Do reel to reel tapes fade over time...

My grandfather recently passed away and as the next in line audiophile i inherited his audio equipment and software. He has a number of LPs that appear to be in great shape (mostly pop from the 50's and 60's, recommend a decent turntable setup?). He also a large number of reel to reel tapes and a Tandberg reel to reel deck (I forget the model number).

I have heard that reel to reel tapes fade over time and are useless after 10 years. Is this true? The Tandberg probably needs some work to get it working. I have not tried it yet since it's in another state.

Are the reel to reels worth the effort to get the Tandberg up and running or are they probably lost to history? Thanks.

FWIW, he also had a Mcintosh MR74 tuner that I definately plan to make like new. Cosmetically it's still great shape. I'll send it to Audio Classics for upgrading.
Yes. Reel to reel tapes do suffer from print-through over time, just as any other magnetic tape medium such as cassette tape. I remember reading about original master tapes having to be "cooked" in an oven to help alleviate some of this problem.
the tapes that need "cooking" are typically from the mid-late 70's. The older tapes from the 1950's with Acetate backing hold up remarkabley well. The sticky-shed problem came much later due to the instability of the backing material. Print-through is a separate problem - has more to do with how the tapes were stored and the thickness of the backing ( best way to store reels is "tail out" so any print through gives a post echo instead of the pre-echo)
I've been buying R-R tapes on Audiogon and Ebay, at least 30 of them over the last 6 months. They date from the mid l950s to the late l970s. Not one has exhibited the slightest "fading," and only one was defective (no left channel in one direction). I expected that playing these tapes with magnetized heads on cheap tape recorders might have taken its toll, soundwise, but it hasn't happened so far. They didn't all sound great, but they didn't when they were new either. The best of them coninue to set the gold standard for hi-rez audio, IMO.

BTW, the tapes already in my collection before the recent spree all sound exactly as good (or as bad) as they did when I first bought them.
Yes, they can be expected to fade over time, but It may also depend on the quality of the tape itself and the storage climate. I never did anything special as far as storage goes, but I recently listened to some that I made in the early 70's on BASF tape and they seem as clear and alive as ever. That tape used to cost a fortune. Way more than the usual 3M Scotch tape. The sound difference was no comparison, even my untrained teenage ears knew the BASF was far superior. I still have some of the same LP's they were made from and the tapes now sound better despite my moving on from the old AR turntable to a pricey modern 'table.These records though have had alot of use over the last 30+ years.
Yes, some of those tapes fade over time, but I am still listening to tapes from the 50s and 60s that are great. I have been buying a number of old tapes on Ebay, and they sound excellent. One problem is that occasionally they will break. For instance, the movie soundtrack to "West Side Story" has fabulous sound, but at least two have broken on me. If they are music you might like, keep them. Furthermore, a Tandberg in good working condition can bring nice dollars on both Audiogon and Ebay.

It all depends on the tape and how it was stored. You may have no problems at all, but you should make sure the deck is in proper adjustment (cleaned, lubed, aligned, demagnetized, electronics and rubber parts checked out and parts replaced if needed) before passing final judgement on the tapes. With a decent Tandberg, it's probably worth it.
Tandberg decks were very good. If you've nver experienced the sound of reel-to-reel, you are in for a treat.
In fact, solar radiation neutralizes the magnetic orientation of the particles on audio tape media over time so that there is always a slight erase process in effect constantly. Eventually all audio tapes will cease to have any recorded information left on them.
Yes Steve, however my original master dubs from the 1950's still sound better than any record or CD of the same material.