How to enjoy this format
8-track tape, also known as eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track was a popular from the mid-50’s to the early 80’s. This format has four pairs of stereo tracks and used a foil strip to trigger a solenoid to move the tape heads to the next track. This was the funkyest concept to enjoy music, and companies like Panasonic created a variety of fun-focused playback decks (aside from home audio).
Looking back, it’s easy to judge the design quality of both playback decks and the cartridge design. Some of the problems known by all of us old enough to remember those days, was the tendency for tape to come off the reel, or other mishaps due to careless handling and dirty gunk collecting on the pads and roller wheels. This was probably the shortest lived format of it’s time, but it’s regained some popularity with people who appreciate the surprising sound quality with good tapes, on a good deck. My personal enjoyment of 8-track is anchored in the nostalgia of it. It’s like taking a time machine back in time. I can enjoy music on this format with no expectation of high quality. That makes for enjoyable, non-critical listening. One big thing to note.
If you are just starting to consider this format, understand that you will have to work on many of the tapes you buy. New sealed tapes typically have rotten foam pads that have already come apart. In most cases, you will have to learn how to open up the cartridge, which is not easy on some cartridge cases. The sensing foil and splicing tape on the back of some tapes, especially tape that has been “enjoyed”, will need to be replaced. Here are some links that can help you enjoy this format to the fullest.
Tape deck repair, repair supplies & sales
Kate’s Track Shack
This is your One Stop Shop for everything 8-track. It’s where I buy my repair supplies, and they offer so much more. They have been in business for 23 years, so they know what they are doing, and they are obviously passionate about this tape format. Services include 8-track tape repair, player repair/tuneup, transfer services, arcade tapes and arcade player repair. Products include repair supplies, tapes for sale, and accessories.
Learn more about this format
The tagline on their site is “If we don’t care for the 8-track, who will?” This is a cool site that has a lot more information than what you’ll find here on my site. These guys are on a mission and have been dedicated to promoting the enjoyment of 8-track tapes, since 1995. You can learn about the format itself, tips on collecting, tape and deck maintenance and more. You’ll also find links to many useful sites.
516 SE Gleneden Place
Bend, Oregon 97702
By appointment only