How To Fix The Turntable On A Record Player – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast who’s been experiencing issues with your turntable?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Turntables can be finicky machines, and it’s not uncommon to encounter problems with them.

But before you give up on your beloved record player, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to get it back up and running.

In this article, we’ll cover some common issues that can arise with turntables and provide you with practical solutions to fix them.

Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a newbie to the world of vinyl, this guide will help you get the most out of your record player.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to fix your turntable!

How To Fix Turntable On Record Player

One of the most common issues with turntables is a malfunctioning turntable. If your turntable isn’t producing any sound at all, it’s possible that there is something wrong with your preamp. The preamp is the component in your signal chain that amplifies the sound picked up by the stylus as a record spins. Without a preamp, a record is too quiet to hear, so you’ll need one somewhere in your chain to hear your favorite albums.

If your turntable isn’t making sound, don’t give up on it – it most likely isn’t broken, just missing a key part! First, check your turntable’s instruction manual to determine if it has a preamp installed in it. If not, you’ll need to pair your record player with a pair of active (powered) speakers or a standalone preamp.

Another issue that can arise with turntables is the belt. Not all belts are compatible with every turntable, so you need to consider the length, width, and overall thickness of the belt. Using the wrong-sized belt will only lead to more problems. The easiest way to ensure you get the right size is by searching online and typing your record player’s name followed by “replacement belt”.

If you plan on using your old belt to determine the size of the replacement, follow these guidelines:

• Make sure that the belt is stretched when measuring the length; then subtract at least 5 to 10 mm to account for wear and tear.

• Accurately measure the belt’s complete width

• If you no longer have the broken belt, you can remove the record player platter and measure the circumference of the hub. Subtract at least 5 to 10 mm to get the closest possible length for the replacement belt

That said, the best way to ensure you get the correct size is to research exactly what size belt your model uses. An online search is generally the easiest, but you should also consider contacting the manufacturer or one of their distributors if you are having a hard time finding the answer elsewhere.

Identifying The Problem

Before attempting to fix your turntable, it’s important to identify the problem. One common issue is that the tonearm may not be lowering far enough to bring the stylus into proper contact with the record on the platter. This can be caused by the tonearm bridge not lowering enough when the cueing lever is used. In most cases, there is an adjustment screw that can be tweaked to adjust the bridge’s height and solve this issue.

Another problem you may encounter is a dirty stylus or record. Dirt, dust, and grime can accumulate on both the stylus and record, causing distortion in the sound. A quick solution to this issue is to lift the stylus and give it a gentle blow to remove any dust. For a more professional solution, a stylus cleaning kit with special tools can help give the needle a new birth and continue playing your records.

If your turntable is not working at all, it’s possible that there is something wrong with your preamp. Check your turntable’s instruction manual to determine if it has a preamp installed in it. If not, you’ll need to pair your record player with a pair of active (powered) speakers or a standalone preamp.

Another issue that can arise is a malfunctioning belt. Using the wrong-sized belt will only lead to more problems, so it’s important to ensure you get the correct size. You can search online for replacement belts by typing in your record player’s name followed by “replacement belt”. Alternatively, you can measure the length and width of your old belt or remove the platter and measure the circumference of the hub to get as close as possible to the correct length for the replacement belt.

By identifying these common problems, you can troubleshoot and fix your turntable without having to spend unnecessary time and money on professional repairs. However, it’s important to note that turntables have sensitive components, so only perform basic troubleshooting procedures and let professional technicians handle more complicated issues.

Checking The Belt

If your turntable is belt-driven, it’s important to check the belt regularly to ensure that it is functioning correctly. A worn-out or loose belt can cause your record player to malfunction or even damage your records. Here are some steps to check the belt:

1. Turn off and unplug your record player.

2. Remove the mat and the platter from the turntable base.

3. Look for the belt around the platter’s circumference. If you can’t see it, it may be located underneath the platter.

4. Check the belt for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or fraying. If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to replace the belt.

5. Check the tension of the belt by gently pressing down on it with your finger. It should feel taut and not loose or sagging.

6. If the belt feels loose, you can adjust its tension by moving the motor further away from the platter or by adjusting the position of the idler wheel (if your turntable has one).

7. If you need to replace the belt, make sure to get one that is compatible with your turntable model. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the new belt.

By checking your turntable’s belt regularly, you can ensure that your record player is functioning correctly and prolong its lifespan. Don’t hesitate to replace a worn-out or damaged belt – it’s a simple and inexpensive fix that can make a big difference in your listening experience.

Cleaning The Turntable

Cleaning your turntable is an essential step in maintaining its performance and longevity. Here are some steps you can take:

Step 1: Remove the Dust Cover – Before you start cleaning, make sure to remove the dust cover to access the turntable surface.

Step 2: Remove Loose Debris – Use a record vacuum or a regular vacuum brush attachment to remove any loose debris and soot from the turntable surface. This will help prevent any damage to your records and keep your turntable in good condition.

Step 3: Clean with Rubbing Alcohol – Moisten a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe away any remaining soot. Start in the middle of the turntable surface and wipe outwards. Be gentle and avoid using too much pressure as this can cause damage to the grooves on your records.

Step 4: Clean Stylus Arm and Housing – Use a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol to clean any soot off the stylus arm and the record player housing. Once the soot is removed, you can wipe the housing with furniture polish and a clean cloth.

Step 5: Store Properly – To prevent dust from accumulating on your turntable, use the dust cover when not in use. If your turntable doesn’t come with a dust cover, consider using an anti-static cloth to cover it instead. Also, store your albums properly by using inner and outer record sleeves and keeping them stored vertically away from sunlight.

By following these simple steps, you can keep your turntable in good condition and ensure that it continues to produce high-quality sound for years to come.

Adjusting The Tonearm

The tonearm is one of the most important components of a turntable. It holds the cartridge, which houses the stylus that reads the grooves on your vinyl records. If the tonearm isn’t set up correctly, you won’t get the best possible sound quality from your records. The good news is that adjusting the tonearm is a relatively simple process that can be done with just a few tools.

Before you start adjusting the tonearm, make sure your turntable is level. Use a level to check the positioning of the turntable on the axis of the width and depth, then adjust the height of the legs of the furniture or add wood slats under it until the turntable is at level.

Once your turntable is level, you can start adjusting the tonearm. The first step is to calibrate it. This involves displacing a counterweight behind the pivot, according to the specifications by the manufacturer of the phono cartridge. The counterweight helps to apply the ideal tracking force of the stylus on the record.

To proceed with the tonearm adjustment, follow these steps:

1. Unlock and remove the tonearm from the armrest.

2. Move the counterweight so that the arm gets horizontally balanced.

3. Align the graduated dial near the counterweight at “zero” position, without touching the counterweight.

4. Position and lock the tonearm on the armrest.

5. Move the graduated dial and counterweight to the mark specified by the phono cartridge manufacturer.

On several record players, you may find that your tonearm has a graduated dial for positioning the counterweight. However, this is rarely found on high-end tonearms. In this case, you will need to use a mechanical or electronic balance to calibrate your tonearm.

Once you have calibrated your tonearm, it’s time to adjust the anti-skating. Skating occurs when there is pressure on one side of the stylus as it moves through a record groove, causing it to drift off-center. Anti-skating helps to prevent this by applying an equal but opposite force to keep it centered.

The adjustment value of anti-skating, in grams, is typically equal to that used to adjust your tonearm. To adjust anti-skating:

1. Check your turntable’s instruction manual for instructions on adjusting anti-skating.

2. If there is no information available in your manual, look for a graduated dial that moves a spring, magnet or fixed counterweight.

3. Move it until it matches your tracking force.

Finally, if you have a direct-drive turntable, you may need to correct its pitch during playback. You can do this by using a stroboscope calibrated at 60 hertz and a disc specially made for this purpose. Move your pitch control back or forth until bars drawn on your disc are aligned under light.

By following these simple steps and taking care of your turntable’s components, you’ll be able to enjoy high-quality sound from your vinyl records for years to come!

Replacing The Cartridge

If you’re experiencing issues with the sound quality of your turntable, it may be time to replace the cartridge. Before you begin, make sure that the new cartridge you are purchasing is compatible with your turntable.

To replace the cartridge, start by unplugging the turntable’s electricity. Next, use a flat-head screwdriver to loosen the headshell screws on your current cartridge. Gently unplug each of the four tonearm wires, making sure to hold them by the plastic sleeve and not pulling on the wire itself.

Attach the tonearm wires to the corresponding colored pins on the new cartridge. Since the stylus is very fragile, it’s best to leave the stylus guard on during installation. Insert the headshell screws into the slots on the headshell and then through the slots on the cartridge housing. Using your finger, hold the headshell nut in place and turn the screw until the threads catch. Repeat with both screws, making sure they are snug but not tightened all the way just yet.

With the new cartridge mounted, use a protractor or alignment tool to ensure proper alignment. Adjust cartridge alignment by adjusting the positioning of the cartridge along the headshell slots. Use a stylus force gauge to check that your vertical tracking force (VTF) is correct. For MM cartridges, the VTF range is usually 1.5-2 grams, but this varies. The manufacturer’s recommended VTF will be listed on your cartridge’s spec sheet. If you need to adjust VTF, loosen the thumbscrew on the counterweight and adjust its positioning on the back of the arm.

Once everything is properly aligned and adjusted, tighten all screws and reattach any nuts or fasteners that were removed during disassembly. Remember to be gentle during this process, as cartridges are immensely fragile and any lack of care can result in catastrophic damage.

In short, replacing a turntable cartridge requires careful attention to detail and a gentle touch. Following these steps should ensure that your new cartridge is properly installed and ready to produce high-quality sound from your favorite records.

Upgrading Your Turntable

If you’re looking to take your turntable’s performance to new heights, upgrading your cartridge is an ideal way to do so. The cartridge is responsible for converting vibrational energy from a stylus to a signal that your amp and speakers turn into music you can hear. It plays a considerable role in playback quality, and upgrading it can make a significant difference in the sound quality of your turntable.

To upgrade your cartridge, you’ll need a new cartridge and a flathead screwdriver. Begin by loosening the headshell screws located on the cartridge with the screwdriver. Next, unplug the tonearm wires, being sure to hold them by the plastic sleeve to prevent them from breaking. You’re now ready to install the new cartridge. Re-attach the tonearm wires, referring to the manual if necessary. Try leaving the stylus guard on, as the stylus can be very fragile.

Once the wires are attached, insert the screws into the designated slots and then through the cartridge’s housing. Use your finger to hold the headshell in place while turning the screw until its threading catches. Do this with both screws, but make sure they are snug without tightening them entirely just yet.

With the cartridge in place, use an alignment tool to ensure it is aligned correctly. The alignment can be adjusted by adjusting the position of your cartridge and the headshell slots. Once aligned, tighten the screws completely.

Another way to upgrade your turntable is by replacing the platter mat. Many entry-level and midrange turntables come with very simple mats that don’t do much for sound quality. Upgrading to an aftermarket rubber or cork mat can help tighten up the bass, reduce noise and sibilance, and improve overall sound quality.

Finally, it’s essential to ensure that your turntable is level for optimal performance. Turntables perform best when they are completely flat and level, which allows the stylus on the cartridge to drag evenly across a record’s grooves without favoring one channel over another. Adjusting your turntable’s feet or using a record weight with a built-in spirit level can help you achieve perfect leveling.

In conclusion, upgrading your turntable can significantly improve its performance and sound quality. Upgrading your cartridge, replacing your platter mat, and ensuring proper leveling are all simple ways to take your analog listening experience to new heights.