If you own a turntable, you might have encountered some common malfunctions. Among them, Record Skipping is one of the most annoying errors with vinyl, and it is an unavoidable one.
Turntables offer better sound quality than most other musical devices, but if something goes wrong, you might experience a blip in the sound causing noise distortion, poor sound quality, or skips.
There are various reasons for this record skipping issue. Some of these common reasons include dust, debris, worn-out stylus tip, or unbalanced tonearm. Luckily, these issues can be fixed easily without much money and effort.
To help you solve this inconvenience, we have put together a guide on troubleshooting measures that helps you to fix the record skipping issue.
POSSIBLE CAUSES FOR RECORD SKIPPING
CAUSE 1 – DUST AND DIRT
A common reason your records may skip is dust and dirt that gets into the grooves. While it may occur on old records due to storage, paper sleeves, or dust in the environment, new records may also have dust or dirt. Other factors related to cleanliness also impact sound quality, such as oil from your hands or other factors.
CAUSE 2 – DAMAGED VINYL RECORDS
Maybe you haven’t handled your records carefully enough or might have purchased your low-quality records for a very low price or got them second-handed. This cannot assure the record’s quality, and if it gets scratched or damaged, then this could be a possible problem for record skipping. Remember that a scratch means your vinyl record was damaged, and it can’t be fixed.
CAUSE 3 – TONEARM BALANCE
If your turntable is free from dust, dirt, or oil, the next thing you need to check is the record player’s tonearm and stylus.
The rebalancing of tonearm and stylus depends on your turntable. Hence before you set up the tonearm or stylus, it is recommended to read the configuration manual carefully. However, in this case, record skipping is the least concern. If you continue to use the turntable with an unbalanced tonearm, it could even damage the records.
If the tonearm weight balance is set too low, it might cause the needle to skip across the grooves of the record, which will result in music jumping.
If the tonearm weight balance is set too high, the downforce of the needle will press the record groove with high intensity. This will cause music distortion and can also damage the records over time.
HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT RECORD SKIPPING:
By taking necessary measures to common factors that lead to skipping, you can prevent damage to the record and improve the sound quality.
METHOD 1: GET RID OF DIRT AND DUST:
Cleaning the records is one of the easiest ways to fix record skipping, and it is something you should do regularly. Use vinyl cleaning tools like brush, microfiber cloth, vinyl cleaning machine, and much more to get rid of the dust and debris.
METHOD 2: USING GLUE TO CLEAN THE RECORD:
This might sound odd, but it’s a good method to use wood glue to get rid of the dust and dirt. Take off the tonearm from the record. Simply place the record on the platter and start the spin the record without placing the tonearm on it. Now start applying the wood glue from the edge of the inner label and move towards the outer edge. Make sure you spread the glue evenly.
You can also use a cardboard piece to spread the glue. Doing this will create a thin, consistent film layer across the record. After you have applied the glue properly, turn off the turntable spin and let it undisturbed for 24, so that the wood glue will dry completely. Once the glue is bone-dry, remove the wood glue layer. Peel it slowly and carefully; try to remove it all at once.
Once you have removed the glue, clean/wipe the record with a lint-free cloth. By doing this, you would have removed all the dirt and dust from the record. Now play the record; with the dust removed, it should play without any skip.
METHOD 3: USING CLEANING SOLUTION:
The cleaning products are essential for the real cleaning of your vinyl. They have different properties depending on the brand, but all are fairly easy to apply and are usually used with a cloth or brush to achieve deep cleaning. Depending on the type of cleaning product, they can be used for your records or to clean your styluses and diamonds.
If you want to clean a little deeper, it is recommended to use vinyl cleaning solution and cloth to clean the record. Before proceeding, sweep the record softly using a carbon fiber brush. Apply the cleaning solution onto the microfiber cloth and then wipe the record with it. Make sure to handle it with care, or else you might damage the record.
METHOD 4: MANUAL MENDING
If the record still skips, you need to closely examine and locate the exact part where the skip occurs. This would help you find any grime that could possibly be the cause of the skipping issue. If that’s the case, you can use a carbon fiber brush to dig deeper into nooks and crannies.
If that doesn’t help, use a toothpick carefully to dislodge it. Now try playing your record again. If this doesn’t work and your record still skips, then this proves your record being dirty is not the actual reason for the skipping.
REBALANCE THE TONEARM:
When you notice that the arm of your turntable “pops,” you have a problem with the adjustment. Indeed, it might happen if the counterweight is badly positioned. If the needle exert too little support force, then there will be more or less a significant oscillation phenomenon. You must therefore reset all the adjustments of your turntable, otherwise, it might cause irreversible damage to the diamond of your cartridge.
STEP 1: SET THE ANTI-SKATE CONTROL
To compensate for the centripetal force exerted on the phono cartridge, there is an adjustment called antiskating, which allows it to be corrected. On some vinyl turntables, it is applied with a graduated dial, a spring, while on the others, it comes in the form of a counterweight or even in a magnetic form.
In all cases, it must be placed in the location recommended by the manufacturer. When you received your turntable prepared by us in our workshop, you received a coupon and a diagram explaining the exact location where to position the antiskating. Once you are familiar with how to use it, set it to zero.
STEP 2: BALANCE THE TONEARM
Very important, this step is to adjust the counterweight so that the arm is perfectly parallel to the frame. Thus, it is ensured that the pressure exerted at the level of the diamond is equal to 0.
STEP 3: CHECK THE STYLUS PRESSURE
Stylus pressure refers to the downforce of the tonearm, which the needle exerts on the vinyl record. Set the pressure as the manufacturer’s recommendations. Each model has its own kind of knob and configurations so before proceeding with the adjustment, check the manual.
With a low stylus pressure, your record might skip the track because low stylus pressure will not provide enough contact between the stylus needle and the record. In such a case, it is recommended to increase the stylus pressure to get better contact between the stylus needle and the record.
If your stylus pressure is too heavy, it will distort the sound quality by exerting too much pressure will cause the needle to wear and tear the record and cause permanent damage to the record grooves. In such a case, you need to reduce the stylus pressure. This is why you need to set the stylus pressure as per the manufactures recommended.
Also, check your stylus needle status. A damaged or worn stylus needle can seriously damage your record. This might also be a cause for record skipping. In such a case, you need to change the needle. Depending on the turntable cartridge you are using, you have to replace just the needle, or you may need to replace the whole cartridge.
Most MM cartridges offer stylus replacement, which just clips at the front end of the cartridge. You can even use a HiFi phono cartridge model for a performance boost. If you’re using an MC cartridge MC, you need to either buy a new cartridge or hire a cartridge specialist to replace the stylus for you.
QUICK TIPS TO CHECK
Here is some of the few tips you need to check and follow to avoid record skipping.
- Make sure to clean the records and stylus.
- Check for turntable stability to avoid unwanted vibrations from the external surface.
- Clean your records regularly with an anti-static cloth to eliminate static dirt and grimes.
- Check the tonearm, stylus, and anti-skating pressure.
- Check for the stylus diamond wear.
- Make sure to arrange and store them properly with vinyl record stand.
We cannot stick to a particular cause for the record skipping. Unless you exactly know that the issue is caused because of your stylus, it’s highly recommended to start with the least drastic fixes.
You need to maintain your entire turntable system on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you should buy new parts. Just take care and maintain the existing parts by cleaning, paying attention to counterweight and play pressure, and cover your turntable and records after every use.