Yep, Q-Tips and Isoppropyl alcohol. And yes, demangnetize the heads sometimes. I still own a Proton cassette player (although not in use currently) and have about 100 self recorded tapes which sound very good, considering the high frequency roll-off. I also still have a head demagnetizer.
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Grain alcohol (Everclear at the liquor store) is even better than isopropyl. And here's a tip for cleaning used in the old days by the pros: clean the head(s) WHILE you're demagging them! Just put the cotton swab between the tip of the demagnetizer and the head, and holding them together, move back and forth in the direction of the gap. That'll get it really clean!
Radio shack sells actual tape head cleaner in 2 fl. oz. bottles. The ingredients are Isopropanol, Ethanol, and Methanol. It's $4.99. The number is 44-1113.
You can also clean the heads with a small piece of lint free cotton cloth wrapped around a Q-tip. Sometimes Q-tips like to leave remnants of themselves on the heads.
Alcohol or tape head cleaner will dry out the rubber parts. A lot of people use Formula 409 on the rubber parts.
Good luck with the player and better luck finding some reasonably priced reels!
I have a restored Teac Reel to Reel.Only use a cleaner recommended for the rubber rollers.If you use Alcohol in any form for the rollers they will dry out and crack.Use MG Chemicals Rubber Renue.This is a rubber restorer and works great on pinch rollers and other rubber parts.
I picked mine up at the local electronic shop.
The Last Company may still sell a tape head cleaner.I know they use to sell a specialised cleaner for the heads that would reduce wow and flutter across the heads as well.
Michael Percy may have this in his catalog.I know Radio Shack sells tape head cleaner as well.
I am an avid reel to reel listener and I use something that was recommended to me by a videophile. This is called
Head & Disc cleaner by a Co. called Rite Off. Their telephone # is (800) 645-5853. It evoperates very quickly and cleans well. A can will last you for years. I like the rubber renue mentioned by 76doublebass, I will try to get some of that too.
One of the best, if not the best currently available, is Professional Audio Tape Head Cleaning Fluid, #S-721H. It is not alcohol based.
The label reads: S-721H is formulated to clean audio, video and computer tape heads, tape guides, capstans and pinch rollers. S-721`H will removr tape oxides, tape adhesives, soils, oils, waxes, greases and other various contaminants while still maintaining the desirable properties of low toxicity Unlike alcohol, S-721H is non-hygroscopic, eliminating moisture or residue which can settle on components. This will promote extended life and healthy texture to the pinch roller.
I have no affiliation with the manufacturer.
I also like the MG Chemicals products: ie, Rubber renue and Tape Head Cleaner. You can do a google search for MG Chemicals. YMMV.
Although you may already know this--
Follow the Teac demag instructions as they state ie:
Make sure that the deck is not powered up, then with the demag turned on at a distance slowly move toward the heads then slowly go away from the heads and then turn the demag off.
Happy listening, R2R is a real fun adventure :)
Anyone serious about demagnetizing would be lost without one of these ... http://catalyst.thirdeyemedia.net/rbannis/viewitems.eye?category=892&item=5756 to check your heads/tape path with first, then if required using this product http://catalyst.thirdeyemedia.net/rbannis/viewitems.eye?category=893&item=5757 to demag with.
For cleaning, I've used everything from regular IPA to Tech Wipes and finally some head cleaner that RRL makes. I was told that they use the RRL cleaner at Skywalker on their Studers.