How To Change The Stylus On A Turntable – A Step-By-Step Guide

Do you love listening to music on your record player, but have noticed a decline in sound quality?

It might be time to change the stylus on your turntable. While it may seem daunting, replacing the stylus is a simple process that can be done at home with just a few tools.

Not only will this improve the sound quality of your music, but it will also extend the life of your record player.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to replace the stylus on your turntable, so you can enjoy your favorite records with crystal-clear sound once again.

So, grab your flat-head screwdriver and stylus gauge, and let’s get started!

How To Change Stylus On Turntable

Step 1: Identify the Cartridge Model Number

The first step in changing the stylus on your turntable is to identify the cartridge model number. This information can usually be found in the instruction manual for your turntable. If you can’t find it there, you’ll need to remove the existing cartridge from the headshell to identify the model number.

Step 2: Remove the Cartridge from the Headshell

To remove the cartridge from the headshell, you’ll need a small flathead screwdriver. Unscrew the small screws that attach the cartridge to the headshell, being careful not to let it fall as there are small wires which connect to the cartridge. Then, gently disconnect these wires from the cartridge using a pair of tweezers. Before you disconnect the wires, make sure you note down which color wire connects to which pin, so that you know which wires to reconnect where on the new cartridge.

Step 3: Establish the Model Number of the Replacement Cartridge

Once you have removed the old cartridge, establish the model number of the replacement cartridge you need by inspecting your existing cartridge to get the relevant info. It may also be the case that you want to upgrade the cartridge, so it’s likely you’ll already have done some research on which model you want.

Step 4: Install the New Stylus

Now that you have your new stylus, it’s time to install it. Start by attaching it to the cartridge and then reattaching the wires in their correct positions. Once this is done, carefully reattach the cartridge to the headshell and tighten the screws.

Step 5: Check and Adjust Tracking Force

After installing your new stylus, it’s important to check and adjust tracking force. This is done using a stylus gauge, which measures how much pressure is being applied by the stylus on your records. Follow the instructions provided with your stylus gauge to ensure that your tracking force is set correctly.

Why Replace Your Stylus?

Replacing your stylus is important for several reasons. One of the most important reasons is to ensure that your records are not damaged. A worn-out or damaged stylus can cause scratches and other damage to your records, which can affect their sound quality and reduce their lifespan.

Another reason to replace your stylus is to ensure that you are getting the best possible sound quality from your turntable. Over time, a stylus can become dull or damaged, which can lead to distortion and other sound quality issues. By replacing your stylus, you can ensure that you are getting the best possible sound from your records.

If you have recently purchased a used turntable, it’s especially important to replace the stylus. You may not know how many hours of usage the turntable has had, and a worn-out stylus could cause serious damage to your records.

Finally, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to replace your stylus:

– Audible hiss or static where there was none previously

– Excessive “ssss” sounds by vocalists

– Visible damage to the needle head

– Skipping or bouncing of the needle

– Loose grip of the cantilever

– Black residue on the point of the needle

By replacing your stylus when necessary, you can ensure that your turntable continues to provide high-quality sound and that your records are protected from damage.

Identifying Your Stylus Type

Identifying your stylus type is an essential step in changing the stylus on your turntable. The first thing you need to do is find the make and model of your turntable. This information is usually located on the turntable itself or in the instruction manual. Once you have this information, you need to identify the cartridge type that is currently fitted to your turntable.

If you can locate the make and model of your cartridge, you can find a compatible stylus by searching for the cartridge type online. If you are unable to locate the make and model of your cartridge, it’s best to take a photo of the cartridge and stylus and send it to a specialist who can help you identify the correct replacement stylus.

It’s important to note that some cartridges allow for replacing just the stylus, while others require replacing the entire cartridge. If you are unsure which type of cartridge you have, refer to your turntable’s instruction manual or consult with a specialist.

Removing Your Old Stylus

Before you can install your new stylus, you need to remove the old one. This process can be delicate, so it’s important to take your time and be careful.

To begin, use your thumb and index finger to gently yet firmly pinch the lateral sides of the stylus. Apply enough pressure to pull the assembly away from the cartridge. The stylus should detach itself smoothly and with little difficulty. It’s important to avoid twisting or bending the stylus during this process, as this can damage it.

Once you have removed the stylus from the cartridge, it’s best to store it in a safe place. I recommend storing your old stylus in your new stylus’s packaging, once that’s available to you. This will help protect it from damage and ensure that it stays in good condition for future use.

It’s also worth noting that if your old stylus was attached to a moving coil cartridge and you have to replace the whole thing, or you decided to upgrade completely, the process will be a little different. In this case, you’ll need to remove the entire cartridge from the headshell using a flathead screwdriver. Follow the same steps as above for disconnecting the wires and noting their positions before installing your new cartridge and stylus.

Installing Your New Stylus

Now that you have your new stylus ready, it’s time to install it on your turntable. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Lock the Turntable Tone Arm

Before you start, make sure to lock the turntable tone arm in place to prevent it from moving while you’re working on it. This will help you avoid any accidental damage to your new stylus.

Step 2: Remove the Old Stylus

To remove the old stylus, gently grasp it from both sides and pull it straight out and in the opposite direction of the turntable’s arm. If you’re having trouble removing the stylus, try holding the cartridge with one hand to steady it while you pull with the other hand.

Step 3: Install the New Stylus

Holding the new stylus from the top, gently press it into the space at the tip of the cartridge where the old stylus had been. Make sure not to force it, as this could damage both the stylus and the cartridge.

Step 4: Test Your New Stylus

After installing your new stylus, it’s important to test it to ensure that it’s working properly. Start by playing a record and listening carefully to the sound quality. If there are any issues, such as distortion or skipping, you may need to adjust your tracking force or alignment.

Step 5: Adjust Tracking Force and Alignment

To adjust tracking force and alignment, you’ll need a protractor and a stylus force gauge. Follow the instructions provided with your protractor to align your cartridge properly, and then use your stylus force gauge to ensure that your tracking force is set correctly. Most manufacturers will specify a range within a few tenths of a gram, so make sure to set your tracking force within this range for optimal performance.

By following these steps, you should be able to successfully install your new stylus on your turntable and enjoy high-quality sound from your records once again. Remember to take care when handling delicate components like cartridges and styluses, and always follow manufacturer instructions for best results.

Setting The Tracking Force

Setting the tracking force is an essential step in changing the stylus on your turntable. The tracking force is the amount of pressure applied by the stylus on your records, and it needs to be set correctly to ensure optimal sound quality and prevent damage to your records.

The first step in setting the tracking force is to identify the recommended weight for your cartridge. This information can usually be found in the instruction manual for your turntable or by searching online for your specific cartridge model. Once you have this information, you can proceed to adjust the counterweight on your tonearm.

To start, reset the tonearm so that it can balance in mid-air on its own. If your turntable has an anti-skate setting, set it to ‘0’. Adjust the counterweight so that the tonearm balances in mid-air, with the cartridge and stylus floating without touching the platter/record but also not falling upwards. This sets the counterweight to zero.

Next, adjust the counterweight to match the recommended tracking force weight for your cartridge. Turn or adjust your counterweight to the appropriate setting for your cartridge and set the numbered dial on your counterweight to the required weight. For example, if your cartridge requires a tracking force of 1.8g, set the counterweight to 1.8g.

If your tonearm also features an anti-skate control, adjust this to match the counterweight setting. This will help counteract the tendency of the tonearm to move inwards as the stylus gets closer to the center of the record, keeping the music sounding its best.

If you want to further check that your tracking force is correct, you can purchase a digital gram scale. With one of these, you can lower the stylus onto its platform and get a digital readout of how much force is being applied. You can then compare this to the dial on your counterweight and adjust accordingly.

Setting the tracking force correctly is an important step in changing the stylus on your turntable. By following these steps, you can ensure that your records sound their best and that you’re getting optimal performance from your cartridge.