Identifying BASF Reel to Reel Tapes
When you see BASF tapes for sales on Ebay or from private parties, most of the time they come in gray or black plastic boxes, and you can’t tell from the package what tape you are getting. The good news is that all of their tapes are identified with a code printed on the green outer leader tape. There are huge differences in quality between them, so you have to be careful with what you are buying! In general, all BASF tapes give good performance today except for the Studio Series / LH Super / Ferro LH, which should be avoided.
The length / thickness of the tape is in the number portion of the code for all BASF tapes.
52 – SP (Standard Play), 52 micron (1.5 mil)
35 – LP (Long Play), 35 micron (1.0 mil) – BASF LP tapes we made with the same oxide coating as the SP tapes.
26 – DP (Double Play), 26 micron (0.75 mil) – Unlike US made DP tapes, BASF used a combination of a slightly thicker polyester (0.75 micron) and a slightly thinner oxide coating optimized for 3-3/4 ips, which made this tape type more popular in Germany than in the US. In the US the SP oxide coating was placed on an ultra-thin 0.5 mil backing, which made DP tapes more difficult to use because they were so thin, and they consequently got a negative reputation.
18 – TP (Triple Play), 18 micron (0.5 mil)
Early gray BASF plastic hinged boxes with the “Gothic” lettering
LGS 52, LGS 35, LGS 26 – Olive green leader – Older type 1 tapes with a PVC backing, similar to Scotch 150 or Ampex 341 / 541, or Agfa PE31. Use with older decks or newer decks with a standard tape setting. BASF brough out their classic three small window reel with this packaging, made of clear plastic, with the red BASF logo label affixed to the center of the reel.
SP52, LP35, DP26, TP18 – Olive green leader – These tapes had a formulation similar to LGS on a polyester backing. These tapes perform similar to LGS, and are often confused for the later, and much higher performance LH Series. They are not the same and are not worth the extra money.
Later gray BASF plastic hinged boxes with modern lettering
SP52, LP35, DP26, TP18 – Olive green leader – same tapes as above, in the mid 70s this changed to a darker green leader tape. You can tell the older formulation from the newer one as it is not as polished and more orange in color when compared with the LH Series.
SP52 LH, LP35 LH, DP26 LH, TP18 LH – Olive green leader and later, dark green leader – This series of Low Noise (Type 2) reel to reel tapes were manufactured from 1969 to 1986. This is the formulation that made BASF’s reputation worldwide as a top reel to reel tape producer. This tape is known for its excellent quality, with flat frequency response and excellent stability and tape to head contact, with excellent performance at 3-3/4ips (particularly the DP version). Advanced R&D made sure this tape would last a long time, even when stored in adverse conditions. Today, it might shed more that other tapes of this vintage, but our testing has confirmed that the super flat and linear frequency response has held up.
Regardless of the tape type, all BASF tapes of this vintage has the same BASF clear plastic reel.
When buying sealed NOS tapes make sure to look for the LH logo on the plastic, otherwise you might be paying full price for the older standard tape formulation. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!
Black BASF plastic boxes with grey translucent hinges
In the late 1980s BASF tapes were renamed for the US market, although the same tapes were available overseas with the standard BASF codes. For a number of years, they were supplied with anew single thread reel design. Later, the reels were changed to the classic BASF three window reel in translucent gray plastic.
Performance Series – SP52 LH, LP35 LH, DP26 LH, TP18 LH – The newer generation LH Series with the same formulation.
Studio Series – SP52 LH SUPER, LP35 LH SUPER, DP26 LH SUPER – A higher performance type 3 (low noise / high output) tape that unfortunately is known for squealing (SBS). Avoid.
Ferro LH Series – SP52 Ferro LH, LP35 Ferro LH, DP26 Ferro LH – A later generation with of the LH Super tapes, that not only exhibit squealing (SBS) but sudden binder failure as well (SBF). These are rarely found in the US but were popular in the 1980s in Germany and Europe. Only found with the gray three window reel.
The TP 18 Ferro LH was just the older TP 18 LH in the red package.
Professional Series (LPR and DPR) – LPR 35 FE SUPER LH and DPR 26 FE SUPER LH – BASF’s famous back-coated +3 (type 4) tape was one of the world’s best of that type with excellent winding properties. Found with both the single thread and gray three window reel. Tapes labeled Professional Series are thin on the ground in the USA.
Later, these three tapes were only available in cardboard boxes with the formulas clearly marked on them. The LH series simply became the LP 35 and DP 26 tapes, and these can be confused with the earlier (type 1) LP 35 and DP26 tapes from the late 1960s and early 70s.
We offer the full range of BASF tapes refurbished in our store.