Reader Craig Smith sent me an email about this recent little fix he discovered for time-worn cassettes:
I was in my basement shop when I found a box of cassette tapes that were the soundtrack to my youth. Since the seldom-used tape deck was removed from the upstairs entertainment center, I set it up in my workshop system. But something was wrong. So many of the tapes sounded flat and warbled. Turns out that many of the felt pads that keep the tape tight against the playback head had fallen off and were missing.
The solution: I rummaged around until I found some thick stick-on felt pads that often come with ready to assemble furniture. After some trial and error, I cut a rectangle about 3mm by 4mm. Peeling off the adhesive backing paper, I put it in place with a pair of tweezers. Since my tweezers are somehow magnetized, I did it with the clear plastic leader pulled away at the end of the tape. The sound is as good as I remember. Time will tell if the adhesive surface will hold, or if a dab of glue is required. VIVA LA 1980s!