The beloved 4-track tape cartridge was a rival to 8-track tape cartridges in the late 1960s; they are almost exactly the same size, with the same quarter-inch tape and endless loop system, but the space used for each track across the width of the tape was twice as wide. So, to play a whole album you’d play through the entire length of tape twice (each time with a left and right channel, making four tracks), whereas an 8-track would play through its tape four times.
The pinch wheel
The main difference between 4-track and 8-track tape technology was that each 8-track had a pinch roller inside, which pressed the tape to the player as it passed by. In 4-tracks, there was an empty space here instead, and it was the player that provided the pinch roller. As you insert a 4-track tape in a player, a lever is pushed and the pinch roller swings into place.
A few 4-track tapes were marketed as 4/8-tracks — that is, compatible with both. What that really meant was that they were 4-track tapes designed to accommodate a pinch roller adapter.
Although short-lived, the 4-track era included some great music, including The Beatles, Frank Zappa, all five albums by The Seeds, and many others. 4-track cartridges are much more scarce than 8-tracks, but there are always a few for sale online. To actually play 4-track tapes, you’ll need a 4-track player. Units were made for the home and car, and some units could play both 4-tracks and 8-tracks.
BEWARE! Some online sellers confuse 4-track tapes with quadraphonic 8-track tapes, either of which may have a large “4” printed on the label. Look carefully when choosing.
4-track cartridges available now on eBay
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Shop on MegaMinistore, then buy on eBay! Bookmark this page to see frequently-added new listings. The top 4-track cartridges offers from eBay located by MegaMinistore are listed below; these listings were updated 5 hours ago. Click an item to buy, bid or see full details on eBay.
Muntz New Blank Stereo-Pak 4 Track Tape Blank Media Mini Size Cartridge 2 song
$17.50 Buy now
Muntz 4 Track Stereo Pack Tape Hollyridge Strings (The) Beatles Songbook Vol. 2
$36.00 Buy now