When the Beatles signed on with Capitol in late 1963, the reel to reel tape was the only tape alternative to vinyl. Professional recordings were made on reel tapes (as some still are today). These were reproduced at one half or one fourth of the recorded speed for the public. Purchasers of reel tapes were generally seen as audiophiles, as indeed many of them were. And so, Capitol did not issue all of its "popular" records on reel tape. Also, classical recordings were longer, and thus were better suited to the reel format. The reel-tape-purchasing public generally did not buy tapes that had only 30 minutes of music on them. Capitol solved that problem by offering 5" tapes instead of the standard 7" size and by offering two pop albums on one tape.
In the following listings, the title of the album occurs first, followed by the label and catalog number, then the tape speed ("ips" stands for "inches per second"), and any descriptive notes.
|Meet the Beatles||Capitol Z2-2047||3¾ips||5" tape with black box, mono||SI = 7||Current Value: $175|
|Meet the Beatles||Capitol Z4-2047||3¾ips||5" tape with black box, stereo||SI = 6||Current Value: $125|
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists MUA-3366||7½ips||60's logo, 7" reel, mono||SI = 10||Current Value: $300|
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists MUA-3366||7½ips||60's logo, 5" reel, mono, for two-track machines||SI = 10||Current Value: $300|
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists MUA-6366||7½ips||60's logo, small rectangular label, stereo||SI = 7||Current Value: $200|
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists MUA-6366||7½ips||60's logo, large semicircular label, stereo||SI = 6||Current Value: $175|
|Beatles '65/Early Beatles||Capitol Y2T-2365||3¾ ips||brown box||SI = 4||Current Value: $175|
|Beatles VI/Something New||Capitol Y2T-2382||3¾ ips||brown box||SI = 6||Current Value: $150|
|Rubber Soul/Second Album||Capitol Y2T-2467||3¾ ips||brown box||SI = 4 or 5||Current Value: $150|
|Yesterday and Today||Capitol YT-2553||3¾ ips||5" tape; brown box||SI = 7||Current Value: $175 to $200|
At this time (1966), the Meet the Beatles 5" mono and stereo tapes were reissued with brown boxes and a sticker which reads "new biosonic process." The mono reissue is scarce (SI = 7, $200). The stereo reissue sells for $80 in near mint condition and is SI = 5.
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists UAX-6366||3¾ ips||60's logo; stereo||SI = 4||Current Value: $80|
|Revolver||Capitol ZT-2576||7½ ips||brown box||SI = 5||Current Value: $100|
|Family Way Soundtrack (Paul)||London LPL-70136||3&190; ips||Mfd. by Ampex; black box.||SI = 8||Current Value: $125|
|Sgt. Pepper's LHCB||Capitol Y1T-2653||3¾ips||brown box||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|Magical Mystery Tour||Capitol Y1T-2835||3¾ips||brown box||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|Meet the Beatles||Capitol Y1T-2047||3¾ips||7" tape; brown box||SI = 5||Current Value: $100|
|Yesterday and Today||Capitol Y1T-2553||3¾ips||7" tape; brown box||SI = 5||Current Value: $75|
|The Beatles||Apple Y2WB-101||3¾ips||brown box||SI = 4||Current Value: $75|
|Yellow Submarine||Apple Y1W-153||3¾ips||brown box||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|Revolver||Capitol Y1T-2576||3¾ips||7" tape; brown box; reissue||SI = 5||Current Value: $50|
In mid-1969, Capitol left the reel tape manufacturing business, contracting out to Ampex Tapes. When the catalog switched to Ampex, there were no qualms about issuing one (short) album on one tape. Capitol (Ampex) stopped issuing new reel tapes in late 1971, but the format survived for possibly ten more years through record clubs as a "special order" item. It may still be possible to find new reel tapes (although not of Beatles recordings).
|Abbey Road||Apple/Ampex L-383||7½ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $65|
At this point, nearly all of the earlier tapes were all reissued onto Ampex 7½ ips tapes with blue boxes. It is interesting to note that Something New went out of print at this time. All combined tapes were split up into two tapes. The new tapes were:
|Meet the Beatles||L-2047|
|Yesterday and Today||L-2553|
|Magical Mystery Tour||L-2835|
|Help!||Capitol/Ampex L-2386||7½ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $90|
|The Beatles||Apple/Ampex L-101/L-2101||7½ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $300|
|Yellow Submarine||Capitol/Ampex L-153||7½ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|Hey Jude!||Apple/Ampex L-385||7½ ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|Live Peace In Toronto (John)||Apple/Ampex L-3362||7½ ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $55|
|Let It Be||Apple/Ampex L-3401||7½ ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $75|
|McCartney (Paul)||Apple/Ampex L-3363||7½ ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $60|
|Sentimental Journey (Ringo)||Apple/Ampex L-3365||7½ ips||blue box||SI = 6||Current Value: $60|
|Hard Day's Night||United Artists||UST-6366-A||boxed UA logo||SI = 4||Current Value: $50|
|All Things Must Pass (George)||Apple/Ampex D-639||3¾ips||blue box||SI = 4||Current Value: $60|
|Beaucoups of Blues (Ringo)||Apple/Ampex L-3368||7½ips||blue box||SI = 5||Current Value: $60|
|Plastic Ono Band (John)||Apple/Ampex M-3372||7½ips||blue box||SI = 6||Current Value: $60|
|Ram (Paul)||Apple/Ampex L-3375||7½ips||blue box||SI = 5||Current Value: $50|
|Imagine (John)||Apple/Ampex L-3379||7½ips||blue box||SI = 6||Current Value: $60|
|Concert For Bangla Desh (George)||Apple/Ampex ZRX-31230||3¾ips||black box||SI = 6||Current Value: $60|
|Live and Let Die (Paul)||United Artists/Magtec UST-100-A||7½ips||black box||SI = 7||Current Value: $125|
Wonderwall Music and the Wedding Album may also exist on reel tape, but these have not been documented.
|Post Card||Y1T-3351||Mary Hopkin||SI = 5|
|Magic Christian Music||L-3364||Badfinger||SI = 6|
|No Dice||M-3367||Badfinger||SI = 6|
|Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band||M-3373||Yoko Ono||SI = 7|
|Earth Song; Ocean Song||M-3381||Mary Hopkin||SI = 8|
|Straight Up||M-3387||Badfinger||SI = 8|
The sixties saw a proliferation of tape formats. By late 1973, only the eight track and the cassette were to survive. After 1982, the cassette (which Capitol introduced in 1968) emerged as the sole survivor. The reel tape, the original tape format, was one of the casualties. Beatles related reel tapes are much harder to find than their LP counterparts.
A Scarcity Index has been introduced to indicate the relative rarity of records. The rating ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 being "very common" and 10 indicating that fewer than 20 copies are known to exist.
The Hard Day's Night reel in mono rates a 10, and the most common reels rate about a 4. This means that they are sold with frequency less than one fourth that of their LP counterparts -- at a rate of at least one per month in online auctions.
With few exceptions, then, since all of the Beatles' Capitol and Apple albums "went gold," most of the reels were also reasonably good sellers. In the highest condition, however, they become much harder to locate. Sealed copies command premium prices -- at least double the price of an open copy. With the exceptions noted above, all original reels should be considered somewhat plentiful in average grades.
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Beatles Reel Tapes