Have you ever experienced the frustration of breaking a phono cartridge wire while trying to change your cartridge?
It’s a common mishap in the phono hobby, but fear not! There are ways to fix it without having to buy a whole new cartridge or tonearm.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common solutions for reattaching a broken wire, including stripping and soldering the wire back onto the connector or replacing the lead altogether.
We’ll also provide tips for protecting the bare wire and troubleshooting any issues that may arise.
So, if you’re ready to get your turntable back up and running, let’s dive in!
How To Connect A Broken Phono Cartridge Wire
There are two common solutions for reattaching a broken phono cartridge wire, depending on the type of tonearm you have.
If you have a tonearm with a non-removable headshell, you’ll need to carefully remove the little tag from the cartridge pin and desolder the remnants of wire and solder from the mini-hole on the tag. Then, strip an appropriately small length of insulation from the broken wire and solder it back onto the tag.
This can be a delicate operation, so be sure to use a stripping aid like a razor blade or stripping tool for mini dimensions. You’ll also need a soldering iron and appropriate loupe for viewing magnification around 5X, as well as strong lighting. Take your time and be patient to avoid any mistakes.
If you have a headshell with removable cartridge leads, simply remove the broken lead and replace it with a new one. Replacement leads are widely available from popular cartridge sellers and come in a range of prices.
When soldering the wire onto the tag, hold the tag by inserting a toothpick in its pin-grabbing flanges (not into the wire hole) and then clamp the toothpick onto something solid so that the tag is held in position for comfortable soldering work.
Once you’ve reattached the wire, protect it by using something like shrink tubing or resin-based glue to cover the bare wire. This will prevent any damage or interference down the line.
Understanding Phono Cartridge Wires
When it comes to phono cartridge wires, it’s important to understand the wiring scheme and connections in order to get the best sound possible. Different cartridge types and models may have various schemes for wire connections between the cartridge and turntable’s tonearm. These wires are used to send the signal into a built-in preamp section or directly to the external amp/AV receiver.
The wiring procedure is generally similar for phono cartridges of different construction and mounting methods. However, it’s important to note that improper connection of wires can wear down the cartridge and affect turntable operation, resulting in a loss of highs and channel dumbness. Therefore, it’s crucial to perform the wiring correctly to get the pure signal path and optimal sound.
The way connections are positioned on the cartridge/tonearm is called the pin layout or pinout. The most common is the square layout, while some cartridge models use a staggered pinout where pins are located under each other but on different sides, indicating the channel connections layout.
If you need to reattach a broken phono cartridge wire, there are two common solutions depending on your tonearm type. If you have a tonearm with a non-removable headshell, you’ll need to remove the tag from the cartridge pin and desolder any remnants of wire and solder from the mini-hole on the tag. Then, strip an appropriately small length of insulation from the broken wire and solder it back onto the tag.
On the other hand, if you have a headshell with removable cartridge leads, simply remove the broken lead and replace it with a new one. Replacement leads are widely available from popular cartridge sellers.
In either case, when soldering the wire onto the tag, hold the tag by inserting a toothpick in its pin-grabbing flanges (not into the wire hole) and then clamp the toothpick onto something solid so that the tag is held in position for comfortable soldering work. Once you’ve reattached the wire, protect it by using something like shrink tubing or resin-based glue to cover the bare wire to prevent any damage or interference down the line.
Identifying A Broken Wire
Before you can connect a broken phono cartridge wire, you need to identify where the break is located. One way to do this is by using a multimeter. To test for a break, set the multimeter to a range of 200 ohms and check for minimal resistance. If the wire is fully connected, it should show a low reading. However, if the reading is high, this indicates that there is a break in the wire.
Another way to identify a broken wire is by visually inspecting it. Look for any signs of physical damage or wear and tear, such as frayed or exposed wires. Also, check for any signs of discoloration or burning around the wire, as this could indicate an electrical short.
If you are unable to locate the break visually or with a multimeter, you may need to use additional tools such as a flashlight and wrench. It is important to take safety precautions when working with electrical wiring, so be sure to wear rubber gloves and work carefully.
Once you have identified the location of the broken wire, you can proceed with reconnecting it using the appropriate method for your tonearm. Remember to take your time and work carefully to avoid any mistakes or further damage to the wire.
Stripping And Soldering The Wire
If you’ve decided that soldering the broken lead is the best option, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, never attempt to solder the wire while it is still connected to the phono cartridge. This could damage the cartridge and render it useless.
To begin, strip an appropriately small length of insulation from the broken wire using a stripping aid like a razor blade or stripping tool. Be sure to strip only enough insulation to expose the wire – stripping too much could cause a short circuit.
Next, carefully heat up your soldering iron and apply a small amount of solder to the tip. Touch the tip of the soldering iron to the tag on the cartridge and hold it there for a few seconds until it heats up. Then, touch the stripped end of the wire to the tag and hold it in place until the solder cools and hardens.
It’s important to make sure that the wire is securely attached to the tag, as any loose connections could cause problems down the line. Once you’re satisfied with the connection, protect it by using something like shrink tubing or resin-based glue to cover the bare wire. This will prevent any damage or interference down the line.
Remember, this can be a delicate operation, so take your time and be patient. If you’re not comfortable with soldering or don’t have access to the necessary tools, consider taking your tonearm to a technician who can do it for you.
Replacing The Lead
If you need to replace the lead on your turntable stylus, it’s important to do it carefully to avoid damaging the sensitive parts of the stylus. Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing the lead:
1. Remove the old lead. Use a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the old lead from the cartridge.
2. Cut the new wire to length. Cut a piece of new wire that is long enough to reach from the cartridge to the tonearm.
3. Strip the ends of the wire. Use a wire stripper to remove the insulation from the ends of the wire.
4. Attach the wire to the cartridge. Use a soldering iron to attach the wire to the terminals on the cartridge.
5. Attach the wire to the tonearm. Use a soldering iron to attach the other end of the wire to the tonearm.
6. Test the connection. Make sure that the wire is securely attached and that there is no loose wire that could touch the stylus and damage it.
Remember to take your time and be patient when replacing the lead on your turntable stylus. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, consider taking it to a professional technician for assistance.
Tips For Protecting The Bare Wire
When connecting a broken phono cartridge wire, it is important to protect the bare wire to prevent any future damage or interference. Here are some tips for protecting the bare wire:
1. Use shrink tubing: Shrink tubing is a great way to protect the bare wire. Simply slide the tubing over the wire and heat it with a heat gun or lighter until it shrinks tightly around the wire.
2. Use resin-based glue: Another option is to use resin-based glue to cover the bare wire. Apply a small amount of glue to the exposed wire and let it dry completely before handling.
3. Avoid burying the wire in the wall: It is important to terminate the wire in a junction box and avoid burying the wire in the wall. This will make it easier to access and repair in case of any future issues.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your phono cartridge wire is protected and functioning properly for years to come.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Even after reattaching the broken phono cartridge wire, there may be some common issues that you could face while using it. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you out:
1. No Sound: If you’re not getting any sound from your turntable, first check if the amplifier or speakers are turned on and functioning properly. If everything seems fine, check if the cartridge is properly aligned and fitted in the tonearm. Make sure that the wires are properly connected and there is no damage to the stylus or cartridge.
2. Distorted Sound: If the sound coming from your turntable is distorted or muffled, check if the stylus is clean and free from dust or debris. You can use a stylus cleaning brush or a soft cloth to gently clean it. Also, make sure that the tracking force and anti-skate settings are properly adjusted.
3. Skipping or Jumping: If your turntable is skipping or jumping during playback, check if the surface is level and stable. Uneven surfaces can cause vibrations that can affect the sound quality. Also, make sure that the stylus is not damaged or worn out, and that the tracking force and anti-skate settings are properly adjusted.
4. Feedback or Hum: If you’re experiencing feedback or hum while using your turntable, try moving it away from any other electronic devices that could be causing interference. Also, make sure that the ground wire is properly connected to your amplifier or receiver.
By following these troubleshooting tips, you can ensure that your turntable is working properly and producing high-quality sound.