Turntable Troubleshooting

There are several problems you can run into that relate to your turntables. Here I will discuss the most common ones that you might encounter as a (starting) turntablist.

Needle keeps skipping

A few reasons that could cause your needles to skip:

  • Using needles that are not sufficiently ‘broken in’
  • Applying too much tracking force
  • The spindle hole in your record is too big
  • Your record is warped

Most of these ‘problems’ are easily solved. Here’s how you do it:

Breaking in needles

A good thing to know about needles is that skip resistance improves with use. When your cartridges are brand-new out of the box they will skip noticeably more than a set of old ones. This is because your old needles are ‘broken in’.
So how do you ‘break in’ a needle? You do this by using it. You can speed up this process by letting your needles rest in a groove from your records each day for a few hours. After about two weeks your needles should be ready for heavy duty scratching.

Too much tracking force

As I already mentioned when I discussed the Balance weight, too much weight is never good. Not only does it wear out your records and stylus faster, it can also be the reason why your needle won’t stay in the groove. If you’re not sure how much tracking force you applied, calibrate your tone-arm and put it within factory recommend limits. A rule of thumb is that a tracking force of about 3-3,5 grams should be enough.

A big spindle hole

It could well be that your problem is due to a spindle hole that’s too big. This causes your record to move in all directions when you scratch. If this hole is too big (it’s ok if your record fits snug around your spindle) use some tape to make it smaller.

Warped records

It’s always a bugger when you got a warped record. Read more about warped records and ways to make them usable again over here.

Fast backspin problems

Every time you try a fast backspin either your needle skips or your platter comes to a complete stop. Of course this is not what you want. Make sure you adjusted your gear the right way and you are using a good slipmat.

Record doesn’t slip

Your slipmats should allow you to hold the record idle without slowing the platter down. If this does happen, or your record just doesn’t slip good enough, something’s wrong.

Bad mats

Look at what kind of mats you are using in the first place. Get your hands on some genuinely good DJ mats, most Technics ones are alright. In addition, use some extra material to increase slip-action. If you feel creative, you can make yourself some butter rugs as well :).

Warped record

Warped records have the annoying side-effect that one side will slip way too much and the other side will hardly slip at all. Read more about warped records and ways to make them usable again over here.

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