Sometimes record players stop working.
Sometimes they work, but not as well as before.
Sure, you can take it to a professional and get it fixed, but a lot of times that’s not necessary.
Many times, the problem is fairly simple and something you could take care of on your own.
The ability to do some basic troubleshooting on your record player will save you time and money, especially if you got a budget player for under $100.
Occasional maintenance, even when your player is still working properly, can also be hugely beneficial. It lengthens the lifespan of your player and helps prevent future problems.
Note, however, that record players have a number of sensitive components. You are strongly advised to only perform basic troubleshooting procedures.
Let professional technicians handle the more complicated issues. You do not want to cause more serious, or even irreparable, harm to your player.
Things you can handle yourself are a thorough cleaning of the entire player (you’d be amazed at how many issues are taken care of just though cleaning), replacing a needle, belt or cartridge, or repairing the power source.
We’ll walk you through some of these basic procedures. They are all fairly simple (apart from maybe the power source repairs) and ones that anyone can perform on their own.
Thorough Cleaning Of The Player
A dirty record player does not usually function the way it should. Even though most turntable players come with dust covers and seals to prevent foreign particles from getting inside the device, they still manage to collect dust and grime over time.
You don’t want to let this build up, as it will affect the unit’s performance. It can also damage your records or, at the very least, make them dirty so you have to spend time cleaning them.
I recommend a regular thorough cleaning of your device. Remove any caked dirt and dust you can get to without disassembling the player.
The surfaces of the player can just be wiped down with a cloth, though an anti-static cloth is best. For tougher dirt, like fingerprints, use some rubbing alcohol when wiping down the unit.
Naturally, you want to be gentle with your player, especially around sensitive components, like the stylus. It needs special care.
Clean The Stylus
You should clean the stylus after every use.There are specialized stylus brushes for this, but you can also just use a soft paintbrush. The key is to wipe the needle from back to front, and never side to side, so as not to bend the needle.
You can put some rubbing alcohol on the brush for a more thorough cleaning, though this is only necessary occasionally and not after every use.
Even better than using a brush with or without cleaner is this space-age polymer bubble cleaner. It is the easiest way to clean it by far, but it also costs a lot more than a simple brush.
This article details the entire cleaning process.
Needle replacement is another basic record player troubleshooting procedure that you can easily handle yourself. Since the process differs slightly between models, I recommend consulting the owner’s manual and following the steps carefully.
If you no longer have the manual, you can almost always find them online. At the very least, you should be able to find the needle replacement instructions for your particular model.
Another option is to contact the manufacturer directly, or at least a distributor for your brand. You will always be able to find this information online.
Because the needle is usually very small, you will probably want to use a magnifying glass to remove the old needle. After detaching the old needle, you want to replace it with a new one that is exactly the same.
In the absence of an instruction manual, consult Google or a local store owner or professional with expert knowledge about the product on which needle you need and how to correctly install it. It is not difficult, but you do want to make sure you follow the correct procedure.
Once you have installed the new needle, don’t play your most precious record. Test it with a record you don’t care much about, just in case. You want to make sure your new needle is correctly installed before letting it touch your valuable vinyl albums and potentially scratching them.
Power Source Repair
Repairing the power source is a bit more involved than the previous two procedures. You might want to just replace it altogether, but if you are comfortable being more hands-on, you should be able to handle it.
When the power source stops working, it is generally due to continued used and is commonly caused by a broken circuit or snapped wires.
Therefore, begin your troubleshooting by inspecting the power source and determining the cause of its failure. Take it apart an see if you can spot either of those issues.
If you’ve got a broken circuit, you can either try to fix it or simply have the entire assembly replaced, depending on how comfortable you are with this repair. It may involve some soldering, so make sure that is something you can do.
If the problem was caused by snapped wires, you need to reconnect the wires or completely replace them. Definitely consult a manual or research online how to do this. If you don’t feel comfortable dong something like this, I wouldn’t do it on your own. Just get a new power source. They’re not that expensive.
If you hear a humming coming from your turntable, this could be the result of a ground loop. Read How To Ground A Turntable Record Player to find out if you need to ground your player and how to do it.
Belt-driven players will not work properly with a broken belt. If it breaks, you need to get a new one and replace it. Again, your first stop should be the instructions manual, because it usually provides step-by-step instructions on how to replace the belt.
If you do not have the manual, check online. I also wrote a detailed post on how to replace a broken belt. It will get you through the procedure.
Record Player Troubleshooting: Final thoughts
The basic repairs listed here are all fairly simple (apart from maybe the power source repair) and something you can certainly handle on your own. Anything more involved, I would have a professional look at and take care for you, especially if you have a high-end model.
But if you break a unit that costs several hundred to several thousand dollars…well, it’s just not worth the risk. Besides, most high end units should come with long warranties anyway, so let the pros handle it.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. I will answer them all to the best of my abilities.