How To Remove A Turntable Cartridge – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you looking to upgrade your turntable’s sound quality by replacing the cartridge? Or maybe you just need to replace a damaged stylus?

Whatever the reason, removing a turntable cartridge can seem like a daunting task. But fear not! With the right tools and a little bit of patience, you can easily remove and replace your turntable cartridge.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step, providing helpful tips along the way. So grab your needle nose pliers and flat screwdriver, and let’s get started!

How To Remove Turntable Cartridge

Step 1: Prepare Your Turntable

Before you begin, make sure your turntable is turned off and unplugged. Remove any records or dust covers from the platter.

Step 2: Loosen Headshell Screws

Using a flat screwdriver, gently loosen the headshell screws on your current cartridge. Be careful not to strip the screws or damage the headshell.

Step 3: Disconnect Tonearm Wires

Next, use needle nose pliers to gently unplug each of the four tonearm wires from the cartridge. Hold the wires by the plastic sleeve and avoid pulling on the wire itself to prevent damage.

Step 4: Remove Cartridge

With the tonearm wires disconnected, you can now remove the cartridge from the headshell. Simply lift it out gently, being careful not to damage the stylus or any other components.

Prepare Your Turntable For Cartridge Removal

Before you begin the process of removing your turntable cartridge, it’s important to properly prepare your turntable. This will help ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you don’t damage any components.

First, make sure your turntable is turned off and unplugged. This will help prevent any electrical shocks or damage to your turntable.

Next, remove any records or dust covers from the platter. This will give you more room to work and prevent any accidental damage to your records.

It’s also a good idea to clean your turntable before beginning the cartridge removal process. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe down the platter and tonearm. This will help prevent any dust or debris from getting inside your turntable during the cartridge removal process.

Once you’ve prepared your turntable, you’re ready to begin the process of removing your cartridge. Follow the steps outlined above to safely and effectively remove your cartridge from your turntable.

Remove The Stylus And Wires

Step 1: Remove Stylus

To remove the stylus, grip the stylus assembly between your forefinger and thumb or use pliers if it feels easier. Gently pull the stylus assembly away from the old cartridge until it clips out. If you’re replacing the whole cartridge, this step would be replaced by removing the entire cartridge.

Step 2: Remove Wires

Using a set of longnose pliers, gently remove the wires from the metal tip of the cartridge. Always pull the wires from the metal tip; do not pull the wire itself as you will almost certainly break the wires.

Step 3: Store Stylus and Wires

Once you have removed both the stylus and wires, make sure to store them in a safe place. You can use a small plastic bag or container to keep them from getting lost or damaged.

By following these steps, you can safely and easily remove your turntable cartridge’s stylus and wires. Remember to handle all components with care and avoid pulling on any wires or parts to prevent damage.

Loosen The Cartridge Mounting Screws

Once you have removed the old cartridge from the headshell, you will need to loosen the cartridge mounting screws. These screws hold the cartridge in place on the headshell and must be loosened before you can install a new cartridge.

To loosen the screws, you will need a 2mm Allen key or a small, flat-bladed screwdriver depending on the type of fixing used. Insert the tool into each screw and turn counterclockwise to loosen them. Be careful not to strip the screws or damage the headshell while doing this.

Once the screws are loose, you can gently lift the old cartridge off of the headshell. Be sure to handle it carefully to avoid damaging any of its delicate components.

With the old cartridge removed, you are now ready to install a new one. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure that your new cartridge is installed properly and aligned correctly. Remember to use a tracking weight gauge and cartridge alignment tool to achieve optimal performance from your turntable.

Carefully Remove The Cartridge

Removing the cartridge from your turntable requires a delicate touch to avoid damaging the fragile components. Here are some tips to help you remove the cartridge carefully:

1. Handle with Care

Cartridges are immensely fragile, so it’s important to handle them with care. Any lack of care will usually result in catastrophic damage. When removing the cartridge, be sure to hold it gently and avoid touching the stylus or any other components.

2. Check Stylus Cover

Before removing the cartridge, check that the stylus cover is still properly mounted. If it’s loose or damaged, take care when removing the cartridge to avoid causing further damage.

3. Use Needle Nose Pliers

To disconnect the tonearm wires from the cartridge, use needle nose pliers to gently unplug each wire from its corresponding colored pin on the cartridge. Take care not to damage or break the connectors.

4. Lift Gently

Once the tonearm wires are disconnected, you can lift the cartridge out of the headshell. Use a gentle lifting motion and avoid twisting or bending the cartridge.

By following these tips, you can safely and carefully remove your turntable cartridge without causing any damage.

Install The New Cartridge

Step 1: Mount the New Cartridge

Before mounting the new cartridge onto the arm, check that the stylus cover is properly mounted. Cartridges are fragile and any lack of care can result in catastrophic damage. Use the supplied fixings to mount the new cartridge onto the arm. This can be a bit fiddly, particularly if the cartridge body doesn’t have captive nuts. Take your time and don’t over-tighten things; just do the bolts up enough so that the cartridge body doesn’t move around.

Step 2: Connect Tonearm Wires

Connect the four lead-out wires from the tonearm to the corresponding pins on the back of the new cartridge. These are color-coded (red, blue, green, and white) and you’ll find corresponding markings next to each of the four pins on the back of the cartridge. If the connectors are a little loose on the pins, use pliers to squeeze them a little tighter. Take care not to damage or break those connectors.

Step 3: Adjust Cartridge Alignment

Use a protractor or alignment tool to make sure that your new cartridge is properly aligned. 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.

Step 4: Set Tracking Force

Re-attach the counterweight and roughly set the tracking force as per your cartridge manufacturer’s stated optimal tracking force. You can do this by balancing the tonearm so it floats parallel to the platter surface; this means we now have zero tracking force and can adjust the dial (which spins independently to the counterweight) so that it shows zero. After this, twist the actual weight so that it achieves your desired tracking force, which can be found in your cartridge manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Break In Your New Cartridge

Your new cartridge may need a few hours to break in before it really starts singing.

Remember that these installation instructions are specific to certain turntables and cartridges, so be sure to consult your manual for any differences in installation procedures.