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Not happy with Fulltone Tape Echo.......

big e

Member
Messages
394
I've been using my Tape Echo for 10 years. With regular head cleaning & de-maging the typical tapes lasted anywhere from 1-3 years. In June I purchased two new "improved with ball bearings" tape cartridges for $60. The first one lasted about a month. The second one about the same. I reinstalled an old tape cartridge that I used a year ago (the old style) and it's has been trouble free.


I contact Fulltone twice via e-mail to complain about the poor performance. It took four days to get a response. Their response: they didn't take any responsibility for possible defective tapes but insulted me by suggesting the I need to do regular maintenance.

Is this the kinda of service a supposedly top shelf company is expected to provide! ?? This is a $1000 piece of equipment.

Others have this experience with the tape unit or Fulltone?:mad:
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
19,951
Does Fulltone themselves make the tapes, or have them made?
Ask if they can sell you the old style?

My brief experiences with Fulltone, which a lot of others have also experienced I see from posts here, they are "moody". Thin skinned, and liable to blame the user for anything they don't like.

I had one polite (started out simply praising their pedal) inquiry, I got a scathing, rude, stupid response. Later on got a little better one, both were Mike Fuller. Maybe a good day and a bad one...basically told me I "couldn't" be experiencing what I was experiencing, because " most of our complaints are about the opposite"...they aren't very consistent with their customer "service" in my experience.

Obviously, you have been using yours for 10 years with success, you do regular maintenance and THEY changed a "consumable" component, and suddenly you experience problems. Seems pretty clear cut.

I wish you luck!

If you don't get a decent response, I'd suggest asking here and other places for other users, to see if they are experiencing the same thing, send a group email to them...
 

FAC

Member
Messages
939
Others have this experience with the tape unit or Fulltone?:mad:
Sounds like it is a problem with the tape in the new cartridges, not the TTE itself.

What is happening with the tape that it needs to be replaced? Is it spalling off the backing? Do you notice the heads get dirtier faster? Where did you get the new tape? Did it get exposed to heat or sunlight before installation? Lots of things can make magnetic tape problematic.

Did Fulltone change the brand or type of tape in the cartridge when they went to the ball bering style? That would be something I would ask them specifically...a direct question that has a yes no answer.

Just curious...is it mechanically quieter with the ball bering cartridge? When I had a TTE, the cartridge (pre-ball bering) did squeak a lot (audible at home or low volume settings...I could make it better by placing the unit on its side, so the tape was upright like a reel to reel).
 

kenoflife

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,489
My brief experiences with Fulltone, which a lot of others have also experienced I see from posts here, they are "moody"....Thin skinned, and liable to blame the user for anything they don't like..
my experience - I actually got four letter words back, not loving ones.
 

0xeneye

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,721
I have read forum responses from Mike Fuller (on vintage Mustangs, vintage amps, pedals) and even at the Fulltone web site for many years. I notice a real elitist and angry character in his word choice. Like "we're better and others are wrong and stupid and you never heard a '69 Marshall cranked so you need this stuff." I think that approach is wrong headed, and while I like their products and think they are good, I like other smaller builders much more.

For someone SO MUCH INTO Hendrix, it's a shame Mike never seems to cop some of the spirit of Jimi, who really *was* a tone expert and knew it was only *in himself* to deliver great music.

For this reason I dumped my '69 and FullDrive, both good products.
 

gigs

Member
Messages
10,960
I own many Fulltone products and am VERY happy with them and the support from Mike Fuller. Not one problem. He seems like a very reasonable businessman to me.
 

big e

Member
Messages
394
let me chime back in............the tapes are mangling up. They are suppose to be a studio quality (better than the old) and the sound quality was better and yes the squeak was gone (although for me that wasn't a problem live) When the tapes failed I was gigging both times and realized during the gig that the echo quit, only to remove the cover and find the tape not turning because it was mangled up inside the cartridge. There isn't an phone number listed on Fulltone's site so there isn't anyway for me to ask for anyone in particular.....Mike or others. I'm going to look around for "knock off" copies that may work better or possibly try another new cartridge but if I get the same result it will be for sale. As a pro musician I don't have time or money towaste on something that doesn't work or isn't supported. There are plenty of echo units on the market and I'll find one that works without the hassles.
 

analogmike

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,977
I have heard that when a tape gets mangled, it's due to the machine not being set up properly.
 

gigs

Member
Messages
10,960
let me chime back in............the tapes are mangling up. They are suppose to be a studio quality (better than the old) and the sound quality was better and yes the squeak was gone (although for me that wasn't a problem live) When the tapes failed I was gigging both times and realized during the gig that the echo quit, only to remove the cover and find the tape not turning because it was mangled up inside the cartridge. There isn't an phone number listed on Fulltone's site so there isn't anyway for me to ask for anyone in particular.....Mike or others. I'm going to look around for "knock off" copies that may work better or possibly try another new cartridge but if I get the same result it will be for sale. As a pro musician I don't have time or money towaste on something that doesn't work or isn't supported. There are plenty of echo units on the market and I'll find one that works without the hassles.
Sounds like you need to have backups available for components that are critical to your gig. Things fail, usually at the worst moment. I would think a professional musician would know that and prepare for it. As well as thoroughly testing components and knowing exactly how to set them up properly.
 

pacomc79

Member
Messages
1,515
It could be possible that there was a bad run of tape cartridges or maybe the ones you got for some reason just aren't up to spec in some way. Sounds like something is catching or bunching really.

I'd probably just stick with the old ones if they can be found for a while.

Tapes are probably the most fragile weak component of that entire setup.

The regular maintence comment is helpdesk boilerplate.
 

big e

Member
Messages
394
Yeah, that's my thoughts. Guess I'm expecting too much for Fulltone to offer to replacement them or offer a discount! ?? Old story isn't it...........guy works is ass off to start a business and build success, then he becomes very successful and then doesn't care enough to pay extra tech people to provide world class service.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
11,795
Had the same problem. I had some new ones as back ups and put them into my old 2 Ep3s they kept freezing up and stopping, finally they ate the tape . Got a Tubplex and put in a fresh tape then after a day the same thing: the FT tape froze and after that happening regulary for a week the tape got eaten.


knew better than to call Fulltone after my TTE repair

So in 4 tape echos that never had isues eating tape 3 had issues when using the ball bearing FT tape and none when using old tapes of various ages and makes before and after the new TTE tapes. my TTE has an old tape in it
 

FAC

Member
Messages
939
I have heard that when a tape gets mangled, it's due to the machine not being set up properly.
I agree with Mike.

I am not defending or vilifying Fulltone service here...just trying to get to the bottom of things.

We were missing a key piece of info...the fact that the tape was mangled.

Tape mangling means the tension arm is not set up properly (in particular, the tape felt tension arm, which is designed to be adjustable), or the rollers are not functioning properly (or perhaps a few other things, but those are the two big ones). Assuming normal maintenance has been done, then I would thing the tension arm is to blame. A new one is provided with each cartridge, or at least it was when I had a unit.

I suspect that the old cartridges need a different tension than the new ones. I would bet the ball bering cartridges are a lot smoother (that is, the cartridge itself has less tension on the tape) such that the tension arm needs to be set up differently to work properly.

The old cartridges by their nature had a certain amount of tension on the tape from friction of the plastic reels...the ball bering ones probably have a lot less inherent tension.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
11,795
Here is the deal : when I used older tapes i had no issues. Sent my new to me battle tubplex out to get setup and thet put in a new tape, no idea on it orgin but it has run fine as have my 2 Ep3 once I got rid of the fulltone ball berring. The post on the felt tension arm makes sense I tried that last month. I removed mine , tried adjusting it and swapped an extra....same problems. I do have an orbit waiting to be used so I'll see what happens there. I did have anearly ball berring and it had no issues. In fact in 20 yearsof having echoples type and 28 with an RE201 this was thr 1st time my tapes got eaten
 




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