sticky shed syndrome

n. a form of degradation affecting magnetic tape, resulting from the deterioration of the binder and characterized by the deposit of a gummy residue on the tape heads during playback


The gummy or sticky residue is caused by the deterioration of the binder that holds the metallic particles containing the recorded information to the base layer of the tape. The condition, caused by the absorption of moisture from the air, affects audio, video, and computer tapes manufactured since the 1970s. The shedding during playback causes loss of information, so typically affected tapes are treated by baking or cleaning before they are played.