Video Introduction to BASF Reel to Reel Tapes

BASF was one of the world’s top manufacturer’s of tape, who started production in the late 1930s of acetate tape. Later the plant was burned down and they restarted production in a new plant with tapes with a PVC backing, starting in 1952.

We’ll start the discussion with BASF starting with those tapes, called LGS, in SP, LP and DP forms. These were high quality standard red oxide tapes (type) using a PVC backing. They are still reliable today. They also offered a higher quality tape with Polyester backing called the PES.

Most BASF tapes can be identified by printing on the leader tape – although the marking was not always consistent across all production years, and the “official” list of BASF tape types found on line is not entirely accurate, and we will try to make it clear here as we try to sell tapes from all eras. The challenge for people purchasing used BASF tapes in their classic gray plastics boxes is that you have no idea which tapes you are getting!

BASF brought out their standard SP/LP/DP/TP line of tapes, also a standard oxide (type 1) tape in 1969, the were the first tapes to use the polyester backing. These tapes have an olive green leader and have the designations “SP 52”, “LP 35”, “DP 26” and “TP 18”. Although also excellent tape, it is often confused with the later “LH-Hifi” tapes that made their reputation.

Next up are the LH Hifi tapes introduced in 1972, a low noise formulation with a polyester backing that cemented their great reputation through the 1970s. Through extensive testing, the company promoted that these tapes could last a lifetime. These were available in SP, LP, DP and TP lengths. These tapes also have an olive green leader and have the designations “SP 52 LH”, “LP 35 LH”, “DP 26 LH” and “TP 18 LH”. Interestingly enough, unlike US manufacturers, their DP tapes had a thinner oxide coating combined with a thicker 0.75 mil backing when compared to the LP tapes, a trait that continued until production stopped. US manufacturers used the TP (0.5 mil) base thickness with the LP oxide thickness. BASF took a different approach that resulted in a slightly more robust tape. The DP 26 was apparently the most popular length in Germany as that is what we found when we sourced used tapes there.

In 1975 they introduced a high output (type 3) tape called the Ferro Super LH, with a highly polished surface. Most of these these tapes suffer from SBS and screeching. They were quickly discontinued in 1978. They were replaced with “Ferro LH Hifi” and only available in Germany. The newer generations of BASF tape had a dark green leader with a newer generation of markings. Unfortunately our lots of these tapes suffer from complete binder failure, where the oxide simply falls off the tape.

A superior back coated tape, the LPR 35 Ferro Super LH and DPR 26 Ferro Super LH were released as well. These tapes are some of the best ever made, with excellent sound, reliability and spooling properties. We were able to source a large amount of these.

Towards the end of BASF’s tape production, the LH Hifi tapes were resold as standard LP series, and these are identified by their dark green leaders, also labeled as “SP 52”, “LP 35”, “DP 26” and “TP 18”. We designate these as LH tapes due to their high performance.

More to come on the newer professional formulations…

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