Are you a music lover who enjoys the warm, authentic sound of vinyl records?
If so, you probably know the importance of keeping your turntable in good working condition. Over time, parts can wear out or become damaged, leading to issues with speed, sound quality, and more.
But don’t worry – with a little bit of knowledge and some basic tools, you can learn how to repair your turntable yourself.
In this article, we’ll cover everything from replacing a worn-out belt to diagnosing and fixing more complex issues.
So grab your screwdriver and let’s get started!
How To Repair A Turntable
The first step in repairing a turntable is to identify the issue. Is the sound quality poor? Is the turntable spinning too fast or too slow? Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to diagnose the cause.
One common issue with turntables is a worn-out belt. If your turntable is spinning too fast or too slow, or if the sound quality is poor, it’s possible that the belt needs to be replaced.
To replace the belt, you’ll need to first unplug your turntable from the power source. Then, remove the platter mat to expose the platter. Gently lift up the platter to reveal the belt and motor setup. Remove the old belt and give the surface a gentle clean. Then, take a new belt and wrap it around the lip on the underside of the platter. Hook your finger inside the belt (through one of the holes in the platter) to pull it taught around the lip, and flip the platter back to its original orientation with the top facing up, hovering above the base. While keeping the belt taught, slip the belt around the motor pulley, where your finger was just pulling it tight around the platter. It should all slip into place as you lower the whole platter and new belt onto the base, making sure that the center hole is lined up with the spindle.
Another common issue is a dirty stylus or cartridge. If your turntable is producing poor sound quality or skipping during playback, it’s possible that your stylus or cartridge needs to be cleaned or replaced.
To clean your stylus, use a stylus brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently remove any dust or debris. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or damage your stylus.
If cleaning doesn’t improve sound quality, it may be time to replace your stylus or cartridge. This can be a more complex repair, so it’s important to consult your turntable’s instruction manual or seek professional help if you’re unsure.
Introduction To Turntable Repair
Turntables have been around for over a century, and they continue to be a popular choice for music lovers who appreciate the warm, rich sound that vinyl records produce. However, turntables can be complex machines that require some maintenance and repairs from time to time. In this section, we’ll provide an introduction to turntable repair and cover some common issues that you may encounter.
One of the most common issues with turntables is a worn-out belt, which can cause the turntable to spin too fast or too slow, or produce poor sound quality. To replace the belt, you’ll need to remove the platter and replace the old belt with a new one.
Another common issue is a dirty stylus or cartridge, which can also cause poor sound quality or skipping during playback. Cleaning your stylus with a soft-bristled brush can often solve the problem, but if cleaning doesn’t improve sound quality, you may need to replace your stylus or cartridge.
These are just a few examples of the types of repairs that you may need to make to your turntable over time. If you’re unsure how to make these repairs, it’s always best to consult your turntable’s instruction manual or seek professional help. With proper maintenance and repairs, your turntable can continue to provide high-quality sound for years to come.
Common Issues With Turntables
Turntables are complex machines with many moving parts, and as a result, there are several common issues that can arise. Here are some of the most common issues with turntables:
1. Poor sound quality: If your turntable is producing poor sound quality, it could be due to a number of issues. One common cause is a dirty stylus or cartridge. Another possible cause is a worn-out belt, which can cause the turntable to spin too fast or too slow.
2. Skipping during playback: If your turntable is skipping during playback, it’s likely due to a dirty stylus or cartridge. It could also be caused by an improperly balanced tonearm or a warped record.
3. Turntable not spinning: If your turntable isn’t spinning at all, it could be due to a broken belt or a faulty motor. It’s important to diagnose the issue before attempting any repairs.
4. Auto-return mechanism not working: Some turntables have an auto-return mechanism that returns the tonearm to its resting position after the record stops playing. If this mechanism isn’t working properly, it could be due to a misaligned or broken part.
5. Tonearm not tracking properly: If your turntable’s tonearm isn’t tracking properly, it could be due to an improperly balanced tonearm or a damaged stylus.
These are just a few of the most common issues with turntables. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to diagnose the issue before attempting any repairs. In some cases, it may be best to seek professional help to avoid causing further damage to your turntable.
Tools Needed For Turntable Repair
In order to repair a turntable, you’ll need a few essential tools. These tools include a new belt, a stylus brush or soft-bristled toothbrush, and a strobe disk.
When replacing a worn-out belt, it’s important to have the correct replacement belt for your specific turntable model. You can find replacement belts online or at your local electronics store. Additionally, you’ll need a clean workspace and a screwdriver to remove the platter and access the belt and motor setup.
For cleaning your stylus or cartridge, a stylus brush or soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended. You may also want to invest in a cleaning solution specifically designed for turntable cartridges.
Finally, a strobe disk is useful for checking the speed of your turntable’s rotation. This tool works by illuminating dots or lines on the disk with a strobe light at a specific frequency. When the markings on the disk appear to be stationary, it indicates that your turntable is spinning at the correct speed. There are phone apps available that can perform this function, or you can purchase a disk that is meant for a 60 Hz frequency light, which is standard in the US.
Having these tools on hand will make it easier to diagnose and repair common issues with your turntable.
How To Replace A Turntable Belt
If you’ve identified that your turntable belt needs to be replaced, follow these 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 taught 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 the belt around the motor pulley, where your finger was just pulling it tight around the platter.
9. It should all slip into place as you 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 note that turntable belts come in different sizes and shapes, so make sure to purchase a replacement belt that is compatible with your specific turntable model. Additionally, if you’re unsure about how to replace your turntable belt or encounter any issues during the process, it’s always best to consult your turntable’s instruction manual or seek professional help.
How To Clean A Turntable Stylus
Cleaning your turntable stylus is essential for maintaining good sound quality and preventing damage to your records. There are a few different methods you can use, but we’ll cover three of the most popular and effective techniques.
Method 1: Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner
The Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner is a gel pad that claims to be incredibly effective and easy to use. Simply lower your stylus onto the gel pad, then lift and repeat until your stylus tip is free of dust and debris. The gel pad is reusable and can be cleaned with warm water if it becomes dirty. It also comes with a magnifying glass for inspecting your stylus.
Method 2: Stylus Brush
A stylus brush is a traditional method that has been recommended by cartridge manufacturer Ortofon. To use a stylus brush, simply move it across the stylus from back to front in the same direction that a record spins. Some brushes come with cleaning fluid, but it’s not recommended to use liquid products on your stylus as they can dissolve glue that binds the stylus to the cantilever.
Method 3: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is an inexpensive DIY method that has become popular on various audio forums. Cut off a 2” square of the white, untreated side of the eraser and place it on either the plinth or the platter where the tonearm can easily reach. Gently lower the stylus onto the eraser and repeat until the stylus stops leaving residue behind. Be sure not to use the blue side of the eraser, as it is treated with cleaning agents.
When cleaning your stylus, it’s important to handle it with care as it is incredibly fragile. It’s also best to clean your stylus after playing each side of a record to prevent build-up of dust and debris. If using a brush or cleaning solution, make sure to brush or apply in the direction that the record spins to avoid damaging the cantilever. If you’re uncomfortable using a brush on the tip of your stylus, you can try using a cleaning gel pad instead, but keep in mind that it may cost more than other methods.
How To Diagnose And Fix Speed Issues
If your turntable is spinning too fast or too slow, there are several potential causes. One of the most common is a loose or worn-out belt. A loose belt can cause increased wow, but it will not cause the turntable to run fast. Instead, it can result in the belt not riding a convex motor pulley properly, resulting in a slower speed. To fix this issue, you’ll need to replace the belt as described above.
Another potential cause of speed issues is a dirty turntable motor. Lack of lubrication can cause speed to be slow, never fast, so it’s important to ensure that all turntable parts are properly lubricated. You can add a drop or two of high-quality lubricant to both the motor shaft and at the center of the record player where the spindle is located.
If neither of these solutions works, it’s possible that your turntable needs calibration. Fine speed calibration is rarely mentioned in user manuals, so it may require consulting a service manual or seeking professional help. Calibration involves adjusting the turntable’s rotation speed using adjustment screws. This process can be complex and should only be attempted by those with electrical and mechanical knowledge.
It’s also possible that the issue lies with the speed selector on your turntable. If it’s a two-choice switch (such as 33 or 45), it’s either changing the belt on different motor pulley diameters or switching motor speed electronically and cannot send too much power to the motor. However, if it’s a variable speed control, it’s highly unlikely that this control alone can send too much power to the motor. In this case, you may need to replace the switch entirely or experiment with cleaning and lubricating it until it starts working properly.
In conclusion, diagnosing and fixing speed issues with your turntable requires careful attention to detail and an understanding of how turntables operate. By following these steps and seeking professional help if needed, you can ensure that your turntable is functioning properly and producing high-quality sound for years to come.