If you own a record player, eventually something will go wrong with the turntable.
Commonly, the player will turn on, but the turntable component simply won’t spin.
This signifies an issue with the belt.
A record player’s belt connects the motor to the turntable and keeps it spinning at a constant pace. Though they rarely snap, it’s not uncommon for the belt to simply slip out of place.
Luckily, replacing it is easy.
We will teach you how to fix a record player turntable in a few easy steps, using with minimal tools and effort.
Check and see if you need a new belt
The best indicator that you need to replace the belt is if the record player turns on, but the turntable does not spin.
Even if it does spin, you may have a broken belt. Here are some other indicators that the belt needs replacing:
- Your records sound lower pitched (i.e. the sound is abnormally deep)
- There is a change in speed as soon as the needle hits the record – either faster or slower.
It is sometimes difficult to tell if you have a broken belt, in cases where the turntable is still spinning. If it is only slightly off from its normal speed, you may not be able to tell there is a problem.
The best way to be sure is to get a strobe disk.
A strobe disk will tell you if your turntable is spinning at the correct speed or not, even if it is only slightly off.
It works like this.
You put the strobe disk on the turntable and turn it on, so that the disk spins. The disk has dots or lines on it. As it spins, a strobe light illuminates it at a specific frequency and when the markings on the disk appear to be stationary, it is spinning at the correct speed.
Obviously, we don’t all have a strobe light, but there are phone apps that perform this function.
Even better, get a disk that is meant for a 60 Hz frequency light, like the one linked to above. That is the frequency of a standard light fixture in the US.
Some countries use 50 Hz, which is also marked on the disk linked to above.
If you learn that your turntable is not spinning at the proper speed, or not spinning at all, then you need to fix the belt. Sometimes, you only need to put the existing belt back in its correct position, but other times, you will need to get a new one altogether. You want to make sure you get the right one.
Buy the right belt for your turntable
Not all belts are compatible with every turntable. You need to consider the length, width and overall thickness of the belt. Using the wrong-sized belt will only lead to more problems.
The easiest way to ensure you get the right size is by searching online and typing your record player’s name followed by “replacement belt” (e.g. “Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC replacement belt”).
If you plan on using you old belt to determine the size of the replacement, follow these guidelines:
- Make sure that the belt is stretched when measuring the length; then subtract at least 5 to 10 mm to account for wear and tear.
- Accurately measure the belt’s complete width
- If you no longer have the broken belt, you can remove the record player platter and measure the circumference of the hub. Subtract at least 5 to 10 mm to get the closest possible length for the replacement belt
That said, the best way to ensure you get the correct size is to research exactly what size belt your model uses. An online search is generally the easiest, but you should also consider contacting the manufacturer or one of their distributors, if you are having a hard time finding the answer elsewhere.
Disassemble your record player
The following are generally instruction for all record players. Obviously, it is best if you have specific instructions for your model of player that you can follow. If you lost yours, you can often find them online, or get a replacement by contacting the manufacturer.
- Make sure to unplug the record player before doing anything (this should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway). No only does this prevent possible electrocution, but it is also better for the motor.
- Remove the slip mat, i.e. the surface on which the record sits. Simply peel it off and set it aside.
- Remove the platter. This is the round component directly beneath the slip mat. It is generally made from either metal or plastic.
- Turn the platter upside down on a flat surface so you can clean the motor, especially if it has collected dust. If you have been using it a while, it will almost certainly have gathered dust.
Place the new belt over the center hub of the platter
- Make sure the new belt is straightened out and stretched, before placing it over the center hub of the platter. It should fit snugly onto the circle. If it doesn’t, it is the wrong size.
- Put the replacement belt as close to the center as possible for the best accuracy.
- If you see a ribbon on the belt, make sure to line it up with one of the access holes in the platter, to make it easier to pull the belt onto the motor.
Stretch everything out before assembling the record player again
The last step is to stretch everything out before piecing the record player back together. Make sure you align everything correctly and you replace every screw you removed during disassembly. (Somehow I ALWAYS end up with a spare screw or two when repairing anything!)
If you followed the steps above, you should have successfully fixed your record player turntable. If you have a strobe disk, use it to test the turntable speed, to ensure it is accurate.