European Decks and Recorders (Grundig, Telefunken, Saba, etc)

As much as Japanese decks were sold in North America, German and other European brands were sold in Europe, and many European decks found their way to North America as well. Since Germany invented the reel to reel tape deck, Europe may even have had a small jump start in consumer tape deck sales, before the Japanese decks came to North America. I’ve seen many decks from the late 1950s, all of them being tube, with the transition being made to solid state in the late 1960s.

By and large, many of these European decks aren’t worth repairing, due to the age, and the problems with the transports. These decks all used a lot of cork in the transport brakes (see more in the Tandberg writeup below), and with a lot of the cork thicknesses being metric, it’s tough finding the right thickness replacement cork. Making new cork parts to retrofit ones that have crumbled is hit and miss at best, and while some European vendors are selling cork kits for select models online, they get expensive by the time they are shipped to North America.

Later solid state Europeans fare a bit better, but with very few replacement parts being available in North America, you’re better off buying a later model deck from the 1970s such as an Akai or Teac as a good basic deck, or a Revox as a higher end model rather than putting money into an unknown European deck with a questionable future should a part break that’s not available on the used market.

An early 1960s tube Grundig tape recorder