Can you really make your own DIY record player?
Yes, you can!
But it probably won’t play records anywhere near as good as a real one, not even the lowest-cost models on the market.
That said, it is certainly possible to build a high-quality homemade turntable that can compete with high-end models.
But you need to be really good.
Most of us will end up with one of two things: a record player that works decently well, but can’t compete with a real one, or a fun toy for kids. Which one depends on your goal.
Are you a casual vinyl listener who doesn’t want to fork over a few hundred dollars to purchase a new model, especially if you’re unsure whether or not vinyl is the best choice for you?
Then the first project below is for you
Are you parent looking for a simple and fun project for the whole family?
Then the second project further down the page can be a fun one for you and the kids.
How To Make A DIY Turntable That Actually Works
The following instructions are very simple and easy to follow. Just make sure you gather all of the supplies required for the project before you get started.
This is a pretty low-cost project that should only run you around thirty dollars or so. You can easily pick up a lot of the supplies for this particular project online or at your local home improvement store.
For this project, you’ll need the following components:
- Circular disc
Constructing the Box
How you want the box to look and what type of design you use is totally be up to you. If you’re pretty limited in terms of woodworking skills, then keep it simple. Instead of focusing on the quality of the box, place your attention on the output of the sound and the quality of the wiring.
The box itself needs to be approximately two feet long, sixteen inches wide, and five inches tall. The top of the box should be large enough that it can accommodate the needle, tonearm, and a record. Each of these components will be contained inside the box, so you’ll need to ensure that the box is also deep enough.
You can use some simple clamps and a good wood glue to construct the box. Don’t use any glue on the top of the box, since you’ll need to have access to the inside.
Installing The Turntable
The next step is mounting the motor to the bottom of the box. Then use a dowel rod and connect it to the motor. Make sure that you don’t end up overloading the motor, which can happen if you use a higher voltage.
To control the turntable’s speed, you need to install a potentiometer. This is what allows you to adjust the speed of the turntable, depending on the size of the record you want to play.
Next, cut out a circular plate measuring twelve-inches. Then drill a hole directly into the center of the plate, for the dowel. To make it rotate easily, you can use a Lazy Susan for added support.
Speakers And Tonearm
Now, it’s time to build the tonearm. To do so, connect one dowel to another dowel that is placed perpendicularly to the first. You can use ring-shaped magnets in order to allow the arm to move freely.
Place the record player’s needle on the end of the tonearm, then wire the right and left sides. Connect the positive right wire to the amp on the right side, and the left wire to the amp on the left.
Connect both negatives to the ground for the amp. You also need to connect the amp to a power source, in addition to a couple of speakers.
At this point, you’ll have two separate circuits. One of the circuits connects the needle to the speakers and amp, while the other is for the turntable itself.
Cut a couple of holes in the front portion of the box to accommodate the speakers. Another hole should go in the top for the wires from the needle. You shouldn’t need to ground your record player, unless you made the casing out of metal.
And that’s it, your project is now complete. In terms of style, feel free to get really creative and paint the exterior, or add a nice stain. Or you can leave it as is.
Making A Record Player As A Fun Project For The Kids
Looking for a simple project for you and the kids? Even better, one that can teach them a thing or two about science?
Then this simple record player project is the perfect choice and a great way to spend an afternoon together.
This project is much simpler than the one detailed above. Since it’s very easy to make, you can easily explain all of the steps to the kids.
It is also a great opportunity to teach them the importance of safety when wiring and also explain exactly how a record player works and how the speed a turntable moves at can have an impact on the sound the record player produces.
Just like with the first project, you’ll need to purchase some supplies before you get started. What you’ll need for this one is:
- a shaft
- a small motor
- some wiring
- a light switch
- masking tape
- paper clips
- some paper
The first component, and the most important, is the small motor. You’ll want to test it before you install it, to ensure it works properly. You can hook it up to a small battery to test it out.
For the power button for your turntable, purchase a simple light switch. Connect the switch to the battery and the motor, so that it sits between the two and controls the flow of electricity between them.
Next, use some of the masking tape to wrap around the shaft that comes out from the motor, until it’s the size of the small hole in the center of a record. Try to fit a record on it. If it does not fit tightly, you’ll need to add more tape until it does.
Next, grab one sheet of paper and roll it up, megaphone-style. One end should be tightly rolled. Take an unbent paper clip and place it through the hole. Use some tape to secure the paper and ensure it remains tightly in place around the paper clip.
Now you’re ready to switch on the motor, touching the paper clip to the spinning vinyl, which will cause the record to play.
If the record player is not playing the vinyl fast enough, then you’ll need to purchase a faster motor or a bigger battery. If the vinyl starts spinning backward, simply reverse the light switch wires. If this handy little turntable plays the records at too fast a speed, then use a smaller battery or a slower motor.
Of course, you should never use this type of record player on high-quality vinyl. Or any disc you care about, for that matter.
Since records are very fragile, this type of makeshift needle can cause some serious damage. But if you use a cheap throwaway disc, this homemade turntable is a fun project for the family and a great way to show the kids how a record player is played.
How To Make A DIY Needle For Your Record Player
Whether you have a budget record player or one of the top turntables on the market, you’re going to run into issues from time to time. Parts suffer wear and tear and need to be replaced periodically. The most common replacement part needed is the stylus.
If you’re dying to play your records, but your needle broke and it’s going to be a minute before you can order a new one, there’s a simple and easy way to get around this problem.
You can actually make your own homemade record player needle. You can use this DIY turntable needle to replace your existing broken needle or for one of the homemade record player we showed you how to make above.
Construct The Amplifier For The Needle
Making an amp is surprisingly easy. All you have to do is roll a piece of paper up into a cone, just like you did for the kid’s record player project.
Remember to keep one of the ends rolled very tight. This design amplifies the sound from the record, in the same way a megaphone amplifies sound. Try to use a stiff piece of paper, not printer paper.
Attach The Stylus
Use scotch tape to secure the edges of the paper. Take a sewing needle and place it through the hole at the tightly rolled end of the cone. Tape the needle in place to prevent it from moving during use.
Choose a record and place it on the platter. Set the needle into the groove at the point where the track you want to listen to begins. Then let the platter spin.
If the turntable itself is also broken, you can spin it manually. Spin it clockwise, and try to keep it at the ideal speed for the size of the record. You’ll have to judge this with your ear. When it sounds right, it’s spinning at the right speed.
Because it’s funneled and amplified through the end of the cone, the music will be audible. Of course, you won’t enjoy the same type of audio quality as you would when using a high-quality, store-bought stylus and a real amp and speakers, but this method will work in a pinch.
Just keep in mind that this technique isn’t exactly gentle on vinyl, so you don’t want to make a habit of using it, in order to prevent damage. And I would refrain from listening to any valuable albums until you have replaced the stylus with a professionally made model.
Making Your Own Turntable: Final Thoughts
If you’re not handy in the garage, then this type of project may sound too complex. But if you’ve got some DIY skills, the simple step by step instructions provided here, should have you throwing together a neat little turntable without any issues.
Learning how to make a record player can be a fun and more affordable solution than purchasing a new model. While making your own really isn’t the best substitute for a top of the line model, it can be a fun way to spend an afternoon with the kids.