I just transferred a reel of tape I made back in 1982 at a major NYC recording studio. It was a dub
of something. I thought the reel was all Maxell UDXL 35-90, 1-mil back-coated and I've heard few if
any reports of it going sticky. The tape played just fine, absolutely no residue from rewinding or
playback (it's a 2-track 7.5IPS tape, transfer was done on a Technics 1520). Now here's where it
gets interesting. I didn't remember this, but the end of the reel was spliced-in Ampex 456, and it
wasn't sticky. I didn't know this before rewinding because I had kept the Maxell end of reel leader
tape and just spliced in the Ampex tape because I needed 5 minutes more time at the end of the reel.
The reason I noticed this was I was monitoring the end of the tape, heard a splice go through the
transport and noticed that the tape oxide color was suddenly brown instead of gray-black like Maxell
UDXL. When the tape finished, I wound out the leader tape and examined the end of the spliced-on
section. It was definitely 1.5-mil Ampex 456 (that was the only tape available at the studio to
splice into my Maxell reel, they were an all-Ampex shop). I felt the tape front and back with my
fingers, and didn't feel the tell-tale gummy-sticky-greasy texture of sticky-shed. And, there was no
evidence of any layers sticking together. Plus, as I said, no residue on any moving or fixed guides
or the tape heads.
I have no idea why this piece of tape didn't go sticky. I'm wondering if the non-sticky Maxell tape,
making up most of the reel, can somehow absorb or mitigate whatever causes the sticky-shed? It's
also worth noting that this tape has always been stored in the plastic bag within the cardboard box.
If I had known the section of Ampex 456 was spliced in to the reel, I would have baked the whole
thing before playing it. I'm glad it turned out I didn't need to.
I'm interested in any theories as to why that piece of 456 wasn't sticky. Other reels of 456 that I
recorded at that studio at that time have all been sticky and required baking.
-- Tom Fine