How often recently have you heard your record player skipping? If it is more often than you would like to admit, then it is time to sort out the problem.
If you have dealt with this problem before, or even if you have not, then you will likely know that it can be caused by dust and debris on a record or stylus – but did you know that you are able to fix it without having to replace the entire cartridge?
Also, it can be caused by where you have positioned the record player, or by the pressure of the stylus.
Whilst record players are great tools for listening to music, even in today’s modern world of streaming music online, the sad thing is that they do not last forever, especially if you own a vintage one.
Eventually they stop working due to all the buildup of dust and dirt, but this can actually be avoided with some simple cleaning tips.
These include using a soft brush to remove dust from the needle, or using compressed air to blow away any dust.
Replacing a record player can be expensive, and if it is a beloved hand-me-down, then you may not even want to.
With this in mind, let us take a look at 8 quick tips to fix a skipping record player.
Step 1 – Clean The Stylus And Dirty Records
One of the first steps you should take when a record skips is to clean the stylus. If it is full of debris and dirt, then it can affect the whole record playing process.
As the record plays, the stylus can also catch any debris that is on the surface of a dirty record, so it is really important that you keep it clean to avoid skipping records and a broken needle.
Cleaning the stylus is really easy too, and you can do it in a matter of seconds.
If you have recently bought a stylus or cartridge, then you may have a needle brush as part of the product. If you did not, you can buy one really cheap.
Using the brush, wipe the needle from front to back, never side-to-side, to clean the stylus gently.
If you do clean it side-to-side, you risk breaking the needle completely, and you will need to just buy a new one.
If the record itself has attracted quite a bit of dust, and you want to avoid the needle from catching it, or the particles causing the record to skip, then a soft microfiber cloth wiped over the record’s surface should do the trick.
Step 2 – Put The Record Player On A Hard Surface
If you have noticed that your record starts to skip when you are walking around the room, or when a person makes a sudden motion, then the problem could be due to where the record player has been placed.
This is because the record player has not been situated on a stable surface, which is especially true if you have placed it on the floor.
If you have placed it on the floor, then the vibrations from any movement will be causing the needle to move from the groove of the record, causing it to skip.
If you want it to play the record smoothly, then it is always best to place the record player on a stable and hard surface which can help to isolate vibrations within the room.
You will find that it is always better to take your time placing the record player in a room to avoid any vibrations that will ruin the enjoyment of listening to the music.
Step 3 – Other Electronics Might Be Interfering With It
You might also find other electronics may be interfering with the record player causing unwanted vibrations to cause the needle to unsteadily track the groove of the record.
To check whether this is a problem, have a look where you have placed the record player.
If it is in a cabinet that houses other electronic equipment, then it is worth moving the record player to a solid surface on its own to diagnose the issue.
If it stops skipping, then you will know that the other electronics have caused vibrations to mess with the needle.
Unfortunately, built-in speakers may also be the issue as the vibrations might be causing the needle to struggle with staying on the groove smoothly.
The majority of record players are built in such a way that this should not be a cause for concern, but a cheaper model may be a whole different story.
One way to get around this problem is by connecting external speakers to the record player.
The only thing you have to be aware of is not placing the speakers too close where the vibrations may distract the tonearm.
Step 4 – Is The Surface Level?
This may sound a little odd, but have you ever put a pencil on a table, and it has rolled off? Exactly.
Whilst you might have a good hand when it comes to DIY or putting shelves on the wall, not everything might be as level as you think, even if the items you bought were already put together at the factory.
If the turntable on the record player is not level, then the record may skip, even if the tilt is only subtle.
To check if this is the case, use a leveler to see whether whatever you have placed the record player on is not slightly sloped.
If the bubble is not in the center, then it is time to make some adjustments before the stylus starts to scratch the records for good.
If you are wondering how to readjust the furniture, placing a bit of cardboard under a leg can help, or re-doing a shelf to make it more level will work.
Step 5 – Is the Stylus Worn Out?
A stylus on average will last around 500 plays before it starts to become weathered and needs to be changed.
If you were to listen to a record for about one hour each day, then one stylus should last you around nearly a year and a half.
Obviously the more you listen to a record, the shorter the length you would need to change it.
Having said that, if you do not listen to music enough, the stylus may still need to be changed due to under use.
Because you cannot see how worn the stylus has become using your own eyes, it shows when you are listening to music, such as skipping.
Another way of doing it – such as before the skipping happens – is by taking a magnifying glass and looking at whether the needle looks worn on one side, jagged, dull or just uneven.
If you find that the stylus is suffering from any of these things, then it is time to change it.
If you do not, it can damage perfectly good records causing them to lose quality, or not play at all. It may also cause warped records.
Step 6 – Remember To Align The Cartridge Properly
If the cartridge and headshell are not aligned properly, then this can cause the record to skip.
Not only that, it may also cause damage to the record, though this also depends on the pressure of the needle.
If you are unsure what the headshell area is, you can find it easily because it is the area that attaches the cartridge to the tonearm.
The cartridge is the part of the record player that converts vibrations into electronic signals which are then picked up by the speakers.
What you are looking for is the headshell to be aligned parallel to the surface of the record.
If it is not, it can cause the record to be played in low quality, and put a lot of wear onto the record itself, ultimately damaging it and causing it to skip.
Step 7 – Stylus Pressure Might Be Wrong
When it comes to the pressure of the stylus, it is all to do with the force of the tonearm and how that places the needle onto the record.
Whilst it can be down to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use that particular record player, you will want to check a few things if the record keeps skipping.
When the pressure of the stylus is far too low, it can cause the record to skip because there is just not enough contact for the needle to work alongside the grooves of the record.
When this is the case, all you will need to do is increase the pressure, so the needle can glide across the record and play the music.
However, never let the needle push against the record heavily. If it does, it can distort the sound of the music, as well as block important vibrations.
The worst part though, is that it can ruin the record and make it unplayable.
Step 8 – Has The Record Warped?
There are a few reasons why a record may have become warped, such as hot temperatures and pressure.
Both of these things can cause the record to skip, and annoyingly there is not much you can do when a record has become warped.
There is also a good chance that you have not even noticed that the record is warped, as it does not need to have a big curve in it for the record player to feel its effects.
The slightest warp, not even noticeable at first glance, can cause the most significant of audible skips.
If your record has become warped, then it is time to put it into a picture frame and use it as a feature piece inside the home, or let it retire to the bottom of the record box.
Either way, it is best not to play it in case it causes damage to the needle.
Why Listen To A Record?
Whilst you have the choice to stream music on an app, download some MP3s, or even play a CD, nothing beats listening to music via a fully analog mechanical system.
There are absolutely no equalizers involved from the tonearm to your ear, giving the sound more authenticity compared to any other music device.
However, more importantly there is absolutely no digital sound conversion whilst playing the record.
This means that there is no loss of quality compared to streaming or a CD, for example.
Because you bought the record player and vinyls to listen to quality music, it can be disheartening when it begins to skip.
Fortunately there are many ways to combat skipping, with most of the options sorting the issue out straightaway.
Quick Way To Know If It Is The Record Or Player Skipping
If you are unsure whether it is the stylus for example, or the record itself that is skipping, then there is a quick and easy way to find out.
Whilst it is annoying when a record skips, especially if it is new, and it is the first time you have played it, it is always best to find out what the cause of the skipping is.
If the record keeps skipping at the exact same place, then it is likely to be the record, but if it skips anywhere at any time, then it is likely to be the record player.
Storing A Record Is Important
You might not think much about how you store a record, but it is really important if you want to make sure a record lasts for a long time.
An old record is unfortunately more likely to skip, whether this is one you bought secondhand or a record you have owned for years.
The majority of record owners do not think about how they store them, and this can be a problem if you have bought a secondhand vinyl, meaning it has the potential to skip every time you play it.
Not only can a record become warped if left in strong heat or humidity, but if left out in the open or never cleaned, debris and dirt can find its way into the grooves of a record.
This might become sticky as well, and can damage the needle of the record player.
All these things can cause a record to skip, even if the vinyl you have bought is brand-new but was stored incorrectly.
Is There A Way To Fix A Warped Record?
If your record has warped, then the easiest and most sensible thing to do is to buy a new one if you can.
However, whilst this is probably the best option, it is not something everybody wants to do.
Perhaps the record was a present, a collectible or is a vintage piece handed down by a family member.
Whatever the reason is, there is a way to try to straighten out the record, though it should only be done if you really need to play that record, and do not want to buy a new copy.
When a vinyl becomes warped, sometimes it is barely noticeable, or there is a slight curve.
At this stage, placing it in its sleeve between hard books can potentially straighten it out. It is not a sure fire way at ‘unwarping’ the record, though it is a low risk way to try to help.
If the record is really warped, then the best way to solve it is by buying the record again, otherwise you may end up breaking it by accident.
Whilst it is disheartening to hear a beloved record skip, which ultimately lessens the sound quality, you will want to find out what is causing the skipping record.
Instead of taking the record player to the graveyard and investing money in a brand-new one, it is much better to take the time out to find the reasons for the skipping record.
This can be done by researching the common issues associated with the problem.
So the next time the needle hits the record grooves, and you hear that familiar sound of a vinyl beginning to play, you will know that hard work has paid off.
Finding the cause can be tedious, but it costs no extra money, and it means you can keep your favorite record player.