How To Service A Turntable: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to keep your turntable in top shape?

Maintaining your turntable is crucial to ensure that your records sound their best and last for years to come. But where do you start?

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of servicing your turntable, from cleaning the external surfaces to properly supporting your stylus.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, our tips and tricks will help you keep your turntable in tip-top condition.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to service a turntable!

How To Service A Turntable

Step 1: Cleaning the External Surfaces

The first step in servicing your turntable is to clean the external surfaces. Dust and debris can accumulate on the turntable, affecting its performance and sound quality.

To clean the external surfaces, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the turntable two to three times a month. If there is a lot of dirt buildup, you can use rubbing alcohol for a more thorough cleaning. Be sure to dry it with a clean cloth afterwards.

To prevent dust buildup, it’s important to dust the record player after each use or at least twice a week. Use a microfiber anti-static dusting cloth to wipe down the surfaces and prevent lint and dust particles from being magnetically attracted again immediately.

Step 2: Supporting Your Turntable

Your stylus relies on incredibly tiny vibrations to translate vinyl grooves into music, so any outside vibrations or unevenness can affect rotational accuracy, lower the quality, or worse, can actually cause the needle to jump around and scratch the record.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you have something sturdy to support your turntable. This will help keep it stable and reduce any outside vibrations that could affect its performance.

Step 3: Cleaning Your Vinyl Records

Cleaning your vinyl records is an important part of servicing your turntable. It helps maintain their sound quality and prolongs their lifespan.

While there are record washers available, most owners don’t opt for them and prefer to clean their records by hand. All you need is a vinyl brush and a vinyl cleaning or washing solution.

To clean your records, simply brush them gently using the vinyl brush. To wash them, add the cleaning solution to some water and wipe it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth. Make sure your records are dry to avoid mold growth.

Step 4: Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips for servicing your turntable:

– Never use your bare fingers for cleaning, especially not with the needle.

– If the turntable is not in use, use a dust cover.

– Use an antistatic cloth when cleaning to prevent lint and dust particles from being magnetically attracted again immediately.

– Consider investing in specially protected vinyl cleaning cloths for older records.

Cleaning The External Surfaces

Cleaning the external surfaces of your turntable is an important step in maintaining its performance and sound quality. To start, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the turntable two to three times a month. This will help remove any dust or debris that has accumulated on the surface.

If there is a lot of dirt buildup, you can use rubbing alcohol for a more thorough cleaning. Moisten the microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down all the surfaces, beginning with the center of the turntable and wiping outwards. Make sure you soak up any remaining moisture by using a dry microfiber cloth.

To prevent dust buildup, it’s important to dust the record player after each use or at least twice a week. Use a microfiber anti-static dusting cloth to wipe down the surfaces and prevent lint and dust particles from being magnetically attracted again immediately.

Remember to never use your bare fingers for cleaning, especially not with the needle. Additionally, if the turntable is not in use, make sure to use a dust cover to protect it from accumulating dust and debris.

Investing in specially protected vinyl cleaning cloths can also be beneficial for older records. These cloths can remove really old dust from older records and revive the joy of the old classics. You can simply buy them on Amazon or other online retailers.

By following these cleaning tips, you can keep your turntable looking and sounding great for years to come.

Checking And Replacing The Drive Belt

The drive belt is a crucial component of your turntable, as it connects the motor to the platter and allows it to spin. Over time, the belt can stretch, wear out or become damaged, which can affect the overall performance of your turntable. Here’s how to check and replace the drive belt:

Step 1: Remove the platter

To access the drive belt, you’ll need to remove the platter from your turntable. Depending on your model, this may involve lifting it off or unscrewing it from the spindle. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Step 2: Inspect the drive belt

Once you have removed the platter, take a close look at the drive belt. Check for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, tears or stretching. If you notice any issues, it’s time to replace the belt.

Step 3: Remove the old belt

Carefully remove the old belt from your turntable, taking care not to damage any other components in the process. If necessary, consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Step 4: Install the new belt

Stretch the replacement belt over the center hub of the platter. It should fit snugly, but make sure it’s 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. Unless 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.

Once the platter is off, it should be easy to identify two things; the motor that the old belt was attached to and the inside rim of the platter. Carefully attach one end of the new belt to the motor. There may be a pulley that the belt actually connects to. Make sure to note where and how the old turntable belt is attached when you remove it to make sure you’re hooking the new one to the right spots. Loop the other end of the belt loosely around the underside of the platter in an area where it fits over. Check to make sure it isn’t too loose or too tight so that your platter turns evenly and your records play correctly.

Step 5: Test and adjust

Once you’ve installed your new drive belt, replace the platter and test your turntable by playing one of your favorite records. If you notice any issues with speed or sound quality, you may need to adjust or replace other components such as your stylus or cartridge.

Lubricating The Moving Parts

Lubricating the moving parts of your turntable is crucial to maintaining its optimal performance. The moving parts of a turntable include the motor, platter bearings, tonearm, and cartridge. Proper lubrication ensures that these parts move smoothly and reduce friction, wear, and tear.

To lubricate the moving parts, you will need to use a lubricant that is specifically designed for turntables. Avoid using any cleaning agent that contains alcohol, thinner, or benzine. Also, avoid using copper or lithium-based grease as they can react with the brass thread on one part of the turntable that mates with the aluminum thread on the other, fusing the two.

Instead, you can use clock oil, which is manufactured to withstand temperature and not dry fast. You can purchase clock oil from a friendly watch repairer or online. Apply two to three drops of lubricant for every 2000 operation hours of your Technics turntable. Then turn your turntable on and let it spin for approximately one to two hours so that the oil distributes evenly.

If you’re unsure about how to lubricate your turntable’s moving parts, seek professional help from a qualified technician. They can help you with proper maintenance and repair services to ensure that your turntable remains in optimal working condition.

Adjusting The Tonearm And Stylus

Adjusting the tonearm and stylus is a crucial part of servicing your turntable. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take your time to ensure that your turntable is set up properly.

Start by attaching the belt (if there is one), placing the platter on the spindle, and attaching the headshell – the bit that holds the cartridge and stylus. If it’s not already there, install the counterweight on the back end of the tonearm, usually by screwing it on.

Set the anti-skate dial (the small numbered wheel next to the tonearm) to 0. This provides a small force to stop the tonearm naturally skating towards the center of the record. While gently supporting the headshell, move the tonearm into position above the platter. Adjust the counterweight at the back of the tonearm, usually by rotating it, until the tonearm can float on its own, parallel to the surface of the platter. At this point, it has a tracking weight of 0g.

Tracking weight tells you how much force is being put on the stylus. Next, set the arm tracking weight dial to 0. You’ll probably find this on the counterweight. Now rotate the whole counterweight to the correct tracking force – this will be given in grams in the manufacturer instructions and varies according to the type of cartridge being used.

It’s important not to set tracking weight too high as this will cause distortion and bad sound quality. Over an extended period of time, heavy stylus tracking force could also potentially damage your records.

Lastly, lock the tonearm back into its rest and adjust the anti-skate dial to match the tracking weight. By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your turntable is set up correctly and will produce high-quality sound for years to come.

Cleaning And Realigning The Cartridge

Cleaning and realigning the cartridge is an essential part of servicing your turntable. It ensures that the needle is properly aligned and that the sound quality is at its best. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Cleaning the Stylus

The stylus should be cleaned each time you use your turntable. Use a stylus brush to clean it and then use a microfiber cloth to pick up any dirt or grime left behind. Always brush the stylus going back to front, as brushing it front to back or side to side can bend or break the stylus or cantilever.

If you don’t have a stylus brush, you can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Gently lower the stylus onto the Magic Eraser and lift it until the stylus doesn’t leave any residue.

Once the stylus is clean, place the stylus guard on and spray compressed air to blow away any dust or dirt you collected.

Step 2: Cleaning the Cartridge

To make sure the tone arm and cartridge make perfect contact with one another, clean the corresponding contact points regularly. You can remove smaller particles very easily with an anti-static microfiber brush. For more stubborn dirt, dampen a microfiber pad with cleaning fluid and use that to clean the contacts.

Step 3: Realigning the Cartridge

The factory cartridge alignment is made to exact, recommended specifications achieved using an originally-supplied alignment tool, overhang gauge, or protractor, or one that accurately replicates the original design and/or measurement capability.

To set up your cartridge alignment properly, make sure you have an overhang gauge that has markings in millimeters (mm). Place it on the spindle (like a record disc) and adjust your tonearm accordingly until it aligns with the gauge.

If your particular tonearm does not swing far enough inward to reach the spindle, a headshell-type gauge is a good alternative. This gauge holds a removable type headshell/cartidge assembly, and the measurement used is taken from the headshell post shoulder (aka flange) to the stylus tip.

Once you have set up your cartridge alignment, test it by playing a record and listening for any distortion or pitch issues. If there are any problems, adjust accordingly until you achieve optimal sound quality.

Properly Supporting The Stylus During Storage

Properly supporting the stylus during storage is crucial for maintaining the quality and lifespan of your turntable. When storing your turntable, always make sure to store it in its rightful place, which is in the cartridge. This will prevent the needle from getting damaged or knocked around during storage. If you need to transport the stylus, make sure to do so in a case or some other form of protection to avoid any damage.

It’s also important to store your turntable on a stable surface to prevent any outside vibrations from affecting its performance. Avoid placing it on surfaces that are prone to shaking or vibrating, such as speakers or subwoofers.

Additionally, make sure to store your turntable in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Heat and humidity can cause damage to the turntable and affect its performance.

By properly supporting your stylus during storage, you can ensure that it stays protected and in good condition for years to come.