Space Echo /// Roland RE-201 reliability

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Telecasteur, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Telecasteur

    Telecasteur Member

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    [​IMG]
    Jonny Greenwood's RE-201 settings

    How difficult are these actually to keep in shape?

    Obviously real tape echo is infamous for being difficult to maintain... but can this thread please be about tips and tricks, and fool-proof servicing techniques, as they relate to the Roland Space Echo?


    According to echofix.com, a repair shop specializing in Roland Space Echoes, some common problems are:

    *speed variation problems (wow and flutter)
    *Chewing tapes
    *No Echo tails or very low echo level
    *Scratchy pots and selectors

    Let's assume I have a unit that does not currently need repair. Aside from regularly demagnetizing the tape heads, what are some other preventative maintenance techniques that can be done? Do you put anything on the roller or other contact points? Let's demystify this mythical beast.

    [​IMG]
    Challenge #1: Someone explain how to replace the tape.

    [​IMG]
    Challenge #2: Can anyone label all the proprietary parts shown in this picture?
    Bonus: explain their functions
     
  2. codetocontra

    codetocontra Member

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    Maintenance: Clean the tape path with 100% alcohol, especially the heads. Do not use 70% rubbing alcohol. Clean rubber pinch roller with soap and water (I prefer Dawn). I only perform maintenance when it starts to sound funny, such as having properties on the list you mentioned.

    Don't buy a non-working unit. Space Echo motors and tape heads are no longer being manufactured. Motors can be rebuilt though. Heads can be found used.

    Tape change is fairly easy. Open the pressure pad flap (near the rubber pinch roller) and gently lift tape out and around the path, then gently pull the other pressure pad open. The tape is a continuous loop, easy to change, and still available.
     
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  3. Frosted Glass

    Frosted Glass Member

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    I had my 301 reconditioned by echofix.com. After receipt I needed to send it back for further fine tuning. Scott is really good to deal with and a nice guy, but it leads me to believe these units are pretty finicky. I'm still undecided about whether I'll keep it long term.
     
  4. Telecasteur

    Telecasteur Member

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    It's stories like this that have me worried about it. Could things become misaligned in shipping? If so, which part specifically needs to be realigned and how?
     
  5. Black_Label

    Black_Label Member

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    Codetocontra is right. Don't buy a non-working unit. Get a good one that's been recently serviced.

    The finickyness of tape echoes is overblown. They're not really that hard to keep running well. Change the tape when it starts fluttering too much. Demag the heads and metal surface every few months. When you have the tape out for the demag, clean the tape path and capstan with alcohol. You can use 91%; don't use 70%. For the heads, use tape head cleaner or lighter fluid, not alcohol. For the pinch roller, rubber conditioner is best - better than soapy water if you want to keep the rubber from drying out. Absolutely, do not ever use alcohol on the pinch roller.

    Decent quarter inch tape is still easy to find and being made.
     
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  6. Frankee

    Frankee Wartime Consigliere

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    Mine works like a champ. Just keep it clean and lubed.....like you're supposed to. I also bought a handful of replacement tapes off Reverb. They weren't expensive.
     
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  7. Frosted Glass

    Frosted Glass Member

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    I guess so. The unit was destroying tape within an hour or so of use. I don't know what was wrong with it, whether it was the tape roller or what.
     
  8. Telecasteur

    Telecasteur Member

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    Great tips! especially the rubber conditioner instead of soapy water.

    Ok, alcohol to clean (except for tape heads--use tape head cleaner), but what do you use to lube?

    Do you lube up the entire tape path?
     
  9. Telecasteur

    Telecasteur Member

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    Anyone know what causes the Space Echo to chew up tape? How about aligning it correctly?
     
  10. Frankee

    Frankee Wartime Consigliere

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    The studio I bought it from threw in a little thing of what they told me was bearing-grease that was cut down a little bit with sewing-machine oil.
     
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  11. MilwMark

    MilwMark Member

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    They are not like a pedal, if that's the question. They are generally durable. It's more work to maintain than an amp, to me. You have the caps, etc that need replacing every few decades. Plus you have to maintain the tape and path more regularly. How often depending on your machine, and how you want it to sound. Perfectly in spec or a little modulated. The tape is much easier to maintain (and lasts much longer, IME) in a Space Echo than an Echoplex.

    My view is that people used them because that's what was available. As decent delay, echo pedals became available, and decent preamp pedals, the market fell way off. To me it was for good reason - the cost/benefit weighs in favor of pedals for most. Some just have to have the tape units and either enjoy upkeep or put up with it as the trade-off. I've had multiple Echopkex's and a Space Echo. For me they were cool to try but the charm wore off. But I'm pretty lazy and like a small, quick gig footprint.
     
  12. codetocontra

    codetocontra Member

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    My recommendation to use soapy water comes from Terry, a guy that specializes in rubber pinch rollers, so I defer my opinions to his expertise. http://www.terrysrubberrollers.com/

    Excerpt from his site:

     
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  13. Ruiner

    Ruiner Member

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    I want one so bad. This or the RE-201 will be my next vintage echo unit.
     
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  14. PurpleJesus

    PurpleJesus Internet Moderator/Super Hero Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I never had any issues with mine. Sherwood Music in Asheville, NC does great work on them. Highly recommend them for service on pretty much anything.
     
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  15. PurpleJesus

    PurpleJesus Internet Moderator/Super Hero Staff Member Supporting Member

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    RE-150 is just as good if you don't want the reverb. Only difference. I know you're into delays.
     
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  16. Ruiner

    Ruiner Member

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    I'd like the reverb and i meant the RE 201 or the RE 501 are the next two choices.

    There'a a mint RE 201 in a shop around the corner but it's $2k. :(
     
  17. Telecasteur

    Telecasteur Member

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    To be fair, he sells rubber rollers and claims that they will inevitably dry out and crack (good for his business). Maybe that's because he uses soapy water, instead of rubber conditioner...

    Awesome. Is there anywhere you don't want to put that stuff (tape heads?) or just lube the entire tape path contact points?
     
  18. Frankee

    Frankee Wartime Consigliere

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    You can buy lubed tape. The grease is for the roller-bearings.
     
  19. alamere

    alamere Member

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    "How Difficult" is a tough question to answer... I think we tend to answer with some version of "depends.. How difficult is 'too difficult' for you?"

    I had a space echo for 4-5 years that I played every show with... LOVED it SO much. The difficulty wasn't really maintaining it for me, it ran strong, I cleaned it normally and spliced new tape as needed, etc. The reason I moved on was that, as good and 3d as the thing sounded, I was the only person sitting on the stage 2hrs before showtime splicing tape. I just had so much to do sometimes on show days, that finding the time to maintain it became tiresome.

    It's definitely more upkeep than a tube amp in my opinion... they're intoxicating to watch!! but the tape at times becomes mis-aligned, or the splice separates when it's hot outside.. there are just tiny things that go wrong with them that don't go wrong with a delay pedal.

    I think the question is, how bad do you want it?? :)

    as far as touring goes, I was happy to switch to a pedal.
    and unless I had a roadie (doubtful to ever happen!?) I'd probably never consider playing shows with one again.
     
  20. PurpleJesus

    PurpleJesus Internet Moderator/Super Hero Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't care how mint it is, that's about double what it should be.
     

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