Nagra 4.2 reimagined as looper and tape delay/space echo

Genius! Anthony Bisset (found via Muffwigglers forum) has been doing some inspired alterations to a Nagra 4.2 and is actually selling the one in the video above “looking for $1750 + shipping.” – heres a bit more info on it:

“It covers a wide range of delay styles from slap-back to washes to sound-on-sound and of course can be use for standard recording.

It comes with a good quality after market power supply, a 7” reel of Quantegy 480, a nortronics tape splicer, a tape loop and a roll of splicing tape. It has 1 high-quality Microphone Pre-amp with the second Mic Input Control configured as an LP filter for warmer sounding tape delay/feedback..

If you manually patch feedback you’ll find the Nagra has more high-end buildup than most tape machines. I use it to good effect in my cannabis vatican track but it’s not useful in every situation.

I have it calibrated for the Quantegy 480 that it comes with. After hearing this machine optimized it’s tough to let go. 100% radiophonic workshop but hi-fidelity.

The lid is secured by magnet… It’s effective in the studio and reasonable for traveling but not as robust as a normal Nagra lid clasp. The magnet is not terribly strong but a reel of precious recordings shouldn’t be unwound across it

Rubber lid seal is consistent in color and clean looking sans two minor cuts/scratches a few centimeters long. The optional headphone-jack cover has a small bit of paint missing. The lid is very clear without any yellowing but has a few scratches that aren’t so noticeable unless you are looking for them.

Cosmetics are 8 out of 10. The Knobs, jacks and everything else except what was noted above is in really good condition.”

After a few questions about the mods he’s done, he was kind enough to share some info… and for a fee, offers to do the same for anyone who already has a Nagra 4.2:

“I did mod the Nagra for loops myself. It took some research and many hours of experimentation and I’ve since documented the process. This is one of the only two modded Nagra Loopers I know of. I have a second sloppily modded Nagra here for ideation and performing.

I can’t share the schematic at this time as I want to gauge interest in an upgrade service that takes a Nagra 4.2 into premium tape delay territory along with calibration and servicing. Would this be something you might be interested in or are you in the DIY camp?

I didn’t mention it in the ad above but there is a wiper pot on the left side of the Nagra 4.2. It brings the signal back to the erase head… It allows you to dial in a disintegration amount. It’s fairly fiddly, but I like the control for certain uses. The Speed switch is also involved.. Anyway I’ll explain it all to the buyer.

There are many odd and cool things you can do with a 4.2 by stressing it out such as grabbing the tape or throwing it in reverse until it builds speed then quickly latching it into the normal forward play position…

Because a modded Nagra 4.2 is so perfectly matched for banana modular users, especially performers, (being portable and providing 2 spinning wheels/reels to be tampered with similar to turntables), I’m hot on the idea of making a premium-looper version available to more people.

If you want to send us a reasonably fit Nagra 4.2 we’ll do the mod and servicing (sans parts) for $999

FWIW, cheap abandoned Nagra’s often require extra servicing making them not so cheap when reasonable performance is desired. I learned this the hard way when I had some Nagra’s serviced by the very cool Dan Dugan of Dugan Sound (the west coast Nagra authorized dealer/tech).

If I remember right, one Nagra was $400 at the initial purchase and needed $1200 in service+parts… So that machine was basically $1600 and the other required less service but still cost a total of $1400 after servicing.

The thing is, while they fall out of calibration and sometimes require head-relapping or replacement, they can be brought back to factory or near factory spec after 20 or 30 years in the field. This speaks volumes about their design.

If anyone is interested in having their Nagra 4.2 modded drop me a PM so we can discuss.

For me the sound and interaction of the Nagra Looper has become an essential part of my modular kit and performing without it is much less fun and removes an important visual dimension from the audience’s experience. I think having a few zones of musical interaction rather than one single interface area is really important.”

If you’re interested contact him via his site

2 Responses to Nagra 4.2 reimagined as looper and tape delay/space echo

  1. Michael Stone says:

    Hi, nice job on the Nagra. I have a semi related question: how are you going out from the Nagra? the little banana ports on the right side of the machine? I tried going out through the headphone jack but that seems to stifle the machine all together! wtf, if I may,

    Thanks,
    Mike

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