So, you’re experiencing poor sound quality and you’ve already made sure that there’s no problem with the vinyl record. What could you do then?
There are many factors that affect the sound quality generated by the turntable and worn off stylus or needle is one major factor. A stylus that has completed its life, or has worn out due to mishandling, can easily cause damages to your vinyl.
If you continue to run your record, a bad needle can make scratches, even cracks on it. That can be an irreparable damage to the record. Not to mention all those slips and skips, or crackle sounds during record playing. A worn or chipped needle doesn’t conform to the grooves and cause these issues.
Stylus is the only part that comes in contact with the vinyl record, and this is the main reason why it needs to be replaced more often than other components of the turntable.
Why You Don’t Often Judge Worn or Chipped Stylus
There are many factors, such as:
- The size of records you like to play more often
If you tend to play 45 singles or 33’s long play, you may be able to identify the problem quickly. But, if you’re more into 78 rpm records, it will take time to identify the issue. That’s because records with 78 rpm have wider grooves and require a stylus of larger diameter, compared to 45s and 33s.
- Capacity of the Cartridge
- Moreover, number of needles in cartridge is another reason. Many cartridges consists of two styluses, one at each side so that you can turn over the cartridge.
- Some cartridges consists of two styluses placed on detachable holder. Such cartridges are rare these days. But removing stylus from them is easier than others.
Things to Know Before Removing the Stylus
These tips are not only meant for the situation when you have sound quality issues. Make a habit of checking the stylus, so that you can determine whether to replace it before it damages your records. To add to inspection, a little cleanup will help prolong the life of stylus.
- Stylus must be cleaned with light brush strokes. Also make sure that the brush has soft edges. You can remove the fluff off the stylus with the help of soft tip or paintbrush with hog-hairs.
- Avoid applying force on the stylus. The needle is small and delicate. It can be tilted if you exert more than reasonable force on it.
- Avoid using solvents as they may affect the construction of stylus. The base of the stylus may become weak with time and gets detached from the point of mounting.
- You can inspect the condition of stylus occasionally. Take a microscope or magnifying glass to inspect wear and tears. To inspect the stylus, you might want to lift up the tonearm. Most machines have easy-to-lift tonearms but others feature a catch near the hinge, so be careful.
- Make sure that the stylus maintains its cone-like shape. It must be smooth and gentle. The end that meets the record surface must not be pointed or chipped. Instead, it must be rounded in shape. A pointed end can easily damage the grooves of the record.
Steps to Remove and Replace the Stylus
- Pull it Out
Remove the needle by pulling it straight out. It must be pulled out in the opposite direction of the tonearm
- Note Down Manufacturer’s Name
Take a look at the cartridge where you can find the name of the manufacturer as well as the model number. In this way, it will be easier for you to replace the stylus.
- Get A New Needle from Reliable Store
Now that you have the information about the manufacturer and the model, you can simply visit the nearby music shop and ask for replacement. While visiting the store for replacement, bring the old stylus with you. If the new stylus of the same model is not available, you’d have to replace both, the stylus and the cartridge.
- Slip it In
You can easily slip the new needle into the cartridge’s opening space. Make sure that the pointed end of the stylus should face downwards.
Stylus is the most sensitive yet important component of your record player that has the major role in producing high quality sound. So, take care of this component. Stick to these rules:
- Learn about the life-span of the stylus of your turntable
- Keep checking it for wears and chips
- Replace old stylus with the same model of the new stylus