Are you tired of experiencing the frustration of a skipping turntable?
Nothing ruins the mood of a vinyl listening session quite like a record that keeps skipping. But fear not, there are several reasons why your turntable might be skipping and solutions to fix it.
From dust and dirt to improperly balanced tonearms, we’ll explore the most common causes of record skips and provide tips on how to troubleshoot and prevent them.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable maintenance.
Why Is My Turntable Skipping
One of the most common reasons why your turntable might be skipping is due to dust and dirt that has accumulated on the surface and in the grooves of your record. This can happen to both old and new records, and can be caused by factors such as storage, paper sleeves, or dust in the environment. To prevent skipping, it’s important to remove any dust or dirt from the record before playing it. In some cases, you may need to use more complex cleaning methods to remove the dirt.
Another reason why your turntable might be skipping is due to an improperly balanced tonearm. The tracking force is the weight that your stylus presses on a record when playing. If the tracking force weight is too low, record skipping can occur. If too high, excessive wear to both your record and stylus can result. Tracking force can be set by adjusting your turntable’s counterweight to the proper specifications outlined by your cartridge manufacturer. You can also use a turntable stylus scale to gauge and fine-tune the tracking force.
Scratches, dirt, and other forms of damage and debris can also interfere with your stylus’ smooth journey through a record’s grooves. If a record is scratched, dirty, or warped, it is far more likely to produce inferior sound – and to skip. Skipping typically occurs when your turntable’s stylus gets stuck or thrown off course by some form of cosmetic damage to the record you’re listening to.
Finally, vibrations can also cause your turntable to skip. If you notice that it skips when you walk around the room or if it’s located in or on a media cabinet containing other electronics, it may not be on a stable enough surface. For optimal tracking, the turntable should be situated on a hard, stable surface that will isolate it from other vibrations in the room.
Dust And Dirt Buildup On Your Record
Dust and dirt buildup on your record is a common cause of skipping. This can happen to both old and new records, and can be caused by factors such as storage, paper sleeves, or dust in the environment. Even the oils found on your skin can be transferred to the vinyl and cause record skipping. To fix this issue, it’s important to clean your records effectively. There are several methods to clean your records, including using distilled water, a cleaning solution, and an anti-static brush to sweep the surface of the records clean and keep it lint-free. When wiping your records, always make sure to move the brush or the rag in a circular motion without using too much pressure. Wet cleaning your vinyl only needs to be done from time to time, but each time you play them, you should run a carbon fiber brush along the grooves to make sure the dust and particles on the records don’t disrupt the music.
Excessive dirt and dust are often found in the record grooves before buying the vinyl at a local record store. It can be found on new vinyl records, and even paper sleeves don’t provide enough protection against dust to keep the records spotless. If you notice that your record is skipping, it’s important to give it a visual inspection with a magnifying glass. Sometimes, it’s very obvious that the record has excessive dust trapped in its grooves; other times it might not be so obvious. Either way, it’s a good idea to practice consistent record cleaning.
If dirt or dust has built up on the surface or collected on the needle, a skip might occur each time the record revolves around a point where the build-up of dirt or dust overcomes the ability of the needle to stay in its groove. Sometimes this build-up of dirt or dust can correspond to a place on the record. The dirt or dust might even be stuck in place on the record. It would cause the record to skip each time the needle tries to plow through the dirt or dust stuck to the surface of the record. To prevent this issue from occurring, use a proper vinyl record carbon fiber brush to clean your record. This will help remove any dirt or dust that has accumulated on your record’s surface and in its grooves.
Worn Out Or Damaged Stylus
A worn out or damaged stylus is another common reason why your turntable might be skipping. Over time, the tip of the stylus can lose its keen edge, causing it to skip over grooves that it would typically glide through. A dull stylus can also cause damage to the record itself, so it’s important to replace it when needed.
If the needle on your record player is dirty or damaged, it can also cause your records to skip. This occurs because the needle is unable to make proper contact with the record, resulting in a loss of sound quality. To clean the needle, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe it down after each use gently. You should also check for damage such as cracks or chips – if you see any, it’s time for a new needle.
It’s important to note that not all styluses are created equal and stylus maintenance is essential. There are tons of recommendations for stylus upgrades but it all depends on your turntable and preferences. However, a stylus upgrade is no substitute for a quality turntable. A cheap turntable will wear out and could damage your records in the long run. Therefore, it’s better to invest in a quality player from the get-go.
Uneven Or Improperly Balanced Tonearm
An uneven or improperly balanced tonearm can also be a common cause of record skipping. The tonearm is the part of the turntable that holds the stylus and tracks the grooves on the record. If the tonearm is not balanced correctly, it can result in the stylus not being able to track the grooves properly, causing skipping.
To check if your tonearm is properly balanced, you can use a simple leveler from your toolbox. Place it on top of your turntable and check if the bubble is in the center. If it’s not, you may need to make some slight adjustments to your tonearm.
One way to adjust the balance of your tonearm is by reducing the “float” and increasing the weight of the tonearm on the vinyl. You can do this by adjusting the counterweight of your turntable to add more weight to the tonearm. However, be careful not to add too much weight as this can cause excessive wear on both your record and stylus.
Another way to fine-tune your tracking force is by using a turntable stylus scale. This tool measures the tracking force accurately and helps you adjust your turntable’s counterweight to ensure that it’s set to the proper specifications outlined by your cartridge manufacturer.
If you’ve recently purchased a new turntable and are experiencing skipping issues, it’s unlikely that an uneven or improperly balanced tonearm is the issue. However, if you have a pre-owned turntable that has not been cared for properly, an unbalanced tonearm can be a common problem.
Incorrect Tracking Force
One common reason for record skipping is an incorrect tracking force. This refers to the amount of pressure that the stylus applies to the record as it plays. If the tracking force is too light, the stylus can easily jump out of the grooves and cause skipping. On the other hand, if the tracking force is too heavy, it can cause excessive wear and tear on both the record and stylus.
To ensure that your turntable is set up correctly, you should consult your cartridge manufacturer’s specifications for the recommended tracking force. You can then adjust your turntable’s counterweight to achieve the desired tracking force. It’s important to note that different cartridges may require different tracking forces, so it’s crucial to use the correct specifications for your particular cartridge.
You can also use a turntable stylus scale to fine-tune the tracking force. This tool measures the weight of your stylus and allows you to adjust the counterweight accordingly. By properly adjusting your turntable’s tracking force, you can minimize skipping and ensure optimal sound quality from your records.
Warped Or Damaged Records
Another common reason why your turntable might be skipping is due to warped or damaged records. Records that are warped or damaged can cause the stylus to skip and produce inferior sound quality. Warping can happen over time due to improper storage or exposure to heat or moisture.
To check if your record is warped, place it on the turntable and look at it as close to horizontally as possible. Slowly rotate the record by hand and look for any visible warps in the record. If you notice any warps, it’s important to fix them before playing the record again.
Fixing a warped record can be a time-consuming process, but with patience, you can fix minor warps. One method involves placing the record between two sheets of glass and exposing it to sunlight for a few hours. The heat from the sun will soften the vinyl, allowing it to be reshaped back into its original form. Another method involves using a record flattener, which applies heat and pressure to the record to flatten it out.
If your record is damaged with scratches or debris lodged in the grooves, it’s important to clean it before playing it again. Use a lint-free soft cloth to gently wipe down the record in a circular motion. If simple dusting doesn’t solve the problem, use a record cleaning product and a soft cloth or a record cleaning brush for a deeper clean. Be careful when using any liquid on your records to avoid getting the label wet. Allow your record to dry completely before playing it again.
How To Troubleshoot And Prevent Skipping
If you’re experiencing skipping on your turntable, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot and prevent the issue from occurring in the future.
Step 1: Clean Your Record
The most common cause of skipping is dirt and dust on the record. To troubleshoot this issue, gently wipe down the record with a lint-free soft cloth in a circular motion. If the skipping persists, try using a record cleaning product and a soft cloth or record cleaning brush for a deeper clean. Be sure to follow any guidelines set by the product and avoid getting the label wet. Allow your record to dry completely before playing it again.
Step 2: Check Tonearm Balance
If your record and stylus are clean, then an improperly balanced tonearm may be the issue causing skipping. To check if the proper balance is being used, set the anti-skate control to zero and gently lower the arm until it rests by itself. If it sits on the record, it needs to be adjusted. Move the counterweight located on the back of the tonearm until the arm is balanced in the air without any support. Once the arm is perfectly balanced, lock it in position at a tracking weight of 0 grams. Then, readjust the counterweight to make sure it is in the right position.
Step 3: Examine Your Stylus
If your turntable continues to skip after cleaning and adjusting the tonearm, examine your stylus for damage such as bending, buildup, or dullness. Styluses do wear out over time and should be replaced after 1,000 hours of playtime or as recommended by the manufacturing guidelines.
Step 4: Prevent Vibrations
Vibrations can also cause your turntable to skip. To prevent this, make sure your turntable is situated on a hard, stable surface that will isolate it from other vibrations in the room. Avoid placing it on the floor or in a media cabinet with other electronics that could cause vibrations.
By following these steps, you can troubleshoot and prevent skipping on your turntable for optimal listening enjoyment.