Keeping Work-Tape Splice Free
by Jerry Vigil
Whether you're in a multi-track studio or just a 2-track studio, you're going to do a lot of work on 2-track tape. How often have you reached for a reel of work tape to get a voice track, record some music you're going to edit, or any other number of reasons; and how often have you recorded what you needed, only to find you've recorded right over a splice?
An easy way to avoid ever recording over a splice again is to take a little time to remove any tape with splices from your work tape. For this tip to work well, you need to get in the habit of recording anything you are going to edit near the front of the reel, not halfway into it. Let's say you've recorded a voice track that needs edits. Thread up the reel and begin recording from there. Don't fast forward into the reel. Once you've made the edits and used the track, cut off the tape right after the last splice and throw that tape away! It doesn't take that long, and the next time you grab that reel you can rest assured that it'll be free of splices. Label it "WORK TAPE -- REMOVE SPLICES" so you're reminded to do so every time you use it.
What if the edits you made are worth saving? Just empty a small 5" reel and wind your work onto it. Label the box, so you'll know what's on the reel, and file it. This is a good way to deal with music beds you've cut up, particularly those that don't have voice tracks over them and might be used again. If you don't have any 5" reels to use, you need to visit your Continuity Director, or whoever files agency tapes, and collect a box full of outdated tapes.
Along the same lines, you will often need tape that is free of any audio as well as splices. Maybe you're making several dubs to go out to other stations, and you don't want pre-recorded junk on the leader or at the tail end of your dub. There will be times when you will want to grab a reel of tape and know that it is splice free, clean of any audio, and brand new. Keep a 10" reel of new tape on hand at all times. Label it "VIRGIN TAPE" or "UNUSED TAPE - FOR DUBS ONLY" and cut off any tape you use for any reason. This will save you a trip to a bulk eraser next time you need clean tape. Even when you do bulk erase used tape, it is very unlikely it will be as clean as brand new tape.