Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, and with that comes the need to maintain and repair turntables.
One common issue that arises is problems with the tonearm lift, which can cause frustration for any music lover. But fear not!
With a few simple adjustments and some basic knowledge, you can easily fix the tonearm lift on your turntable.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to troubleshoot and repair your tonearm lift, so you can get back to enjoying your favorite records without any hiccups.
So let’s dive in and learn how to fix tonearm lift!
How To Fix Tonearm Lift
There are two common issues that can arise with the tonearm lift: it may drop too fast or not drop at all. Let’s address each issue separately.
If the tonearm lifter isn’t dropping, you can try freeing up the t-bar by loosening the flathead screw located on the top of the mechanism and moving the plastic part up and down a few times. Then, gently tighten the flathead screw to return the t-bar to its original position. If this doesn’t solve the problem, it’s likely that the lever isn’t catching correctly, and the unit will require a physical repair.
On the other hand, if the tonearm lifter is dropping too fast, it’s likely that the damping fluid along the vertical shaft of the t-bar has dissipated too much. You can add more fluid using grease or other aftermarket high viscosity silicon fluids. To do this, unscrew the flathead screw holding the t-bar onto the mechanism, remove the t-bar (be careful not to lose the spring), and apply the fluid inside and outside the t-bar shaft. When putting it back together, make sure to set the number of turns applied to the screw to change the t-bar resting height, so it works correctly with the tonearm position.
It’s important to note that these adjustments are not something that needs to be done regularly. If done nicely this time, it’ll be good for years to come.
Understanding The Tonearm Lift Mechanism
To understand how to fix the tonearm lift, it’s important to first understand how the mechanism works. The tonearm lift is responsible for raising and lowering the tonearm, which holds the needle that tracks along the record grooves.
The tonearm lift mechanism consists of a t-bar and a lever. The t-bar is a metal rod that runs vertically through the mechanism and is connected to the tonearm. The lever is a plastic or metal piece that catches onto the t-bar and lifts it up or down, depending on its position.
When the lever is in the fully raised position, it must travel beyond vertical, or the arm will not stay up. If you notice that this is not the case, then you need to adjust the angle of the lever. Some arm lifts have a grub screw which clamps the lift lower lever. For these, you can alter the angle of the lever by slackening the grub screw then adjusting the lever angle before re-clamping. If your lever screws directly into the axle, then simply bend it to the correct position.
If you have an automatic return tonearm, sometimes it may return to its resting position when it shouldn’t. A quick fix that often works is to manually rotate the platter with your hand for a few revolutions until you hear a click sound. This will be the auto-return mechanism disengaging and/or resetting and should solve the problem. If this doesn’t fix it, check your model’s instruction manual to see if there is any mention of an auto-return adjustment screw.
Troubleshooting The Tonearm Lift
If you’re experiencing issues with your tonearm lift, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to identify and fix the problem.
First, if the tonearm lifter isn’t dropping at all, check to see if the t-bar is stuck. You can try freeing it up by following the steps mentioned earlier. If that doesn’t work, it’s likely that the lever isn’t catching correctly, and you’ll need to seek out a physical repair.
If the tonearm lifter is dropping too fast, it’s likely that the damping fluid has dissipated too much. You can add more fluid using grease or other aftermarket high viscosity silicon fluids. However, if this doesn’t solve the issue, there may be other factors at play, such as a broken or dislodged cable connecting the lever and the lifter or dust/grease/oil buildup in the spring underneath the table that raises and lowers the cueing arm/lifter. In this case, try using contact cleaner (de-oxit) to clean out any debris and manually moving the lifter up and down to loosen it up. If necessary, you may need to seek out professional help to realign any pins or levers under the table.
It’s important to note that these troubleshooting steps should only be attempted if you have some experience with turntable maintenance and repair. If you’re unsure about anything, seek out professional help to avoid causing further damage to your equipment.
Adjusting The Tonearm Lift Height
Adjusting the tonearm lift height is a crucial step in setting up your turntable. If the lift height is too high or too low, it can cause the stylus to skip or damage your records. Here’s how to adjust the tonearm lift height:
1. Locate the tonearm height adjustment socket on your turntable. It’s usually a small hole near the base of the tonearm.
2. Insert the included hexagonal wrench into the socket and turn it counterclockwise to unlock.
3. Adjust the tonearm height by manually lifting or lowering the tonearm assembly. Be careful not to apply too much force, as this can damage the mechanism.
4. Reinsert the hexagonal wrench into the socket and turn it clockwise to lock the tonearm height.
5. Place a record on the platter and position the cartridge over the record.
6. Lower the stylus to the record surface and confirm that the tonearm is parallel to the record’s surface.
7. Check the armlift height (distance between the stylus tip and record surface). If adjustment is needed, repeat steps 2-4 until you achieve the desired lift height.
Remember to make small adjustments and test after each one to avoid damaging your turntable or records. With proper adjustment, your turntable will sound better and last longer.
Lubricating The Tonearm Lift Mechanism
To lubricate the tonearm lift mechanism, you’ll need to disassemble it first. Start by removing the t-bar from the mechanism, and be careful not to lose the spring. Once you have the t-bar removed, you can clean it with an electronics cleaner to remove any foreign contamination that may have accumulated.
Next, apply a suitable silicone grease or high viscosity silicone fluid to the inside and outside of the t-bar shaft. A little goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it. Too much lubrication can cause the t-bar to get stuck, rendering it useless.
When putting the t-bar back onto the mechanism, make sure to set the number of turns applied to the screw correctly. This will change the resting height of the t-bar, ensuring that it works correctly with the tonearm position.
It’s important to note that using WD-40 or other solvents is not recommended for lubricating the tonearm lift mechanism. These solvents can dissolve any existing damping fluid and cause more harm than good. Instead, use a suitable silicone grease or high viscosity silicone fluid for best results.
Replacing The Tonearm Lift Mechanism
If the above adjustments do not solve the issue with the tonearm lift, it may be necessary to replace the entire mechanism. To replace the tonearm lift mechanism, you will need a Mid-Range Tonearm Lift Complete (Part Code: 1940 675 214).
The first step is to remove the faulty unit. You can do this by unscrewing the top portion of the faulty unit from the lower piece that contains the cueing lever. Be sure to keep track of any screws or small parts that may come loose during this process.
Next, install the new tonearm lift mechanism by screwing in the top portion onto the lower piece that contains the cueing lever. Make sure to tighten all screws securely.
Once the new mechanism is installed, test it to ensure it is working correctly. If everything is functioning properly, you’re done! Your turntable should now be ready to play your favorite records with ease.
It’s important to note that if you are not comfortable with performing these repairs yourself, it’s always best to seek out a professional technician who can assist you. A professional can diagnose and repair any issues with your turntable, ensuring that it continues to perform at its best for years to come.
Preventing Future Tonearm Lift Issues
To prevent future tonearm lift issues, it’s important to perform occasional maintenance on your record player, even when it’s working properly. This can help lengthen the lifespan of your player and prevent future problems. One simple way to prevent tonearm lift issues is to keep the entire player clean. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the tonearm and its components, causing them to malfunction. Regularly cleaning the tonearm and its related parts can help prevent this.
Another way to prevent tonearm lift issues is to handle your player with care. Rough handling can cause damage to the tonearm and other sensitive components, leading to issues with the lift mechanism. Always handle your player gently and with care.
It’s also important to avoid making any adjustments to the tonearm that could cause more harm than good. Adjusting the Allen screw on the top of the tonearm, for example, could alter the mass and resonance characteristics of the arm, leading to potential issues with the lift mechanism. Instead, attach a larger pad onto the surface of the cuing lift arm if necessary.
Finally, if you do encounter issues with your tonearm lift, it’s important to only perform basic troubleshooting procedures. Leave more complicated repairs to professional technicians who have the necessary expertise and equipment to handle them properly. By following these simple steps, you can help prevent future tonearm lift issues and ensure that your record player continues to function properly for years to come.