Used record players are a dime a dozen at garage sales and thrift stores, but a “thrift store” record player could have many problems and will most likely come with a dirty or damaged needle. Make sure you get a good service tech to get it up and playing properly and to replace the needle and/or cartridge. There are also many new turntables on the market today. For an investment as low of $80 to $200, you can buy a great new turntable with 21st century technology that will be perfect right out of the box. Stop by the store and we’ll be happy to show you what we recommend.
…and don’t forget, the amplifier is important, too
While the turntable is the device that plays your music, the amplifier is the power behind it that boosts your tunes to neighbor-maddening levels, and should be carefully considered.
Place your turntable on a flat, vibration free surface.
Try to place the turntable as far away from the speakers as possible. This helps keep the sound from distorting.
Keep the turntable away from direct exposure to sun, heat, moisture and dirt.
And always, keep your turntable well ventilated.
If your turntable has a tonearm which has a counterweight at the rear, the pressure that is exerted from the tonearm onto your vinyl may be not enough OR may exceed the recommended tracking designed for the cartridge you are using. Not enough pressure will make the tonearm bounce and skip while playing. Excessive pressure can ruin or damage your stylus (needle) and your records. Those without counterweights and many with the straight tonearm design may have had the pressure pre-set at the factory. The way to balance your tonearm is different depending on your turntable. If you have any questions about balancing the tonearm, please ask!
A dirty stylus (needle) can ruin vinyl and distort sound. A stylus picks up vinyl additives and other debris during normal play. A contaminated stylus significantly reduces the sound quality during playback and can actually reduce the life of your records.
Make sure your system is completely turned off. Use a soft brush or q-tip and alcohol or an alcohol distilled water solution. Gently brush the stylus only from the back to front with very little pressure. Repeat cleaning every 3-4 weeks.
Keeping your vinyl in good shape helps avoid the need for any deep cleaning. There are a few simple things you can do to keep your collection in good shape:
Always try to eliminate contact with the playing surface. When handling and playing records, hold the disk by the outer edge and label.
Always store records vertically, leaning as little as possible but not too tight either. You should be able to easily and freely insert and remove a record from between two others without moving them. Storing records too tightly or horizontally can promote ring wear on the cover or sleeve and cause unnecessary stress to the record’s materials, surface and label, resulting in warps and contact damage.
It is best to store records in a cool, dry area. Avoid any source of heat, moisture and humidity. Warmth, humidity and moisture are ideal conditions for mold, mildew and other fungi which can infest the cover, label and the insides of the grooves. And always make sure that your playback equipment is set and adjusted correctly and that the stylus is not worn… Extreme damage can result.
Before and/or after every play use a microfiber brush, such as a RCA Discwasher, Vinyl Styl brush or other type of device, to remove dust and dirt that can collect while playing. Make sure to follow the instructions that come with your brush.
Most LPs and singles released after the early fifties are composed of polyvinyl materials and are more durable than their predecessors. When cleaning vinyl records, we recommend a 50/50 solution of denatured alcohol (which has fewer impurities) and filtered or distilled water. If mixing solutions isn’t your bag, something as simple as Windex works well too. Windex has just enough cleaning chemicals, such as Isopropanol, and Butoxyethanol, to remove dirt, grime and oils, while not damaging your vinyl.
Try not to get the labels wet. Dirty covers and labels are best left alone. Matte finish cover and label marks are usually set. You stand a chance of removing part of the print or color and making the situation worse.
If the cover is laminated or glossy, a damp towel or one of the cleaning methods described above will work. Marks or writing on the cover may be able to be removed with a rubber eraser. Lighter fluid (naphtha) or even hair spray works great on pen marks. Stickers, labels, tape and such can be removed by heating the area with a hair dryer. The heat breaks down the adhesive and makes it softer and easier to remove the sticker without a great risk of damaging the cover or sleeve. Sticker residue can be removed with most citrus-based cleaners or lighter fluid (naphtha). Please remember: these techniques only work well on glossy covers.