Are you a music lover who enjoys the warm, nostalgic sound of vinyl records?
If so, you probably own a turntable. But what happens when your beloved turntable starts to malfunction or produce strange noises?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to fix it! In this article, we’ll guide you through some basic troubleshooting procedures and show you how to replace a worn-out belt.
By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to keep your turntable spinning smoothly for years to come.
So, let’s dive in and learn how to fix a turntable!
How To Fix A Turntable
The first step in fixing a turntable is to understand how it works. Turntables operate on the principles of geometry and physics, with the record rotating at a set speed while the needle reads the vibrations produced by the groove and turns them into an electrical signal for playback.
If your turntable is not working correctly, it’s essential to carry out some basic troubleshooting procedures before seeking professional help. Occasional maintenance, even when the record player is still working correctly, can help avoid future issues and lengthen its lifespan.
One common issue with turntables is a worn-out belt. Over time, the belt can become loose and start slipping, resulting in strange tones and off-sounding music. To replace the belt, you’ll need to follow these simple steps:
1. Unplug your turntable from the power source.
2. Remove the platter mat to expose the platter.
3. Gently lift up the platter to reveal the belt and motor setup.
4. Remove the old belt and give the surface a gentle clean.
5. Take a new belt and wrap it around the lip on the underside of the platter.
6. Hook your finger inside the belt (through one of the holes in the platter) to pull it tight around the lip.
7. Flip the platter back to its original orientation with the top facing up, hovering above the base.
8. While keeping the belt taught, slip it around the motor pulley.
9. Lower the whole platter and new belt onto the base, making sure that the center hole is lined up with the spindle.
It’s important to check your turntable’s specifications before buying a new belt since different designs require different belt lengths and widths.
If you’re experiencing other issues with your turntable, such as strange noises or skipping records, you may need to carry out further troubleshooting procedures or seek professional help.
Identifying Common Turntable Issues
Here are some common turntable issues and their potential fixes:
1. Tonearm problems: Tonearm issues can be visibly obvious mechanical problems, such as a tonearm that won’t lower properly, or less apparent problems that affect sound quality, such as a skipping record. To fix these issues, you should always check and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and run through the tonearm set-up as this can often clear out any problems.
2. Stylus/dust issues: A dirty stylus can cause distortion in the sound quality of your records. To fix this issue, you can use a stylus cleaning kit or lift the stylus and blow off any dust gathering on the needle.
3. Damaged tonearm cables: If your tonearm cables are damaged, frayed, or faulty, you’ll need to replace them. You should be careful when threading the replacements through the tonearm since the wires are thin and can be damaged easily.
4. Speed issues: Vinyl records play at different speeds depending on their composition, and your turntable should be able to play at the appropriate speed of the vinyl record itself. If you’re experiencing speed issues, make sure to adjust the belt when swapping different records out.
5. Tonearm swing: If your tonearm is swinging to one side, it may be due to an imbalance caused by wiring within the tonearm or an uneven surface for your player. Ensure that your turntable is level and consider seeking professional help if you suspect a wiring issue.
6. Tonearm lift/height issues: If your tonearm lift is too high, you’ll have a problem with the tonearm height. You must lower it if possible and set the pump height of the lifter. If your entry-level turntable has a non-adjustable tonearm height (VTA), forgetting to place the mat or platter mat that comes with your turntable will cause a gap that will prevent full contact with your record.
By following these basic troubleshooting procedures, you can save time and money while lengthening the lifespan of your turntable. However, it’s important to only perform basic troubleshooting procedures since record players have sensitive components that require professional attention for more complicated issues.
Basic Troubleshooting Procedures
If you’re experiencing issues with your turntable, there are some basic troubleshooting procedures you can carry out before seeking professional help. These procedures include:
1. Cleaning the Stylus and Records: Dust and debris can accumulate on the stylus and records, resulting in audio quality issues. Use stylus and records brushes to clean them regularly.
2. Confirming Tonearm Balance: Check that the tonearm is balanced and using the correct tracking force for the cartridge. This can affect the sound quality and prevent skipping.
3. Checking RCA Cables: Disconnect and reconnect the RCA cables, pushing them firmly into the connections on the turntable. Loose connections can cause audio issues.
4. Thorough Cleaning of the Player: A thorough cleaning of the entire player can solve many issues. Clean all components, including the platter, tonearm, and cartridge.
5. Replacing a Needle, Belt, or Cartridge: If you’re experiencing issues with sound quality or skipping, it may be time to replace the needle, belt, or cartridge.
6. Repairing the Power Source: If your turntable is not turning on, check the power source. Replace any blown fuses or repair any damaged wiring.
It’s important to note that turntables have sensitive components, so only perform basic troubleshooting procedures yourself. Leave more complicated issues to professional technicians to avoid causing irreparable harm to your player. By following these basic troubleshooting procedures and carrying out occasional maintenance, you can save time and money while prolonging the lifespan of your turntable.
Cleaning Your Turntable
Cleaning your turntable is a crucial aspect of maintaining its performance and longevity. Dust and debris can accumulate on the turntable’s components, causing damage to the stylus and records. Here are some tips on how to clean your turntable:
1. Use the Dust Cover: Many turntables come with a dust cover that folds over the components. Keep the dust cover down when you’re not using your turntable and even when you are, if possible. It’s an invaluable line of defense against debris. If your turntable doesn’t come equipped with a dust cover, use an anti-static cloth draped over it to block dust.
2. Clean Your Vinyl Records Before and After Each Use: Vinyl records are just as prone to accumulating dust as the turntable itself. Thus, it’s equally important to dust off records properly before and after each use. Get a hold of a vinyl brush, which you’ll be able to find at most record stores. Like cleaning your turntable, start in the center and then brush outwards in a circular motion. You can also dampen an anti-static cloth with rubbing alcohol for deeper cleaning.
3. Store Your Albums Properly: To protect your records from gathering dust and dirt particles while you keep them on the shelf, use both an inner and outer record sleeve. And to prevent them from warping, keep them stored vertically and away from sunlight. Make sure they’re not squeezed together too tightly.
4. Stylus Cleaning: The stylus is incredibly fragile and must be treated with care at all times. Use a stylus brush or Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner to remove dust and debris from the stylus tip gently. Do not use liquid cleaners on your stylus as they can dissolve glue that binds the stylus to the cantilever.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your turntable stays in excellent condition for years to come. Remember always to handle your turntable with care, and if you’re unsure about any maintenance procedures, seek professional help.
Replacing A Worn-out Belt
If you’ve determined that a worn-out belt is the issue with your turntable, it’s crucial to replace it as soon as possible. A worn-out belt can cause damage to the motor and other components, leading to more significant issues down the line.
To replace a worn-out belt, you’ll need to remove the old one carefully. Start by lifting the platter and finding the belt looped around the motor pulley. Gently remove the old belt, making sure not to damage any other components in the process.
Once you’ve removed the old belt, it’s time to stretch the replacement belt over the center hub of the platter. Make sure it fits snugly and is in the center of the circle as much as possible. Also, ensure it’s smooth throughout without any areas where it twists or bunches up.
If your record player has access holes, stretch the belt onto the small peg or post that sticks up from the edge of the platter. Otherwise, line up the replacement belt with the access holes in the platter.
Make sure that the new belt is straightened out and stretched before placing it over the center hub of the platter. It should fit snugly onto the circle. If it doesn’t, it is likely the wrong size.
Put the replacement belt as close to the center as possible for the best accuracy. If you see a ribbon on the belt, make sure to line it up with one of the access holes in the platter to make it easier to pull onto the motor.
Although it rarely happens, be careful when replacing a turntable belt since electronic accidents can occur. Only one potential electrical shock can damage even a new motor.
By following these simple steps, you can replace a worn-out turntable belt and get back to enjoying your favorite records in no time.
Maintaining Your Turntable For Longevity
Maintaining your turntable is crucial for its longevity and optimal performance. Regular cleaning is essential to remove dust and debris that can affect the sound quality and damage the stylus. You should wipe down the external surfaces of your turntable with a microfiber cloth two to three times a month. For a more in-depth cleansing, you can use a little bit of rubbing alcohol, but be sure to dry it with a clean cloth afterwards.
Cleaning the stylus is also critical for its lifespan and the quality of the sound. After every few uses, brush it gently with a stylus brush, most commonly a carbon fiber brush. Be careful not to bend the needle, and wipe gently from back to front.
You should also clean the inside mechanisms of your turntable a couple of times a year. If your turntable is reacting slowly or does not maintain a constant speed, that’s a key sign that the inside needs some TLC. Always use microfiber and antistatic cloths when cleaning any part of the record player.
If you’ve made it this far and have checked, cleaned, and replaced various components on your turntable and it’s still spinning too slowly, it might be time to bring it to a professional for repairs. Or, if repair work wouldn’t be worth the price and you’ve been thinking of upgrading anyway, perhaps it’s time to consider a new companion for your record collection.
In conclusion, maintaining your turntable is essential for its longevity and optimal performance. Regular cleaning of both external surfaces and internal mechanisms, as well as proper handling of the stylus, can help avoid future issues and lengthen its lifespan. Remember to only carry out necessary troubleshooting procedures and seek professional help when necessary.