Well-Maintained Equipment Provides Years of Record Playing Pleasure
If you're a vinyl collector, your records are your baby -- and you know it requires a stable home and tender, loving care in order to function at full capacity and live its best life. Chances are, though, your turntable is the unsung hero of your music collection. Records get to retire to their clean, safe sleeves once you're done listening -- but your turntable's job never stops! Here are a few simple ways to maintain your record player. It works hard for you; don't you think it deserves some care?
Clean and Change the Stylus Regularly
The stylus (commonly known as the needle) is your record's most essential point of contact with the turntable. But records in less-than-pristine condition can transfer dirt, dust, mold, and other grime to the stylus, which can compromise your sound quality. Read your manufacturer's guidelines to find out how often you should change your stylus; most recommend every 1,000 to 3,000 hours of play. If you listen to your records for about an hour a day, that's approximately every three years.
By cleaning your stylus with a carbon brush regularly, you may be able to stretch that time out longer. You can also use special stylus-cleaning solutions to keep it sparkling fresh. Even if your stylus is in good condition, keep an eye and an ear out for signs of wear, such as skipping, jumping, hissing, or static when you play the record; or jagged, bent edges on the stylus.
Replace the Belt
Have you noticed the pitch shifting when you play your records? This indicates variation in rotating speed, and is a sign that it might be time to change the worn belt -- especially if yours has been in rotation for more than five years. You might also see or hear the belt slipping.
Don't worry: Replacing the belt is not as intimidating as it sounds. Start by turning off the turntable, lifting off the platter, and removing the plastic covering (wipe away any dust and grime that has accumulated, while you're at it). Follow these instructions, or hire a pro if that process seems intimidating.
Recalibrate the Tracking Force
When you buy a new record player, the tonearm arrives optimally balanced for the best sound. It's not too heavy (too much pressure can wear out records) and not too light (the tonearm could fly off the record). But over time, that can change. Lock the tonearm and remove the stylus cover. Release the tone arm's locking clamp, rotate the counterweight until the tonearm is balanced along a horizontal plane, and lock it back in the rest --making sure not to touch the counterweight.
Caring for a turntable may sound like a lot of work -- and it is a little more labor-intensive than, say, streaming music online. But if you keep a simple maintenance routine, your trusty turntable will be a lifetime friend ... one that may even go on to entertain future generations.
If you're looking for new vinyl records or CDs, may we remind you that you'll find plenty of classics as well as new releases available for sale or trade at Mushroom New Orleans? We also buy used records. And if you have a question about turntable maintenance, feel free to bring that, too. If we don't know the answer, we'll sure try our best to find one.