Causes of Skipping Records
If you’re an avid vinyl collector or simply a music lover who enjoys the warmth and texture of analog sound, there’s nothing more frustrating than a skipping record. Whether you’re listening to a classic album or exploring new releases, skipping can ruin your listening experience and leave you feeling disappointed. While it may seem like a minor issue, skipping can actually damage your records over time and decrease their lifespan. Understanding the causes of skipping records can help you prevent this issue and avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your vinyl.
There are several reasons why records skip. In most cases, skipping is caused by physical damage to the record or the needle. Scratches, scuffs, and other imperfections on the vinyl can cause the needle to jump or skip, disrupting the sound. Similarly, a worn or damaged needle can cause skipping by losing contact with the grooves on the record. In some cases, skipping may be caused by an issue with the turntable itself, such as a misaligned tonearm or motor problems.
However, not all record skipping is caused by physical damage or mechanical issues. Sometimes, skipping can be caused by environmental factors or user error. For example, playing records in dusty or humid conditions can increase the likelihood of skipping, as can using an incorrect tracking force or playing records at the wrong speed. Understanding the different causes of skipping can help you take steps to prevent this issue and ensure that your records sound great every time you play them.
One of the most common causes of skipping records is physical damage to the vinyl or the needle. Scratches, scuffs, and other imperfections on the record’s surface can cause the needle to jump or skip, disrupting the sound and ruining your listening experience. Over time, this type of damage can accumulate, making it more difficult for the needle to track the grooves on the vinyl and increasing the likelihood of skipping.
While some scratches and imperfections are unavoidable, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of physical damage to your records. First, make sure that you store your vinyl properly in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Use inner sleeves and protective outer sleeves to keep your records clean and protected from dust and debris. Handle your records carefully and avoid touching the grooves with your fingers or anything else.
If you notice scratches or imperfections on your records, you may be able to repair them using a vinyl repair kit or professional cleaning service. However, not all damage can be fixed, and it’s important to be realistic about the condition of your records and accept that some skipping may be inevitable.
In addition to physical damage, skipping can also be caused by problems with the turntable or the needle. A misaligned tonearm, for example, can cause the needle to skip or jump, disrupting the sound and causing unnecessary wear and tear on the vinyl. Similarly, a worn or damaged needle can also cause skipping by losing contact with the grooves on the record.
To prevent skipping caused by turntable or needle issues, it’s important to regularly maintain and clean your equipment. Check your turntable’s alignment and adjust the tracking force as needed to ensure that the needle is making the correct contact with the grooves on the vinyl. Clean your needle regularly using a specialized cleaning solution or brush to remove dirt and debris that can interfere with its performance.
Finally, skipping can also be caused by environmental factors or user error. Playing records in dusty or humid conditions can increase the likelihood of skipping, as can using an incorrect tracking force or playing records at the wrong speed. To prevent skipping caused by these factors, be sure to keep your turntable and records clean and store them in a dry, stable environment. Always use the correct tracking force and speed settings when playing your records, and avoid touching the needle or the grooves with your fingers or anything else.
By understanding the most common causes of skipping records and taking steps to prevent them, you can ensure that your vinyl collection sounds great and lasts for years to come. Whether you’re new to vinyl or a seasoned collector, caring for your records and equipment is key to getting the most out of your music.
Cleaning Your Records
Having a record skip can ruin a perfectly good listening experience, and it can be frustrating to deal with if it happens repeatedly. If you love vinyl records and want to keep them in top condition and avoid skips and jumps, it’s important to establish a regular cleaning routine. One of the most common causes of skipping records is dirt and dust buildup on the surface of the record, which can affect the stylus tracking and cause it to skip over the grooves. In this section, we’ll discuss how to clean your records to help prevent skips and prolong the life of your vinyl collection.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that there are many cleaning methods and products available, and everyone has their own preference. Some methods are more effective than others, and some can even damage your records if not done correctly. Therefore, it’s important to do your research and choose a method that works best for you and your collection.
The first step in cleaning your records is to remove any loose dirt and dust. You can do this by using a carbon fiber brush or a microfiber cloth. Gently brush the surface of the record in a circular motion, making sure to avoid pressing too hard or scratching the surface. You should also make sure to clean the stylus after each use with a stylus brush specifically designed for the task, to prevent any build-up on the stylus that can cause damage to the grooves of the record.
Next, it’s time to clean your records more thoroughly. You can do this by using a cleaning solution specifically designed for vinyl records. There are many options available, including cleaning sprays, record cleaning machines, and manual cleaning kits. One popular method is to use a solution of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol mixed in a 3:1 ratio, which can be applied using a microfiber cloth, a brush, or a vacuum record cleaning machine.
When using any cleaning solution, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully, and to use a gentle touch to avoid damaging the record surface. Avoid using abrasive materials, such as paper towels, which can scratch the surface of the record and cause further damage. You should also avoid using tap water or other impure water sources, as these can leave behind minerals and other impurities that can damage the grooves over time.
Once you’ve cleaned your records, it’s important to store them properly to avoid any further damage. Make sure to store your records vertically, never stack them horizontally, and keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, humidity, and extreme temperatures. You should also make sure to use properly fitting inner and outer sleeves to protect your records from dust and other contaminants.
In conclusion, keeping your vinyl collection in top condition is essential to prevent skipping and prolong the life of your records. The key to preventing skips is a regular cleaning routine, using proper cleaning methods and products, and storing your records carefully to prevent further damage. By following these tips, you can enjoy your vinyl collection for years to come.
Adjusting Your Turntable’s Tracking Force
If you’re experiencing skipping records, it’s highly likely that it’s a result of improper tracking force. Tracking force is the amount of weight pressing the stylus against the grooves. If the force is too low, the stylus will bounce off the groove, resulting in skips. If it’s too high, it can cause excessive wear and tear on your records. Adjusting your turntable’s tracking force is a quick and easy fix that can be done in a few simple steps.
Step 1: Find Your Turntable’s Recommended Tracking Force
The first step to adjusting your turntable’s tracking force is figuring out the recommended amount of force for your particular cartridge. The recommended tracking force can be found in the owner’s manual for your turntable or by doing a quick internet search with the model number of your cartridge. Each cartridge has its own range of recommended tracking force, typically between 1.5-3 grams.
Step 2: Set Up Your Tonearm
Before adjusting the tracking force, you must make sure your tonearm is set up correctly. Start by making sure that your turntable is level, with the platter and tonearm parallel to the ground. If your tonearm has a counterweight, slide it towards the end of the tonearm, where the cartridge is. This will release the tonearm’s weight, allowing you to adjust it.
Step 3: Adjust the Tracking Force
Now that your tonearm is set up correctly, it’s time to adjust the tracking force. Start by turning the counterweight until the tonearm is perfectly balanced, hovering above the record. Once it’s balanced, turn the counterweight back towards the beginning of the tonearm, adding the recommended amount of tracking force for your cartridge. You may need to make small adjustments to get the exact amount of force, so be patient and make small changes. Once you’ve set the tracking force, tighten the counterweight to hold it in place.
Step 4: Double Check Your Work
After adjusting your tracking force, it’s a good idea to double-check your work. Start by checking to see if your tonearm is still balanced- if it is, you’ve done a good job. Then, play a record and listen to make sure it’s not skipping. If it is, you may need to adjust the tracking force slightly until it’s just right.
Adjusting your turntable’s tracking force is a simple process that can make a big difference in the sound quality of your records. Skipping records can be frustrating, but with some patience and a little bit of know-how, you can fix the problem and get your records sounding great again.
Examining the Stylus and Cartridge
If you have ensured that your record player platter is level and the tonearm with the correct weight, yet your record is still skipping, the next thing you should examine is the stylus and cartridge. The stylus is the needle attached to the cartridge that picks up the vibrations from the grooves in the record and converts them into sound waves. The cartridge, on the other hand, holds the stylus and transfers its vibrations to the tonearm.
First, inspect the stylus for any visible damage, such as a bent or broken tip, which can cause it to incorrectly trace the grooves on the record. If you find any damage, you will need to replace the stylus or the entire cartridge. Most cartridges allow you to detach the stylus, and replacing it is relatively easy and inexpensive.
If the stylus looks okay, it might be time to clean it. Dirt and debris can accumulate on the stylus, which can affect its ability to track the grooves and play back the music accurately. Using a stylus cleaner brush or a stylus cleaning solution, gently brush or wipe the stylus from the back to the front. Do not wipe from front to back, as this can damage the tip.
If cleaning the stylus does not fix the skipping issue, you should examine the cartridge. Check that it is securely attached to the tonearm and is not loose or wobbling. Also, ensure that the wires connected to the cartridge are properly connected and not loose or broken.
If you find any issues with the cartridge, you can replace it. However, note that replacing the cartridge is more complicated than replacing the stylus. In most cases, you will need to align and balance the new cartridge correctly, which can be difficult and time-consuming. It is best to consult the user manual for your record player or seek the help of a professional technician.
Additionally, some cartridges have adjustable settings, such as tracking force, anti-skate, and stylus rake angle, among others. These settings can affect the performance of the cartridge and should be set correctly for optimal performance. Consult the user manual for your record player or cartridge to learn how to adjust these settings correctly.
In summary, if your record player is skipping, examine the stylus and cartridge. Check for any visible damage or dirt on the stylus, and ensure that the cartridge is securely attached and its wires are connected correctly. If you need to replace the stylus or cartridge, do so carefully, and align and balance the new cartridge correctly. Remember to consult the user manual or seek the help of a professional technician when in doubt.
Seeking Professional Help
If your records are still skipping even after cleaning them, then the problem may be more severe than you think. The reasons behind skipping records are numerous, and at times, can be more complicated than what the surface problem may suggest. In such cases, it is best to seek professional help instead of trying to fix it yourself. Fixing it yourself may lead to further damage, and it will only cost you more bucks in the end.
When it comes to professional repair services, there are various avenues to explore. For instance, you can request the services of an audiophile friend who specializes in repairing records. Alternatively, you can scout for a repair expert in your locality. Nevertheless, irrespective of the avenue you choose, ensure it’s a reliable one and that the repair expert knows what they are doing.
Upon contacting the technician, ensure you give them a detailed explanation of your records’ problem and how it’s been behaving. That way, they can assess the problem and give you an accurate diagnosis of what’s wrong with them. The expert may recommend some solutions that you can undertake yourself or more complicated ones that require professionals’ services.
One crucial thing to bear in mind when seeking professional help is that you may have to pay a considerable amount of money for the service. However, the amount you pay may vary depending on the extent of the damage and the issue’s complexity. For instance, if your record requires retipping or stylus replacement, it may be higher compared to other fixable issues such as cartridge alignment.
Also, it is worth noting that the professional repair option may not be suitable for vinyl records with sentimental value. Records such as hand-me-downs or those owned by your family members may have sentimental value, and it may not be ideal to hand them over to a stranger. If that’s the case, then the ideal option would be to store the record away securely, so it doesn’t get further damaged, and who knows, you may come across a better repair option in the future.
To wrap it up, seeking professional help is an excellent solution if you are not skilled in fixing skipping records. Although it may be costly, it can save you the anguish of causing further damage to your valuable records. Just ensure you pick a reliable repair option and give a detailed explanation of the issue at hand. If done right, your favorite records will be playing like new in no time!