Check out the details on this announcement of the remaster of Tom Petty's analog albums:
It's disturbing that master tapes from the late 1970s and early 1980s are now considered
"unplayable." Without knowing any specifics, I wonder if the tapes had gooey splices and needed
baking because they were sticky-shed. The baking would make the splices even worse, but I think they
still might be cleanable with enough time, a very well-vented space and lots of naptha. It would be
pain-staking, but possibly doable. The other thing that might have happened is that the tapes went
sticky and someone rewound them without baking them, which would likely ruin them due to massive
If anyone knows anyone involved in this project, tell them that as long as they tapes weren't
rewound when sticky, they might be salvagable. Also, if anyone has tapes they can donate to research
that are both gooey-spliced and sticky-shed, I'd like to experiment. I'm wondering about a soak in a
tub of naptha, then thorough drying before baking (obviously, very important for all of the
explosive/flammable naptha to evaporate before baking). The idea would be, dissolve as much splice
goo as possible before baking, then very carefully unspool and repair/replace splices after baking.
This is just a theory right now, I have not tested it.
-- Tom Fine