Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:50 pm

i watched a guy cut a tape once ..it was a very tense and exciting moment in a studio for me..we had just paid for the tape and this bloke was chopping into it with a razor blade..i must have been 18 or so...i can still see my drummers face as the guy was cutting into it...once he had finished and put it back on to the tape player he got a round of applause from us because it had sorted out what ever the problem was ,and the tape still played...

im glad ive never had to do this
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:00 pm

Physical tape editing is one of those craft skills which has declined immeasurably, and has largely lost any relevance given today's technology. But watching a skilled practitioner at work is/was an awe-inspiring joy, and it's almost impossible to believe how quickly they could work and what could actually be achieved with such an apparently crude technique.

Of course... it would never be allowed today because of the Elf's Safety rules what with all those exposed razor blades lying around and metal reels spinning extremely fast without protective guards? Back in the day, though, injuries were remarkably rare, and I can't remember anyone getting throttled when their tie draped over a machine in fast-wind! ;-)

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:19 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Physical tape editing is one of those craft skills which has declined immeasurably, and has largely lost any relevance given today's technology. But watching a skilled practitioner at work is/was an awe-inspiring joy, and it's almost impossible to believe how quickly they could work and what could actually be achieved with such an apparently crude technique.

The obsolescence of crafts is something that's always particularly bothered me. In my first ever office job I worked for a newspaper, and found the printing press (and everything to do with it) fascinating. By the time I'd come along they'd moved to electronic pre-press production of the printing plates that wrapped around the rollers (a kind of etching of PDF originals onto thin sheets of metal) but there were plenty of folks there who could still fall back to using metal typographic blocks if needed, and had learned that craft over decades.

Kerning by hand with shims, arranging an entire broadsheet page letter by letter at unbelievable speed (and accuracy) into frames. There was a whole language that went with it as well.

Although modern methods are 'better' in terms of the final product, I think we've lost something along the way. Perhaps it's that we're now that much more reliant on the modern ways, whereas in the past they'd have been able to work around problems that would bring an outfit at a standstill today. Perhaps it's the artistry itself... I have no idea.

I think it's very sad that so much amazing skill, knowledge and experience that was handed down over generations is dissipating so quickly and it applies just as much to the recording and music industry as does anywhere else.

That said, it gives one a warm feeling to see that there are resolute corners of resistance, specifically along the lines of the amazing 50's studio (and the like) featured in a video from a magazine we all know and love ;)
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Folderol » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:02 pm

Oh dear. A couple of months ago, I re-found my splicing block while sorting out some old stuff. Now I know I didn't chuck it out, but have absolutely no clue where it is :(

Hmmm.
{creeeeak} {clump} {clump} {clump} {clump}
{click}{fizzzz} - must fix that light switch.
{rummage}{rummage}
{clunk} Ouch!
{rummage}{rummage}{rummage}{rummage}
{crash} never liked that lampshade anyway.
{rummage}
Not in cellar then.
{clump} {clump} {clump} {clump}
{shuffle}
{climb}{climb}{climb}
{bump} Ow.
{slide} Brrr, cold up here.
{step}{step}
{step} Where's the next joist?
{feel}
{prick} Arg! Splinter... again!
{rummage}
Hmm, the box looks suspiciously dust free.
{shuffle}{lift}{rummage}
Yay! Bib recoding tape splicer!

Wow, I see one simpler than this being advertised for $20+ Tell you what, You can have mine with a $20+ discount, but added post and packing :lol:
PM with addy.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby James Perrett » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:40 pm

I used to quite enjoy doing the odd edit - often when a mix became too complicated to do in one pass so I'd take it in sections. However I didn't enjoy one spoken word project where the artist changed their mind so often that I was splicing individual syllables.

Nowadays the only time I have anything to do with splicing is to repair old splices or add some leader tape when the programme material starts too close to the end of the tape.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:56 pm

I must confess I had a tape block at the age of 22, but it was purely for messing about with my Akai 4000, I never did anything serious with it. I do remember, though, the first time I did a cross fade in Logic realising that's what the diagonal slots were for ...

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Wonks » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:29 pm

Is it similar to writer's block?
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:53 am

Why does this thread make me think of Creighton Wheeler?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcZn19NfLwM
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:19 am

James Perrett wrote:I used to quite enjoy doing the odd edit - often when a mix became too complicated to do in one pass so I'd take it in sections. However I didn't enjoy one spoken word project where the artist changed their mind so often that I was splicing individual syllables.

Nowadays the only time I have anything to do with splicing is to repair old splices or add some leader tape when the programme material starts too close to the end of the tape.

Same for me James although at present I'm labouring through a customer's old tape recordings from 1948 to 1974, including early paper and acetate tapes. My Emitape splicing block is getting a workout. Some of these I respliced 15 years ago, and now some of those splices have started to ooze and creep, or just plain fail.

Then there are splices made by somebody with ordinary sticky tape. What a sticking, yellow mess! The adhesive can bleed onto adjacent tape winds which then glue themselves to each other. At one stage I had to wind the tape through at the slowest speed the Nagra would run at so that I could see each instance of a splice coming up so I could stop the machine before the stuck winds tore each other apart.

Today, people speak of "audio restoration" as something you do with a DAW and "audio restoration software". For damaged older formats, a lot of slow, patient, hands on work might be essential just to get the original carrier in a safe and useable condition to get a play out of it.

It's easy to forget too that before tape, how did you edit a spiral groove on a disc? Tape splicing was a revolution in editing convenience, not to mention much longer recording times now possible compared to perhaps 4 minutes for a 12" 78 RPM disc.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:00 am

I also have a splicing block somewhere. I bought it only a few years ago along with splicing tape and some clear leader. Cannot remember where I got them but almost certainly via Amazon.

I had built a wired remote for the A3440 and intended to incorporate an optical tape stop. Ah! The energy of yoof! (I was about 66) never got that far but I did "top and tail" a few NAB reels.

Mind you, I am still looking for the 12 pin rectangular plug for the machine. Cobbled up from 4mm panel pins atmo!

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Ariosto » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:22 am

I did a lot of tape splicing in the late 1960's to the 1980's - all reel to reel. Those were the days! But of course for speed and the possibilities and ability to edit on computer now are so good that we will never go back. In those days of tape editing, when an edit was needed the orchestra or group etc needed often to go back where there was at least a second of silence to make a clean edit possible.
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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Dan LB » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:52 pm

Thank all for your contributions. It’s turned out to be an interesting topic.


@James Perrett: thanks for the links, the one from Splicit.com looks like what I’m after but I do wonder about what they are advertising as a “90 degree” cut - I always thought it was like 87 degrees or something- not exactly 90. I’ll contact them.

I will be using it to edit both stereo 2-track tapes recorded on a Revox A77 and 8-track 1/4” tapes recorded with a Tascam 388.


@Folderol: that’s an extremely kind offer (especially given the effort you put into finding it!) and one I might take you up on, but for now, I’m going to see if I can find an Editall block or similar. I’ll get back to you on that :thumbup: Thank you :angel:

I’ve seen some on eBay that are over $125!

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:12 pm

Dan LB wrote:...the one from Splicit.com looks like what I’m after but I do wonder about what they are advertising as a “90 degree” cut - I always thought it was like 87 degrees or something- not exactly 90.

The early blocks were cut at 90 degrees and 45 degrees, but the later Editall types were cut at 87 degrees for quarter-inch tape (and as shallow as 83 degrees for wider tape formats), plus the 45 slot. The link I posted earlier explains why (to reduce 'bias transition noise' over the edit).

The EMItape blocks which were in widespread use bolted to the Beeb's tape machines always had three slots. I believe the 'vertical slot was at 89 (rather than 87), but it certainly wasn't 90. The other two were at 45 and 60 degrees. The 89/87 degree slot was only used for declicking vinyl disc transfers and sometimes for cutting in leader tape. Anything on a half-track stereo tape (at 15 ips) was always edited with the 60 degree slot, while the 45 slot was only used for full-track mono, which had mostly been obsoleted by the time I was being trained. The 60 slot could also be used for 7.5ips mono (Uher) tapes, but stereo at 7.5ips really needed the 89/87 slot to avoid 'flash edits' where the image rushes across from left-to right as one channel is edited slightly before the other. (For really critical work, we would cut 'fish tails' by hand with brass scissors so that both channels are cut at the same time, but still with a short cross fade!)

If you can't find an Editall block, it would be fairly easy to cut new slots at any preferred angle into the Splicit aluminium block if necessary using a hacksaw with a decent blade.

I will be using it to edit both stereo 2-track tapes recorded on a Revox A77 and 8-track 1/4” tapes recorded with a Tascam 388.

I'd suggest a 60 degree cut for the stereo tapes, and the 90/87 slot for the 8-track tapes. A 45 slot on the stereo tapes is likely to result in flash edits.

I’ve seen some on eBay that are over $125!

Yes, I've seem some going for £95 recently. I'd certainly try and get an Editall or EMItape type if you can as they are undoubtedly the best to use.[/quote]

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Re: Tape Splicing Block

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:23 pm

Hacksaw a splicing block Hugh?

I think I would rather give a local engineer a decent drink and get it milled!

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