Q.  Why use expensive w-e-m tape loops when you can make your own or buy them at half the price from elsewhere?

A. The answer is in the hard evidence shown in the before and after video links below, provided buy Javier Vicente who lives in Spain, to whom I am very grateful for his permission to use his videos and email content to demonstrate the problems with old stock tape, which becomes sticky due to the absorption of moisture.

Do not use old ferric oxide tape, or thin long play tape on your Copicat.

Doing so will clog the heads with ferric oxide, cause screeching and squealing noises, and stick to the heads to the extent that it will stop the machine altogether.

Javier contacted me with this problem, convinced that his heads had become so strongly magnetised that they were stopping the tape from running. As he had fitted new tape loops he'd made himself, he believed he had problems with his Copicat and contacted me for advice. His emails and video links below.


Dear John,

Firstly, thanks for being there, able and willing to help the Tape Echo community through your website. I find it truly inspiring.

I have a MK IV Copicat with an issue that I'm not capable of diagnosing 100%. I posted a video here tapeloop_demo1 in case you wish to have a look at it.   It would be fantastic if you could diagnose what's going on. Of course I'm asking this in case it's a problem with a particular part or set of parts that I can purchase from your website.

Anyway, back to the problem. Once I clean the tape path, I start the machine with a fresh tape loop and everything goes fine: echoes sound ok (some positions a bit higher in volume than others but nothing too serious), dry volume is ok, all controls work as they should and sound quality is fine.

After a while, which can be anything from 2 to 10 minutes, the tape starts to screech and apparently a (magnetic?) force created between the heads and the tape is strong enough to keep the tape from running at the right tension; the tension is so high it causes the screech and sometimes even the tape to stop though the motor is still trying to run.

If I stop the machine and turn it on again, the tape will only move if I gently separate it from the heads. Then it circulates fine for a while. That makes me think It's something magnetic and not mechanical but I'm not sure, nor other close friends here with tape echo units are.

I have not been able to locate the screech as clearly coming from a single fixed point, but it does seem to come from a single point, only it varies from test to test. There are no traces of sticky tape whatsoever and the loops are of the correct length.

Are you able to diagnose the issue?  Again, if it's a problem with a particular part that I can purchase from your site this would be good news.

I reckon I need to buy a better demagnetizer tool in any case. Are you selling any Han-D-Mag unit by chance? These are utterly impossible to find in Spain.

Thanking you in advance,




Hello Javier,

The issue you have with your Copicat I have encountered may times. Assuming the jockey arm rollers are rotating freely, the head faces are in reasonable condition and the motor is secure,the problem has to be the tape loops!

I have never seen heads magnetised to the extent that they stop the tape, but old ferric oxide tape will stick to the heads like glue! .  I suggest that you try some new genuine w-e-m tape loops, but be sure to clean all traces of ferric oxide from the heads and tape path to avoid contamination of the new tape loops.

You can buy w-e-m loops from Amp-Fix, see the spares page, or directly from Watkins, but it's best to phone them   Tel:  0208 679 5575  Calling from outside the UK.  44 208 6795575


John Beer


My note:

After a few email exchanges, I sent Javier a box of 20 w-e-m tape loops and below is his final reply, to which I rest my case :-)


Hi John, 

It's simply incredible how it sounds now. Thanks so much for sending me the loops. I'm not making any more loops myself or buying from others. These (WEM's) are just incredible. I don't care if they're more expensive. What formulation do they use? They're thicker (a tiny bit wider too?) and after cleaning/demagnetising the tape path the machine sounds superb. No squealing noise whatsoever, great frequency response and much clearer output. You can clearly hear each repetition and how the mechanical components affect the sound (in a good way). I feel I just bought a new machine, really. I spent around 15 mins playing. The other loops would have stopped 12 minutes earlier after struggling with the Copicat's motor in a mess of noise, and the WEM's were responding like they should.

I recorded a new short video. It's here tapeloop_demo2 I trimmed the end, the part when I started playing : )

Thanks John!!!


So there we have it,


box of copicat tape loops

Click the box to purchase tape loops


A link to Javier's studio   http://www.carasueñ