Vinyl records have experienced a renaissance over the past two decades due to their nostalgic appeal. If you’ve been building a record collection and own a turntable, maintaining the stylus, or needle, is crucial for ensuring quality audio and preventing damage to your LPs. Here’s what you need to know about caring for the stylus.
Common Questions About Turntable Stylus Maintenance
How does the stylus work?
The stylus links the record to the turntable. When you drop the needle on a spinning record, it picks up vibrations from the grooves, sending them through the tonearm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts vibrations to electrical signals, which the pre-amp amplifies before moving them through your speaker system.
How long do they last?
Styluses are often made from sapphire or diamond, two of the hardest minerals on the planet. Therefore, they don’t wear down quickly. You should still replace the stylus after about 150 to 200 hours of playing records. However, some higher-end brands offer several times that life expectancy.
Increase the lifespan of your needle by preventing dirt and dust from deteriorating it. Do this by cleaning your records with a carbon fiber brush. While the record spins, lightly place the brush on the grooves. Allow the record to spin two or three times to remove debris.
What type does your turntable need?
The type of stylus you need depends on the make and model of your turntable. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations. Keep in mind that styluses come in two different shapes—spherical and elliptical. While the latter tends to make better contact with grooves, producing a fuller sound quality, the former won’t wear down as rapidly.
What are some signs that it needs replacing?
While playing records, you might hear a slight crackle or stray popping noise. However, excessive crackling, static, and distortion are signs of a worn or damaged needle. The needle may also be crooked or skip out of the grooves as records play.
When you need a new stylus for your turntable, get in touch with Alison's Record Shop. They also provide a huge selection of contemporary and vintage vinyl records to customers throughout Nashville. Call this record shop at (615) 356-0180 to ask about turntable accessories in stock, and visit their website to learn more.