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moxiecat 08-17-2011 08:00 AM

Recommendations for repair shops, best place to fix S-VHS VCRs?
Hey everyone,

I have purchased quite a few VCRs over the years. But when a unit requires repair, where is the best place to go? This is an ongoing problem for me, and I'm hoping to get some recommendations by sharing my experiences.

Last fall I sent one of my Panasonic AG-1980s to a company that both sells units and repair service on eBay. They decided it needed a new video board for $250 (gulp). This company is tremendously overpriced with everything they sell, so this shouldn't have been a surprise. When I got it back, I tried it briefly, confirmed that it worked, and stored it away because it was a backup unit.

Today another unit failed, so I pulled the repaired unit out. To my surprise, I find that the picture is terrible--most obviously very washed out, but also very grainy and blurry. I'm looking at it in comparison to how this tape plays on other AG-1980s, and the picture is markedly worse. I don't know if it was this bad when it came back from repair--it could have been and I just didn't notice.

On the unit that failed today, the problem was that it cannot play back certain EP tapes for any length of time without "wear" or tracking lines starting to scroll down the picture from the top. These tapes play fine on other AG-1980s so either the VCR is having problems or it just doesn't like these tapes. But oddly, this same unit worked fine with other large recent projects, so I have no idea what's going on. I am hesitant to send it to this same company (which advertises service for Pan AG-1980s), but don't know who else to try.

I have just not had great experiences with repairs. A few years ago, I sent a Sony 8mm VCR to another eBay repair shop, and when it came back, the unit began to eat tapes upon play/rewind. I also took a Betamax to a local shop and they managed to screw it up worse than it had been! The only guy who has done good work for me has been the infamous Mr. Betamax--but naturally, that's all he does. :)

Does anyone here have a recommendation for a good, reliable repair company? Primarily for JVC VCRs and Panasonic AG-1980s?

kpmedia 08-17-2011 08:14 AM

I highly suggest Jots Electronics, in Arlington, Texas (part of Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex). Please don't judge them based on the crappy quality of their website design, though it's better than the last time I looked at it. At least now it just looks like it was designed in 2005 instead of 1995.

In 20+ years, they've never let me down. Sometime this fall or winter, I'll be hand delivering at least three VCRs to their repair shop. These decks are damaged beyond my skill level. I know what's wrong on two of them, so I can at least get an accurate repair quote. The third VCR? Beats me. "Broken" is about as good as I can do for that one.

Call them.

Don't forget the $10 OFF coupon:

Regarding your eBay experiences...
I would sooner take a VCR to a random shop in the phone book, than I would use one of the eBay spammer "repair" operations. In my opinion, legitimate businesses don't have time for spam -- they're actually doing quality work that gets them repeat customers and good word-of-mouth references!

deter 08-18-2011 07:30 PM

Last year did a lot of work on messed up AG1980 units, for whatever reason, most of them seem to have problems. To find someone who actually knows how to repair them, almost impossible....

With the JVC stuff, just buy other decks, they don't cost that much.

The repair of AG units?
$250 is cheap, if they can actually repair the thing.....(do u know how many caps u need to replace, lots !!!!!)

Repairing AG1980's?
(((you are almost building a new unit.)))

Personally think a pefect working AG1980 unit is worth about $1,200 to $1,500. However u can't sell them for that....

Yea I could repair your unit to perfect working shape, the costs could be high depending on the problems.....

deter 08-18-2011 07:50 PM

New video board ? WTF is that ??? Willing to bet they didn't replace your circuit board......

I am going to tell u what they did to your machines, they went in an just started replacing caps until the unit some what worked correct.....

These machines have lots of issues, never seen one that didn't need work......

The 1st thing u need to know or understand is all the different problems with these machines.

The next thing u need to know is what causes the different problems in these machines....

Finally it is cause & effect, you fix one thing and it messes up something else......

admin 08-18-2011 07:59 PM

Deter, do you have any idea what would cause a 1980 to start out with full chroma signal, then gradually disappear? Everything 1980 I've ever seen has some sort of initial color burst of overdone chroma signal, which stabilizes within 2-3 seconds. But what would cause it to just continually drop, until it hits complete de-saturation, about about 60 seconds? I don't even have a good guess.

NJRoadfan 08-18-2011 09:04 PM


Originally Posted by deter (Post 16937)
Last year did a lot of work on messed up AG1980 units, for whatever reason, most of them seem to have problems. To find someone who actually knows how to repair them, almost impossible....

I must have gotten a heck of a deal on mine. It seems to have no problems what so ever.

moxiecat 08-19-2011 08:52 AM

Wow, so many followups!

The invoice from this company for the repair of my AG-1980 reads: "Replaced video board, cleaned and adjusted housing." Take from that what you will. I am not a VCR tech so I had to take their word for it. Whatever they did, the picture now appears completely washed out and over-bright, and the quality in general is very noisy (for lack of a better word).

If you have any idea of the language I should use to point them in the right direction, please let me know. I hate to send the same unit to them again, but I feel like I should, since they are the ones who worked on it last. But I think I will send Jots my other AG-1980, the one with the wonky automatic tracking (it has a terrible time locking a signal down, even manually, even on tapes that stabilize fine on other AG-1980s).

I have a few Panasonic AG-1980s, all bought used. Most of them have worked fine. Do they likely need work? Probably. But when you can put the same tape in three different machines and they all play it the same (or what looks the same to the naked eye), then they're probably working OK. I am generally content with that, since sending the units out for the repair has been such a nightmare!

I have noticed that full chroma signal as well. I'm not sure that it lasts for 2-3 seconds--more like 2-3 frames, in my experience. But I have definitely seen it when editing transfers from the AG-1980, any unit.

kpmedia 08-19-2011 10:01 AM

I called Jots this morning, and had a nice chat with the owner (Bob), about repairing some of our gear. As always, just a super-nice guy. After the repair discussion was out of the way, I mentioned who I was, and we had a nice chat about family -- it's been several years since we'd last seen each other. Their records are so good, he was actually able to tell me exactly when we last saw each other! I'll be emailing him a link to this thread soon... well as a link to the user/service manuals thread. At one point in the conversation, regarding one of the VCRs I plan to bring in, he didn't see the service manual (on his shelf, I guess?). My response? "Oh, I have one!" -- His response: "Really? Well, that'd be great!" I was somewhat amused by that, and fairly proud of the fact that The Digital FAQ is archiving manuals for reasons just like this.

Undervoltage and bad caps (or dried-out caps) is his guestimate for what may be plaguing a 1980P with chroma errors.

For the JVC prosumer decks, you're looking at $38 analysis (non-refundable), $75 for standard repairs ($38 analysis fee applied towards cost of repair work, so another $37 would be owed), plus parts. They'll call you if the expected repair work exceeds the standard price. These are technically "consumer" VCRs, for the purpose of repair classifications. That would include the SR-V10 and SR-V101 "professional" decks since they're nothing more than the 7800/7900 in a charcoal bezel.

For the Panasonic professional decks, it runs $75 analysis, $150 for standard repairs (again, analysis fee applied towards repair, balance of $75), plus parts. Again, they'll call if the expected repair exceeds the standard repair price. From the sound of it, something like replacing caps may fit within the standard repair fees.

They still have contracts with JVC and Panasonic, to acquire news parts, as needed, if needed.

Jots is still in the same building on Pioneer Pkwy (off 360) where they were in the 1980s, and some of the same staff has been repairing VCRs there for decades. That came up in the discussion, too.

So I don't know where some of you are going, to spend $250+ for crappy repairs, but I'd suggest not using them anymore.

It's rather sad that Panasonic opted for electrolyte capacitors instead of the much-better solid compound caps you find on graphics cards. I know the ATI All In Wonder x1800 and x1900 cards come stocked with non-electrolyte capacitors for long life. I wonder if you can directly replace an electrolyte capacitor with a better non-electrolyte model. It's something I'll look into.

Yeah, moxiecat, this site does get a good bit of traffic. You've been missing out if you thought I'd be the only one replying. :)

I may have to sticky this thread. In fact, at this point, I'm considering a new guide mini-series on VCR repair, listing out the symptoms and the fixes, including home repair options, and when you need to send it to a good pro shop. Deter, if you have anything good to add on that, please start a new thread with your suggestions, and I'll incorporate them into the site guides!

moxiecat 08-19-2011 10:41 AM


Originally Posted by kpmedia (Post 16951)
So I don't know where some of you are going, to spend $250+ for crappy repairs, but I'd suggest not using them anymore.

Do you want to know? I have no problem revealing their name if that's OK. I think they are super-overpriced on their video gear anyway--that has been my biggest beef with them over the past few years. But anyone who frequents eBay and looks at the AG-1980s that are for sale should know who they are already.

Thanks for calling Jots--I'll definitely be trying them out. (No way I can go there though--it's a bit far from PA!)

kpmedia 08-19-2011 10:54 AM

Nope, definitely not a drive for you! They do mail orders, so I suggest getting repairs arranged that way.

The big issue for both parties is to send the VCR in a safe padded double-box setup. It's preferable to use the original manufacturer VCR box with original foam inserts. If not, then don't cram the VCR in a box of peanuts. Get some of those malleable/moldable "conforming" foam pads from a shipping service, to recreate the foam inserts, inside of a proper fitting box. B&H uses these anytime they sell high dollar items, like DSLR cameras, so you may be familiar with what I'm referring to. Once the VCR is in a box of air + molded foam, put it inside a larger box (with AT LEAST a 3-4 inches on all size hollow), and then fill it with packing peanuts on all sides. Use good sturdy boxes. I suggest dumpster diving behind a shoe store like Rack Room. The boxes that shoes come in can have cardboard as thick as cheap plywood. That will give you a VCR shipping box that won't fail or damage (or further damage) the VCR in transit.

It's important to understand that UPS/Fedex will ONLY insure packages that meet these kinds of safe shipping requirements, too! (Yeah, you can buy insurance for lousy packaging, but the shipper can and will refuse compensation if during investigation it's shown that the packing job was terrible. They will almost always inspect packing when a claim is filed, so it's not something you can hide or try to lie about. Many have tried, most have failed.)

As far as the lousy VCR repair service goes -- post it. This site firmly believes in consumer awareness and consumer advocacy. If a service is ruining VCRs in this manner, others need to know who to avoid. (If the company in question doesn't like it, then maybe they should re-evaluate their pricing, testing procedures and repair quality. We like to make friends in the industry, but ultimately we created this site for users, and their interests trump others.)

NJRoadfan 08-19-2011 11:45 AM

Mr. Betamax has a good overview of how to ship a VCR.

Despite lecturing ebay sellers and sending them that link, I still get stuff single boxed. When I returned the Mitsi HS-HD1100U back to the seller, he got it better packed then how he sent it to me!

How is Jots with Betamax repairs anyway? My machine could use an alignment, a cleaning, and the front loader checked out (sometimes doesn't drop tape completely onto the reel tray). I do have a local repair shop nearby that I have used for my Sanyo Betas in the past (Mack Camera, you might know them for their aftermarket warranty programs), but I am a bit hesitant to send a Sony or even Panasonic machine their way. They are however an authorized JVC repair facility.

moxiecat 08-19-2011 11:58 AM

I'll also add a link:
If you click on his "Shipping your Beta" button, there is a great step-by-step guide that is useful for all types of VCRs. His advice is very similar to yours. And as I mentioned above, he does great work on Betamaxes, if anyone has any of those.

I e-mailed the company in question and described my situation with their repair. I asked if they could give me a price break on their $50 up-front examination fee, since this is a VCR they repaired less than a year ago and the problem is almost certainly due to the new "video board" they installed (since it's an image quality issue, and the machine hasn't been used since they repaired it). I will wait to see what their response is before posting--I don't mind giving them a chance to fix an error. But don't worry: I'll be scathing and blunt and use their name if they don't take any responsibility. And I will let them know I am doing it too.

kpmedia 08-19-2011 11:59 AM


My only advice is to call and ask, at 1-817-649-2511. Honestly, that's all I'd do, and then re-post about it. If they work on Betamax (and it's possible they do), then I would imagine their work is top-notch. Again, the same people have been working their for ages.

Very few businesses are able to earn my respect and long-time business the way Jots has done. (In days that far pre-date the name "The Digital FAQ", they also used us for print work!) Our web host, EuroVPS, is another very impressive and friendly operation for whom I'm glad to have found 5+ years ago. It's quality companies like these, that allow your own business (or hobby, or even home life) be that much more pleasant. You can rely on them to do good work, and without financially raping you in the process. It's win-win, as the saying goes.

@NJ + moxie:

The Mr. Betamax guide is good -- but it still has flaws. Namely that of creating a zero-air internal environment, which isn't necessarily good for absorbing shocks. Tight packing of peanuts passes damage, it doesn't stop it. True, the boxes still have passable areas on corners with the molded foam, but the most common box damage is from the sides. I've seen VCRs packed with the Mr. Betamax method come with destroyed LED displays. If you pack it loose, to compensate, then the VCR jostles and rattles around inside -- also not good. So while better than lazy shipping, it's still far from optimal. Compressable foam on the internal box would work better, if you still want to use the Mr. Betamax method.

Always wrap the VCR with taped plastic wrap (or even an old grocery bag of large size) so errant packing material doesn't find a way into the transport. I see far too much of that.

dyfan 08-19-2011 01:58 PM

here, I'll do it:
moxiecat (and other curious parties)- Here's who serviced your Panny:

They gouged me, too- My 1980 is better, but still not quite right.

Here's who serviced my Sony 8mm deck:

The second dealer did very nice work- I'd give my return business, if/when necessary.

Might try this repair facility for any malfunctioning electronics equipment you have:

They repaired 3 DVD recorders for me last year and I had them back in 2 1/2 days. Reasonable, pleasant and forthcoming- Just like Jots Electronics, the shop Lord Smurf recommends. Inquire with them regarding accepting out-of-town items for repair, I walked mine in.
Good help is hard to find, like the saying goes.
Hope this helps you...Be sure to let the forum know how you did?

moxiecat 08-19-2011 06:29 PM

You are correct, sir! (And I haven't heard back from them following my e-mail, BTW.) I am sorry--but not surprised--to hear that your experience was similar to mine! Honestly, they sell and have warranties for so many AG-1980s that the reason I chose them was that I figured they knew what they were doing! You probably chose them for the same reason.

The second one you mention is the company that ruined the GV-A500 deck for me. I'm glad they did a good job for you, but my experience wasn't as positive. They may have fixed the problem it had (I forget what it was--this was a few years ago), but when it came back, it started eating tapes upon play-rewind--which it DIDN'T do before. I now have to be very careful to NEVER push the rewind button during play. (I also thought those folks got a little snippy with some questions I had, but I would have to look up the e-mails to remember what happened--in any case, I didn't care to do another repair with them.)

I now have a GV-A500 at the "doctorsony" eBay folks (who are local to me). They've had my unit for a few days but I've heard nada from them regarding an estimate. Not a good sign, given that they say they finish repairs in 5 working days, but we'll see. I'd love for them to do a good job!

Thanks so much for the recommendation. I am glad to report back when I get units repaired. (And still have to send a SR-W5U unit to JVC central, since no one will touch those....really looking forward to that! LOL)

deter 08-20-2011 01:50 AM


Originally Posted by moxiecat (Post 16949)
I have noticed that full chroma signal as well. I'm not sure that it lasts for 2-3 seconds--more like 2-3 frames, in my experience. But I have definitely seen it when editing transfers from the AG-1980, any unit.

As you sure this is not a problem in the tape from the recording? Aka Rainbow Effect.....

Or are you talking about a herringbone noise pattern?

What was the problem in the 1st place?

What is the problem now with the unit?

The VCR is shredding your tapes? Drop Outs? Worn Heads? Bad Alignment?


The color bursts you speak of, are do to faulty caps in the machine. For example the tape cuts out on a commercial than when you get the signal back, the brightness levels increase causing the color & brightness to look completely different than it did less than 30 seconds ago. Off the top of my head, these caps are located in the power supply and a few more under the main board. The AG Units have tons of caps......


The Avg. Consumer doesn't know what types of problems to look for with the AG Units. . Give me about 30 minutes with your machine and I bet I can find some problems....LOL

moxiecat 08-22-2011 02:08 PM

Heard back from the repair company (SA). Actually, quite good customer service IMO. They gave me a RMA number, told me to send the unit back to them, and they'll take a look at it. They specified that there is a yearlong warranty on the parts and labor that I paid for originally--I had thought there was something like that, but couldn't find it anywhere.

So the unit will ship back to them. I'll wait to see how they do and how the machine turns out before reporting back here. If they can fix it, I have no gripe with them. That said, still going to try Jots next.

moxiecat 09-08-2011 11:37 AM

So I heard back from the repair company. They left a voice mail for me the same day that UPS says the VCR was delivered. They claim that they can't find anything wrong with the unit.

Here is my question. When I found the error (overbright video, roughness, just bad quality) it was with an EP tape. I know that this unit plays this tape noticeably badly, because two other AG-1980s played it much better (and looking the same between the two).

Is it possible that the repair company only tried out my VCR with an SP tape? The AG-1980 uses different heads for SP and EP playback, correct? When the VCR initially came back after it was fixed, I probably tested it with an SP tape and that's why I didn't see any problems.

So would I be justified in asking if they tried an EP tape on the unit, and suggesting that maybe it's the EP playback heads that need repair? (Or would that make me sound like a moron?) I just want to be prepared before talking to the same people who told me they replaced the "video board," which does not apparently exist. :-)

kpmedia 09-08-2011 01:55 PM


Originally Posted by moxiecat (Post 17251)
Is it possible that the repair company only tried out my VCR with an SP tape?



The AG-1980 uses different heads for SP and EP playback, correct?
I don't remember.
I'd defer to whatever the service manual and/or user manual says at this point. Too much stuff to remember.


When the VCR initially came back after it was fixed, I probably tested it with an SP tape and that's why I didn't see any problems.
A safe assumption, I concur.


So would I be justified in asking if they tried an EP tape on the unit, and suggesting that maybe it's the EP playback heads that need repair?
If there's such a thing, yes, it would be justified.


(Or would that make me sound like a moron?)
Yeah, you don't want to sound like an idiot. Look it up in the manuals, and get a definitive answer.


I just want to be prepared before talking to the same people who told me they replaced the "video board," which does not apparently exist. :-)
It probably exists, but they're using dummy language to describe something that has a different proper name.
Well, either that or they lied. Sometimes it's hard to know which it is.

moxiecat 09-08-2011 02:53 PM

The AG-1980 manual says this in the specs:
Video Recording System: 2 rotary heads, helical scanning system
Video Heads: 4 heads

According to a VCR troubleshooting guide I have, one pair of heads are usually used to record and play back at SP, while a second set of heads can be used to record/play LP and EP. It says "Most four-head VHS machines work this way." LOL, "most." :-) But still, there's no reason to believe that the AG-1980 is the exception to this.

I don't have the service manual, but if anyone knows where it can be found, please post.

I'll report back when I speak with them. Thanks again for the assistance.

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