Cassette tapes have, in large part, gone the way of the dodo. In fact, few people under the age of twenty-five are even familiar with the technology, having grown up in an age of digital music. Nevertheless, for those of us who have held on to music in its prior incarnations, you may well find that Father Time – or just ordinary wear-and-tear – has sapped some vitality not just from your own tired old bones but also from this particular music format. In brief, you will, sooner or later, discover that the actual tape in your cassette has snapped, making it impossible to play the music recorded thereon. Thankfully, there is a simple, easy fix for this which, while not perfect, will go a long way towards letting you continue to enjoy music in cassette form. Items you will need include the following: scotch tape; scissors, tweezers.
First of all, the open end of the cassette (where the recording tape is actually visible and accessible) is usually where the break occurs - if you’re lucky. (Click here to see a pic of a cassette tape with various parts labeled.) Normally, a cursory glance at this portion of the cassette will reveal the two snapped ends of the tape. If this is indeed the case, use tweezers to pull enough of the two snapped portions through the center opening of the cassette. (This is the largest opening - where a small piece of cloth-like material called the pressure pad is located - and will make it easiest to work with the tape.)
You don’t need much recording tape to work with here, maybe half an inch on each side. Bring the two ends towards one another and, using a small piece of scotch tape, bind them together. This is probably best accomplished by bringing the two broken ends of the recording tape together and simply folding the piece of scotch tape over them. (Symbolically, think of the scotch tape as a piece of bread being folded over into a half-sandwich, with the recording tape being the meat.)
In terms of width, it’s fine if the scotch tape is actually wider than the recording tape; just take the scissors and clip of the excess scotch tape on either side so that the scotch tape and recording tape are now the same width. Regarding length, you want to keep the scotch tape as short as possible, because no music will be heard on any area that it covers. (Plus, the scotch tape is less flexible than the recording tape, and too much of it can interfere with the cassette’s ability to play properly.) Finally, turn either of the spools - the spoked wheels on the cassette - so that the recording tape is pulled back into its normal playing position. Voila! You have now fixed the tape and can enjoy it, with the only caveat being that there will be a small “dead” area of sound when the portion with the scotch tape is fed through a cassette player. As I said, it’s not a perfect solution, but it will allow you to keep enjoying your cassettes for some time to come.
If you’re unlucky, one – if not both – of the broken ends of the recording tape has been wound around its respective spool such that it is no longer visible via the open end of the cassette. Under these circumstances, you will be forced to use a screwdriver to open the cassette case to fix it. The full solution to this particular dilemma can be found in the follow-up article to this one, and will require - in addition to the items noted above - a phillips screwdriver (small head).